China Mobile to launch its 4G LTE network next month

china mobile sign

Rumors have been circulating for the past few weeks that China Mobile is on the verge of launching its LTE network next month. And it looks like the reports were true, as the news has been confirmed this week by state-run news outlet Xinhua.

This is big news for a couple of reasons. For one, this will be the country’s first major rollout of 4G. And two, it means Apple will finally be able to start offering its two latest iPhone models on China Mobile, as they support its TD-LTE standard…

Here’s the report from Xinhua (via TechCrunch):

“China will start commercial 4G mobile communications services on December 18, bringing the most advanced telecommunications technology to the country’s more than 1 billion mobile users.

China Mobile, the country’s No. 1 mobile operator with over 700 million users, will start 4G services on that date with a new brand He, meaning harmonious in the Chinese language.

China is expected to issue licences for 4G before the telco’s new services start.”

The report goes on to say that users in Beijing, Guangzhou and Chongqing will be the first to enjoy the new LTE network. And folks in Shanghai, which is still building a citywide 4G network, and other cities will receive access to the services later.

It also notes that China Mobile’s president president Li Yue believes the high-speed data connection will be very popular thanks to a wide selection of 4G devices that will be priced as low as 1,000 yuan (US$162). And then of course there’s this:

“Apple Inc is also set to introduce iPhones supporting the 4G network in China, industry insiders said. The US giant and China Mobile are in negotiations over the 4G iPhone and they will launch it officially on December 18.”

Apple has been in negotiations with China Mobile over carrying the iPhone for years now, and it’s the largest carrier in the world that doesn’t offer the handset. In fact, it’s the largest carrier in the world period, with over 700 million subscribers.

Needless to say, Apple launching both of its new iPhones on China Mobile next month will be a huge boon for its handset business. The wireless provider has said that it believes there are currently 40+ million unlocked iPhones on its network.