Operator reports 6% growth in full-year revenue, net profit edges up 0.2%.

China Mobile on Thursday revealed that mobile data revenue overtook the combined revenue of voice, SMS, and MMS in 2016.

The world’s biggest mobile operator by subscribers generated revenue of 708.4 billion yuan (€95.34 billion) last year, up by 6% on 2015. Service revenue grew 6.7% to CNY623.4 billion.

Mobile data revenue accounted for 46.2% of total service revenue, having grown by 43.5% last year.

Profit attributable to shareholders edged up 0.2% to CNY108.7 billion. Excluding the one-off gain from the 2015 sale of tower assets into a joint venture with China Unicom and China Telecom, profit was up by 10.5%.

"These hard earned results were particularly encouraging against a backdrop of rapidly advancing information network and technology, an evolving business landscape, and accelerating convergence in the information and communications technology industry, coupled with ever-changing external and internal operating environments," said China Mobile chairman Shang Bing, in a statement.

China Mobile added 223 million 4G customers in 2016, bringing the total up to 535 million, equal to 63% of its 849 million-strong mobile customer base.

The company rolled out 400,000 4G base stations in 2016, increasing the total number to 1.51 million. Its 4G network now has an average downlink speed of 40 Mbps, and covers a population of more than 1.3 billion.

On the fixed-line side, China Mobile added 22.59 million broadband customers, giving it a total of 77.62 million. 76.9% of customers have a connection speed of at least 20 Mbps.

2017 marks the 20th year since China Mobile’s public listing.

"In just two decades, our revenue has grown by 68 times, profit increased by 24 times and our market capitalisation expanded by 13.5 times," Shang said.

"As I write to you now, China Mobile boasts the world’s largest network and customer base, industry-leading profitability and market capitalisation," he said.

"All of these factors combine to make China Mobile a world-class telecommunications operator."