China Unicom grows data usage with low-cost devices

Chinese operator China Unicom has announced a 92 per cent year on year increase in mobile data usage, attributing the growth in part to the availability of low-cost smarpthones. In an earnings release posted late last week, Unicom referenced an improvement in its smartphone “quality to price ratio”.

The firm recorded a 19 per cent increase in full-year revenue for 2012 to reach RMB248.9bn ($40bn), while profit for the year grew 67.9 per cent to RMB7.1bn.

Chang Xiaobing, chairman and CEO at the operator, said that over the year China Unicom was the fastest growing operator in the country, in terms of revenue.

“Its market share further increased, its business structure further improved, and its profitability showed significant improvement,” he said.

The operator had 76.5 million subscribers by the end of 2012, seeing net additions of 36.4 million over the course of the year.

3G service revenue grew by a sizeable 82.6 per cent year-on-year, to reach RMB59.8bn.

The total number of GSM subscribers also grew by two per cent to 162.9 million, although GSM service revenue decreased by 6.1 per cent year on year to RMB66.24bn. The operator said this decline in revenue was due to the decrease in voice and SMS revenues.

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