China Unicom, the second largest mobile player in the mainland, recorded another huge jump in net profit in the January to September period, as strong service revenue growth continued and its mobile subscribers grew by 33 million year-on-year.

The operator’s net profit for the nine-month period ending 30 September jumped 116 per cent year-on-year to CNY8.78 billion ($1.27 billion). The profit included a gain of CNY1.47 billion from its share of net profit after a change in its shareholding percentage in China Tower following an IPO.

In the opening nine months of 2017 China Unicom’s net profit jumped 193 per cent year-on-year: in the opening six months of 2018 the figure was up 145 per cent.

A 7.2 per cent increase in mobile service turnover in January to September contributed to service revenue growth of 6.5 per cent year-on-year to CNY200 billion. Fixed-line service revenue was up 5.2 per cent to CNY73.2 billion.

China Unicom said revenue from its industrial internet business increased 35.7 per cent to CNY17.3 billion.

Falling tariffs
The service revenue gains came despite the operator noting that in the period it continued to implement the government’s policy to improve speeds and reduce tariffs. It also cancelled domestic handset data roaming fees from 1 July.

China Unicom said in a statement its “efforts in mixed-ownership reform started delivering notable enhancement in growth momentum, quality and efficiency”. In 2017, the Hong Kong-listed company raised funding by selling a 35 per cent stake to a group of 14 strategic investors as part of the government’s mixed-ownership reform effort.

Its subscriber base increased 12 per cent year-on-year to end September with nearly 310 million subs. The number of 4G subcribers grew 32 per cent to 214 million, taking LTE penetration to 69 per cent. ARPU was down 8.9 per cent year-on-year to CNY44.80.