HONG KONG (Reuters) - China Telecom Corp Ltd plans to offer Apple Inc's popular iPhone in China by close to the end of 2011, sources said, making it the second operator to do so in the world's largest mobile phone market.
"It's expected to happen this year. China Telecom already has the required technology and it all hinges on content of the agreement. As we all know, it's not easy to negotiate with Apple," a source close to the company, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters on Wednesday.
China Telecom was expected to introduce the iPhone in November, said another source, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
In May, China Telecom Chairman Wang Xiaochu told a news conference that the carrier had contracted Apple to launch the iPhone based on CDMA (code division multiple access) technology.
China, which has 896 million mobile phone users, has three telecommunications operators -- China Mobile Ltd, China Unicom and China Telecom. China Unicom is the only operator to offer the iPhone so far.
China Telecom, which operates the country's largest fixed-line network and is a relative newcomer to China's mobile market, had 105.7 million mobile phone users as of May.
Its shares were up 1.3 percent on Wednesday morning, outperforming the Hang Seng Index's 0.63 percent gain.
(Reporting by Hong Kong newsroom; Editing by Chris Lewis)