Heavy investment in 3G and data services are beginning to pay off for China Mobile, by helping it buck a trend towards lower ARPUs.
The world’s largest mobile carrier by subscription recorded ARPU of CNY77 (€8.24) in 2009, up from CNY75 in the first nine months of the year, as service revenues grew to account for 29% of revenues compared to 16% in 2008.
ARPU at all three Chinese mobile operators has been waning in recent years, as delays in awarding 3G spectrum prevented the carriers rolling out lucrative new data services.
China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom collectively invested $21 billion (€15.3 billion) in 3G network deployment in 2009, as they look to make up ground lost due to delays in awarding spectrum.
China Mobile’s TD-SCDMA based 3G network will help it move beyond traditional voice services into new areas, including video-on-demand and music downloads, according to a Washington Post report citing Reuters.
The news service estimates China Mobile’s 4Q09 net profit hit CNY31.1 billion compared to CNY30.2 billion in 4Q08, beating analysts forecasts of CNY30.4 billion.
SinoPac Securities analyst Frank Zhu told Reuters it is essential the carrier maintains that growth in 2010, by attracting more users to its 3G network and associated value-added services.