A man reads an advertisement leaflet for China Mobile's 4G iPhone 5s in Beijing. Pic: AP.

BEIJING (AP) — China Mobile Ltd., the world’s biggest phone company by subscribers, says its profit last year fell 5.9 percent due to higher spending and intense competition.

The Beijing-based company said Thursday it earned 121.7 billion yuan ($20.3 billion). Revenue rose 5.4 percent to 590.8 billion yuan ($98.5 billion) and the number of customer accounts rose 8 percent to 767 million.

China Mobile is spending heavily to roll out fourth-generation service and faces higher costs because it was assigned China’s home-grown mobile standard, which limits its ability to draw on foreign technology.

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