SmarTone focuses on 3G expansion

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 September, 2011, 12:00am


SmarTone Telecommunications Holdings, which posted a sharp increase in full-year profit, plans to further develop its 3G infrastructure and bide its time in launching a higher-speed 4G network.

The company, a subsidiary of Sun Hung Kai Properties, yesterday reported a 157 per cent jump in net profit to HK$754 million for the year to June, from HK$294 million a year earlier, as it added more subscribers and boosted its monthly average revenue per user (arpu).

Revenue rose 68 per cent to HK$6.63 billion, compared with HK$3.96 billion in the previous year.

The number of subscribers grew 17 per cent to 1.54 million from 1.44 million.

Arpu, which is calculated as revenue divided by the number of SIM cards in issue across its portfolio of services, grew 15 per cent to a record high of HK$249 because of higher data service usage by subscribers with smartphones. Its HSPA+ standard 3G network delivers mobile broadband speeds of up to 42 megabits per second.

'As smart device penetration continues, the group is well-positioned to capture growth and gain revenue market share,' SmarTone chief executive Douglas Li said.

The carrier, which runs mobile networks in Hong Kong and Macau, is raising capital spending to HK$700 million, from HK$685 million a year ago, to expand its 3G network capacity using its new spectrum on the 850 megahertz frequency band.

Li said SmarTone intended to use its spectrum on the 1800MHz frequency band for a 4G network, based on the industry standard called Long Term Evolution (LTE), when the technology matures and there are a range of popular smart devices that support it.

'If we want to, we can launch an LTE network next year,' he said 'But we're more focused on improving customer experience than letting our subscribers be guinea pigs for a technology that is not yet ready.'

Rival CSL is currently the sole mobile network operator in Hong Kong that runs an LTE-standard 4G network.

SmarTone will pay a final dividend of 42 HK cents per share. Its shares rose 0.96 per cent to close at HK$14.74 yesterday.