Taiwan Mobile has added TWD515 million ($16.9 million) to its 2014 capex budget, which is now TWD16 billion, in part to speed up its 4G network rollout.
The company’s board approved the decision last Friday as the operator’s 4G additions in Q3 lagged behind rivals Far EasTone and Chunghwa Telecom.
As of the end of September, Far EasTone led with 390,000 4G connections, followed by Chunghwa with 270,000 and Taiwan Mobile with 250,000, according to GSMA Intelligence. The three launched 4G services in late May, so the vast majority of those connections were added in Q3.
Taiwan Mobile will allocate 67 per cent, or TWD10.7 billion, of the capex to mobile, TWD1.7 billion to fixed-line and TWD1 billion to cable TV.
The operator, the country’s number two mobile player with a 23.3 per cent market share, has slightly more total mobile connections than Far EasTone (7.6 million vs 7.4 million) but only has 24 per cent of the country’s 4G connections compared to Far EasTone’s 36 per cent share. Chunghwa has a 26 per cent share and Taiwan Star, adding 130,000 4G connections in Q3, has about a 14 per cent share.
Taiwan Mobile announced in its Q3 financial report that it aims to have one million 4G subscribers by the end of year, which will be a challenge given it added just 250,000 in Q3.
The operator recently acquired 5MHz of 700MHz spectrum from Ambit, giving it 35MHz of 4G spectrum, which is equal to Chunghwa’s 35MHz. Taiwan Mobile has 20MHz in the 700MHz band and 15MHz of 1.8GHz spectrum; Chunghwa has 25MHz of 1.8GHz and 10MHz of 900MHz.
Its revenue for Q3 rose 3 per cent to TWD27.7 billion as mobile broadband revenue increased 18 per cent to TWD6.07 billion from Q3 2013. Sixty per cent of its mobile subscribers now have data plans. Mobile service revenue, however, was down slightly from a year ago.
EBITDA was up 1 per cent to TWD8.1 billion while its EBITDA margin was stable at 29.18 per cent.