China Mobile will be released a TDD-LTE iPhone. The only question is when.

While the signs are that the next iPhone will not feature LTE, Apple has “reached consensus” with China Mobile on the use of the carrier’s forthcoming TDD-LTE network for a future iPhone.

Market Watch has reported that a deal has been made between the Cupertino based handset manufacturer and the Chinese operator. While Wang Jianzhou, chairman of China Mobile, said that talks with Apple were ongoing, he would not provide a specific release date for the phone.

The time frame for the arrival of an LTE-ready iPhone has been the subject of much speculation, with the belief in the industry that its arrival will mark an inflection point in the development of LTE technology as a mass market proposition.

It was suggested by analysts that the delay in the release of the next iPhone from its regular summer slot to September was to provide more time for an LTE iPhone to be released in the US. However, a recent analyst report suggested that this would not be the case , due to Qualcomm’s LTE chipset not yet meeting the required yields, and that as a result the new model would merely offer minor improvements.

Alcatel-Lucent recently announced that it had completed a first call over the TDD-LTE network it has constructed for China Mobile. China Mobile was a key player in developing the TDD-LTE variant, with lower deployment costs one of its inherent advantages.

China Mobile is the world’s largest operator with just under 600 million subscribers, according to Informa statistics.

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