China Telecom reported a 10 per cent fall in profit in 2016 – largely in line with analysts’ estimates – as the state-owned Chinese telecoms company doubled its total 4G subscribers.

Net profit fell to Rmb18bn ($2.6bn) in the twelve months to December, slightly lower than an average of analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg of Rmb18.4bn.

Operating revenues for the mobile and fixed-line service provider grew by 6.4 percent year on year to Rmb352.3bn as service revenues rose 5.6 per cent to Rmb309.6bn.

The company, which is China’s third-largest mobile operator in subscriber terms, added 17m mobile subscribers during the year with the number of 4G subscribers rising by 63.4m to 122m.

The company saw strong growth in its 4G business as handset internet data traffic tripled. China Telecom said the monthly average data traffic per 4G customer had “entered a GB [gigabyte] era”.

Chairman Yang Jie was positive about the company’s 2017 outlook, as it is set to benefit from government policies to promote technological development in China, such as Made in China 2025.

He said:

Despite facing more complicated external environment and more intensified market competition, we are even more confident looking into the future. The confidence is
originated from the continuous improvement of macro environment — steady improvement of the national economy, progressive promotion of supply-side reforms, vitality released from the reforms of state-owned enterprises; from the prosperous and booming industry outlook

China Telecom’s shares fell as much as 1.3 per cent in Hong Kong before paring losses to trade down 0.5 per cent at HK$3.8. The Hang Seng China Enterprises index was up 0.6 per cent.

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