China’s third largest mobile player, China Telecom reported an increase of 6.3% in its profit to reach CNY11.7 billion ($1.76 billion) in the first half of the year. It also reported that its 4G penetration had hit 44% mark in the given time period.
Operating revenue in the first half increased 7.2% to CNY177 billion ($26.5 billion), while service revenue was up 5.6% year-on-year, with mobile service turnover rising 8.3% to CNY67.5 billion ($10.14 billion) and wireline revenue increasing 3.6% to CNY87.7 billion ($13.17 billion).
However, following the global trend, mobile voice revenue recorded a drop of 8.2% to CNY22.8 billion ($3.4 billion) while mobile data increased 19.3% to CNY44.6 billion ($6.7 billion). The company also recorded an increase of 19% in its handset revenue.
This growth happened on the back of increase in its subscriber base by nine million in the first half of the year. China Telecom continued to increase its 4G subscriber base as well. Its 4G subscriber base hit 90 million mark in the six months period (January to June), which now accounts for 40% of its total mobile user base, up from 15% a year ago and 30% in the last December.
In keeping with the growth of 4G subscribers, China Telecom is planning to increase its 4G network to 850,000 by the end of the current year. It is leasing 550,000 towers from China Tower and is also partnering with China Unicom to build and share 4G base stations (60,000) and fiber (14,500 km).
China Telecom plans to refarm 800Mhz spectrum in rural areas to enhance rural coverage. This would also lay a strong foundation for Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and Narrow Band-IoT (NB-IoT).
China is taking a strong lead in the development of 4G network. China Mobile, the country’s largest service provider, has 449 million 4G subscribers today.