Hong Kong-based mobile operator SmarTone has reported that its fiscal first-half net income rose more than threefold to HKD161 million (USD21 million) after customers increased spending on high speed mobile data services. In the six months to end-December 2007 mobile service revenue increased by 10% year-on-year to HKD1.707 billion and EBITDA registered 26% growth to HKD551 million. The 3.5G operator’s data contribution to total turnover climbed to 22.1% compared to 17.1% in the same period of the previous year. Revenue from multimedia services accounted for two-thirds of total data turnover. Blended ARPU in the six months was up 7% at HKD238, while post-paid ARPU rose 11% to HKD283; the post-paid churn rate improved slightly to 2.1% in December 2007. SmarTone’s customer base reached 1.108 million at the end of December, up from 1.077 million at the end of June, following a dip in the total from 1.093 million at end-December 2006. However the company reported that its 3G/3.5G customer base continues to expand and currently accounts for 40% of post-paid users, up from 30% last June. It added that CAPEX in fiscal 2007/08 is likely to increase by 15% year-on-year to HKD450 million as it focuses on enhancements to its GSM/W-CDMA/HSPA network.