China Mobile reported a strong mobile performance driven by 4G, as it noted it is at a “critical stage” in its transformation.
“There is a relatively high demand for resources from various fronts including the growth of 4G business, the development of wireline broadband as well as the deployment of digital services,” it said.
It also said it had “proactively enhanced cost efficiency across its operations, deepened transformation of its sales and marketing model, and promoted more efficient use of resources”.
The company’s strong performance contrasts with that of closest rival China Unicom, which is struggling with profitability.
At 30 September, the world’s largest operator had 844 million customers, compared with 837 million at 30 June. Of these, 481 million were 4G customers, up from 429 million. That’s a jump in its 4G subscriber base from 51 per cent of total customers to 57 per cent.
China Mobile has sped up the migration to flat-rate packages, in a move to adjust tariffs “in a balanced and orderly manner”.
The company also said it has “continued with its endeavours to steadily develop its wireline business using a high-end approach, with a focus on boosting network speed and targeted development”.
For the nine months to 30 September 2016, the operator reported a net profit of CNY88.1 billion ($13 billion), up 3.1 per cent year-on-year, on revenue of CNY542.7 billion, up 4.3 per cent.
However, with China Mobile having already revealed a strong first half, the third quarter itself seems to have been somewhat lacklustre. According to South China Morning Post, a Bernstein Research analyst described the period as “slightly weak”.