China Mobile, the world's largest cellular operator, reported record operational results as it released its financial performance for the first half of 2016.
While the total number of subscribers grew a modest 1.3 percent since the end of 2015, to 837 million, the 4G subscriber count grew 37 percent to 428 million, reaching 51 percent of the total.
Not surprisingly, data traffic achieved a new peak of 2.3 exabytes (1018 bytes), reflecting 134 percent growth year-over-year. 4G subscribers accounted for 88 percent of the data demand from handsets. For the first time, wireless data traffic generated the largest revenue, contributing 43 percent of telecommunications services revenue.
Supporting this growth in data is a network of 1.32 million 4G base stations, planned to top 1.4 million by the end of the year. Capital investment in the 4G network during the first half of 2016 reached 46.2 billion RMB (approximately $7 billion).
Financially, China Mobile generated 325.4 billion RMB ($49 billion) in revenue from telecommunications services, which was 6.9 percent greater than the first half of 2015. Revenue from product sales and other items added 44.9 billion RMB, bringing the total first half revenue to 370.4 billion RMB ($56 billion), a year-over-year growth of 7.1 percent. Operating profit was 66.1 billion RMB ($10 billion), representing an operating margin of 17.9 percent. While the operating profit in RMB grew 5.5 percent from 1H 2015 to 1H 2016, the operating margin declined by 0.2 point.
China Mobile's full 1H 2016 presentation is shown below: