The iPhone 5 has finally received a network access license in China, which will enable Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to start selling its latest smartphone in its fastest growing market in December.

What Does the Regulatory Approval Imply?

According to The Wall Street Journal, Chinese regulators have approved the WCDMA and CDMA-2000 models of the new phone, which are compatible with the networks of existing Apple carrier partners, China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) and China Telecom (NYSE:CHA). This clears the way for the iPhone 5 to be launched in the country by mid-December. While Apple had not provided a target launch date for China, it has said that it wants the new handset to be available in 100 countries on 240 carriers by the end of December. China is already one of its most important markets, so crossing this hurdle was key for it.

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However, with no approval for the TD-SCDMA model of the phone yet, the handset is not likely to be available on China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), the largest carrier in the world, anytime soon. A potential Apple deal with China Mobile is being seen by analysts as a big, and almost necessary, boost for the California company, as the network has nearly 700 million subscribers.

What Does the News Mean for Apple’s Stock?

It doesn’t take much to imagine that the longer it takes for the iPhone 5 to come to China, the more users in the country will look for alternatives such as devices running on Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system. This news, then, will be welcomed by investors, as vendors in China start selling handsets within weeks of approval by the country’s Telecommunication Equipment Certification Center.

Apple launched the new iPhone in Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong in September, the month of its first arrival, and the handset has been seeing brisk sales in those countries.

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