China Mobile has reported a 5.6% lower net profit for the first quarter, its seventh sequential quarterly decline, as a result of heavy 4G spending.
The operator's unaudited results show a profit of 23.8 billion yuan ($3.84 billion) for the March quarter. Operating revenue meanwhile grew 3.9% to 160.9 billion yuan.
Spending on TD-LTE rollouts and the promotion of 4G smartphone sales helped the company add 53 million 4G customers during the quarter, taking its total base to 143 million. LTE customers increased by more than 50% since the same quarter a year earlier.
Strong 4G subscriber growth led to mobile data traffic climbing 158% year-on-year
As of the end of March, China Mobile had 815 million customers, including 234.7 million on 3G. The operator recorded total net additions of 8.75 million.
“The group is at a critical stage of transformation of its development,” China Mobile said in its results announcement.
“[We] will continue to adhere to the principles of forward-looking planning, effective resource allocation, rational investment and refined management in cost allocation, endeavor to strike a balance between the group’s short-term performance and long-term development, strive to increase revenue and save costs.”