China Telecom on Wednesday reported impressive mobile revenue growth in the first half of 2014 but subscriber losses increased.
In the first six months of the year, the operator lost 5.34 million mobile customers. In April, China Telecom announced it had lost 2.38 million subscribers during the first quarter, which means that it must have lost 2.96 million in Q2.
In a statement, China Telecom attributed the decline to its strategy of "profitable mobile development and appropriate control of marketing initiatives" amid "intensified market competition driven by the launch of 4G services and strengthened marketing promotions" by its rivals China Mobile and China Unicom.
While that strategy might not have won China Telecom as many customers, its strategy of encouraging 3G adoption helped to drive a 13.5% increase in mobile service revenue to 54.6 billion yuan (€6.6 billion). Overall revenue was CNY165.97 billion (€20.5 billion), up from CNY157.56 billion a year earlier.
EBITDA was broadly flat at CNY50.5 billion, while net profit increased by 11.8% to CNY11.4 billion (€1.4 billion).
"The company persisted in rational competition and profitable development with appropriate controls over investments and costs, resulting in solid growth in both revenues and net profit," said China Telecom.
On the fixed side, China Telecom netted 4 million broadband subscribers, giving it a total of 104 million. Of that total, 33 million are fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) customers, an increase of 5% from the end of 2013.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Thursday that the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has given China Telecom permission to extend trials of its hybrid TD-LTE/FDD LTE network to a total of 40 cities, up from 16.
The new trial cities include Beijing, Dongguan, Guangzhou, Tianjin, and Xiamen.
China Telecom is expected to receive its official licence for a fully commercial FDD LTE rollout in early 2015.