China’s three main telecom operators – China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom – invested more than CNY40 billion (USD5.77 billion) in the provision of universal services since the end of 2015, C114 reports, citing head of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s (MIIT’s) information and communications development department, Wen Ku. According to the official, the trio’s spending covered the deployment of fibre to 130,000 administrative villages, helping drive fibre coverage of such villages to 96%. Meanwhile, population coverage of 4G networks has increased to 95% and the availability of broadband services in ‘poor villages’ has exceeded 94%; 90% of the targets set down in the 13th Five-Year Plan (covering 2016-2020) had been achieved ahead of schedule, the official added. Consequently, the government has reportedly moved the goalposts, setting targets of fibre coverage in 98% of administrative villages, broadband access in 98% of poor villages and 4G coverage of 98% by 2020.
In a related development, meanwhile, infrastructure provider China Tower has reported total operating revenue of CNY53.6 billion for the first nine months of 2018, up 6.1% year-on-year. EBITDA for the period was CNY31.7 billion (an increase of 5.4% y-o-y), whilst net profit grew by 16.7% to CNY2.0 billion. The company counted a total of 1.917 million sites at 30 September 2018, compared to 1.845 million twelve months earlier, with 2.865 million tenants (2.623 million in 2017) – equating to a tenancy rate of 1.49, up from 1.42 twelve months earlier.