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Monday, October 24, 2011, 02:14 pm PT (05:14 pm ET)

Unlicensed China Mobile says 10M iPhones on its network

Despite not having an agreement with Apple to sell the iPhone, Chinese carrier China Mobile claims over 10 million customers are using the device on their network.

It was revealed on Monday that the world's largest mobile carrier by subscribers is seeing 10 million of its 630 million subscribers using the iPhone, but doesn't pay subsidies to Apple, reports Reuters.

"We have not yet got an agreement with Apple," China Mobile Chairman Wang Jianzhou said at the ITU World telecoms fair in Geneva. "The total number of iPhones in China Mobile's network has reached 10 million - and we didn't pay any subsidies."

China Mobile's LTE data network is not compatible with any current iPhone model, though most of the carrier's customers opt for basic services like talk and text. Wang noted, however, that he personally met with late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs several times about offering a model that would work on the telecom's next-generation TD-LTE network.

"Apple promised to provide, when they develop the iPhone for LTE, that it will include TD-LTE," Wang said. "We are discussing the details."

Currently only GSM/CDMA carrier China Unicom officially carries the popular smartphone in China. Wang notes, however, that the growing number of Apple retail stores across in China has allowed for a proliferation of the handset across the country's three mobile carriers' networks.

When Apple launched its new iPhone 4S, a GSM/CDMA compatible "world phone," the company also announced that an unlocked version of the handset will be available in November, which will allow customers to use their choice of GSM network.

The unlocked 4S comes only months after Apple began shipping its unlocked iPhone 4 in June.