After years of wrangling over various issues, China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier with 740 million subscribers, has finally struck a deal with Apple to offer the iPhone on its network in China, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The first hints of the deal came earlier this week when Fortune uncovered graphics on a China Mobile subsidiary website that showed the iPhone being offered under the company’s banner. However, when Fortune questioned China Mobile regarding the graphic, the company stated that there was no deal in place.
Citing an unnamed source, the Wall Street Journal claims that Apple’s deal with China Mobile will go live later this month, around Dec. 18.
If true, the deal has been a long time in coming. Only the two companies know for sure why a deal has taken so long, but reports dating as far back as 2011 indicated that China Mobile wanted a significant cut of Apple’s app store revenue.
In the run-up to the release of the iPhone 5S and 5C several months ago, fresh rumors attached to a possible deal between the two companies cropped up, but ultimately proved to be premature. But shortly thereafter, Apple was granted a license for the iPhone to run on China Mobile’s network.
According to a Reuters report, the state-owned carrier began a new round of talks with Apple regarding a possible deal sometime in the spring of 2012.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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