MTN Consulting on Telco Network Infrastructure: Cisco, Samsung, and ZTE benefit (but only slightly)

By Matt Walker

Cisco, Samsung, and ZTE benefit most from Huawei bans in 2021 in the telco Network Infrastructure market.  (However, the market share gains were miniscule= <1% for each network equipment vendor).


2021 results for the 100+ vendors selling into the telco market are just about finalized. Contrasting 2021 telco network infrastructure (NI) market share with 2020, we note the following NI Equipment Vendor Market Share Changes:

Cisco clearly came out on top, gaining 0.7% share in a market worth $231.4 billion (B). Cisco was helped both by a telco shift in 5G spending towards core networks, and Huawei’s entity list troubles.

Samsung’s share growth of 0.3% was due to a big win with Verizon and a growing telco interest in seeking RAN alternatives beyond Ericsson and Nokia. ZTE, which has escaped the US entity list to date, also picked up some unexpected 5G wins but its growth is more broad-based due to optical, fixed broadband, and emerging market 4G LTE business.

Dell (including VMWare), Microsoft, and Amazon also picked up share as telcos have begun investing in 5G core and cloud technologies. Their growth has little to do with Huawei, and more due to telcos’ ongoing changes to network architecture and service deployment patterns. Corning was an unexpected winner in 2021, gaining 0.2% share on the back of fiber-rich wireless deployments and government support for rural fiber builds.

On the flip side, both Nokia and Ericsson lost share in the overall telco NI market in 2021. Their RAN revenues benefited from Huawei’s troubles in 2020 but telco spending has since shifted towards product areas with more non-Huawei competition. Both vendors are attempting to diversify beyond the telco market, with Nokia so far having more success; its non-telco revenues grew 12% in 2021.

Huawei’s share of telco NI declined to 18.9% in 2021, down from a bit over 20% in both 2019 and 2020. The US Commerce Department’s entity list restrictions were issued in May 2019 but hit the hardest in late 2020 and 2021, after Huawei’s inventory stockpiles began running out.

Huawei’s messaging on its recent fall is muddled. During its annual report webcast yesterday, it cited three factors behind its 2021 revenue decline: supply continuity challenges, a drop in Chinese 5G construction, and COVID. In MTN Consulting’s opinion, supply continuity was the main factor. A related factor were the many government-imposed restrictions on using Huawei gear around the world, especially in Europe where 5G spending was strong in 2021. The other two factors cited by Huawei’s CFO, however, are misleading. Chinese telco network spending, overall, was relatively strong in 2021: total capex for the big three telcos was $52.8B, up 8% from 2020. Without this rise, Huawei’s 2021 results would have been worse. As for COVID, few other vendors cite the pandemic as a factor restraining 2021 telco spend. More vendors cite the opposite: 2021 spending was strong in part because telcos were forced to delay many projects during COVID’s early spread.

To date, Huawei’s troubles have impacted RAN markets the most, but in 2022 and 2023 will begin spreading more clearly to IP infrastructure, optical, microwave, fixed broadband, and other areas. A number of vendors are eager to pursue new opportunities as this happens, including Adtran/ADVA, Ciena, Cisco, CommScope, DZS, and Infinera. The CEO of Infinera, in fact, said on its 4Q21 earnings call that “it was a nice taste, a nice appetizer in 2021, but…we said all along that we would see the design wins and RFPs really scaling and we thought that we’d see revenues from that really beginning to take hold as we got into 2023.”

To date, Huawei has been unable to fully adapt to the supply chain restrictions put in place in 2019. It remains the global #1 in telco NI, however, due to dominance in China and a huge installed base across the globe. The company is investing heavily in carrier services & software, Huawei Cloud and new product areas. One certainty is that it won’t simply fade away, despite the current decline.


Editor’s Note:

In contrast, Dell’Oro estimates suggest the overall telecom equipment market advanced 7% in 2021, recording a fourth consecutive year of growth, underpinned by surging wireless revenues and healthy demand for wireline-related equipment spurred on by double-digit growth both in RAN and Broadband Access. Total worldwide telecom equipment revenues approached $100 B, up more than 20% since 2017.

Initial readings suggest the playing field is more even outside of China, with Ericsson and Nokia essentially tied at 20% and Huawei accounting for around 18% of the market.



Cisco, Samsung, and ZTE benefit most from Huawei bans in 2021 telco NI market

Key Takeaways – 2021 Total Telecom Equipment Market

Dell’Oro: PONs boost Broadband Access; Total Telecom & Enterprise Network Equipment Markets


One thought on “MTN Consulting on Telco Network Infrastructure: Cisco, Samsung, and ZTE benefit (but only slightly)

  1. MTN Consulting- March 16, 2023: Telco Network Infrastructure vendor growth slips to 2% YoY in 2022

    In the last few months, MTN Consulting has noted that network spending was starting to flatten in the telco segment. In 3Q22, telco capex dipped 5% YoY, the first decline since 4Q20. The vendor market also weakened in 3Q22, as Telco NI vendor revenues grew just 2% after seven straight quarters of much stronger growth. Now we have a solid set of preliminary results for 2022’s final three months, 4Q22. For the 105 vendors available, Telco NI revenues fell by 1% YoY in 4Q22; this is the first decline for this group of Telco NI vendors since 2Q20, when COVID shut down economies. For CY2022, Telco NI grew just 2% YoY, down from +9% in 2021, when telcos splurged post-COVID, and the 5G RAN market saw a nice run-up. Among the larger reporting vendors, the best 4Q22 Telco NI growth was recorded at the three cloud providers (AWS, Azure, and GCP); engineering services companies Dycom and MasTec; NEPs Calix, Ciena, Samsung, and Technicolor (now Vantiva). New vendor Rakuten Symphony recorded the best overall growth rate in 4Q22, with revenues of $180M up 193% YoY. On the other side, Cisco, Ericsson, and ZTE saw the worst declines in 4Q22, due in part to a downswing in spend among their largest customers.

    For the overall market, some of the decline seen in 4Q22 was inevitable, as telcos slow down their initial 5G network buildouts. Other negatives include higher interest rates, higher energy costs, weak economic growth, cloud alternatives to network builds, and 5G’s inability to deliver services revenue growth. Revenue guidance for 2023 from key vendors suggests a flat to slightly down market, as telcos absorb capacity and continue to wrestle with these challenges. Capex guidance from telcos is consistent.

Comments are closed.