China Mobile has reported a 3.1% increase in net profit for 2018 to 117.78 billion yuan ($17.58 billion) as the company focused on reducing costs and increasing operational efficiency.
Operating revenue declined 0.5% in reported terms to 736.82 billion yuan, but grew 1.7% after 2017's results were recalculated using the new IFRS revenue standard..
Telecommunications service revenue fell a reported 0.4% but grew 3.7% in comparable terms to 670.9 billion yuan.
The operator's net profit was also aided by the listing of the company's tower division China Tower in August last year.
China Mobile reported a 4.3% increase in its total customer base for the year to 925 million, of which 713 million are 4G customers – a 9.7% increase from 2017. But mobile ARPU fell 8% to 53.1 yuan as a result of strong competition.
Meanwhile total wireline broadband subscribers increased by 39% to 157 million, of which 147 million were household broadband customers. Household broadband blended ARPU grew 3.2% to 34.4 yuan.
“2018 was a challenging year for telecommunications operators. Competition amongst peers changed in characteristics as products and services have become homogenized while cross-sector challenges have intensified. The value of traditional telecommunications business rapidly diminished, coupled with multiple challenges from a complex and rapidly-changing policy environment,” China Mobile chairman Yang Jie said.
“In order to counter market competition, overcome the major obstacles in the ongoing reforms and enhance management, we continued to encourage everyone across the Company to take the 'Big Connectivity' strategy even further and implement the integrated development of the “four growth engines”.”