A Reuters report out of China mentiond that Apple had been speaking with the local carriers about connecting their local brand of LTE with the iPhone.

China Mobile Ltd, the world’s largest mobile carrier by subscribers, said on Friday that Apple Inc Chief Executive Steve Jobs has expressed interest in developing an iPhone based on the Chinese carrier’s network standard.

China Mobile is developing its next-generation TD-LTE mobile network technology and there have been talks over a possible iPhone tie-up with the carrier.[That’s about as vague a timeframe as you can get.]

There are some compatibilities and similarities between TD-LTE and the LTE that Verizon and AT&T are rolling out in the US.  But does that mean Apple is going to build an iPhone 5 with any type of 4G LTE?  I think it is unlikely.  We do know, however, that Apple has been active in the hiring of LTE engineers over the past few months.

Mr. Debarshi Kar came to Apple in January from Motorola where he was an LTE testing engineer.  His hire might have been for this job.   And that’s just the beginning…

Apple lists a slew of jobs with LTE as part of the description (below).  But does it make sense for Apple to jump on this technology now?  Remember, Apple builds just a few different device configurations.  Most of the world won’t be on LTE for another year.  Even Verizon won’t have much of the US covered by the Summer and AT&T will just be switching people on.

Job title Req. number Location Date Posted Sort
Carrier EPM, Americas iOS Software 6850047 Santa Clara Valley 03-Mar-2011
iOS Cellular Protocol SW Engineer-SH/BJ 6593157 Shanghai (China APO Only) 30-Jan-2011
iOS Cellular Protocol SW Engineering Mgr 6593252 Shanghai (China APO Only) 30-Jan-2011
iOS Modem DSP Firmware Engineer-BJ/SH 6593187 Beijing (China APO Only) 30-Jan-2011
Carrier EPM Mgr (EMEIA), iOS Software 6497489 Santa Clara Valley 19-Jan-2011
Carrier EPM Mgr (APAC), iOS Software 6495536 Santa Clara Valley 19-Jan-2011
Carrier EPM, APAC 6485177 Santa Clara Valley 19-Jan-2011
Carrier EPM, EMEIA 6485246 Santa Clara Valley 19-Jan-2011
iOS IOT Dev and Performance Eng 6442543 Santa Clara Valley 12-Jan-2011
Carrier EPM, Americas iOS Software 5886682 Santa Clara Valley 02-Dec-2010
Log Analysis Engineer 4792913 Santa Clara Valley 09-Jan-2010
Cellular Systems Architect 4763890 Santa Clara Valley 24-Nov-2009
Cellular Systems Perf Eng – Lab Test 4642719 Santa Clara Valley 05-Oct-2009
Inter-Operability Dev and Perf Eng 4318719 Santa Clara Valley 29-May-2009
Iphone Cellular Systems Engineer 4300664 Santa Clara Valley 19-May-2009


Also, remember Apple was slow to jump on 3G, instead choosing to keep the original iPhone on EDGE. It turned out to be a masterful decision which allowed to iPhone to last much longer on battery and a better experience until Apple could get the chip size and energy consumption to acceptable levels.

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