The second largest wireless carrier--and only official iPhone carrier--in China is offering the iPhone 4S for free when customers sign up for a multiyear contract.
According to a report by Bloomberg, China United Network Communications Group (China Unicom) is offering monthly rates for as low as $45 USD in an attempt to get customers locked in to a three-year service commitment.
Of course, adding iPhone users is no walk in the park; recall the issues experienced by AT&T after the release of the original iPhone stymied its network on a regular basis.
China Unicom found that adding iPhone users has quadrupled 3G subsidy costs since the first half of 2011.
While the promise of increased users looks good in the press, China Unicom's stock took a 1.3 percent hit, most likely reacting to the huge subsidy costs and associated costs with maintaining a network carrying the iPhone.
Given the current mobile climate, it doesn't seem as though we can expect anything close to this kind of deal here in the U.S., though I'm sure it would be more than welcome. As wireless carriers continue to build next-generation networks, their costs continue rising.
If anything, I'd expect data rates to hold or rise in the next few years. Would you commit for three years at a rate of $45 per month? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!