The China Radio Management Office approved Apple’s application for a handset that operates on the CDMA2000 network standard, the regulator said in a statement on its website.
The wireless standard is the third-generation network technology used by Hong Kong-listed China Telecom, which is China’s third-largest carrier.
Adding the standard, would almost double Apple’s access to existing mobile services subscribers able to get the iPhone through a contract with a Chinese carrier.
Apple would still need to get a license from China’s Telecommunications Equipment and Certification Center before it could sell the device.
“This is good for Apple as it means they’ll have a new market for the product,” said Tam Tsz-wang, who rates China Telecom shares “buy” at DBS Vickers Securities in Hong Kong.
The iPhone is now available with a service contract only through China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd, the nation’s second-largest carrier, which had 36.5m 3G subscribers at the end of November. China Telecom had 33.4m 3G mobile subscribers in the same period.
The iPhone model for China Telecom would probably be based on technology similar to the iPhone version for Verizon Wireless users in the US, Tam at DBS Vickers said.
China Telecom rose 2.4% in Hong Kong trading yesterday, while the city’s benchmark Hang Seng Index gained 0.7%. The stock has climbed 4.1% in the past year. China Unicom fell 2%.
Apple spokeswoman Carolyn Wu and Jacky Yung, spokesman for China Telecom, both declined to comment on the timeline for the carrier’s introduction of the iPhone.
More than 2.2m iPhones were shipped in China in the quarter ended September 30, compared with 300,000 a year earlier, according to research company Gartner Inc.
Apple ranked third in China’s smartphone market in the three-month period, trailing Nokia Oyj and Samsung Electronics Co, according to Gartner.