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So far, Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL ) most important new product has yet to launch in its most important growth geography: the iPhone 5 in China. It's been a little over two months since the company launched the newest version, and it's been rather hard for consumers around the world to get their hands on the device.
At the end of October, the iPhone 5 scored the second of three necessary regulatory approvals to launch in the Middle Kingdom. China's Quality Certification Center gave the regulatory seal of approval to two different models, one likely destined for China Unicom's (NYSE: CHU ) network while the other has China Telecom's (NYSE: CHA ) name all over it. That left just one regulatory hurdle left to clear: obtaining a network access license from the Ministry of Industry and Information technology.
Ask and you shall receive. The The Wall Street Journalis reporting that the iPhone 5 has done just that and both of the aforementioned models are now cleared for takeoff. The news comes just in the nick of time as China Telecom chairman Wang Xiaochu had previously said that his company was planning on offering the iPhone 5 by late November or early December. China Unicom Chairman Chang Xiaobing was also hoping to offer the device this year, but stopped short of offering a specific time frame.
China Telecom was added as an official iPhone carrier in March, breaking China Unicom's exclusivity on the device. China Telecom is the third-largest carrier in the country. Investors continue to wait for the day when Apple and China Mobile (NYSE: CHL ) hook up, but that probably won't happen until next year. That will be a monster carrier score for Apple, giving it exposure to the largest mobile subscriber base in the world, totaling 700 million users.
The regulatory approvals also coincide with CEO Tim Cook's projection that the iPhone 5 will launch in mainland China in December, which he mentioned on the last conference call. Looks like everything is proceeding right on schedule.
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