In the face of rising competition, China Mobile boosted quarterly income 3.5% but just fell short of analysts’ forecasts.
It announced net income of 29.6 billion yuan ($4.5b), just shy of the 30 billion yuan forecast by analysts polled by Bloomberg.
However, sales of 122.8 billion yuan, up 7.7%, ahead of the 121.45 billion yuan analysts had expected.
China Mobile, China’s biggest telco and the world’s largest by market cap, said profit for the first nine months rose 3.9% to 87.2 billion yuan, with revenue up 7.8% to 352.6 billion and ebitda 6.0% higher at 177.8 billion yuan.
It said subscriber growth had showed signs of slowing down, with average net adds of 5.23 million per month in the September quarter, compared with 5.27 million over the first nine months.
Chairman Wang Jianzhou said the company would invest further in “sales channels, customer service, network optimization, support system and R&D” to boost competitiveness.
Previously he has said the company would step up handset subsidies in order to spark take-up on its 3G network, based on the local TD-SCDMA technology.
The company added 1.86 million 3G subscribers in September, compared with 1.595 million in August. Rival China Telecom clocked up another 3.04 million 3G customers in September and China Unicom 1.04 million.
China Mobile’s customer base was 569.76 million at September 30.