China Mobile targeted ending 2021 with 200 million 5G subscribers, as it highlighted the ARPU and data usage gains from customers migrating to next-generation tariffs.

In an earnings statement, the operator said ARPU for 5G users in 2020 was about 6 per cent higher than the overall mobile figure. Average monthly data usage was up 23.7 per cent compared with consumption before users moved to next-generation plans.

Chairman Yang Jie said 5G-related investments in 2020 totalled CNY102.5 billion ($15.7 billion), with about 340,000 5G base station deployments bringing its total to 390,000.

The operator launched a cloud-based centralised standalone (SA) core network in September 2020: recent figures show it ended February with 173 million 5G subscribers.

Modest gains
Net profit for 2020 was up 1.1 per cent year-on-year to CNY107.8 billion, with gains from equity investments accounting for 11.8 per cent of the total.

Operating revenue rose 3 per cent to CNY768.1 billion, driven by increases in home broadband and business services. Mobile service revenue fell 2.8 per cent to CNY477 billion, with data turnover flat, and voice and SMS sales down 12.2 per cent. Product sales were up 1.2 per cent to CY72.4 billion.

Yang said despite various difficulties and challenges in 2020, “we managed to forge ahead steadily with the goal of achieving high-quality development and becoming a world-class enterprise”.

He noted stable and healthy growth, with “stronger momentum” and “significant success on various fronts” in its business development.

Overall mobile subscribers slipped marginally to 942 million: LTE users grew 2.3 per cent to 775 million and IoT connections fell 1.2 per cent to 873 million.

Mobile ARPU slid 3.5 per cent to CNY47.40. Average data usage rose to 9.4GB at from 6.7GB in 2019.