China Telecom, the country's smallest mobile operator by subscriber number, announced Tuesday that it would begin offering Apple's iPhone 4S on March 9, with online reservations beginning on March 2.
The move, which makes China Telecom the second official supplier of iPhone in the country, comes two months after rival China Unicom began selling the device in January.
Unlike China Unicom, China Telecom’s 3G network use CDMA technology, which means that the iPhone 4S is the first device to support UMTS/HSDPA and CDMA EVDO.
China Telecom is offering the iPhone 4S 16GB, 32GB and 64GB with three different monthly fee plans (289 yuan, 389 yuan, and 489 yuan). Customers sign up for two year contract can get the iPhone 4S free with the monthly fee of 389 yuan (for 16GB version) and 489 yuan for (16GB and 32 GB verion). Customers sign up for a three-year contract can get the iPhone 4S (16GB, 32GB and 64 GB) free with the three different monthly plans.
It is expected that the introduction of iPhone 4S will help China Telecom catch up to its rivals by 3G net additions.
China Telecom last month added 2.41 million new 3G users, lagging behind bigger rivals China Mobile and China Unicom, which signed up 2.73 million and 3.05 million new 3G customers, respectively.
In the full year of 2011, China Telecom added 24 million 3G subscribers, compared to the 26 million from China Unicom and 30.5 million from China Mobile.
At the same time, it also expects short-term pressure on its profitability due to heavy subsidization on the device.
China Telecom said in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that following the launch of iPhone 4S, it will step up its marketing efforts in line with the growth in demand for mobile services.