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Fight for the first bite

By Li Qiaoyi (Global Times)

09:58, November 30, 2012

There has been mounting media coverage of the upcoming arrival of the iPhone 5 in the Chinese mainland market as the last month of the year approaches, in which the mainland launch of the latest offering to Apple Inc's hot-selling iPhone lineup "will happen" according to Tim Cook, Apple's CEO.

This may be particularly good news for the country's two smaller telecom operators, China Unicom and China Telecom, which hope to rely on the latest iconic gadget from the Cupertino, California-based tech innovator to continue narrowing the gap with China Mobile, the world's largest mobile operator in terms of subscribers.

Eager to get the first bite of another bout of the iPhone bonanza, both smaller telcos, which started offering free nano-SIM card replacement services in late September for the earliest grey market iPhone 5 users, appear to be fully prepped and ready for the upcoming launch.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced on its website on Thursday its final approval for the network access license for two iPhone 5 models, supporting China Unicom and China Telecom's 3G standards respectively, clearing away the last regulatory hurdle. In late September, shortly after its global debut, the iPhone 5 had already received its China Compulsory Certification, commonly known as the 3C, a mandatory requirement for a number of products imported to the domestic market.

Wen Baoqiu, a spokesman for China Unicom, also told the Global Times that there remains no detailed information regarding the arrival of China Unicom's version of the iPhone 5.

But according to a customer manager with China Unicom's 10018 VIP customer service hotline, the carrier has recently launched an iPhone 5 pre-ordering program exclusively for its VIP subscribers, specifically those who are already subscribing to China Unicom's 3G services.

Those who pre-order will be notified of the gadget's availability as soon as they become available for purchase sometime in December, but the service plan for the new iPhone remains uncertain, said the customer service manager when contacted by the Global Times on Thursday,

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