China Unicom registered its fastest revenue growth in nine years in 2022, led by continued 5G adoption, gains in its industry internet business and a third consecutive year of rising mobile ARPU.

In its earnings release, chairman and CEO Liu Liehong said the company’s financial strength and capability to mitigate risk had improved as finance costs decreased 20.9 per cent year-on-year.

He noted the “digital economy played a prominent role as the accelerator of the national economy and became a key driver of economic recovery”.

Net profit rose 16.5 per cent to CNY16.7 billion ($2.4 billion), aided by non-operating gains. Revenue increased 8.3 per cent to CNY354.9 billion, with the service figure up 7.8 per cent to CNY319.3 billion.

Industry internet revenue grew 28.6 per cent to CNY70.5 billion, accounting for 22.1 per cent of service revenue compared with 18.5 per cent in 2021.

The operator added 57.8 million 5G package subscribers for a total of 212.7 million.

Its total subscriber base increased 1.7 per cent to 322.7 million.

ARPU of CNY44.30 compared with CNY43.90 in 2021.

IoT connections grew 30.5 per cent to 385.5 million, with revenue up 42 per cent to CNY8.6 billion.

It earmarked CNY76.9 billion for capex in 2023 from CNY74.2 billion in 2022, but noted a downward trend as a percentage of revenue.

The number of shared 5G base stations increased by 310,000 to about 1 million.