In the first half of 2018, facing complicated and intensified industry conditions, we adhered to the established development strategy and were well organised for a balanced approach to persist in excellent execution, accomplishing successful achievement of new breakthrough in corporate development. Stepping a firm foothold in the present, we firmly seized the golden opportunities from expansion of customers potential, benefits released from data traffic and informatisation integrated development. With our dedicated and persistent efforts to proactively expand accompanied by implementation of effective self-defence measures, the business scale of fundamental businesses achieved rapid breakthrough and the growth of emerging businesses remained continuously strong. The revenue growth achieved industry-leading position while the profitability level steadily enhanced. With a vision looking forward into the future, we are facing prosperous business opportunities of intelligent information services in the era of digital economy. Through our unwavering devotion to promote the transformation of the “three initiatives”, implement comprehensive in-depth reforms and innovation together with proactively prospect the landscape of 5G development, we endeavoured to create new value potential for shareholders.
In the first half of the year, operating revenues amounted to RMB193.0 billion. Of which, service revenues1 amounted to RMB177.6 billion, representing an increase of 7.0% over the same period last year (if excluding the impact of the application of International Financial Reporting Standard 15 on the current period, it represented an increase of 8.5% over the same period last year) with revenue growth surpassing the industry average for consecutive years. Revenues from emerging businesses2 accounted for 51.2% of service revenues, representing an increase of 6.1 percentage points over the same period last year with continual optimisation in revenue structure. EBITDA3 amounted to RMB55.9 billion and EBITDA margin3 was 31.5%, which remained primarily stable compared with the same period last year. Net profit4 amounted to RMB13.6 billion, representing an increase of 8.1% over the same period last year while basic earnings per share were RMB0.168, achieving persistent favourable growth. Capital expenditure was RMB32.9 billion, representing a decrease of 19.9% with persistent and appropriate control. Free cash flow5 reached RMB18.4 billion which has increased remarkably over the same period last year.
Taking into consideration the Company’s profitability, cash flow level and the capital requirements for future development, the Board of Directors has decided not to pay an interim dividend this year in order to maintain adequate funding flexibility. The Board of Directors will proactively consider the expectation of shareholders’ return and evaluate the final dividend proposal when reviewing the full year results and will propose to the shareholders’ general meeting accordingly.
Innovation and Integration Promoting New Breakthrough in Scale
In the first half of the year, the Company accurately grasped the changes of market demand and firmly adhered to proactive marketing strategy. Product innovation was accelerated while integration upgrade was promoted, attaining new breakthrough in scale development.
Acceleration of product innovation. Firmly seizing the development opportunities of large data traffic, we launched a series of enriched large data traffic package products to mid- to high-end users. Through in-depth co-operation with various well-known Internet enterprises, we offered numerous Internet card products for youngsters group. In overall, the demand from different targeted markets was fully satisfied. Through active external cooperation to enrich the variety of terminals, we launched the first batch of 17 multi-mode artificial intelligence (AI) handset models in total. The sales volume of multi-mode terminals of the entire industry accounted for 78%. With enriched forms of wireline broadband products, we comprehensively launched products such as self-selective broadband and daily-rental broadband. Besides, we vigorously expanded targeted markets including household second broadband as well as hotel and apartment broadband, effectively boosting customers’ growth potential. Meanwhile, product innovation in the area of Intelligent Applications ecosphere6 was further expedited and new growth engine was cultivated.
Promotion of integration upgrade. Insisting on relying superior business as the core, we achieved mutual integration and mutual promotion among businesses concurrent with value enhancement. On the foundation of business convergence among mobile, fibre broadband and e-Surfing HD, we comprehensively fostered integration upgrade of “large data traffic + Hundred-Mbps broadband + Smart Family” so as to simultaneously enhance competitive capabilities of integrated products as well as effectively increase customers loyalty. As a result, the churn rate of broadband subscribers remained stable with a slight decline. The triple-play bundled rate7 of broadband subscribers reached 59%, representing an increase of 13 percentage points over the same period last year. Facing severe and intensified price competition, wireline broadband service, as a Smart Family service portal, not only attained effective self-defence but also bolstered the rapid development of Smart Family service. The value contribution of Smart Family to broadband services was persistently enhanced. The ARPU of broadband access was RMB47.2 while the broadband blended ARPU8 was RMB52.5, maintaining the leading position in the industry.
Achievement of new breakthrough in scale. In the first half of the year, the growth of both mobile and broadband scale reached historical records high. Intelligent Applications ecosphere became revenue growth force.
Mobile service revenues amounted to RMB83.6 billion, representing an increase of 10.3% over the same period last year and continuing to maintain double-digit growth. Of which, the mobile handset Internet access revenue increased by 26.5% over the same period last year. The total number of mobile subscribers reached 282 million, representing a net increase of 31.66 million which was more than double of the net additions in the same period of last year and reached a historical record high. It accounted for 46.5% market share in the net additions of the industry and the overall total market share increased to 18.9%. Of which, the total number of 4G users reached 217 million, representing a net increase of 35.27 million while the penetration rate reached 77%. The aggregate handset Internet data traffic had strong growth momentum and increased by nearly four times. Wireline service revenues amounted to RMB94.0 billion, representing an increase of 4.2% over the same period last year with further enhancement of growth rate. The total number of wireline broadband subscribers reached 141 million, representing a net increase of 7.09 million and also achieved a historical record high. Of which, the proportion of wireline broadband subscribers of Hundred-Mbps reached 56%, representing an increase of 19 percentage points over the same period last year.
The contribution of Intelligent Applications ecosphere to the incremental service revenues of the Company exceeded over 50%. The e-Surfing HD revenues increased by 29.8% while the net increase of e-Surfing HD subscribers was 12.54 million, reaching a total of 98.30 million with 70% penetration rate. Revenues from IDC service maintained a growth rate of 20% and the growth rate of total revenues from cloud and Big Data reached 120%. Internet of Things (IoT) services achieved accelerated breakthrough with revenue growth rate attaining nearly 90%. The net increase of connected devices was nearly 30 million, being doubled as compared to the same period last year and reached a total of 74.19 million. The number of average monthly active users of Internet Finance (BestPay) exceeded 37.70 million, representing an increase of 34% over the same period last year. The gross merchandise value of personal accounts increased by nearly 90% compared to the same period last year.
Transformation and Reforms Fostered Further Enhancement of Capabilities
In the first half of the year, the Company expedited the promotion of network intelligentisation, service ecologicalisation and operation intellectualisation (“three initiatives” transformation), persistently promoting comprehensive in-depth reforms and boosting further enhancement of integrated competitiveness at all-round perspectives.
Further reinforcement of network capabilities. Despite continuous reduction in investment scale, enhancement of network fundamental capabilities still leaped forward a new progress while integrated customers experience maintained industry-leading position. Leveraging superior full coverage 4G network characterised by high- and low-frequency collaboration, we continuously optimised in-depth coverage for key scenes including high-speed rail and high-density business districts and deployed dynamic bandwidth expansion in accordance with users’ demand. The number of 4G base stations reached 1.2 million while the network utilisation rate was 36%, offering vigorous support to the development of large data traffic. With efficient promotion of all-fibre network construction, full coverage of Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) for households in cities and towns9 was primarily accomplished while Gbps broadband was deployed in more than 170 cities on demand. The bandwidth of IP metropolitan area network and backbone network reached 500Tbps and 170Tbps respectively, maintaining industry-leading position. With accelerated promotion of eMTC (enhanced Machine-Type Communications) pilot launch, we basically accomplished the whole-range speed rate IoT structure combining high, medium and low speed of 4G, eMTC and NB-IoT, respectively and offered differentiated services capabilities on demand. With our continuous efforts to promote evolution of network cloudification and intelligentisation, we pragmatically implemented CTNet2025 network reconstitution and promoted self-R&D and scale commercial launch of key new products such as intelligent self-selective dedicated line and intelligent gateway based on Software-Defined Networking (SDN) technology, deploying SDN to enhance network operation and maintenance efficiency on cloud resources pool and backbone network. Based on the Network Functions Virtualisation Infrastructure (NFVI) standard unified with China Telecom cloud network, we commenced pilot launch of virtual IP Multimedia Subsystem (vIMS) embedded with full decoupling function, laying the foundation for full 5G network cloudification.
Acceleration of breakthrough in five ecospheres capabilities. In the aspect of Intelligent Connection ecosphere, we firmly grasped the upgrade of users’ demand and insisted on customers’ value operation. With in-depth integration, innovative products as well as strengthened edges on terminals, channels and services, scale development capabilities were consistently enhanced. In the aspect of Smart Family ecosphere, we strengthened the ecological cooperation of contents and smart homes, procuring to be complementary with the advantages of Intelligent Connection ecology. Leveraging three interactive portals including e-Surfing gateway, intelligent set-top box and e-Surfing housekeeper app, we fully exploited the competitiveness of subscribers scale, channel and services. e-Surfing HD, intelligent WiFi networking services, family cloud and smart homes progressively became core applications of Smart Family. In the aspect of DICT ecosphere, we fully leveraged the integration advantages of cloud with network and accelerated the breakthrough in cloud products capabilities. With our firm perseverance to grasp development opportunities for corporates subscribing for cloud, we accomplished breakthrough in projects covering government cloud services and key industry benchmark customers, affirming the Company’s position as a major force in the area of DICT services. In the aspect of IoT ecosphere, we endeavoured to reinforce the efficiently-centralised operations, expedite the construction of platform capabilities and strengthen ecological cooperation. On the foundation of expansion of connection scale, we extended our services to data operation and explored the innovation of business models. In the aspect of Internet Finance ecosphere, we persisted in differentiated development and leveraged BestPay red packet as main portal to procure in-depth integration with fundamental businesses and promote integrated instalment model with Internet co-operative partners, effectively driving customers growth and enhancing customers loyalty.
Persistent enhancement of capabilities in intelligent operations. With the establishment of corporate core as the nucleus and Big Data as the driving force, we deepened the promotion of precision marketing, delicated service, lean network operations and precision management aiming at improving corporate scientific decision-making capabilities and operational management efficiency. The capabilities of Big Data platform were progressively strengthened while the capabilities of IT, network and platform throughout the entire network were converged and openly co-shared, effectively bolstering corporate swift operation. Big Data applications achieved effective results. The volume of collection and processing of Big Data reached 130TB per day, representing an increase of 86% over the same period last year. The frequency of platform interchange reached 500 million times per month, being 10 times over the same period last year. With the construction of a new generation of group-level support system, we achieved the speeding up of business processing time of the entire network with effective enhancement of customers’ experience. Through the establishment of highly efficient and inter-driven integrated channel system, we emphasised to strengthen all channel collaboration among physical stores, government and enterprises, social cooperation and Internet. All-round customer contact points were expanded while customers’ intelligent sales experience was strengthened. Meanwhile, we continued to preserve and uphold high standard of service quality. According to the assessment conducted by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology for the first half year, the Company was ranked first in terms of various customer satisfaction appraisals on handset Internet access, wireline broadband, customer integrated services and mobile voice and attained the lowest customers complaint rate in the industry. In promoting efficiently-centralised and co-shared intelligent financial system, value-oriented resources allocation was persistently enhanced while measures to prevent and control risks were continuously strengthened, leading to effective safeguard for healthy and sustainable corporate development.
Enhancement of vitality and efficiency through reforms and innovation. The Company persistently deepened the three-dimensional inter-driven reform surrounding sub-division of performance evaluation units, professional operation and top-down support as the core. In addition to the foundation of about 59,000 sub-division units established, we gradually constructed different professional scenes including business districts, communities, rural villages and campuses. Through a series of new style working models such as leading team and providing assistance, the level of professional operation was strengthened. With persistent promotion of procedures optimisation, we fostered significant enhancement of top-down support efficiency through conducting reverse evaluation on management support personnel by frontline operation personnel. We proceeded to accelerate the establishment of operation systems and organisation mechanisms in alignment with transformation and upgrades, striving to build three talent teams comprising management, skills and professionalism. Through continuous reforms and innovation, frontline innovative practices continuously emerged with remarkable enhancement of corporate vitality and efficiency.
Active Embracement of New Era of 5G
Following the gradual affirmation of technical standards, the progress of 5G development began to speed up. In the first half of the year, the Company proactively embarked on exploring the landscape of 5G development and accumulating capabilities. We orderly promoted technology research as well as research and development of applications, formulated evolution path for future technology and published 5G Technologies White Paper. Network trials in scale were conducted in many cities focusing on promotion of applications trials including HD video, AR/VR, automated driving, drone and industrial Internet. Research on collaborative network trial for 5G and 4G was commenced, planning well for the landscape of 5G network, applications and business models.
As a next-generation emerging technology, 5G will accelerate the digitalisation transformation of the economy and the society and also significantly promote the development of important industries including IoT and intelligent manufacturing, creating vast connection potential and forming trillion-scale emerging industries. With firm adherence to the overall principle of efficient development, the Company will proactively grasp opportunities, appropriately manage the momentum, insist on open cooperation, facilitate efficient collaboration of 5G with 4G network resources and service capabilities as well as carry out 5G network precision investment construction in a progressive and focused manner, commencing 5G scale commercial launch on a timely basis.
Corporate Governance and Social Responsibility
We are always committed to upholding 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 healthy and sustainable corporate growth. Our efforts have been widely recognised by the capital markets. We were awarded “Most Honored Company in Asia” by Institutional Investor for eight consecutive years. We were also awarded “Best Managed Company” and a special accolade of “Most Honored Company (2009–2018)” by FinanceAsia, in recognition of the Company’s overall persistent efforts to pursue for excellence and remarkable accomplishment on corporate governance, investor relations and corporate social responsibility during the past decade.
As a major force of “Cyberpower, Digital China and Smart Society” and network infrastructure provider, we persevere in fulfillment of social responsibility. With further implementation of the “Speed Upgrade and Tariff Reduction” policy, we cancelled data roaming fees from 1 July 2018 for the benefit of the general public as a whole. We are also devoted to maintaining network and information security, striving to create a clean and healthy cyberspace. We promote energy saving and emission reduction as well as foster green development. With our proactive adherence to execute “the Belt and Road” policy, we built the first China-Nepal Terrestrial Optical Fibre Cable and China-Pakistan Terrestrial Optical Fibre Cable. We received high recognition and appreciation from the society through our efforts in successfully accomplishing telecommunications assurance for major conferences and events including Boao Forum for Asia, as well as combating flooding and disaster relief.
Following the promotion of the construction of “Cyberpower, Digital China, and Smart Society”, China has entered into a vital period of transformation of old impetus through digitalisation coupled with cultivation and reinforcement of new impetus. The rapid development of various new technologies including 5G, artificial intelligence and Big Data will assist rapid upgrade of industry and foster the digital economy development leaping forward to a new landmark, bringing precious development opportunities for the communications and information industry. From the perspective of the entire industry, market demand brings new growth potential for fundamental businesses development while domestic mobile and broadband markets still have vast growth potential. Demand for data traffic will undergo explosive growth. Under collaborative inter-promotion of integration of informatisation with new industrialisation, urbanisation and agricultural modernisation; the integration of informatisation with government management and social service; the integration of informatisation with real economy as well as the integration of informatisation with network and military-civilian aspects, emerging businesses will experience continuous rapid development. Meanwhile, increasingly intensified market competition has rendered industry growth potential being persistently squeezed. New technologies and new business models will continue to emerge, bringing new challenges on industry value. There are pressing needs for corporates to promptly explore new business models and new revenue growth points.
Looking ahead into the future, we are full of confidence. We will firmly seize the precious opportunities and actively respond to various challenges. With perseverance in scale development, we will adapt to the market changes momentum and optimise competition strategies. We will also persist in excellent execution, continuous enhancement of capabilities and optimisation of customers’ experience. We will firmly uphold the implementation of reforms and innovation, optimise systems and mechanisms to enhance corporate vitality and efficiency. We will unwaveringly strengthen our strategic direction, deepen supply-side structural reform and promote “three initiatives” transformation, creating a new generation of information infrastructure featuring “Internet of everything, human-computer interaction as well as integration of the satellite with existing network as a whole”. 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-establishing better living”.
Finally, on behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to all our shareholders and customers for their support. I would also like to express my sincere thanks to all our employees for their hard work and contributions. Furthermore, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude towards Mr. Liu Aili and Madam Cha May Lung, Laura for their excellent contributions during their tenure of office as Directors of the Company.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
20 August 2018
- Service revenues were calculated based on operating revenues minus sales of mobile terminals, sales of wireline equipment and other non-service revenues.
- Revenues from emerging businesses included revenues from data traffic, Internet applications and ICT services.
- 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 profit attributable to the equity holders of the Company.
- Free cash flow was calculated from EBITDA minus capital expenditure and income tax.
- Intelligent Applications ecosphere included Smart Family ecosphere, DICT ecosphere, IoT ecosphere and Internet Finance ecosphere. DICT refers to the integrated intelligent applications services based on three major technologies, namely communications technology, information technology, cloud and Big Data technology.
- Triple-play bundled rate represented the proportion of broadband subscribers who also subscribe mobile and e-Surfing HD services at the same time.
- Broadband blended ARPU was calculated based on the total monthly average revenues from Smart Family and broadband access divided by the average number of broadband subscribers.
- Households in cities and towns represented the households in the service areas of wireline broadband services offered by the Company.