China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile provider by subscribers, recorded operating revenues of CNY745.9 billion (USD106.1 billion) in the year to end-December 2019, an increase of 1.2% year-on-year. EBITDA for the twelve-month period grew by 7.4% to CNY296.0 billion, though Mobile notes that this was due primarily to its adoption of a new accounting standard (IFRS/HKAS 16) and excluding the impact of that move, EBITDA would have declined by 1.6% y-o-y. Meanwhile, net profit for the year dropped by 9.5% to CNY106.6 billion.
The company counted a total of 950 million mobile users at 31 December 2019, up from 925 million a year earlier and including 758 million 4G subscribers (up 6.4% y-o-y). Mobile ARPU dropped 7.5% from CNY53.1 to CNY49.1, however, despite a 90.3% y-o-y increase in average handset data traffic per month to 6.7GB. Elsewhere, IoT usage rose sharply, with the cellco counting 884 million customers at end-2019 compared to 551 million a year earlier. In the fixed segment Mobile reported a 19.4% y-o-y increase in broadband customers to 187 million, and a 2.7% uptick in household broadband ARPU, from CNY34.4 to CNY35.3.
Commenting on the results, Chairman Yang Jie highlighted the challenges affecting the company in 2019: ‘We were faced with a challenging and complicated operating environment in 2019 where the upside of data traffic was rapidly diminishing and competition within the telecommunications industry and from cross-sector players was becoming ever more intense. Coupled with this was the impact of government policies, including the continued implementation of the “speed upgrade and tariff reduction.”’