CTI's healthy numbers

24 Nov 2008

Amid the economic gloom, City Telecom posted some healthy numbers last week.

It more than quadrupled profit for the full year and overtook cable operator Wharf to become Hong Kong's second biggest broadband ISP.

Admittedly, the figures are for the year to August 31. In the current economic context, that's almost ancient history, so there's little guidance for the current troubled year.

Nonetheless, it recorded a healthy HK$125.2 million ($16.1 million) profit on 14.2% higher sales of HK$1.30 billion.

Much of that is from its broadband and TV business, thanks no doubt to the incredible speeds offered by its metro Ethernet network - from 25 Mbps upwards to 1"”100 Mbps.

Broadband subs increased 28% to 316,000 and ARPU rose 9.1% to HK$191. TV subs rose 22% to 156,000.

CTI expects to spend another HK$650 million in the next two years to reach its target of 2 million households in 2010.

By comparison Wharf Cable, the city's sole cable network operator, is feeling the pain from the assault by CTI and incumbent PCCW. Its last result showed a paltry 1% increase in pay TV customers, while broadband numbers shrank 9% to 280,000. Sales fell 10% and net profit slipped 78%.

Steve McKay, CEO of PCCW's set-top supplier, Entone, has even predicted that PCCW will "literally put the cable company out of business".

Unlikely, but Wharf is surely in record-breaking territory in giving up an eight-year headstart to become no. 2 in TV. Now it's fallen behind CTI as the biggest ISP after PCCW. It's hard to see it clawing that back.

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