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Apple closes in on China Mobile's 700 million subscribers with iPhone approval

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All signs point to an imminent deal

gold iphone 5s stock
gold iphone 5s stock

Yesterday, many expected Apple CEO Tim Cook to announce that the company had finally partnered with China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile provider, to sell its devices into its previously untapped market of 700 million subscribers. But even though plans for the deal haven’t been publicly announced, things do apppear to be coming together: the Wall Street Journal writes that a Chinese regulator has approved Apple’s new iPhones to run on China Mobile’s network. What’s more, certain models of the newly announced phones support the TD-LTE bands (38, 39, and 40) in use on the carrier’s fourth-generation hardware.

While neither fact proves that a deal is imminent, it certainly looks like things are moving in that direction. Rumors have been swirling about the possibility of the iPhone coming to China Mobile since its chairman Wang Jianzhou claimed he was in discussions with Apple two years ago.

Band 41 is also used by Sprint

One question that’s still up in the air is whether Apple will build an iPhone that supports band 41, another TD-LTE band that China Mobile will require new devices to support by 2014. It’s interesting to note that band 41 is also used by Sprint, which acquired the TD-LTE network when it bought out its former partner Clearwire earlier this summer. Last year, CEO Dan Hesse entered into a long-term agreement with Apple worth $15.5 billion over four years, saying, "We believe in the long term … And over time we will make more money on iPhone customers than we will on other customers."