Apple alters Chinese iPhone Wi-Fi protocol to adopt government standard

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Date: Tuesday, May 4th, 2010, 04:36
Category: iPhone, News

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Apple fought for years to break the iPhone into the Chinese marketplace and appears to be doing what it takes to stay there.

Per Macworld UK, the company appears to have tweaked its iPhone to support a Chinese security protocol for wireless networks. This follows suit as companies increasingly adopt Chinese government-backed technologies and standards to stay on the nation’s store shelves.

The move suggests Apple may soon launch a new version of the iPhone in China with Wi-Fi, a feature that regulations previously barred.

Chinese regulators last month approved the frequency ranges used by a new Apple mobile phone with 3G and wireless LAN support, as noted by China’s State Radio Monitoring Center. The device appears to be an iPhone and uses GSM and the 3G standard WCDMA, just like iPhones currently offered in China by local carrier China Unicom.

Apple removed Wi-Fi on the iPhones now sold in China because regulators there began approving mobile phones with WLAN support only last year. These units are only supported if they use a homegrown Chinese security protocol called WAPI (WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure).

The new Apple phone does support WAPI, according to the Chinese regulatory site. If an iPhone with WAPI goes on sale, Apple would be one of the highest-profile companies to offer a device using the protocol.

The new Apple phone may also support standard Wi-Fi. The Chinese security protocol is an alternative for just part of Wi-Fi, and devices can support both it and the technology it is meant to replace.

China has promoted the protocol, along with other homegrown technologies like the 3G standard TD-SCDMA, as part of a vision to produce more of its own technology and have it adopted by international companies.

Earlier this year, China Unicom chairman and CEO said the company was in talks with Apple about offering a version of the iPhone with Wi-Fi.

The new Apple device, like all mobile phones, still must obtain a network access license from regulators if its maker wants to sell it in China.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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