Unlike Apple's previous deals, an Apple spokesperson told Dow Jones Newswires that the companies deal with China Unicom is not exclusive and they will not be the sole carrier of the iPhone in the nation of over one billion.
The spokesperson declined, however, to detail whether or not Apple is in negotiations with other possible carriers.
China Unicom chairman said last week he believes his company will remain the only carrier of the iPhone because it operates on the WCDMA standard, the third-generation successor to the GSM platform. The carrier runs a GSM/UMTS 3G mobile network using the same signaling technology at AT&T in the U.S. and most other carriers worldwide.
This means that if Apple would want to release the iPhone on competing carriers, it would need to alter the device's inner workings, which Apple has already done.
The new iPhones have reportedly a new hardware model that lacks Wi-Fi and operates on the 900MHz, 1700MHz and 1900MHz bands. That device, given government regulatory approval for use on China Unicom in July, can be sold in the country for five years.
China Unicom, the nation's second-largest wireless provider plans to launch its 3G network on Sept. 28 in anticipation of the iPhone's debut. The network has an estimated 141 million subscribers, and plans to offer 3G access in 335 cities before 2010.