Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White has told clients in a note — as reported by “Barron’s (http://macte.ch/DSTMR) — that Apple s getting closer to closing a deal for the iPhone with China Telecom.

He cites material on NetEase’s web site,stating that a branch of China Telecom is accepting pre-orders for the CDMA version of the iPhone 4, and that terms of a deal between the two companies are being worked on. The relationship between Apple and China Telecom is clearly moving in the right direction, and “we believe that a deal will eventually be announced this year,” says the analyst.

White believes all three Chinese cellular carriers are competing to carry the phone. (China Unicom (CHU) already carries the iPhone.) This “would ultimately open the door for the iPhone to tap into China’s 842 million wireless subscribers,” he tells clients, noting thatChina Telecom, in particular, has 90.5 million subscribers, versus 167 million for China Unicom and 584 million for China Mobile.