China Unicom’s profit and revenue for the first nine months of the year both fell compared to the same period last year, as the operator saw a 3.3 per cent year-on-year decrease in its total number of mobile subscribers to 287.6 million.

The operator is losing customers to rivals China Mobile and China Telecom.

Profit for the period fell 23 per cent compared to the same period  last year, from CNY10.6 billion ($1.67 billion) to CNY8.18 billion, while revenue fell from CNY215 billion to CNY212 billion. Within this total, service revenue from the mobile business fell by 8 per cent to CNY109.5 billion.

Regarding its announcement last month where it said (along with other Chinese operators) that data subscribers can carry over their unused allotments to the next month, it said this “will defer the revenue recognition for the corresponding unused monthly data, and hence affect the revenue and profit of the company for the fourth quarter of 2015.”

In August, the operator reported a 4.5 per cent increase in H1 net profit despite losing ten million mobile customers.

Last week, it signed an agreement with South Korea’s SK Telecom to strengthen competitiveness in 5G and roaming.