Report: China Mobile to begin offering iPhone pre-orders this week

As China Mobile gets closer to launching its 4G network, the carrier might be gearing up to offer pre-orders for Apple’s(s aapl) iPhone as early as Thursday. According to the Wall Street Journal, China Mobile was running an ad on its website that said “4G is here!” along with a link to pre-order the iPhone 5s, as well as additional 4G smartphones from Samsung and Sony(s sne).

The Wall Street Journal spoke with a customer services operator that said, “Customers can begin to preorder for our new 4G services from Dec. 12 through the company’s website and some dedicated branches in Shanghai. But we will only start providing commercial 4G services after Dec. 18.” That’s the iPhone launch date that was reported last week. The Wall Street Journal contacted China Mobile directly, but a spokeswoman declined to comment on the advertisement.

Either way, it’s looks pretty certain that the iPhone is coming to China Mobile at some point this week or next. That will open up a huge potential new audience for the phone, as the carrier is home to more than 700 million subscribers.