Dell’Oro: Telecom Capex Growth to Slow in calendar years 2022-2024

Dell’Oro Group forecasts that telco capex growth will taper off in 2023 and 2024 after increasing 9% year-over-year in nominal USD terms and on track to advance 3% in 2022.

The market research firm states that the top fifty carriers in the world collectively generated combined annual revenue and investments of well over $1.4 T this past year.  They estimate that these carriers account for roughly 80% of worldwide capex and revenue.

Dell’Oro’s Telecom Capex bi-annual reports (previously called Carrier Economics bi-annual reports) track the revenue and capital expenditure (capex) trends for these fifty-plus carriers.

“Telco investments, in general, have shown remarkable resilience to external factors including Covid-19 containment measures, supply chain disruptions, and economic uncertainties,” said Stefan Pongratz, Vice President and analyst with the Dell’Oro Group.  “Surging wireless investments in the US taken together with non-mobile capex expansions in China will keep the momentum going in 2022,” continued Pongratz.

Stefan believes carrier revenue and capex trends can to some degree explain telecom equipment manufacturer revenue trends. The highly granular information provided in this report will enable carriers, system and component vendors, equity researchers, and regulatory bodies to assess growth opportunities and to observe performance practices in the telecom sector.

Additional highlights from the March 2022 3-year Telecom Capex forecast report:

  • Global capex growth is expected to moderate from 9 percent in 2021 to 3 percent in 2022, before tapering off in 2023 and 2024.
  • The coupling between carrier investments and manufacturing infrastructure revenues is expected to prevail over the short-term—capex and telecom equipment are on track to advance 3 percent and 4 percent in 2022, respectively.
  • Short-term output acceleration is expected to be relatively broad-based, with investments growing in China and the US. At the same time, challenging comparisons in the US are expected to drag down the overall capex in the outer part of the forecast.
  • Following a strong showing in 2021, capex growth prospects across Europe will be more muted in 2022.

Editor’s Note:

MTN Consulting estimates a nearly $325B annualized global capex in 2021, or nearly double the webscale total of $175B.  The ratio of capex to revenues, or capital intensity, reached 17.2% in 2021, the highest level since 2015.

Excluding China/HK-based companies (which haven’t finished reporting), the top 10 biggest telco capex spenders in 2021 were AT&T, DT, Verizon, NTT, Comcast, Vodafone, Orange, Charter, America Movil, and Telefonica. The biggest capex gains in 2021 were seen at America Movil (+$2.54B versus 2020 total), Telecom Italia (+$2.49B), Verizon (+$2.09B), AT&T (+$1.93B), Deutsche Telekom (+$1.74B), BT (+$1.63B), and Rakuten ($1.47B). The DT jump is inflated slightly by its Sprint acquisition, which closed in April 2020.

MTN’s  latest official global capex forecast is for $328B in 2022, a bit higher than 2021. “We are maintaining this target for now, but there is a high level of uncertainty and considerable downside risk.”  No forecast beyond 2022 was provided.

 About the Report

The Dell’Oro Group Telecom Capex Report provides in-depth coverage of more than 50 telecom operators highlighting carrier revenue, capital expenditure, and capital intensity trends.  The report provides actual and 3-year forecast details by carrier, by region by country (United States, Canada, China, India, Japan, and South Korea), and by technology (wireless/wireline).  To purchase this report, please contact by email at [email protected].

About Dell’Oro Group

Dell’Oro Group is a market research firm that specializes in strategic competitive analysis in the telecommunications and enterprise networks infrastructure, network security and data center IT markets.  Our firm provides in-depth quantitative data and qualitative analysis to facilitate critical, fact-based business decisions.  For more information, please contact Dell’Oro Group at +1.650.622.9400 or visit

Addendum from Light Reading:

China is already showing signs of slowing its 5G investment – China Telecom plans to reduce 5G investment by nearly 11% to 34 billion yuan (US$5.34 billion) this year, reported Light Reading’s Robert Clark in March. China Mobile has budgeted 110 billion yuan (US$17.3 billion) for spending on 5G networks in 2022, a 3.5% decline.

In the US, Dish Network is among service providers upping their 5G investments this year. Dish spent $1 billion on 5G-related capex in 2021 and plans to spend $2.5 billion in 2022 , reported Light Reading’s Jeff Baumgartner in February.

On the other hand, IDC doesn’t expect telecom capex to drop until 2024:

“COVID-19 has shown no long-term negative effects on telecommunications capex. IDC expects 2021 capex will grow versus 2020 and show no decline until at least 2024. If anything, COVID-19 has led to communications service providers increasing their network investments to sustain increase demand for connectivity and the speeds associated with it.” said Daryl Schoolar, IDC research director, Worldwide Telecommunications Insights.


Worldwide Telecom Capex Growth to Taper Off in 2023, According to Dell’Oro Group

Telecom Capex

MTN Consulting: : 4Q2021 review of Telco & Webscale Network Operators Capex

Telco capex jumps 10% in 2021 to hit $325B


Dell’Oro: Cable Broadband Access Equipment Revenue to Decline from $13B in 2019 to $11B in 2024

According to a newly published report by Dell’Oro Group, sales of cable broadband access equipment will decrease with a meager 2 percent CAGR from 2019 to 2024. The virtualization of network infrastructure, which is already playing out in the cable market, will extend to other equipment areas, thereby reducing traditional hardware revenue.

The cable broadband category includes both network infrastructure and consumer premises equipment.

That expected decline will be driven by multiple factors, including a saturating broadband services market in regions such as North America and Europe. Another key factor is the lack of a near-term need for many cable operators to move ahead with big access network upgrades following their recent migrations to DOCSIS 3.1, a technology that gives cablecos the ability to deliver 1-Gig services, Jeff Heynen, senior research director at Dell’Oro Group, said.

“For the North American cable operators, there isn’t a competitive incentive for them to really force upgrades at this point,” Heynen said.  “Virtualization, coupled with subscriber saturation in some mature markets will result in gradually declining revenue for broadband access equipment globally,”Heynen added .

Additional highlights from the Broadband Access 5-Year Forecast Report:

  • Virtual CMTS/CCAP revenue will grow from $90 Million in 2019 to $418 Million worldwide in 2024, as cable operators move to these platforms to expand broadband capacity.
  • Mesh-capable routers and broadband CPE units will reach 30 Million units in 2020.

Although AT&T is pushing FTTP and having some success in upgrading some of its existing customers, that has not had much of an impact on major US cable operators such as Comcast and Charter Communication, which added 424,000 and 313,000 broadband subs, respectively, in Q4 2019.

“There has to be a driver for them to spend, and I really don’t see it,” Heynen said.

The cable industry is fast at work on DOCSIS 4.0, a next-gen specification that will support multi-gigabit speeds alongside lower latency capabilities and a higher level of network security. An even longer-term target being pursued is “10G,” a cable industry initiative that’s aiming for 10-Gig symmetrical speeds on multiple types of access networks, including hybrid fiber/coax (HFC), FTTP and even wireless.

Speaking on the company’s Q4 earnings 2019 call last week, Tom Rutledge, Charter’s chairman and CEO, made it clear that these are longer-term initiatives that include features and capabilities that can be added on an incremental basis. “There’s no immediate need to deploy a new upgrade to the marketplace today,” Rutledge said. Charter wrapped up its D3.1 network upgrade in late 2018.

That scenario also gives operators time to push ahead with related projects, including migrations to distributed access architectures and network virtualization.

Even as the move to D4.0 is still out on cable’s horizon, virtualization efforts are expected to ramp up in the next few years. Dell’Oro expects virtual cable modem termination system (CMTS) and converged cable access platform (CCAP) revenues to climb from just $90 million in 2019 to $418 million worldwide in 2024. Heynen said the 2019 total represents about 12% of the total for the CMTS/CCAP core market.

Comcast, along with some small and midsize operators in the US and Western Europe, has begun to deploy virtualized access networks. Harmonic, a lead partner for Comcast’s virtual CMTS rollout, is set to announce Q4 2019 results later today and is expected to offer an update on its vCCAP business.

The bigger broadband picture
And cable isn’t the only market feeling some pain. Dell’Oro projects that revenues for the broader access equipment market, including DSL and PON technologies, will decline from $13 billion in 2019, to $11 billion in 2024.

A big culprit there is the ongoing decline of DSL spending, Heynen said. Another contributor to the decline in hardware revenues will come as the PON market starts to virtualize the OLT (optical line terminal), he added.

Dell’Oro’s forecast currently does not include opportunities around fixed wireless. Fixed wireless will have a role in the broadband market, but “I’m still reluctant that fixed wireless will be as big as others predicted it to be,” Heynen said.


Broadband Access Equipment Revenue Set to Decline from $13 B in 2019 to $11 B in 2024, According to Dell’Oro Group—analyst-/d/d-id/757259?



Dell’Oro: Broadband access revenue declines 2% y/y in Q1-2019

In a new report published Monday June 10th, Dell-Oro Group said that global revenue for broadband access equipment declined 2 percent Y/Y in 1Q 2019, reaching $2.9 Billion. Increased shipments of XG-PON1, XGS-PON, NG-PON2 OLT ports, and DOCSIS 3.1, CPE offset CCAP (Converged Cable Access Platform) spending declined for the second straight quarter.

“The 10 Gbps FTTH deployments continue to build momentum,” said Jeff Heynen, Research Director, Broadband Access and Home Networking. “The next-gen fiber increases nearly offset the weakness in cable CCAP spending, as cable operators push off new capacity purchases while they determine how to move forward with distributed access architectures,” Heynen added.

Following are additional highlights from the 1Q 2019 Broadband Access Quarterly Report:

  • Total cable access concentrator revenue decreased 38 percent Y/Y to $275 M, driven by a strong slowdown in CCAP channel purchases in North America and EMEA.
  • Total DSL port shipments decreased 21 percent Y/Y, with ADSL ports down 71 percent and VDSL ports down 20 percent.
  • Total PON OLT port shipments increased 7 percent Y/Y, with XGS-PON ports up 337 percent.
  • Total SOHO WLAN units increased 13 percent Y/Y, driven by the driven by 19% Y/Y growth in broadband CPE with WLAN and 125% Y/Y growth in mesh router units.

According to Dell’Oro Group’s Q1 2019 Broadband Access Quarterly Report, total cable access concentrator revenue was down 38% year over year to $275 million, driven by the slowdown in CCAP channel purchases in North America and EMEA.