China Mobile announced it has reached consensus with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) that will result in a TD-LTE iPhone offered by the Chinese operator.
As with most telecom news coming out of China, the details are a bit sketchy with China Mobile Chairman Wang Jianzhou saying talks with Apple on launching the phone remain ongoing, and he declined to say what had been agreed upon with Apple.
Wang, however, indicated that more than 4 million China Mobile customers are using the iPhone, and he reiterated the operator's plans to begin commercial trials of TD-LTE beginning next year.
In March, Wang talked up Apple CEO Steve Jobs' interest in building a TD-LTE iPhone and said he was willing to begin the development at an early date.
China Mobile received the go-ahead last December to begin large-scale testing of TD-LTE in Shanghai, Hangzhou and four other cities.
China Mobile, the largest mobile operator in the world in terms of subscribers, has been heavily pushing the commercialization of TD-LTE, and has been reaching out to overseas operators in Europe, Asia, the U.S. and Australia. Interest is heating up as mobile operators in Europe are sitting on a bunch of vacant TDD spectrum that was attached to their 3G licenses, and more TDD spectrum is expected to be released in auctions across the globe.
E-Plus in Germany recently announced it will launch a TD-LTE field trial in Germany in the first quarter. The trial is based on 2.6 GHz spectrum that E-Plus acquired in the German spectrum auction. China Mobile is providing technical support to the trial, while ZTE will provide base stations.
Recently, Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Misek believes Apple's next iPhone introduction in September won't include LTE functionality for carriers like Verizon Wireless that are using the FDD version of LTE.
"According to our industry checks, the device should be called iPhone 4S and include minor cosmetic changes, better cameras, A5 dual-core processor, and HSPA+ support," Misek wrote in a research note.
He said that the Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) LTE chipset Apple would have used "is currently not achieving yields sufficient for inclusion in the iPhone 5." He says Apple was hoping to have the LTE chipsets ready, but was also planning a version without LTE called iPhone 4S.
As such, it is suspect when a TD-LTE chip might become available.
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