China Unicom has reported a 4.5% increase in net profit for the first half of the year, bucking the trend established by rivals China Mobile and China Telecom.
Net profit grew to 6.99 billion yuan ($1.09 billion), thanks in part to declining operating expenses.
But revenue declined 3.3% to 144.68 billion yuan, with service revenue down 5.3% as China replaced a business tax on telecom services with a value-added tax. Mobile service revenue shrank 9.7% to 73.46 billion yuan, but fixed-line revenue increased 2.2% to 46.18 billion yuan.
China Unicom deployed 272,000 new base stations in the first half, taking the total to 837,000, and is aiming to increase this total to 1.2 million by the end of the year.
The operator made solid mobile data gains, adding 8.68 million mobile broadband subscribers for a total customer base of 157.8 million, or 54.5% of total mobile customers.
Mobile broadband accounted for 71.8% of China Unicom's total mobile revenue for the half-year, up by 4.9 percentage points over the same period last year.
By comparison, both China Mobile and China Telecom reported declining profit for the first half of the year. China Mobile's net profit edged down 0.8% to 57.27 billion yuan, while China Telecom's profit slipped 4% to 11 billion yuan.