Apple takes a step toward adding Wi-Fi to Chinese iPhones

Apple appears to have moved a step closer to delivering an iPhone with Wi-Fi capabilities to the Chinese market.

This week, Chinese regulators issued a network access license for an Apple iPhone that is equipped to use the China-developed wireless LAN security protocol, WAPI (WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure). China’s Telecommunications Equipment and Certification Center (TENAA) published photos of the phone, which appears to be an iPhone 3G, on its Website.

With that license, the phone can now be sold in China, suggesting it may debut soon.

Representatives from Apple and China Telecom, the local carrier that Apple has selected as its partner, would not comment on the device’s capabilities, nor when it would go on sale.

When iPhones began officially entering the Chinese market last year, Apple was forced to disable their Wi-Fi capabilities to comply with Chinese laws. At the time, Chinese regulators would only allow mobile phones using the Chinese WAPI protocol for secure wireless access.

News of the license award coincides with the opening of Apple’s second retail store in China. Located in Shanghai, the store will welcome customers for the first time on Saturday.

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