China Mobile sees 4G expansion as its “focal point” for 2016, after revealing it added more than 200 million customers to its LTE network over the course of last year.

The operator said in its 2015 results it had a mammoth 312 million 4G customers at the end of the year, up from 90 million the year prior, with its total number of subscribers also growing 2.4 per cent, to reach 826 million.

China Mobile has spearheaded 4G growth in China over the past year, and has kept up its momentum, after revealing in October its 4G total had nearly hit 250 million.

For 2016 outlook, the company said it has a target to achieve 500 million 4G connections.

In a statement, chairman Shang Bing said the company had now “seized opportunities in the 4G sector”.

“As the first mover in providing 4G services, we continued to lead innovative business layouts and developments and to focus our efforts on transformation and management efficiency,” he said. “As a result, China Mobile has solidified its position as a leading 4G services provider.”

Net profit fall
4G growth was indeed a bright spot for the company, particularly as it saw net profit fall slightly by 0.6 per cent to CNY108.5 billion ($16.7 billion) on revenue of CNY668.3 billion for 2015, up 2.6 per cent.

In another telling metric, China Mobile said data services had become its main revenue driver, which reflected “the changes in user habits, and will serve as the foundation for future growth and expansion”.

In total, data services brought in CNY303.4 billion, compared with CNY258.5 in 2014, while voice services accounted for CNY261.9 billion, down from CNY313.5 billion the year prior.

In 2015, mobile data traffic increased 143.7 per cent, from the year prior, added the company.

“In recent years, due to the downward trend in traditional voice services and SMS, our company has attached high importance to, and actively explored strategic transformation, which have now achieved some initial success,” it added.