China Mobile requests slower iPhone

September 26, 2008 // 2 p.m.

Tags: #2g #3g #apple #china #china-mobile #china-telecom #hsdpa #hspa #iphone #wifi

Despite complaints about the perceived lack of speed encountered by iPhone 3G users – with some even going so far as to sue – there are, believe it or not, users who would like their iPhone even slower: China Mobile.

According to CNet, China Mobile is set to request the creation of a modified iPhone which has the WiFi and 3G radio systems disabled so as to prevent users leaving its network. The plan would also, one assume, quite successfully prevent anyone wanting one of the nobbled 'phones in the first place.

While competitor China Telecom is planning a 3G network via the W-CDMA standard already used by the iPhone 3G in the US, China Mobile is ploughing ahead with a homegrown solution free from licensing restrictions – and, perhaps more importantly, licensing fees. While the network is due real-soon-now, China Mobile is clearly worried that rival China Telecom will beat it to the 3G punch, and if the subsidised – and, most likely, exclusive – iPhone is capable, eager users will unlock and switch to the faster network.

To prevent this possibility, China Mobile is hoping to convince Apple to agree to remove the W-CDMA compatibility from any version of the iPhone it ships to China as part of a deal with the company. Personally, I'm not sure that Apple will agree to such a thing: although a deal with China Mobile will open the iPhone up to a massive market, and a modified version would feasibly cost less than current incarnations due to the lack of expensive radio transceivers, users of the 'official' China Mobile iPhone would get a pretty poor user experience stuck on 2G speeds – one that they are likely to blame on the device, rather than the network.

Can you see Apple agreeing to China Mobile's demands in order to get a crack at a lucrative market, or will the company hold out in the hopes of a counter-offer from China Telecom that would mean shipping unmodified handsets? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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