China Unicom, the second-largest wireless carrier in China and currently Apple’s sole carrier of the iPhone in country, announced a new promotion that would provide customers with a free iPhone 4S when signing up for a multiyear commitment. The carrier announced on its website (via Bloomberg) that a 16GB iPhone 4S will be available free on a two-year contract starting Jan. 13, while the 32GB model will be free on a three-year agreement.

This follows Apple’s announcement earlier this week that confirmed the iPhone 4S would come to China and 21 other markets starting Jan. 13.

Plans for the promotion appear to commence at 286 Yuan (approximately $46 USD) per month for the 32GB model on a three-year agreement. However, the 16GB model seems to be available for 386 Yuan on a shorter two-year commitment. According to Alen Lin at BNP Paribas Securities, who closely follows China Unicom and spoke with Bloomberg, the carrier lost money on the previous 286-yuan plan available with two-year agreements and changed it to the three-year agreement in order to have “one additional year to recover the expense.”

China Unicom is the second largest carrier behind China Mobile. The third largest carrier in the country, China Telecom, is also rumored to begin offering the iPhone to over 100 million subscribers soon. China Mobile has yet to sign a deal to offer the iPhone, but reports from October claimed around 10 million iPhone users already use the network. The iPhone 4S just recently received necessary China compulsory certification by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China late last month.

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