China’s official Xinhua news service has announced that China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) will be the first carrier to offer 4G mobile services when the country launches its commercial 4G mobile communications network on December 18. According to unnamed industry insider sources cited by Xinhua, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will announce its long-awaited distribution deal with China Mobile and launch the TD-LTE versions of its iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C on the same date.
TD-LTE is the 4G standard that will be used on China Mobile’s network. As previously reported by the Wall Street Journal, the TD-LTE versions of Apple’s iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C have already been licensed by China’s Telecom Equipment Certification Center.
However, China Mobile has been waiting for a 4G operating license to be issued by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. According to Xinhua, China will issue the 4G license before China Mobile begins its new service on December 18. China Mobile will market its new 4G services under the “He” brand name that means “harmonious” in the Chinese language.
Although China Mobile is the world’s largest carrier with over 750 million subscribers, it has never had a partnership with the California-based iPhone maker. Apple currently only has distribution deals with China’s two other major carriers: China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) and China Telecom (NYSE:CHA).
A deal with China Mobile is likely to significantly boost Apple’s market share in China where there are over 1 billion mobile phone users. The most recent data from market research firm Gartner showed that the iPhone maker’s share of the worldwide smartphone market fell to 12.1 percent in the third quarter from 14.3 percent in the year-ago quarter. Meanwhile, rival Samsung (SSNLF.PK) maintained its No. 1 ranking in the global smartphone market with the same 32.1 percent share that it held last year.
According to Xinhua, the new 4G network will open first in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Chongqing. Shanghai will get 4G service at a later date because the city is still building its own citywide network. Here’s how Apple has traded over the past five sessions.
Follow Nathanael on Twitter (@ArnoldEtan_WSCS)
Don’t Miss: Apple Makes Big Purchase for 3D Tech.