HKT’s top line was hit by sinking handset sales and weak mobile service revenue as the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic deepened a recession in Hong Kong in 2020, but the operator’s bottom-line improved as finance and tax expenses dropped.
Net profit rose 2 per cent year-on-year to HKD680 million ($87.7 million), attributed to savings in finance costs, lower tax expense and one-time gains. Revenue slid 2 per cent to HKD4.15 billion.
Mobile service revenue dropped 8 per cent to HKD7.76 billion, primarily due to a decline in international roaming. Handset sales plunged 23 per cent to HKD2.61 billion.
In a statement, HKT said core local mobile revenue held steady despite the challenging conditions, with upgrades to higher-priced 5G services offsetting price competition in the low-end segment.
It launched 5G services in April 2020, ending December with 264,000 subscribers.
Group MD Susanna Hui said it sees significant upside potential in consumer adoption of 5G services, and enormous scope in the commercial and public sectors.
The operator expects the release of more 5G handsets at different price points to stimulate adoption.
Total mobile subscribers dropped 1.6 per cent to 4.6 million, with the post-paid base flat at 3.25 million and prepaid falling 5.3 per cent to 1.35 million. Post-paid APRU decreased 8 per cent to HKT184.
Fixed-line voice and broadband service turnover grew 2 per cent to HKD22.4 billion.
Capex was 10 per cent lower at HKD2.43 billion: HKT noted while 5G is a focus area in 2021, it will “prudently invest” in the network to account for “prevailing market conditions”.