iPhone 4S has reportedly received China's network access permit

Chinese website M.I.C. Gadget is reporting that the iPhone 4S has leaped an important hurdle in preparation for sale by cellular carrier China Unicom. The newest iPhone has apparently been tested by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and is about to be given the stamp of approval -- a network access permit.

MIIT is a state agency in China that regulates the Internet and wireless communications. Local media in the country reported that the network access permit for the iPhone 4S will be issued in as soon as two weeks. No official word has come from either Apple or China Unicom, but if the rumor is true, the desirable 4S will be going on sale soon in the world's biggest market. China Unicom is dropping the 16 and 32 GB iPhone 4 models, presumably to prepare for the arrival of the 8 GB iPhone 4 and the three models of iPhone 4S.

China is a large and growing market for Apple, and one that the company is focusing on for future revenues. China Unicom is the second-largest carrier in the country. China Mobile is actually the largest; although the company doesn't officially carry the iPhone (the phones can only make calls and send texts on the China Mobile TD-LTE network), they apparently have 10 million iPhone users on their network.

Subscribers to China Telecom, the nation's third-largest carrier, will reportedly need to wait until February or March of 2012 to get their hands on the iPhone 4S.