updated 12:41 pm EST, Fri November 9, 2012
Could show up as soon as late November
China Telecom will begin carrying the iPhone 5 by early December, chairman Wang Xiaochu tells the Wall Street Journal. The device is still awaiting final approval from Chinese wireless regulators, but Wang claims that Telecom will have the 5 on sale in early December if not earlier. Chang Xiaobing, the chairman of rival iPhone carrier China Unicom, is less committal. "We hope to offer it this year, but what I say doesn't matter," he remarks, referring to the wait for certifications.
The iPhone 5 is now in dozens of countries worldwide, but has been conspicuously from China. It's expected to arrive there sooner than previous iPhones have but the multiple certifications needed can easily take months. Apple is also still struggling to meet demand for the device elsewhere, and might want to wait to ensure China has enough phones for a launch.
Wang separately notes that the government is still deciding on a timeline for deploying 4G networks. He does, however, expect China Telecom to keep up with China Mobile in rolling out 4G, since 4G nodes will mainly be based in big cities, which speeds up deployment. Telecom is already offering some experimental 4G in places like Shanghai and Nanjing.