China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) on December 4 announced the release of TD-LTE (Time Division-Long Term Evolution) licenses to China Mobile, Chine Telecom and China United Network Communications (China Unicom).
China Mobile has adopted TD-LTE as a sole 4G standard. The company is reportedly in preparation to start contract-bundled sale of TD-LTE-enabled iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. Earlier in the day, the Wall Street Journal reported that the two giants had signed a deal, citing an anonymous source familiar with the matter.
Responding to the WSJ report, China Mobile said it is still negotiating with Apple.
A possible deal with China Mobile would give Apple access to a subscriber base that is seven times the size of Verizon Wireless, the U.S.'s largest carrier.
Apple has been trying to tap into China Mobile's big pool of potential iPhone buyers to keep pace with global handset leader Samsung Electronics, which is the largest smartphone vendor in China.
The deal follows by just three months the iPhone?s entry into another large market - Japan's NTT Docomo.