Wireless lifts KT profits 23%

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Wireless lifts KT profits 23%

KT, Korea’s second-largest mobile carrier, reported improved first-quarter earnings on Friday, backed by reduced spending and growth in its Internet service and wireless businesses.

KT said it posted 385.1 billion won ($337.7 million) in operating profit between January and March, a 22.8 percent increase compared to the same period last year.

The carrier saw revenue increase 2.2 percent in the first three months to 5.5 trillion won.

KT’s wireless business led sales growth, as the company’s new monthly billing plan targeting young subscribers in their 20s was well received. Sales of cellular services totaled 1.8 trillion won, up 1.6 percent.

The telecom company has 13.2 million subscribers that use its LTE network, which accounts for 72.7 percent of all wireless subscribers.

Revenue from landline services fell by 2 percent to 1.3 trillion won, as more consumers used home phones less than cellphones. The increased number of subscribers to KT’s GiGA Internet service offset further losses in landline service. KT saw one million new GiGA users between 2015 and March 2016.

KT also saw rising revenue in its finance-related business, as it strengthened partnerships with financial and card companies for fintech, or finance-related technology, businesses.

Sales from the sector jumped by 4 percent year on year to 822.6 billion won, boosted by new platforms such as Clip, a mobile wallet service.

Meanwhile, SK Telecom, the country’s top wireless carrier, announced disappointing first-quarter earnings on Thursday. Its reported revenue of 402.1 billion won, a 0.13 percent decrease year on year, while sales inched down 0.3 percent to 4.2 trillion won.

The carrier expected reduced marketing costs would boost sales and profit, although excessive marketing costs from its subsidiary SK Planet sapped earnings in the first quarter.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]
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