China Mobile, Apple talks continue

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China Mobile, the country's largest mobile operator, said it is still negotiating with Apple to offer iPhones on its network, commenting on a media report saying a long-awaited agreement had been reached.

Earlier in the day, the Wall Street Journal reported the two giants had signed a deal, citing an anonymous source familiar with the matter.

"We are still negotiating with Apple, but for now we have nothing new to announce," China Mobile spokeswoman Rainie Lei said, declining to elaborate. Apple also declined comment. China Mobile is one of the world's last major carriers and the only mobile operator in China not offering the iPhone.

It has trailed its smaller domestic rivals China Unicom and China Telecom in attracting users to its home-grown 3G standard.

The Wall Street Journal said the roll-out of iPhones by the world's largest mobile carrier by users, with more than 700 million subscribers, is expected to start around the time of 18 December.

Earlier in the week, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued 4G licences to China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom in another widely expected move. China Mobile's 4G TD-LTE licence paves the way for it to offer iPhones, as Apple's latest models support the standard.

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