China Telecom’s mobile revenues took a 28.3% leap in the first half of 2013 due to Apple’s iPhone attracting more 3G customers to the network. The Beijing-based company, which is the smallest of China’s three-state owned mobile careers, posted the highest mobile revenue growth rate in the industry during the first six months of the year according to the recently released interim financial statement.

The mobile carrier added 18.3 million 3G subscribers for the six month period ending in June, pushing the number of customers who subscribe to revenue-generating mobile data plans to 87.33 million, or 50% of the company’s total mobile subscriber base. The revenue the company made from mobile data increased by 39% to 26.6 billion yuan ($4.3 billion). The average monthly data usage of 3G subscribers increased by 51% from the same period last year with the release of the company’s first iPhone. Those who use the iPhone are known to consume significantly more mobile data than users of other smartphones.

The Chairman and CEO of Chian Mobile, Wang Xiaochu, said that the company would continue focusing on expanding its 3G services, despite “uncertainties in the domestic regulatory policies” surrounding disruptive mobile messaging apps such as WeChat, which use a customer’s mobile data connection to communicate. Apps like WeChat steer users away from profitable carrier services such as text messaging and voice calling. The company also indicated its plans to aggressively develop its LTE network, telling investors to expect a capital expenditure campaign to deploy TD & FDD LTE services, possibly paving the way for a future LTE iPhone in mainland China.

Overall, thanks to the iPhone and the efforts China Telecom took to accommodate it, the wireless carrier saw net profit increase by 16% to 10.2 billion yuan ($1.7 billion).

Source: China Telecom (PDF)