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Just a day after France Telecom (s fte) CEO Stephane Richard made comments suggesting an Oct. 15 iPhone 5 (s aapl) release date, another major Apple carrier partner is pointing to a similar launch time frame. China Telecom (s cha) is reportedly gearing up for the iPhone 5 with staff training and even some early advertising.
Chinese newspaper the Souther Metropolis Daily reports that a company insider at China Telecom says it plans to start taking pre-orders for the iPhone 5 late this month and will begin official sales of the device in October. China Telecom’s marketing push will reportedly cost around 1.5 billion yuan (around $235 million USD), and the carrier plans on increasing subsidies for the device, according to previous statements made by company chairman Wang Xiaochu.
China Telecom is now the largest CDMA carrier in the world, having taken the title from U.S.-based Verizon (s vz) earlier this year. That makes it a very lucrative opportunity for Apple, which now offers a CDMA iPhone 4. Rumors suggest the iPhone 5 could be dual-mode, which should allow a single hardware design to work on both CDMA and GSM networks. China Telecom is the smallest of China’s three mobile telecommunications companies, but still would provide Apple access to a subscriber base of 108 million mobile phone users.
Apple was reported to still be in talks with China Telecom as of late August, according to statements made by Wang at a news conference detailing the carrier’s quarterly results. Apple sales were up sixfold in China measured year over year as of its last quarterly earnings report, and iPhone sales alone in China were charting at over 250 percent growth during the first quarter when compared to the previous year. As China continues to become an even greater part of Apple’s overall revenue picture, it makes sense that the country would be included more often among the list of initial launch markets for marquee products like the iPhone 5.