4G penetration reaches 69%; mobile data accounts for more than 50% of service revenue.

China Mobile on Thursday announced it will pay a special dividend as well as an interim dividend as it reported 5% growth in revenue for the first six months of 2017.

Shareholders will receive a one-off payout of HK$3.20 (€0.35) per share on top of an interim payout of HK$1.62 to mark the 20th anniversary of the company’s public listing.

In a statement, China Mobile chairman Shang Bing said the dividends express the operator’s "heartfelt gratitude" to shareholders "for their continued endorsement and support."

The payouts were announced alongside a set of financial results showing revenue earnings growth driven by strong 4G uptake and the resulting uptick in mobile data revenue.

China Mobile said mobile data revenue came in at CNY187.7 billion (€24.06 billion) for the first half of 2017. It now accounts for more than 50% of service revenue, which grew 6.9% year-on-year to CNY348 billion.

Driving that growth was 4G uptake: China Mobile’s 4G customer base increased by 58.62 million during the first half, reaching 594 million in total, equal to 69% of the company’s overall mobile customer base.

"We are proud to say that, in every three 4G users in the world, there is one China Mobile customer," Bing said. "The company is on track to achieve its target of a net increase of 100 million 4G customers this year."

In terms of infrastructure, China Mobile’s 4G network increased to 1.65 million base stations in the first half, making it the largest in the world.

China Mobile has also made progress on the fixed-line side, with wireline broadband subscribers increasing by 15.42 million to 93.04 million.

"We are hopeful to grow our wireline broadband customer base to more than 100 million by the end of the year," Bing said.

The performance drove China Mobile’s first half group revenue up 5% year-on-year to CNY388.9 billion, while EBITDA increased 4.7% to CNY140.7 billion. Net profit attributable to equity holders increased 3.5% to CNY62.7 billion.