SK Telecom (SKT) recorded some promising numbers for the third quarter, with its rapidly growing 5G subscriber base and rising data usage helping boost ARPU and mobile revenue slightly, perhaps indicating the early signs of a turnaround of its mobile business.
The operator, which launched 5G service in April, closed September with 1.54 million 5G subs. It is targeting 5 million by the end of 2023.
Mobile revenue in the quarter inched up 0.1 per cent to KRW2.49 trillion ($2.13 billion), representing the first year-on-year increase in eight quarters. The figure was also up 2.1 per cent sequentially, its second consecutive quarterly increase.
Although ARPU slipped 2.8 per cent year-on-year to KRW31,166, it also grew sequentially for the last two quarters.
Net profit dropped 74 per cent year-on-year to KRW274 billion due to the impact of lower equity income from SK Hynix (down KRW102 billion), and higher 5G marketing and network investment costs. Marketing expenses rose 27.1 per cent to KRW788 billion.
Consolidated revenue increased 9 per cent to KRW4.56 trillion, with 45 per cent of turnover now generated by non-mobile businesses.
In a statement, SKT said its media, security and commerce businesses have become solid drivers of growth, and it is rapidly shifting itself from being a mobile operator to new ICT company.
Its total mobile subscriber base rose 3.2 per cent 28.1 million at end-September. Because some LTE users migrated to 5G plans, 4G penetration slipped to 86 per cent from 88 per cent in Q3 2018.
Capex in the recent quarter jumped 64 per cent to KRW661 billion, which the company said was due to increased investments to expand 5G coverage.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back