China Telecom says it will sell the iPhone 4S in a month

Earlier this month, we reported that China Telecom earned the necessary approvals to launch the iPhone 4S on China’s third-largest carrier. Today, the China Telecom subsidiary Beijing Telecom issued a press release (via China Daily) and said the Beijing-based company will launch the iPhone 4S as early as the end of February or beginning of March.

A CDMA version of the iPhone 4S will launch on the network. The press release gave no word on pricing for the device, but it will likely fall in line with the other networks.

China Telecom currently boasts 36.3 million 3G subscribers, while in comparison the nation’s largest carrier China Mobile Ltd., boasts 51.2 million 3G subscribers. Obviously, the launch of the iPhone 4S brings a lot of excitement in China, and it gives Apple the chance to add new customers. Moreover, launching on China Mobile would add an abundance of new customers, but that does not look to be happening anytime soon.

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China Telecom launch imminent as iPhone gets crucial CDMA-2000 network access license?

Fans in China eager to get their hands on Apple’s iPhone through wireless operators other than China Unicom, the country’s exclusive iPhone partner, are in for a surprise as the device is really close to launching on the China Telecom network. According to the Wall Street Journal, it received a much-needed CDMA-2000 network access license from Telecommunication Equipment Certification Center, the country’s certification body. This means China Telecom could now be just weeks away from officially selling the iPhone:

An iPhone compatible with the mobile network of China’ third-largest mobile carrier, China Telecom, has received a network access license, a regulatory website shows, marking a key step toward Apple being able to sell the phone to a broader audience in China.

Last week, Apple’s iPhone got an approval from China Radio Management agency for use on China Telecom’s network. That agency certified an iPhone version with a model number A1387a that supports “WCDMA,” indicating Apple could release a phone that supports both China Unicom’s and China Telecom’s networks. Nevertheless, China Telecom, which expressed interest to offer the iPhone on numerous occasions in the past, looks like it will finally land the sought-after device.

Widening the iPhone’s distribution footprint in China, a key growth market for Apple at a time when the company is increasing sales of its mobile devices around the world, is bound to positively affect the bottom line. China is now the world’s leading smartphone market. Revenue from the country contributed with 12 percent in the more than $108 billion of Apple’s fiscal 2011 revenue, up from just $3 billion in 2009.

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Huge lines form at Apple Stores in China for iPhone 4S launch

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     The gallery above via Flickr user Liz Phung shows more shots from the launch in Beijing. There are also two images of  employees receiving their first shipments at China Unicom in Wuxi, east China’s Jiangsu Province (via xinhuanet). 

It is just over 8 hours before the iPhone 4S officially lands in China and huge lines already starting to form outside of Apple Stores in Beijing and Shanghai. The image below is from Instagram user Sanverde who noted he snapped the shot outside an Apple Store in Sanlitun Village, Beijing less than an hour ago. As you can see from the daytime image in the slideshow above (posted by Twitter user Alexander Galimberti on Jan. 10), Beijing line sitters started showing up for tonight’s launch days in advance. To the right is an image from Instagram user sainasilverman who says 400,000 units of the iPhone 4S have now arrived in Beijing.

China Unicom, the only carrier currently offering the iPhone 4S, does not currently accept pre-orders, but it will be offering the 16GB and 32GB models free on two- and three-year agreements. China Telecom, the nation’s third largest mobile carrier, is also expected to offer the iPhone in the future. The device recently received necessary approval from the China Radio Management agency for use on its CDMA network.

Check out the most recent shot of the lines outside the Sanlitun Village, Beijing Apple Store after the break and some more shots of gray market line sitters wearing red hats. According to MIC Gadget, those wearing a red cap have been paid 100 yuan ($16) to line up for the 12+ hour wait. We will be updating with more shots, so email your photographs of the lines to us at tips@9to5mac.com Read more