EXCLUSIVE WEBINAR: China Mobile is confident that the next iPhone will support LTE technology and could operate across both the TDD (unpaired) version of LTE spectrum as well as the more commonly used FDD (paired) version.

Speaking on a Mobile World Live webinar last week, Bill Huang, General Manager at the China Mobile Research Institute, commented: “iPhone 5 will certainly be an LTE terminal that potentially will support both TDD and FDD.” (View the webinar in full here.)

The comments will help lay to rest any concern that Apple’s next version of its iconic device – expected to be unveiled next June – will not run across the latest high-speed mobile networks.

For China Mobile, support for both TDD and FDD versions of LTE would be a major benefit; while the vast majority of mobile operators have launched LTE services in FDD spectrum, China Mobile is the industry’s biggest proponent of TDD technology. “We are promoting both TD-LTE and FDD-LTE convergence globally,” added Huang. “So when we deploy our terminals we will allow two types of terminals; TD-LTE-only terminals and both TDD/FDD combined terminals.”

Analysis firm Wireless Intelligence notes that, to date, 37 operators globally have launched LTE services, including one dual FDD/TDD deployment.

China Mobile has been talking with Apple for many months in an effort to get an official agreement signed with the Californian vendor. Reports yesterday quoted the operator’s Chairman Wang Jianzhou as stating that the world’s largest operator by subscribers already has 10 million iPhone users even though it does not have an agreement with Apple. Reuters claims Chairman Wang added that Apple has promised to make an iPhone compatible with TD-LTE technology when its next-generation model comes out, but did not say when this would happen. At present, China Unicom is the only official operator partner in the country for Apple.