China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile provider by subscribers, has reported operating revenue of CNY198.4 billion (USD30.5 billion) for the first three months of 2021, representing an increase of 9.5% year-on-year. Of that figure, CNY177.7 billion was from services (up 5.2% y-o-y) and CNY20.8 billion from products (up 67.0% y-o-y). The operator attributed the growth in revenue from the sale of products to the ‘buoyant’ growth of handset sales, due to a greater variety more affordable range of 5G-compatible devices. EBITDA for the period, meanwhile, rose to CNY72.1 billion from CNY68.5 billion a year earlier, whilst profit attributable to shareholders grew by 2.3% y-o-y to CNY24.1 billion.
The company counted a total of 940 million mobile subscribers at end-March 2021, down from 942 million three months earlier, although the number of 4G users grew from 775 million to 788 million. On the 5G front, Mobile booked a total of 189 million ‘5G Package Customers’ (165 million at 31 December 2020) but only 92.76 million of those were classified as ‘5G Network Customers’ by the telco, the first time the operator has reported the figure. The growing proportion of 4G and 5G users continued to drive up monthly ARPU and data usage, with Mobile recording ARPU of CNY47.4 for Q1 2021 compared to CNY42.9 in Q4 2020, and average handset data usage of 11.2GB per user per month (10.4GB in previous quarter). In the fixed broadband market, subscriptions grew to 218 million from 210 million three months earlier, but ARPU dropped from CNY38.6 to CNY31.8 over the same period.