China Unicom booked operating revenue of CNY290.9 billion (USD43.4 billion) for the twelve months to 31 December 2018, an increase of 5.8% from CNY274.8 billion in 2017, with the operator attributing the growth in part to its competitive efforts in the 4G space. Unicom recorded 45.05 million net new 4G users during the year, bringing the total to 219.9 million, and although unit pricing for handset data services ‘decreased substantially’, consumption nearly tripled from 7.786 million TB in 2017 to 21.687 million TB in 2018. By the end of the year, average monthly data usage had risen to around 6GB, driving a 13.7% y-o-y increase in handset internet access revenue to CNY104.8 billion. EBITDA for the year, meanwhile, was up 4.3% to CNY84.9 billion, whilst net profit surged to CNY10.2 billion from CNY1.8 billion a year earlier. Profits were boosted by a windfall from the listing of infrastructure joint venture China Tower Corporation in August 2018.
China Unicom claimed a total of 315.04 million mobile subscribers as at 31 December 2018 – up from 284.16 million at the end of 2017 – whilst its fixed broadband user base totalled 80.88 million, compared to 76.5 million a year earlier. Finally, fixed line telephony subscriptions dropped from 60.00 million to 55.89 million during the year under review.