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China Telecom tests iPhone 4

Updated: 2011-02-16 10:03

By Tuo Yannan (China Daily)

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China Telecom tests iPhone 4

The CDMA iPhone 4 was released by Verizon Communications Inc, a US telecom carrier, on Feb 10. [Photo / Bloomberg] 

Carrier speeds up introduction of CDMA Apple smartphone after successful call

BEIJING - China Telecom Corp Ltd has accelerated the pace at which it will introduce the CDMA version of the iPhone 4 - the most popular handset produced by Apple Inc - to the Chinese market after successfully testing the device on Tuesday.

The company, one of China's three telecommunication carriers and the largest CDMA network provider worldwide, announced on its official micro blog that its Guangdong branch office has found a way to use the CDMA iPhone 4, currently only carried by the US telecom carrier Verizon Communications Inc, in China.

"We have already made the first voice call using the CDMA iPhone 4 today (Tuesday), and will bring more surprises to our customers later on," according to a message from the company's "Apple Lab" team on the micro blog.

Along with the popularity of the iPhone 4, the device has become the "secret weapon" for Chinese telecom carriers in the battle to attract new subscribers.

Since its launch on the domestic market in September, there has been a marked shortage of the iPhone 4.

Last year, through sales of the device, more than 1 million new third-generation (3G) users subscribed to China Unicom Ltd, Apple's only official partner in the country. However, China Mobile Ltd and China Telecom have also been trying to attract customers by playing the "iPhone card".

Since China Unicom launched the popular handset, its rival, China Mobile, the biggest telecom carrier in the country, has been offering free SIM card-cutting services and an online customer service for iPhone users, hoping to lure them away from China Unicom. IPhones use a smaller SIM card, so if users want to use the phone on any network other than China Unicom's, they have to physically reduce the size of their cards using scissors or specially designed tools.

China Unicom has now imposed stricter policies on iPhone 4 users to prevent them from moving to other providers.

"If China Telecom can introduce the cell phone into the Chinese market, its 3G-user growth rate will be better than what had been previously expected," said Jake Li, an analyst at Guotai Junan Securities.

China Telecom, with 12.3 million 3G users at the end of 2010, had the lowest number of 3G subscribers among the nation's three carriers, while China Mobile had 20.7 million and China Unicom recorded 14.1 million.

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Li pointed out that after Verizon launched the CDMA iPhone 4, China Telecom had reportedly been in negotiations with Apple to carry the CDMA smartphone, news that resulted in an increase in the company's share price.

Although a spokeswoman for China Telecom refused to reveal details about the negotiations and wouldn't provide a release date for the CDMA iPhone 4, earlier reports said that China Telecom has been in discussions with Apple since 2009.

The company's General Manager Wang Xiaochu said in August 2010 that China Telecom was willing to join hands with Apple when the phone is ready for the CDMA network.

Lu Libin, an analyst at Analysys International, said that the Chinese mainland might expect to see the CDMA iPhone 4 two or three months after the US release, as production numbers might not be sufficient to supply the mainland straightaway.



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