After announcing a 58% increase in full-year profit thanks to the sale of its CDMA network, China Unicom said it would spend 110 billion yuan ($16 billion) on its capital equipment this year.
Net income rose to 33.91 billion yuan ($4.96 billion), from 21.4 billion a year earlier, the company announced yesterday.
The company will increase its capex by 56%, of which 35.2% will be spent on its 3G networks and 23.7 billion on GSM.
But it will also consider raising 30 billion yuan in debt to help it fund its network rollout, chief financial officer Tong Jilu said at the results briefing without elaborating.
China Unicom last year took over fixed-line rival China Netcom and sold its struggling CDMA business to China Telecom as part of the nation's telecom industry restructuring.
Excluding the 26.1 billion yuan gain from CDMA business disposal and a 11.8 billion yuan impairment on the Xiaolingtong business, adjusted profit fell 5.8% to 14.3 billion yuan.
Growth in its mobile business, fixed broadband and data communication remained strong in 2008, but traditional fixed-line continued to decline. Mobile revenue, which represented 44.1% of the company's total revenue, grew 4.3% to 65.25 billion yuan, of which 24.9% derived from value added services.
Its fixed broadband and data communication businesses rose 23.9% to 25.17 billion, while fixed-line declined 4.4% to 82.77 billion last year.
Unicom chairman and CEO Chang Xiaobing said the company would capture opportunities brought by 3G to increase its market share.
He said Unicom's W-CDMA network would cover 55 cities by June, and expand to 284 cities nationwide by year-end. The company expects its 2G and 3G networks to cover 96% of the country's population by 2010.
Key operational metrics
Source: China Unicom
2008 2007 GSM Business Revenues 65.3 billion yuan 62.6 billion yuan Subscribers 133.4 million 120.6 million ARPU 42.3 yuan 45.7 yuan Fixed-Line Broadband Revenues 53.2 billion yuan 60.7 billion yuan Subscribers 100.1 million 110.8 million Fixed Line 78.3 million 84.7 million PHS 21.9 million 26.2 million ARPU 34.8 yuan 38.1 yuan Local Telephone Lines 38.2 yuan 41.4 yuan PHS 23.6 yuan 27.7 yuan Fixed-line Local Access Revenues 18.1 billion yuan 14.3 billion yuan Subscribers 25.4 million 19.8 million ARPU 65.2 yuan 69.5 yuan