Hutchison Telecom predicts 4G boost to mobile data consumption
Company had 3.03 million mobile subscribers in Hong Kong and Macau at end of last year
Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong, the city’s second-largest wireless network operator, expects mobile data consumption by subscribers to grow this year as more of them upgrade to 4G services.
Chief executive Peter Wong King-fai presented that upbeat outlook on Monday, following the company’s announcement of solid earnings last year.
Hutchison Telecom, a subsidiary of billionaire Li Ka-shing’s CK Hutchison Holdings, runs mobile services in Hong Kong and Macau under its “3” brand, while fixed-line residential operations fall under 3Home Broadband.
As of December 31, Hutchison Telecom had 3.03 million mobile subscribers in Hong Kong and Macau.
The company also provides sophisticated fixed-line, high-speed Wi-fi, data centre and cloud computing services to the enterprise market under the Hutchison Global Communications brand.
In a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange on Monday, Hutchison Telecom reported a 10 per cent rise in net profit last year to HK$915 million, up from HK$833 million in 2014, mainly driven by strong mobile revenue.
Consolidated revenue last year grew 35 per cent to HK$22.04 billion, from HK$16.29 billion in 2014, due to an increase in hardware sales.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation advanced 4 per cent to HK$2.79 billion, compared with HK$2.68 billion in 2014.
Mobile business revenue jumped 46 per cent to HK$18.48 billion, from HK$12.63 billion in 2014, on the back of demand for popular 4G smartphones like those from Apple and Samsung Electronics.
Fixed-line services revenue decreased 3 per cent to HK$3.97 billion, compared with HK$4.10 billion in 2015, primarily due to a drop in international direct dial calls.
Hutchison Telecom estimated that the average monthly 4G data usage per subscriber last year reached 2.5 gigabytes, up from 2GB a month in 2014, on steady upgrades to 4G by its existing 3G and 2G customers.
“We prefer to be a value leader [in mobile services] rather than a price leader,” said Wong, who declined to comment on the company’s pricing for tariff plans and handset sales this year.
Wong said the company was on track with “re-farming” its 900-megahertz spectrum to 4G services this year, which would improve indoor mobile coverage for subscribers.
Hutchison Telecom’s shares finished at HK$2.62 on Monday, unchanged from last Friday’s closing price.