China Mobile’s profit edges up just 1.5% in H1 as competition intensifies


HONG KONG — State-owned China Mobile’s first half-profit rose just 1.5 percent as the world’s biggest phone company by subscribers grappled with rising competition.

The Beijing-based company said Thursday that income in the January-June period rose to 63.1 billion yuan (US$10.3 billion) as wireless data revenue jumped by two-thirds.

Operating revenue rose 10 percent to 303.1 billion yuan.

The company said the number of subscribers rose to more than 740 million from 710 million at the end of 2012.

Competition between China Mobile and its two state-owned rivals, China Unicom and China Telecom, is intensifying as the three companies invest heavily in new, faster fourth-generation networks to support data-hungry smartphones and tablet computers.

China Mobile is at a disadvantage because its third-generation network technology, running its homegrown TD-SCDMA technology, doesn’t support Apple’s popular iPhone.

Chairman Xi Guohua said the company “faced a number of challenges” including slower economic growth and more complex competition in the information and communications industry.