Sunday Communications [HKSE: 0866.HK], the smallest of Hong Kong’s six mobile operators, has revealed that it managed to cut its losses by 45% to HKD117.3 million in 2002. The improvement in the bottom line is in part a result of the company’s bid to cut costs; in 2002 it moved a customer call centre to mainland China and cut back on customer promotions. Its net loss included a HKD31 million provision for bad and doubtful debts. Sales fell 5.6% to HKD1.34 billion, but EBITDA more than doubled to HKD214 million from HKD101.9 million a year earlier.
Sunday (formerly known as Mandarin) launched a DCS-1800 network in 1997. Subscriber growth has been at best steady, and by the end of December 2002 it had 603,000 customers up from 551,000 twelve months earlier. However, growth in customer base has been at the expense of ARPU, which remained unchanged in 2002 at HKD219.Sunday’s strategic focus is centred upon on the development of 2.5G services rather than a hasty foray into 3G, and a concentration upon the higher end of the market providing more value added services. It launched a WAP service, SO WAP, at the beginning of 2000 and the commercial availability of GPRS followed in early 2001. Despite Sunday’s emphasis on 2.5G technology, it is nonetheless keen to develop 3G and secured an UMTS concession via its wholly owned subsidiary Sunday 3G (Hong Kong); it paid just HKD10,000 to secure the fourth choice spectrum band, compared to Hutchison which paid HKD2.398 million for its 2×15MHz paired and 1×5Mhz unpaired spectrum. In September 2002 Sunday revealed that it did not expect to begin the rollout of its next-generation mobile network until 2004. Meanwhile, local press reports suggested that the company may be struggling to fund its 3G build and will not launch commercial services until 2005. Sunday is owned by Distacom (46.2%) and USI Holdings (11%). Sunday’s shares were listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange and on NASDAQ in March 2000.