China Telecom expects to be able to launch a CDMA version of the iPhone 4S in China by as early as February.
Beijing Telecom, a subsidiary of China Telecom, has revealed that China Telecom is preparing to launch a CDMA iPhone 4S in February or early March, China Dailyreported.
Apple now has all three licenses required to launch such a device in China, having just this week received approval from the China Compulsory Certification Online Service Center.
Apple has also secured the approval of the China Radio Management Office and the Telecommunications Equipment and Certification Center.
China Telecom's planned iPhone launch will put an end to the de facto exclusivity period that has long been enjoyed by China Unicom, as the nation's sole W-CDMA operator.
China Telecom, which uses the CDMA2000 standard, is lagging behind rivals China Mobile and China Unicom by 3G adoption.
As of the end of 2011, China Telecom had 36.3 million 3G subscribers. By comparison, China Mobile had 51.2 million. China Unicom had around 40 million, but is adding subscribers at the fastest rate of all three mobile operators.
As well as helping China Telecom increase its 3G customer base, a CDMA iPhone launch in China could also help Apple improve its position in the Chinese smartphone market.
According to Gartner, Apple is currently in fourth place in the market, behind Nokia, Samsung and Huawei.