HONG KONG, Oct 20 (Reuters) - China Mobile Ltd, the country's largest telecom provider, said on Tuesday its net profit for the first nine months of the year rose 3.4 percent, driven by strong growth of 4G subscribers thanks to its network and aggressive pricing.
China Mobile's nine-month net profit was 85.4 billion yuan ($13.45 billion), the company said, while operating revenues rose 6.5 percent to 512.7 billion yuan from a year ago.
The company's total customers reached 823 million for the first three quarters - bigger than Europe's population - compared with 799.13 million a year ago. Of them, 248 million are now on 4G contracts, jumping from 40.95 million last year.
Average revenue per user (ARPU) in the first nine months, a key industry bellwether of performance, fell to 61 yuan from 63 yuan a year earlier as popular messaging apps including Tencent Holdings Ltd's WeChat continued to eat into revenues from traditional text and phone calls.
A program to allow subscribers' unused data to be carried forward into the following month might "bring certain adverse impact" on its profit in the fourth quarter, the company said in a filing to the stock exchange.
The company has said it would reduce mobile data prices by 35 percent or more by the end of this year, compared with 20 to 30 percent cuts from smaller rivals China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd and China Telecom Corp Ltd, according to research firm Trefis. ($1 = 6.3480 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting By Yimou Lee; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)