China’s second largest telecom provider by subscribers, China Unicom, has published its interim results for H1 2017, reporting a 68.9% year-on-year increase in net profit for the period. The full service provider recorded net profit of CNY2.42 billion (USD361.6 million) for the six-month period compared to CNY1.43 billion in H1 2016, despite a 1.5% dip in operating revenue to CNY138.16 billion. Unicom’s cost control measures contributed to a 2.5% reduction in operating expenses from CNY136.89 billion to CNY133.48 billion, with a drop of more than CNY7 billion in the cost of telecom products sold offsetting minor expense increases elsewhere, including for network operation and support, tower usage fees and employee benefits. EBITDA for the period grew 5.5% y-o-y to CNY43.56 billion, with an EBITDA margin of 35.1%, compared to 34.3% in H1 2016. Mobile service revenue grew by 5.2% on an annual basis, as expanding data revenues continued to compensate for the falling turnover from traditional voice services. In the fixed segment, however, revenue was flat y-o-y, with Unicom reporting decreasing turnover from voice and broadband access services and growing revenue from ‘Other Internet and Data’ services and ICT services.
At the end of June 2017 Unicom counted a total of 269.45 million mobile billing subscribers – up from 260.70 million a year earlier – whilst the number of 4G users on its network almost doubled over the same period from 72.42 million to 138.81 million. Broadband access subscriptions were up 4.0% y-o-y to 76.92 million, though ARPU dipped from CNY50.7 to CNY47.0 amidst increasing competitive pressures.