China Mobile credits 4G gains for strong 1H numbers

China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator by a considerable margin, performed above expectations in the first half of this year thanks mainly to ongoing strength in the 4G market.

Revenue was up 7.1% to RMB370.4 billion and profit was up 5.6% to RMB60.6 billion. This was comfortably ahead of the RMB58.8 billion anticipated by analysts polled by Bloomberg.

Total mobile customers were up 2.4% to 837 million and, as you can see from the table below, June 2016 was the first month in which 4G subscribers accounted for the majority of all China Mobile subscribers, which accounts for the fact that revenues and profits are out-stripping subscriber growth.

China mobile customers

“In the first half of 2016, the company maintained its competitive advantage in 4G business and of particular note was that we conducted the timely launch of the high quality 4Gpremium network, ahead of our market peers,” said China Mobile Chairman Shang Bing in the company’s earnings statement.

“We added over 200,000 4G base stations, increasing the total number of 4G base stations to 1.32 million. Our 4G network has now been expanded to cover more indoor areas in a larger number of places. The strength of the network was enhanced by the launch of high quality VoLTE (Voice over LTE) in nearly 300 cities across the country. The application of Carrier Aggregation has also been rolled out in over 300 cities.

“We are sure to see increased 4G competition as a number of rival providers are collaborating in network expansion and increasing marketing efforts. Taking all these into perspective, the Company has planned to maintain what we deem sufficient levels of marketing expense in 4G for the rest of 2016 in order to maintain our lead in the market.”

Here’s the 4G slide from China Mobile’s earnings presentation which, refreshingly, made no reference to 5G. It looks like much of the network investment has already been completed and China Mobile’s spending priorities are now more focused on marketing its 4G service.

China Mobile 4G slide

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