China Unicom has reached a deal with Apple to offer the iPhone in China and may be planning to launch the handset on May 17, According to a new report. Citing Chinese-language Sita, JLM Pacific Epoch reports that the Shanghai subsidiary of China Unicom — the same subsidiary that yesterday posted a page for the iPhone 3G online — has confirmed an agreement between the two companies. A “related employee” said that the Shanghai office heard the news today, and has begun prepping for the launch, which could come on May 17.
Citing a second report from Communications Weekly based on an unnamed insider, Unicom plans to announce the agreement on May 17, and that the company has begun testing in Hebei province’s Lanfang, Baoding, Tangshan and Qinhuangdao cities. The insider indicated that the agreement involves Unicom subsidizing the iPhone hardware, purchasing a designated number of units, and sharing revenue from value-added wireless services with Apple. Apple will be responsible for localizing the software, testing iPhone compatibility with Unicom’s WCDMA network, and has agreed to lock the phones to Unicom’s network.