We took the lead to step up in transformation and upgrades introduced by intelligence more than a year ago. With the unremitting efforts of everyone in the Company, we are delighted to see various businesses thriving with growing scale. We leverage innovative models to deepen the reform of systems and mechanisms persistently to foster the mutual growth of the Company and our employees. We continuously strengthen our own edges, while also expand open cooperation to build the co-sharing, co-innovation and co-prosperity "Ecosystem-Tetris" proactively. Looking forward, we will accelerate our transformation and upgrades and march towards the goal of being the leading integrated intelligent information service operator and thus to grow the value of the Company!
2017 was a year with landmark connotation in the development history of the Company. Facing increasingly complicated operation environment together with continuously intensified fierce market competition, corporate development faced immense pressure. With a unitary goal cohering as a whole, the Company firmly adhered to the established direction and stepped forward with keen determination to surmount tough difficulties. The Company thoroughly exploited all-rounded competitive capabilities persistently constructed and accumulated over the years and fully developed the superb corporate culture spirit of excellent execution, resulting in achievement of impressive results for the year with profitable scale development leaping forward to a new landmark. Meanwhile, with conscientious and organised planning before implementation, we pragmatically fostered transformation and upgrades as well as promoted comprehensive in-depth reforms, attaining important progressive results in phases. With accelerated cultivation of new growth engines, corporate vitality was remarkably and substantially reinforced. As a result, the stamina of development momentum became prominent. The results of 2017 demonstrated the Company's strong capabilities of resisting pressure and attaining growth and also proved the appropriateness of the development strategy of the Company, enabling us to further strengthen our confidence in persistently creating new value for shareholders.
Continual acceleration in scale development
In 2017, operating revenues amounted to RMB366.2 billion, representing an increase of 3.9% over last year. Of which service revenues1 amounted to RMB331.0 billion, representing an increase of 6.9% over last year with revenue growth surpassing the industry average for three consecutive years. Mobile service revenues amounted to RMB153.8 billion, representing an increase of 11.7% over last year while wireline service revenues amounted to RMB177.2 billion, representing an increase of 3.0% over last year, resulting in concurrent enhancement in growth rates. Revenue structure was further optimised and the proportion of revenues from emerging businesses as a percentage of service revenues increased by 6.4 percentage points over last year. EBITDA2 was RMB102.2 billion, representing an increase of 7.4% over last year. EBITDA margin2 was 30.9%, representing an increase of 0.2 percentage point over last year. Net profit3 was RMB18.6 billion, representing an increase of 3.3% over last year while basic earnings per share were RMB0.23. Capital expenditure was RMB88.7 billion, representing a decrease of 8.4% over last year and achieving persistent stringent control. Free cash flow4 has remarkably improved and reached RMB7.3 billion.
Taking into consideration the return to shareholders, the Company's profitability, cash flow level and capital requirements for its future development, the Board of Directors has decided to recommend at the forthcoming shareholders' meeting that a final dividend equivalent to HK$0.115 per share for the year 2017 to be declared, representing an increase of 9.5% over the year 2016.
In 2017, the growth of subscriber scale of the Company has further accelerated. The net increase of mobile subscribers was 34.96 million, being doubled over last year. The total number of mobile subscribers reached 250 million, accounting for 17.6% market share which represented an increase of 1.4 percentage points from the end of last year. Of which the net increase of 4G users was 60.17 million, with a net increase of over 60 million for two consecutive years and reaching a total of 182 million. The net increase of wireline broadband subscribers was 10.41 million, achieving a new record high over the past 5 years and reaching a total of 134 million. Of which the proportion of wireline subscribers of Hundred-Mbps or above accounted for nearly 50% and being doubled. e-Surfing HD services continued to develop rapidly and the net increase of e-Surfing HD subscribers was 24.43 million, reaching a total of 85.76 million. Internet of Things (IoT) services developed quickly while the connected devices increased by more than 200% over last year.
Pragmatic promotion of transformation and upgrades
Year 2017 is the first complete year for implementation of transformation and upgrades strategy. The Company grasped and embraced the new development trend of intelligent era with network intelligentisation, service ecologicalisation and operation intellectualisation ("three initiatives") as the direction of transformation and upgrades, striving to be "a leading integrated intelligent information services operator". Over the past year, the Company continuously enriched strategic connotation and reinforced strategic execution, accomplishing effective results in phases and embarking on pragmatic steps forward in transformation and upgrades.
Network intelligentisation is the foundation of transformation and upgrades. Being guided by CTNet2025, the Company promoted network reconstitution, introduced technologies such as Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) and sped up upgrades of network and equipment, endeavouring to build a new style network featuring neatness, efficient centralisation, swiftness and openness. In 2017, the Company constructed three superior networks, namely 4G network, IoT network and all-fibre network and based on these foundations, the Company also boosted the intelligentisation evolution of network with further consolidation and enhancement of network advantages.
Accelerated reinforcement of fundamental network capabilities. 280,000 new base stations were built, reaching a total of 1.17 million. We comprehensively established superior full coverage 4G network characterised with high- and low-frequency collaboration and simultaneously shaped network capabilities of VoLTE HD voice commercial launch, offering industry-leading integrated experience to our customers. Leveraging the 800MHz FDD 4G network, the Company became the pioneer in building the first NB-IoT network with the widest coverage and largest scale in the world and commenced commercial launch in 31 provinces nationwide. Meanwhile, eMTC was proactively introduced while a new generation of IoT capabilities with the characteristics of entire range and full speed is now being shaped and formed. Persisting in promoting the construction of fibre network, we established the world's largest Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) network while the fibre network coverage rate of households in cities and towns reached 96%. With comprehensive possession of Hundred-Mbps broadband service capabilities, we commenced deployment of Gbps broadband network in major cities. In overall, we continued to maintain our leading position in the industry.
Steady promotion of network intelligentisation evolution. We primarily accomplished the construction of cloud infrastructure unified across the entire network, laying a solid foundation for large scale cloudification of network capabilities in the future. Following the completed development of SDN intelligent dedicated line and pilot launch, the business capabilities of "self-selective network" were rapidly enhanced. With a vision looking forward into the future focusing on new opportunities with favourable return, we closely monitored trends and proactively accumulated capabilities to prospect the landscape of 5G development. The Company is deeply devoted to engaging in 5G standard formulation and network technology trial runs while taking the initiatives to explore and research on the feasibility study of collaborative development of 5G and 4G. 5G network trial has been conducted in 6 cities with extensive promotion of research and development of 5G applications.
Service ecologicalisation is the core of transformation and upgrades. In collaboration with its own strengths and resources endowment, the Company proactively established five business esospheres, namely Intelligent Connection, Smart Family, New ICT Applications, IoT and Internet Finance. In 2017, adhering to the theme of "co-sharing, co-innovation, co-prosperity", we coordinated with co-operative partners to co-build "Ecosystem-Tetris" with the aim of fostering the mutual integration, mutual promotion and scale development of the entire ecosphere.
Intelligent Connection ecosphere is the foundation of service ecologicalisation. The Company fully leveraged the advantages of "multi-mode" handsets, vigorously promoted large data traffic products and insisted on integrated operation strategy. As a result, the subscriber scale of Intelligent Connection ecosphere expanded rapidly and its revenue increased by 4.7% over last year. With increasing popularity of "multi-mode" handsets, sales volume of "multi-mode" handsets of the entire industry increased by more than 20%5 over last year, accounting for approximately 80%5 of total sales volume of handsets while the sales volume of "multi-mode" handsets of the Company exceeded 130 million, resulting in remarkable expansion in customers' growth potential. With comprehensive exploitation of the 4G network capabilities advantages, we launched unlimited usage package products to mid- to high-end users. We also closely co-operated with various well-known Internet enterprises and offered more than 30 Internet card products to the youngsters group. The increase of subscribers of large data traffic products for the year was approximately 60 million. The aggregate handset Internet data traffic increased by 182% while the mobile handset Internet access revenue increased by 33%. Meanwhile, with our perseverance in integrated operation, we actively boosted in-depth integration of broadband with large data traffic products and Smart Family ecosphere products such as e-Surfing HD so as to attain rapid growth of broadband subscribers with concurrent remarkable enhancement of overall business value of the Company.
Smart Family ecosphere is a key area for value extension of connection capabilities. Based on broadband advantages as foundation, the Company strengthened ecological cooperation and enriched product systems to facilitate the formation of three smart livelihood portals, including e-Surfing gateway, e-Surfing HD and Smart Family app. With the promotion of various integrated product and services such as intelligent WiFi networking services, family cloud and intelligent voice box, we boosted the consumption upgrade for smart homes and home entertainment. Revenue from Smart Family ecosphere for the year increased by more than 40% with rapid expansion of business scale, which became important differentiated development measures for Intelligent Connection ecosphere. In the future, we will further facilitate the convergence of premium contents and applications and foster Internet-oriented operations, resulting in acceleration of products value realisation and persistent cultivation of new growth momentum.
New ICT Applications ecosphere and IoT ecosphere are valuable fields with vast development potential. Following the in-depth integration of Internet, cloud computing, Big Data, artificial intelligence with government management and corporate production, the integrated demand for New ICT Applications and IoT increased rapidly. The Company's premium networks, extensive IDC resources, excellent government and enterprise customers service systems as well as enriched industry experience offered strong and powerful support for seizing market opportunities and confirming leading position. Driven by cloud as the lead, we increased our initiatives to integrate cloud with network and broaden the development of informatisation applications focusing on key industries including government administration, education, medical care and industrial Internet. Scale expansion was accelerated while development momentum maintained persistently strong. Revenue from cloud and Big Data services increased by nearly 70% over last year while the revenue from IDC services maintained rapid growth. Based on a new generation of IoT with nationwide coverage as foundation, we successfully constructed Connectivity Management Platform and enriched terminals products, endeavouring to expand connection scale. Targeting on the long-term value growth of vertical applications such as Internet of vehicles, intelligent wearable devices and smart city, we devoted to create Application Enablement Platform and promoted the integration of IoT with cloud, striving to attain further extension towards high-end of value chain.
Internet Finance ecosphere becomes the Company's important measures for differentiation. We proactively promoted mutual integration and mutual promotion of Internet Finance ecosphere and Intelligent Connection ecosphere. The Company launched BestPay red packet6 and integrated convenient and agile finance payment capabilities with enriched consumption mode in business districts, creating differentiated marketing initiatives. The increase of BestPay red packet users for the year exceeded 30 million, driving rapid growth in mobile subscribers scale. Meanwhile, with enormous mobile subscribers resources serving as foundation, we promoted enrichment in various financial products to expand mobile payment scale. The total gross merchandise value ("GMV") of "BestPay" for the year was approximately RMB1.6 trillion, representing an increase of 53% over last year. In the future, the Company will persistently reinforce ecological cooperation and further expand Internet Finance services.
Operation intellectualisation is the key to transformation and upgrades. Driven by Big Data as a force, we endeavoured to build market and frontline-driven operational systems so as to enhance efficiency of operational management. In 2017, the Company steadily promoted operation intellectualisation and the corporate core began to take shape. We initially established enterprise-level Big Data platform embedded the features of "centralisation, openness and cloudification" and accomplished the core data convergence of network, platform and operation. The volume of data collection and processing reached 100TB per day. In opening up our capabilities of data interchange and model analysis, we emphasised to develop tens of Big Data applications such as pre-assessment on product gross margin and network precision investment.
Riding on the corporate core capabilities, the Company profoundly promoted precision marketing, delicated service, lean network operations and precision management. Through utilisation of Big Data analysis, we precisely reached out to our targeted customers. With our continuous efforts in strengthening electronic channels and upgrading over 10,000 Smart Family experience stores, we enhanced the channels' efficiency and capabilities. In executing our service commitment to "installation within one day, repairs within one day, compensation in the event of delay", we established a new benchmark in the industry. Intelligent service methods such as customer services robots were launched so as to enhance service efficiency and customers experience, enabling us to maintain industry leading position in terms of customer satisfaction in both handset and wireline Internet access services. The response speed of installation and maintenance was expedited to enhance users' end-to-end experience. Through optimisation in the lease management of telecommunications towers, we focused on managing and controlling the relevant costs. Risks scanning model was built to strengthen the capabilities of risk prediction as well as risk management and control. With the implementation of precision network construction, we diverted resources titling towards highly profitable areas while through deepened centralised procurement, operating costs were reduced and corporate efficiency was enhanced.
Comprehensive in-depth reform and innovation
In 2017, the Company grasped the favourable and golden period of reforms to promote comprehensive in-depth reforms and reinforce reforms initiatives with our unwavering determination. The vitality of various factors such as human resources and capital were fully stimulated, accelerating the formation of operation systems and organisation mechanisms in alignment with transformation and upgrades.
In the aspect of operation systems, through persistent exploration and optimisation, the featured reform model of three-dimensional inter-driven forces comprising sub-division of performance evaluation units, professional operation and top-down support was formed, while more than 50,000 autonomous operation entities with unified accountability of duties, rights and interests were established, achieving concurrent growth of employee values and corporate values as a whole. The frontline vitality was significantly stimulated while professional endowment and capabilities as well as integrated service support level were consistently enhanced. Employees' satisfaction and corporate cohesion were continuously reinforced. Our reforms measures are the paradigm of state-owned enterprises' reforms.
In the aspect of organisation mechanisms, we carried out systematic reforms surrounding "three initiatives" and established the business innovation committee and technology innovation committee to coordinate and plan the corporate transformation blueprint. We also launched the operation of project-based systems and formed intellectualised joint project team to strengthen collaboration and innovation across professions, regions and levels.
In the aspect of factors reforms, we vigorously selected and recruited professional and technological talents which were requisite for the enterprise transformation, boosting the implementation of middle- to long-term incentives for core talents and endeavouring to establish talents system in alignment with transformation. We strived to bolster in-depth capital investment and operation to expedite the promotion of mixed-ownership reforms. With increased deployment in research and development, we commenced a number of significant research projects so as to accelerate the pace of technological innovation.
Corporate governance and social responsibility
We always commit to uphold a high level of corporate governance. Insisting on governing the corporate in accordance with laws and regulations, we attach great importance to risk management and control and continuously enhance corporate transparency to ensure corporate healthy and sustainable growth. Our persistent efforts in corporate governance have been widely recognised by the capital markets. In 2017, we were accredited with a number of awards and recognitions, including "Most Honored Company in Asia" by Institutional Investor for seven consecutive years, "No. 1 Best Managed Company in Asia" by FinanceAsia, "The Best of Asia - Icon on Corporate Governance" by Corporate Governance Asia and "Best Initiative in Innovation" by The Asset.
As a major force of constructing "Cyberpower, Digital China and Smart Society" and a network infrastructure provider, we persevere in fulfillment of social responsibility. With full exploitation of the "carrying pole" function, we connect the upstream and downstream partners along the value chain and drive the joint development of information and telecommunications industry together with Internet applications enterprises, bolstering robust development of digital economy. In grasping the wish to enjoy better living of the general public, we promote to offer efficient, convenient and intimate personalised product services. With further implementation of the "Speed Upgrade and Tariff Reduction" policy, we vigorously reinforced the construction of informatisation fundamental infrastructure in rural areas so as to foster targeted poverty alleviation for the benefit of the society and the general public as a whole. With vigorous promotion of bandwidth expansion of Internet backbone network, network communications quality was effectively assured. In addition, we are also devoted to maintain network security and information security, striving to create a clean and healthy cyberspace. With accelerated replacement of obsolete equipment, we promote energy saving and emission reduction as well as foster green development. We received high recognition and appreciation from the society through our efforts in successfully accomplishing telecommunications assurance for the 19th CPC National Congress, BRICS Summit and "the Belt and Road" Summit, as well as disaster relief and rescue activities.
At present, national development enters into a new era as the economy is transitioning from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development. Developing modernised economy becomes the strategic goal of our nation's development. With the state's vigorous promotion of the construction of "Cyberpower, Digital China and Smart Society", in-depth integration of informatisation with real economy including new industrialisation, urbanisation, agricultural modernisation is reinforced. New growth areas are cultivated while new impetus are shaped and formed, bringing precious development opportunities for the telecommunications industry. From the viewpoint of the entire industry, there is still vast growth potential for subscribers scale. Demand for data traffic continues to maintain rapid growth while emerging businesses show enormous demand capacity, providing vast market development potential for us. Meanwhile, with intensified industry competition together with increased pressure on price competition of data traffic and broadband services, the fleeting development opportunities of subscribers scale lapse promptly and cross-industry competition becomes increasingly prominent.
The present condition inspires us to strive for excellence and work hard while the development path has long term implication. We will promote deepened supply-side structural reform and accelerate transformation and upgrades, fostering quality reform, efficiency reform and impetus reform. Leveraging all-round competitive capabilities and insisting on integration and innovation, we will implement a more proactive marketing strategy to accelerate efficient scale development and persistently promote cost reduction and efficiency enhancement, while appropriately responding to the changes of regulations as well as maintaining good growth momentum. Meanwhile, with our devoted efforts to deeply promote network intelligentisation, service ecologicalisation and operation intellectualisation, a new generation of informatisation fundamental infrastructure featuring "Internet of everything, human-computer interaction as well as integration of satellite with existing network as a whole" is being created and built. With the establishment of integrated ecology between information technology and various sectors and industries, we will enhance corporate total factor productivity and march towards the three major goals of "construction of Cyberpower, building a first-class enterprise, co-establishment of better living", endeavouring to continuously create new value for shareholders.
Finally, on behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere gratitude to all our shareholders and customers for their support. I would also like to express our sincere thanks to all our employees for their hard work and contributions. Furthermore, I would like to extend our sincere gratitude towards Mr. Sun Kangmin for his excellent contributions during his tenure of office as a Director of the Company.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
28 March 2018
- Service revenues were calculated based on operating revenues minus sales of mobile terminals, sale of wireline equipment and other non-service revenues.
- EBITDA was calculated based on operating revenues minus operating expenses plus depreciation and amortisation while EBITDA margin was calculated based on EBITDA divided by service revenues.
- Net profit refers to the profit attributable to equity holders of the Company. Excluding after-tax effect of changes in depreciable lives of certain fixed assets amounted to approximately RMB3.1 billion, the net profit for year 2017 was approximately RMB21.7 billion, representing an increase of 20.2% over last year.
- Free cash flow was calculated from EBITDA minus capital expenditure and income tax.
- The data is quoted from SINO Market Research.
- BestPay red packet is an innovative model of contract package launched by China Telecom. Each month a certain amount will be refunded to contract users on proportion, which can be used for airtime topping up as well as online and offline consumption of BestPay.