China Mobile has maintained its market leadership and achieved encouraging results in the first half of 2017. During this period, China Mobile pursued its overarching strategy of "Big Connectivity", rode on the flourishing development of 4G and household broadband as well as driving ahead with the integrated development of its "four growth engines" that had been identified in response to the challenges imposed by evolving regulatory policies and the changing market environment. We have expanded our businesses serving the personal, household, corporate and emerging business markets. We have made notable progress in strengthening our core competitive advantages and cultivating new sources of information income.
China Mobile maintained stable growth in the first half of 2017, recording operating revenue of RMB388.9 billion, representing an increase of 5.0% compared to the same period last year. The 6.9% growth in telecommunications services revenue was above industry average. Business transformation has also yielded positive results, with revenue from wireless data traffic reaching RMB187.7 billion, accounting for more than 50% of the telecommunications services revenue and continuing to play a significant role as the biggest driver of growth. EBITDA increased by 4.7% compared to the first half of 2016, reaching RMB140.7 billion. Profit attributable to equity shareholders grew by 3.5% year-on-year to RMB62.7 billion while overall profitability continued to be ahead of our industry peers.
Taking into consideration the operating results in the first half of 2017 and the anticipated need for future development, the Board declared payment of an interim dividend of HK$1.623 per share, or a dividend payout ratio of 46%, in accordance with the 2017 full-year dividend payout ratio guidance.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of China Mobile's public listing. To express our heartfelt gratitude to our shareholders for their continued endorsement and support, the Board declared payment of a one-off special dividend of HK$3.200 per share in celebration of the 20th anniversary.
The Board believes that our industry-leading profitability and ability to generate healthy cash flow will provide sufficient support for the Company's future development and generate good returns for our shareholders.
As a proactive move to respond to the demand for personalized, multifaceted and convenient telecommunications services, we have, in the first half of 2017, continued to upgrade our network coverage using advanced technology and enhance our network services, resulting in further development of our 4G and data traffic operations.
We have been striving to strengthen our network infrastructure and capability. In the first half of 2017, we increased the total number of 4G base stations to 1.65 million, making our 4G TD-LTE (Time Division Long Term Evolution) network the largest in the world, leading in technology, coverage and quality.
We are aware of the importance of enabling more users to enjoy our services, and to this end we have lowered the basic 4G tariff. With a net addition of 58.62 million 4G customers, the total number of 4G customers has reached 594 million and the 4G penetration rate of our mobile customers has achieved 69% in the first half of 2017. We are proud to say that, in every three 4G users in the world, there is one China Mobile customer. The Company is on track to achieve its target of a net increase of 100 million 4G customers this year.
We also actively promoted featured 4G services, including the launch of VoLTE (Voice over LTE) high definition voice services in 313 cities, with the total number of customers reaching 98.73 million.
The development and penetration of 4G has accelerated the application of mobile Internet, thus driving customer spending on data traffic. In the first half of 2017, the average handset data traffic per user per month, or DOU, of 4G customers reached 1.4GB, and the total handset data traffic increased by 107.5%. With the fast growing popularity and development of video and other applications, we expect the DOU of mobile customers will continue to realize relatively high upside potential.
China Mobile remains cognizant of how customer demand in data traffic may grow. In response to competition from other operators, we implemented measures to maintain our competitiveness in the 4G business while striving to preserve the value of data traffic. The Company is confident of sustaining healthy growth in data traffic revenue going forward.
In the first half of 2017, we continued our activities to implement the "Broadband China" national strategy, upgrading network speed and quality with a special focus on customer identification and targeting. With our concerted efforts, we have achieved the concurrent development of broadband and 4G, and at the same time accelerated broadband speed upgrade. As a result, the household market has become an important area of growth.
Our wireline broadband business has experienced favourable growth momentum with significant increments in both customer and revenue market shares. The customer base rapidly expanded with a net addition of 15.42 million, bringing the total number of wireline broadband customers 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. Meanwhile, we also witnessed an increasing proportion of customers subscribing to services of higher bandwidth. Specifically, customers opting for products with bandwidth of 20Mbps or above accounted for 87.5% of our total wireline broadband customers, representing an increase of 10.6 percentage points from the end of last year. Revenue from the wireline broadband business has increased by 49.8% year-on-year to reach RMB17.9 billion and has become a key component of our revenue growth.
The effective upgrade of broadband network strength has facilitated the rapid development of home digital services. We have been proactively developing smart home applications and service solutions, including the Smart Home Gateway, Mobaihe (digital set-top box), "and-Mu" (family surveillance) and IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) phonelines to further enhance customer loyalty and service quality. In the first half of 2017, the number of Mobaihe customers reached 38.59 million, representing a net increase of 15.79 million from the end of 2016 and a penetration rate of more than 40%.
The broadband ARPU recorded a heartening growth of 4.6% to RMB34.9 in the first half of 2017, following the rapid expansion of the customer base and widening application adoption. The APRU that included home digital services grew by 9.8% to reach RMB38.0. Our focus in the second half of the year will continue to be customer value enhancement, to be achieved by network and services upgrade.
We again expanded our business with corporate customers in the first half of 2017. The concerted effort has yielded positive results in terms of both customer base and revenue. We served more than 5.90 million corporate customers and achieved a 25.3% year-on-year rise in corporate telecommunications and informatization services revenue, accounting for more than one third of the total market. The Company has established a business structure that further optimizes revenue generation, with the data dedicated line and IDC (Internet Data Centre) businesses leading the growth, recording increases of 38.4% and 97.1% respectively year-on-year.
We continued to develop vertical industry solutions by focusing on seven key sectors, namely industry, agriculture, education, public administration, finance, transportation and healthcare. We worked with relevant organizations to develop industry specific solutions, which have already begun to generate scalable revenue. Worthy of highlighting is the fact that, 8 products have each generated annualized revenue of more than RMB100 million. Among which, our "and-Education" solution has generated an annualized revenue of more than RMB4 billion. Our cloud services have seen breakthroughs in market development, winning 7 projects with provincial governments and serving 32,000 enterprises and institutions.
We are also committed to serving SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises). We have launched the "Double Speed" promotion campaign and handled subscriptions from more than 40,000 companies, helping them save more than 20% in Internet access costs. We have also launched the "Broadband for Small- and Micro-enterprises" promotion product and handled subscriptions from nearly 150,000 small entrepreneurs. To further our offerings, we have launched the SME cloud application platform, offering service packages tailored for small businesses. These efforts have broadened our portfolio and diversified our channels to tap into the SME market.
China Mobile is committed to innovation and building momentum for the emerging business market. We strive to strengthen the competitive edge and expand the customer base of emerging business, and as a result we have seen a gradual pick-up in digital services. In the first half of 2017, application and information services generated a 12.1% increase in revenue, with broad prospects for further growth.
We have sped up the development of competitive digital products while strengthening our content and application businesses, in order to continuously enhance customer experience. In the first half of this year, average monthly active app-users for our digital media MIGU exceeded 100 million. We have stepped up efforts to introduce rich content and enhance our CDN (Content Distribution Network). Front-page loading latency for the top 100 most-visited websites has become significantly shorter and video streaming notably smoother. This resulted in a further boost to both customer loyalty and the value of applications.
The Company is taking measures to consolidate resources and integrate technological and product innovation, in order to build out our core capabilities in areas such as social life services. Our mobile payment business saw substantial growth, with the China Mobile "and-Wallet" recording a total transaction value of more than RMB950 billion in the first half of the year. Location services functionality continued to improve, with a real-time city road traffic system based on handset positioning being launched in 110 cities and the service being used 8.3 billion times.
Meanwhile, the Company will further leverage the innate advantages from being an ICT (Information and Communication Technology) operator, and we are fully supporting the fast development of the ecosystem on our platform. With our core competency in areas including telecommunications, Internet and IoT (Internet of Things), the open platform that we provide will support the further development of applications in IoT, industry informatization and other areas.
Our IoT service developed solidly in the first half of 2017, with the total number of smart connections exceeding 150 million. The increasing scale of smart connections provided a take-off point for broadening IoT applications. The IoT platform, together with Internet of Vehicles, industrial manufacturing, smart wearables, education and healthcare, municipal administration and other IoT applications will all be areas with long-term growth potential.
Since the turn of the year, the development trends inside and outside the industry have been changing rapidly, giving rise to new opportunities as well as severe challenges. Competition within the industry intensified, cross-sector competitors are adding unprecedented pressure to incumbent players. Our management team is very aware of the dynamics of the current situation.
On one hand, accelerating sector integration is squeezing the timeframe within which we have to complete the transformation of our business. It is now not only our peers transforming their own businesses towards digital services and nurturing new growth momentum that we need to compete with, but Internet companies along with equipment and terminal manufacturers which are all building out their digital strategy. Clear multiple structural shifts can be seen in terms of deepened integration between the Internet economy and real economy, vertical integration along the industry value chain as well as horizontal integration across sectors.
On the other hand, the changing competitive landscape within the industry has created uncertainties to future development. The network, businesses and tariff levels of operators have become more homogenous. Other operators that have been granted permission to refarm a valuable spectrum and begun to enhance their 4G networks will strive to increase their shares of the customer base and data traffic by all possible means, posing a challenge to our 4G market leadership.
In the face of new trends, changing business landscape and rising challenges, we must use accurate analysis and judgement and have the flexibility to react quickly to complexity. China Mobile must be cautious about the current situation without compromising our long-term strategy, and maintain unwavering determination in achieving our long-term goal. As the market leader, we need to be able to identify the major shortfalls and critical problems and in the meantime forge ahead with innovation to sharpen our competitive advantages. We should always stay a step ahead of our peers in terms of innovation and quality.
In the first half of 2017, we diligently implemented measures to respond to the "speed upgrade and tariff reduction" policies, with a view to lowering overall social costs at the same time speeding up the development of the digital economy. Through the wider application of new technologies and the reduction of network costs that have been achieved over time, we have enabled more and more people to enjoy quality and value-for-money information services. Handset data tariffs have been reduced by 36% year-on-year as a result.
Complying with the regulatory requirements, we sped up the process of cancelling handset domestic long-distance and roaming tariffs. Ensuring that service quality is not compromised, we will complete our cancellation project on 1 September 2017, ahead of schedule. In addition, we have taken steps to reduce tariffs for SME dedicated Internet access and international long distance calls. The positive effect of these measures on customer perception and usage stimulation has already begun to surface.
The regulatory environment remained stable without major policy changes in the first half of the year. We are pushing applications forward to the regulators for frequency refarm and an LTE FDD (Frequency-Division Duplexing) license, in order to further drive down the network coverage costs in rural and remote areas and speed up our own business transformation.
China Mobile is committed to maintaining a high level of corporate governance, exercising stringent risk management and enhancing transparency. With regard to our corporate governance, we have been enhancing the governing structure and effectiveness of our policies and processes. So far this year we have won a number of awards from organizations such as Asiamoney, The Asset and Corporate Governance Asia in recognition of our efforts in this area.
We meet and surpass our social responsibility by aligning this value with our development strategy. Our aim is to contribute to furthering the "Internet+" national strategy and serving the purpose of promoting entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as driving wider economic and social development.
China Mobile's "Internet+ Education" initiative has engaged 90 million teachers, students and parents. Through the "Internet+ Agriculture" initiative, we have built 300,000 village service stations, benefiting 200 million farmers. Our "Internet+ Healthcare" initiative has connected with more than 70 million medical professionals and patients.
In terms of network and information security, our emphasis is on preventing behaviours that infringe the rights of our customers including Internet spam and junk text messages. During the first half of 2017, we intercepted 31.42 million fraudulent calls from overseas. Complaints about junk text messages decreased by 28.6% year-on-year.
As part of a longer-term initiative, we have continued to enhance our mobile telecommunications and broadband Internet services in China's remote areas. Since 2004, we have connected 122,000 villages with phonelines and 51,000 administrative villages by broadband. We successfully activated our contingency plans at the time of major natural disasters deploying staff to the scene to repair telecommunications facilities and secure emergency communications.
We have established an end-to-end quality assurance system based on customer perception to enhance our service quality and capabilities. In the first half of 2017, China Mobile led the industry in benchmarks of customer satisfaction. The net promoter score for our 4G services ranked No. 1 in the industry.
"Riding on the trend gives one the first-mover advantage; reading the trend accurately helps one achieve good results". A new wave of the information technology revolution and industry reform has been rolling across the world. We will respond quickly to the trend, allowing the Company to capture the opportunities and meet new challenges. We will deepen our "Big Connectivity" strategy and speed up the horizontal expansion of our scale, vertical development of our services and continue to seek breakthroughs in connection applications. China Mobile in the period ahead will be focused on the following four areas.
Firstly, China Mobile will follow closely the latest technological trends and solidify our information and telecommunications infrastructure. Technological advancement has initiated the upgrade of the traditional network towards a big data and artificial intelligence-enabled network that is proactive, precise and intelligent. The future network that is evolving will also be effective, controllable, agile and importantly secure. We will focus on building what is recognized as the premium 4G mobile network, a high-quality broadband access network and a new form of content network. We have started to construct our mobile IoT network in 346 cities across China and have accelerated the transition to the next generation of cloud network that is based on SDN (Software Defined Networking) and NFV (Network Function Virtualization). China Mobile is a pioneer in setting the 5G international industry standard, overall infrastructure design and other related areas. This year, we will commence field tests for 5G and steadily drive the business forward taking into account the maturity of the 5G standard and the related business model.
Secondly, China Mobile will seek further integration of the "four growth engines" while adopting a macroscopic approach to laying out our market strategy, forging ahead with a refined business structure and an innovative development model. Through the strategic integration of our premium 4G network and service applications, we aim to grow the number of 4G customers to in excess of 630 million and VoLTE customers to over 150 million by the end of this year. Another key initiative will be the promotion of the Smart Home Gateway by offering one-stop smart services that cover a full range of family communications, entertainment and life services. Our target is to boost the penetration of the digital set-top box to 45% by the end of the year, thus increasing the level of connectivity and service value within the household. In the vertical sectors and smart corporate services market, we will strive to strengthen our competitiveness and enlarge the customer base of our emerging businesses.
Thirdly, China Mobile will aim to offer the service support that is needed for the development of a robust digital economy. We will continue to drive the development of "Internet+" and smart city, alongside other focus segments such as Internet of Vehicles, smart wearables, security and surveillance, as well as industrial manufacturing. The Company will further expand the pace of IoT adoption, with a target to add 100 million smart connections for the full year of 2017. We will also speed up our digital services strategy formulation, strengthen our ICT services capabilities, and promote the application of cloud computing, big data, industry Internet and others to nurture new areas of growth.
Lastly, China Mobile will build out the industry ecosystem for collaboration and inclusive growth. We will work even more closely with other participants to build an industry ecosystem that is able to adapt to digital innovation. The Company will cultivate deeper partnerships in areas such as vertical sector expansion, terminal marketing and digital services. Only when all relevant parties work collectively to create a more mature industry is sustainable growth in value going to be a reality.
Looking forward, we will commit ourselves to maintaining our leading position in the market and building on our competitive strengths. For the full year of 2017, China Mobile will strive to achieve a telecommunications services revenue growth rate that surpasses industry average while maintaining our healthy level of profitability. The Company will also endeavor to achieve a full-year net profit higher than that of 2016.
At a time when we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of China Mobile's public listing and on behalf of the Board, I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to our shareholders, customers and the wider community for their support. To my colleagues, I thank you for your dedication and contribution. In the past 20 years, we have achieved many miracles and laid many milestones in the history of telecommunications. China Mobile will continue to move forward and overcome challenges on the route to success. We will now strive to become the world-leading operator in digital service innovation and in doing so continue to create higher value for our shareholders.
Hong Kong, 10 August 2017