China Telecom, the smallest of China’s three mobile carriers, has signed a deal with Apple Inc that will allow it to start selling iPhones beginning March 9.
The new deal makes China Telecom the second cellular operator in China to sell the iPhone after China Unicom.
According to a statement issued today by China Telecom, the operator will begin taking online orders for the iPhone 4S from March 2 and begin sales a week later.
A two-year contract for a 16-gigabyte handset will cost 389 yuan ($62) a month and a three-year plan comes at 289 yuan monthly.
The deal is likely to boost Apple’s share of the Chinese mobile market, where it was recently pushed down to fifth position by the aggressive local player ZTE Corp.
China Mobile, currently largest carrier in the world by customers, now remains the only Chinese carrier not offering the iPhone.
Apple does not support the TD-SCDMA, a home-grown proprietary 3G technology used by China Mobile. But the obstacle may be overcome with the launch of the 4G TD-LTE network, tapped to launch late this year or early in 2013.