China Mobile, the largest mobile operator in the world, reported steady profit and revenue growth in the first half of 2018 on renewed 4G subscriber growth and gains in its enterprise and emerging businesses.
The operator’s net profit for the six-month period grew 4.7 per cent year-on-year to CNY65.6 billion ($9.6 billion), with operating revenue up 2.9 per cent to CNY392 billion.
Telecoms service revenue rose 5.5 per cent from H1 2017 to CNY356 billion. Mobile turnover edged up 1.1 per cent to CNY268 billion; its enterprise business posted 10.1 per cent growth to CNY38.1 billion; and emerging business revenue grew 7.8 per cent to CNY27.9 billion.
China Mobile chairman Shang Bing said: “In the first half of 2018, market competition has intensified and cross-sector convergence has increased pace. At the same time, operators were required to take further actions to comply with the state policy of speed upgrade and tariff reduction.”
Shang said its personal mobile market remains the biggest revenue contributor. To counter the intensifying competition on customer and data traffic market shares, he said it adjusted its strategy and took a series of actions to develop its 4G business as well as data traffic operations: “As a result, we saw our 4G net additional customers and data traffic market share swing back to a positive trend.”
The number of mobile connections increased by 39 million year-on-year to end June with 906 million: 4G penetration reached 74.7 per cent, taking the operator’s total to 677 million LTE customers, a gain of 83 million from end H1 2017.
Mobile ARPU fell 6.6 per cent to CNY58.10.
IoT connections jumped by 154 per cent year-on-year to 384 million, with the company noting M2M connections now outnumber human-to-human connections in some areas. Revenue from IoT business grew 47.6 per cent.
The operator added 190,000 4G base stations in the first half of the year.
Following its support in finalising the first set of 5G standards, Shang said: “We will continue to proactively roll out trial tests on the 5G network and other tests on 5G applications in the second half of 2018, as well as invest resources into the 5G Joint Innovation Centre and study the possibility of cross-industry integration and applications that will speed up the commercialisation of 5G technology. We are keen to generate returns on our investments and will plan our future investments on 5G taking into consideration the level of maturity of the industry and business models that emerge.”
He noted it plans to strengthen cooperation with established internet companies to market content-based data products on a larger scale, in order to further boost data traffic revenue.