China Mobile revealed plans to trim capex this year by CNY7.3 billion ($1 billion), or 4 per cent, after cutting the outlay by 2.6 per cent in 2023, as the company booked steady annual profit and revenue growth.

The world’s largest mobile operator earmarked CNY173 billion in capex for 2024, compared with CNY180.3 billion last year. The 2023 figure represents 20.9 per cent of telecoms services revenue, down by 1.9 percentage points from the year earlier.

Chair Yang Jie said the capex to service revenue ratio is expected to fall below 20 per cent in 2024.

Net profit for the full year rose 5 per cent year-on-year to CNY131.8 billion. Operating revenue grew 7.7 per cent to CNY1 trillion, with service revenue up 6.3 per cent to CNY863.5 billion.

Yang highlighted revenue topped the trillion mark for the first time despite challenges in “a complex and severe macro environment”.

The operator added 138 million 5G network customers (users with both a connection and compatible device) in 2023, taking the total 465 million. It targets signing up 80 million 5G network customers in 2024. The number of 5G package subscribers increased almost 30 per cent to 795 million.

Its overall mobile user base inched up 1.6 per cent to 991 million at end-2023. Mobile ARPU was flat at CNY49.30.

The number of customers using its 5G voice over HD video reached 133 million, a net addition of 41.3 million. IoT connections increased 23.9 per cent to 1.3 million.

Digital transformation product sales improved 22.2 per cent to CNY253.8 billion, accounting for 29.4 of telecoms service revenue. The company signed 15,000 5G industry commercial cases, up 22.4 per cent.

It added 23.7 million monthly active users of its cloud product, bringing the total to 190 million. Cloud revenue jumped 65.6 per cent to CNY83.3 billion.