China Unicom on Thursday reported a net profit drop of 23 percent year on year in the first nine months because of fierce competition in the 4G market.
The drop widened the gap with the market leader, China Mobile, which recorded growth in profits as well as user base during the same period.
China Unicom, the country's No. 2 mobile carrier, posted net profit of 8.18 billion yuan ($1.3 billion) between January and September, 22.5 percent up year on year. Its user base dropped 29 percent to 287.6 million by September.
Revenue fell 1.6 percent to 211.9 billion yuan, the Hong Kong-listed carrier said on Thursday.
China Mobile's nine-month net profit was 85.4 billion yuan in the period, a 3.4 percent growth year on year.
The company's total customers touched 823 million for the first three quarters, larger than Europe's population, compared with 799.13 million a year ago, thanks to a strong rise of 4G subscribers and aggressive pricing. More than 248 million subscribed to China Mobile's 4G networks by September, four times more than last year.
China Unicom shares dropped 2.92 percent to close at HK$9.96 ($1.29) in the Hong Kong stock market.
China Unicom and China Telecom are facing increased competition from China Mobile, which recently announced a cut in mobile data prices.