South Korean operator KT recorded solid gains in mobile service revenue in Q1, as 5G penetration rose to 12.5 per cent and ARPU strengthened year-on-year.

Mobile service turnover increased 2.2 per cent to KRW1.63 trillion ($1.3 billion), driving a 1 per cent rise in total service revenue to KRW5.11 trillion. Handset revenue dropped 6.9 per cent to KRW724.7 billion.

On an earnings call, CFO Yoon Kyung-keun said overall mobile revenue grew 1.9 per cent despite a sharp drop in contribution from international roaming.

ARPU edged up 0.9 per cent to KRW31,773.

The operator added 361,000 5G subscribers in Q1 to end March with 1.78 million (the service launched in April 2019, so annual comparisons aren’t available). Its total mobile subscriber base grew 1.3 per cent to 14.23 million, excluding MVNO customers and IoT connections.

It earmarked KRW3.1 trillion for capex in 2020, down 4.8 per cent from 2019, with KRW406.9 billion spent in Q1.

Yoon said it also posted growth in its internet, media and B2B businesses.

Net profit dropped 12.8 per cent to KRW226.6 billion due to a lower contribution from subsidiaries, which Yoon said were negatively affect by the impact of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.