Mobile users grow but revenue dips

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 March, 2009, 12:00am

Revenue in the mainland telecommunications sector grew 5.7 per cent in January, but analysts said an increase in mobile subscribers failed to boost revenue on a monthly basis.

The sector's revenue rose to 62.9 billion yuan (HK$71.32 billion) from January last year as an increase in mobile-telephone users boosted voice traffic 16.4 per cent to 258.2 billion minutes, according to government statistics released yesterday.

However, revenue fell 7.2 per cent from 67.8 billion yuan in December.

'Despite the subscriber rebound, total telecoms industry revenue of 62.9 billion yuan was actually down ... month on month ... which reinforced our view that subscriber growth may not necessarily lead to proportional revenue or earnings growth for the whole industry,' a Goldman Sachs research note said.

Calls made between different provinces on mobile phones grew 25 per cent in January from the year before, while those to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau dipped 4.2 per cent.

Total mobile-phone users rose 8.48 million to 649 million.

Fixed-line voice traffic saw a significant decrease in January, with domestic voice traffic down 17.7 per cent to 5.41 billion minutes.

Inter-province calls over fixed lines dropped 20.1 per cent, while calls to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan tumbled 50 per cent.

The number of users of the xiaolingtong wireless fixed-line service fell 136,600 to 67.56 million as mobile phones became more common.

Total fixed-line users dropped 101,000 in the same period to 339 million.

China Mobile executive director Zhang Chunjiang said in Beijing yesterday that the company had experienced a fall in voice traffic since the fourth quarter of last year owing to the financial turmoil.

Shares in China Mobile yesterday fell 3.08 per cent to HK$63.

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