AT&T continues as the #1 U.S. Carrier Managed SD-WAN provider in 2021 for the fourth consecutive year, as per Vertical Systems Group’s annual SD-WAN Leaderboard. Seven service providers each have 2% or more of the installed and billable Carrier Managed SD-WAN customer sites in the U.S. as of December 31, 2021.
“The U.S. Managed SD-WAN services market emerged from the pandemic in 2021 with solid growth in new site installations, driven by accelerated network transformations and more flexible solutions for customers,” said Rick Malone, principal of Vertical Systems Group. “Competition is heating up as evidenced by the shake up in top provider rankings on our year-end 2021 U.S. LEADERBOARD benchmark.”
Comcast Business rose two places to the No. 2 position on the Leaderboard, bumping down Hughes and Verizon to third and fourth place, respectively. Vertical Systems Group (VSG) says that Comcast Business’s rise on the Leaderboard is due to “organic growth” plus sites added from the acquisition of Masergy.
Three companies attained a Challenge Tier citation for 2021 (in alphabetical order): Fusion Connect, MetTel and TPx. This tier includes service providers with between one percent 1% and 2% share of U.S. Carrier Managed SD-WAN sites.
- Rankings changed for five of the seven market leading providers on Vertical’s 2021 U.S. Carrier Managed SD-WAN LEADERBOARD based on latest site share results as compared to the previous year.
- AT&T retains first position overall for the fourth consecutive year.
- Comcast Business rises to second position, up from fourth in 2020 based on site share that includes organic growth plus sites added from its Masergy acquisition.
- Hughes moves to third position, from second overall in 2020. Verizon moves into fourth position, a change from third in the previous year.
- Lumen advances to rank fifth, up from sixth position. Windstream drops to sixth position from fifth in 2020. Aryaka retains seventh position and rounds out the roster of top providers for 2021.
- Additionally, TPx drops into the 2021 Challenge Tier from the Leaderboard.
- MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Service Certification has been attained by five of the 2021 U.S. LEADERBOARD companies: AT&T, Comcast Business, Verizon, Lumen and Windstream. Each of these providers also has employees with MEF SD-WAN Certified Professional training certification.
- Primary technology suppliers to the service providers ranked on the 2021 Carrier Managed SD-WAN LEADERBOARD include Cisco, Fortinet, Versa and VMware. Additionally, SD-WAN providers Aryaka and Hughes utilize internally developed technologies.
Market Players include providers selling Carrier Managed SD-WAN services in the U.S. with site share below 1%, including global network providers that manage U.S. customer sites. For 2021, the Market Player tier includes the following companies (in alphabetical order):
AireSpring, American Telesis, Arelion, Astound Business, Bigleaf, bSimplify, BT Global Services, C Spire Business, CentraCom, Cincinnati Bell, Cogent, Colt, Consolidated Communications, Cox, Crown Castle, DQE Communications, FirstLight, Frontier, Great Plains Communication, GTT, InfoStructure, Intelsat, Lightpath, Logix Fiber Networks, Meriplex, NTT, Orange Business, PCCW Global, PS Lightwave, SDN Communications, Segra, SES, SingTel, Sparklight Business, Spectrum Enterprise, Syringa, T-Mobile, T-Systems, Tata, Telefonica, Telstra, Transtelco, Unite Private Networks, Uniti, Veracity Networks, Virgin Media Business, Vodafone, Zayo and others.
Vertical’s Definition – Carrier Managed SD-WAN Service:
Vertical Systems Group defines a Carrier Managed SD-WAN Service for segment analysis and share calculations as a carrier-grade offering for business customers that is managed by a network operator. Required components and functionality for these offerings include an SDN service architecture that provides dynamic optimization of traffic flows, a purpose-built SD-WAN appliance or CPE-hosted SD-WAN VNF at each customer edge site, support for multiple active underlay connectivity services, automated failover fast enough to maintain active sessions, and centralized network orchestration with traffic and application visibility end-to-end. Security capabilities may be supplied by a managed SD-WAN service provider based on customer requirements.
Vertical Systems Group defines a managed SD-WAN service as a carrier-grade network offering for enterprise and business customers, which is managed by a network operator, and delivered over a software-defined network (SDN) service architecture that has separate control (overlay) and data (underlay) planes.
SD-WAN is one of three managed VPN segments that Vertical Systems tracks, along with MPLS and site-to-site VPNs. The top-five carrier managed SD-WAN companies are also leading providers of dedicated IP VPN services, which included landline and satellite connectivity.
VSG Research Highlights:
SD-WAN is one of the three Managed VPN segments that Vertical tracks, along with MPLS and Site-to-Site VPNs. Service migration analysis shows that the majority of Carrier Managed SD-WAN service installations to date are hybrid configurations that include partial conversions of existing Site-to-Site and MPLS networks.
- The top five Carrier Managed SD-WAN companies are also the leading providers of Dedicated IP VPN services, including landline and satellite connectivity.
- A number of SDN-based technologies are utilized to deliver Carrier Managed SD-WAN services. The fourteen LEADERBOARD and Challenge Tier providers use products from the following companies (in alphabetical order): Cisco/Viptela, Silver Peak, Versa, and VMware/VeloCloud, or employ their own internally developed technologies. Several SD-WAN service providers offer multiple solutions.
The 14 leaderboard and challenge tier providers used SD-WAN technologies from Cisco/Viptela, Silver Peak, Versa Networks and VMware/VeloCoud or deploy their own internally developed technologies. Several SD-WAN service providers, such as AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink, have multiple SD-WAN offerings.
Vertical Systems Group’s 2020 U.S. Fiber Lit Buildings LEADERBOARD results are as follows (in rank order by number of on-net fiber lit buildings): AT&T, Verizon, Spectrum Enterprise, Lumen, Comcast, Cox, Crown Castle Fiber, Atlantic Broadband, Frontier, Zayo and Altice USA. These eleven retail and wholesale fiber providers qualify for this benchmark with 15,000 or more on-net U.S. fiber lit commercial buildings as of year-end 2020.
Additionally, fourteen companies qualify for the 2020 Challenge Tier as follows (in alphabetical order): Cincinnati Bell, Cleareon, Cogent, Consolidated Communications, Conterra, DQE Communications, Everstream, FirstLight, IFN, Logix Fiber Networks, Segra, Unite Private Networks, Uniti Fiber and Windstream. These fiber providers each qualify for the 2020 Challenge Tier with between 2,000 and 14,999 U.S. fiber lit commercial buildings.
“The base of fiber lit buildings in the U.S. expanded in 2020, although the pace of new installations was hampered by the pandemic. Challenges for fiber providers ranged from impeded installations due to commercial building closures and business shutdowns to supply chain disruptions,” said Rosemary Cochran, principal of Vertical Systems Group. “As the economy rebounds in 2021, fiber providers have opportunities to monetize the millions of small and medium U.S. commercial buildings without fiber, as well as larger multi-tenant buildings with only a single fiber provider. However it remains uncertain how changes in U.S. regulatory policies and federal funding could alter fiber investments and deployment plans in the next several years.”
2020 Fiber Provider Research Highlights:
- AT&T retains the top rank on the U.S. Fiber Lit Buildings LEADERBOARD for the fifth consecutive year.
- The threshold for a rank position on the 2020 Fiber LEADERBOARD is 15,000 fiber lit buildings, up from 10,000 buildings previously.
- Atlantic Broadband advanced to eighth position on the LEADERBOARD, up from eleventh in the previous year.
- Windstream and Consolidated Communications move into the Challenge Tier from the LEADERBOARD.
- Vertical Systems Group’s 2020 U.S. fiber research analysis for five building sizes shows that fiber availability varies significantly based on number of employees. The Fiber 20+ segment, which covers four building sizes with twenty or more employees, has a 69.2% fiber lit availability rate. This compares to 14.1% availability for the Fiber <20 segment, which covers buildings with fewer than twenty employees.
Market Players include all other fiber providers with fewer than 2,000 U.S. commercial fiber lit buildings. The 2020 Market Players tier includes more than two hundred metro, regional and other fiber providers, including the following companies (in alphabetical order): ACD.net, Armstrong Business Solutions, C Spire, Centracom, CTS Telecom, Douglas Fast Net, EnTouch Business, ExteNet Systems, Fatbeam, FiberLight, Fusion Connect, Google Fiber, GTT, Hunter Communications, LS Networks, Mediacom Business, MetroNet Business, Midco Business, Pilot Fiber, PS Lightwave, Shentel Business, Silver Star Telecom, Sonic Business, Syringa, TDS Telecom, TPX Communications, U.S. Signal, Veracity, Wave Broadband, WOW!Business, Ziply Fiber and others.
For this analysis, a fiber lit building is defined as a commercial site or data center that has on-net optical fiber connectivity to a network provider’s infrastructure, plus active service termination equipment onsite. Excluded from this analysis are standalone cell towers, small cells not located in fiber lit buildings, near net buildings, buildings classified as coiled at curb or coiled in building, HFC-connected buildings, carrier central offices, residential buildings, and private or dark fiber installations.