HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- China Mobile, the world's largest mobile services provider by subscribers, said Thursday it expects to add 50 million 4G subscribers in 2018, less than half the number it added last year.
The company added 114 million 4G customers during 2017, bringing the total number of subscribers to the service to 650 million, it said in an exchange filing.
The Hong Kong-listed company's net profit grew 5.1% in 2017 to 114.3 billion yuan ($18.09 million) from 108.74 billion yuan in 2016. Operating revenue rose 4.5% on-year to 740.51 billion yuan, with telecommunications services revenue rising 7.2%.
"Under the circumstances of a predictable policy environment, the company will strive to achieve a growth rate of telecommunications services revenue above the industry average on a comparable basis," Chairman Shang Bing said in a statement.
The company aims total number of connections to exceed 1.4 billion in 2018, he added, compared with 1.23 billion last year.
China Mobile said it added 38.30 million mobile customers during the period, bringing total number of mobile customers to 887 million.
The company expects handset data traffic tariff to drop over 30% in 2018 after sliding 43% last year, Shang Bing said at a press conference in Hong Kong on Thursday. Still, it will strive to boost earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in 2018, he said.
It plans to build a full-fiber broadband network to popularize 100 mbps products this year. However, it estimates a decrease in capital expenditure to 166.1 billion yuan from 177.5 billion yuan spent in the year ago.
China Mobile declared a final dividend of HK$1.582 per share for 2017, compared with HK$1.243 per share in 2016. It expects to maintain a stable dividend payout ratio in 2018, according to its earnings presentation.
The company's shares closed 0.8% lower at HK$71.75 in Hong Kong on Thursday.
--Hong Kong Newsroom