China Mobile issued Q1 numbers which showed it edged ever-closer to the remarkable achievement of becoming the first operator globally to have a total of 1 billion subscribers, with 5G numbers accounting for a growing proportion of the tally.

The operator’s total mobile subscriber count grew 1.7 per cent year-on-year to 983 million, putting it in the home straight in terms of a run to 1 billion. China Mobile noted 5G users hit 363 million by the close of the quarter, accounting for nearly 37 per cent of its entire base.

China Mobile first split 5G user numbers from a broader figure covering the number of customers on a compatible tariff in March 2022. The recent subscriber number is 130 million higher than at end Q1 2022, with package numbers growing from 467 million to 689 million.

During Q1 China Mobile’s net profit grew 9.5 per cent to CNY28.1 billion ($4.1 billion) and operating revenue 10.3 per cent to CNY250.7 billion.

China Mobile did not reveal mobile revenue, though overall telecoms sales grew 8.3 per cent to CNY209.8 billion and products 21.9 per cent to CNY40.9 billion.

Data and ICT revenue grew 23.9 per cent to CNY29.4 billion.

Average mobile data usage per customer rose 13 per cent to 14.7GB, with mobile ARPU flat at CNY47.50 ($6.90).