China Mobile’s financials in H1 held steady during disruption caused by Covid-19 (coronavirus) lockdown restrictions and heightened competition, as the operator focused on accelerating its 5G network deployment.

In a statement, chairman Yang Jie said increased competition along with rising industry convergence created “an increasingly complex and volatile business development landscape which requires us to take our operations to the next level”.

He said the pandemic created serious repercussions for economic and social development, noting actions taken in response will “catalyse and accelerate a new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation, which will further the digitalisation of both the economy and society”.

By end-June, China Mobile stated a total of 188,000 5G base stations had been deployed in more than 50 cities, and over H1 it fast-tracked construction of its standalone 5G core network, targeting commercialisation later this year.

Yang said operators are accelerating the construction of new infrastructure including 5G networks and data centres to drive economic and social transformation.

Net profit was flat year-on-year at CNY55.8 billion ($8 billion) and operating revenue was also unchanged at CNY389.9 billion.

Telecoms service revenue rose 1.9 per cent to CNY358.2 billion; its total mobile subscriber base edged up 1.3 per cent to 947 million, with 5G package customers totalling 70 million; mobile ARPU fell 3.7 per cent to CNY50.30; and average mobile data usage per user/month rose 39.7 per cent to 8.6GB.