SHANGHAI (AP) — China Mobile Ltd., the world's biggest phone company by subscribers, said Thursday its first-half profit rose 6.3 percent as sales were boosted by greater usage of mobile Internet devices.
The Beijing-based company said profit was 61.3 billion yuan ($9.6 billion) for the six months ended June 30. Revenue climbed 8.8 percent to 250.1 billion yuan ($39 billion).
China Mobile added 32.8 million customers in the first half for a total of 610 million at the end of June.
The company has thrived as Chinese enthusiastically switched from fixed line telephones to mobile phones, though customer growth has slowed from previous double-digit rates as the market has become saturated.
Beijing restructured its telecoms industry into three groups in 2008, each with mobile and fixed-line assets, to revive competition and speed industry development.
Revenues from China Mobile's wireless data business surged 42.8 percent in January through June, contributing to an overall profit margin of 24.5 percent, the company said.
The company has promoted nontraditional services such as mobile Internet to drive revenues from businesses that include music downloads, online payment services and Internet shopping.
China Mobile also leads the market for so-called third-generation mobile services with 35.03 million 3G customers as of June 30.
The Chinese government awarded the company a license for the country's homegrown 3G mobile phone technology, known as TD-SCDMA, in 2009, while allowing its main competitors China Unicom and China Telecom to roll out other, international 3G based technologies.
Analysts say the homegrown TD-SCDMA technology has proven a liability in some respects due to slow speed and a lack of variety of handsets, since manufacturers have preferred to focus on products for global markets.
China Mobile said it plans to step up development of a new, fourth generation technology known as TD-LTE.