M1 clocks SG$71m net profit despite losing 80k mobile customers

The Singaporean telco brought in half-year net profit of SG$71 million on total operating revenue of SG$507.3 million and EBITDA of SG$153.8 million for the first half of 2017.

Singaporean mobile carrier M1 has published its first-half financial results to June 30, revealing the loss of 80,000 mobile customers over the past year.

As of the end of the period, M1 had 1.964 million total mobile customers, after losing 152,000 prepaid mobile customers down to a total of 625,000. However, M1 added 71,000 post-paid customers during the past year for a total of 1.338 million customers.

Operating revenue from mobile telco services grew despite the loss in overall customers, bringing in SG$287.1 million, up from SG$278.1 million, due to post-paid net average revenue per user (ARPU) growing by 20 cents to SG$41.70 per month. Prepaid ARPU was SG$10.20, down from SG$10.80.

M1 had a post-paid market share of 25.4 percent, a prepaid market share of 20.5 percent, and a total Singaporean mobile market share of 23.6 percent.

M1 also added 24,000 fibre customers during the year for a total of 200,000 after last year launching a 10Gbps symmetrical service.

Fibre broadband net ARPU was SG$39.20, up by almost SG$2 from SG$37.50 this time last year, with fixed services bringing in SG$68.6 million in operating revenue for the telco, up from SG$56.8 million.

The telco brought in half-year net profit of SG$71 million, up slightly from SG$70.5 million for the first half of 2017, on total operating revenue of SG$507.3 million, up 1.1 percent.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) was SG$153.8 million, down slightly from SG$154.5 million, as operating revenue from international call services fell from SG$28 million to SG$22.1 million and handset sales also dropped off, from SG$138.9 million to SG$129.5 million.

M1 CEO Karen Kooi pointed to M1's 5G trials and narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network as evidence of the telco's leading position.

"M1 is committed to stay at the forefront of technology advancements, and has embarked on early multi-vendor 5G trials, including Singapore's first end-to-end 5G live trial in June 2018," Kooi said.

"This could provide insightful learning crucial to the successful development of relevant 5G services. With our foundation of dense cell grid and advanced narrowband Internet of Things network, we are well positioned to harness exciting new capabilities and support highly reliable and responsive applications on our network."

M1 had last month announced that it will be trialling 5G small cells in partnership with Nokia at the end of this year across its 4.5G NB-IoT heterogeneous network (HetNet), which was rolled out using Nokia's Flexi Zone Wi-Fi equipment and small cells and was labelled a precursor for 5G.

M1 at the time said it would use the tests to inform how to commercially deploy 5G small cells in a "dense cell grid architecture" at high-frequency spectrum bands, as well as to demonstrate low-latency 5G IoT use cases.

"The practical learning from early 5G field trial is critical for the success of developing high-performance and demand-driven 5G services for our customers in future and enables us to play a key role in Singapore's Smart Nation initiatives," M1 CTO Denis Seek said in June.

M1 had first partnered with Nokia on 5G network trials back in October 2016, demonstrating 1ms latency in a robotics demonstration.

The telco last month also announced that it is working with Chinese networking giant Huawei to complete an end-to-end live broadcast of virtual reality (VR) content over a 5G network.

The trial with Huawei, which made use of the 28GHz millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum band, took place at the end of June and constituted the first live end-to-end 5G trial of Huawei's equipment in Singapore in that frequency band.

Huawei and M1 are planning to conduct a non-standalone 5G field trial by the end of this year using the 3.5GHz band, and then a standalone 3GPP standards-compliant trial using both 28GHz and 3.5GHz bands in mid-2019.

The two had announced attaining speeds of 35Gbps during a trial of 5G network technology in January last year, at that time using mmWave spectrum in the 73GHz E-band.

M1's full-year FY17 financial results saw the telco report gaining 20,000 mobile subscribers by the end of December, after 45,000 additions to its post-paid base and 25,000 customers lost from its prepaid base.

At the time, it said it foresees competition increasing in 2018 due to the launch of a fourth provider in the Singaporean mobile market, and added that profit drops could continue due to expanding its IT offerings.

TPG is expecting to complete its Singapore outdoor mobile network by the end of 2018.

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