• Despite the impact of COVID-19, capital spending by US network operators was down relatively modestly in 2020, falling by around 4%.
• 2021 guidance from these operators shows a return to roughly similar levels as 2019. Continued demand for additional network capacity along with new 5G imperatives clearly remain.
An analysis of US operator financial results based on Q4 2020 earnings releases shows that while COVID-19 did slow capital investment, it could have been worse. Thanks to a flurry of activity toward the end of the year, the nine publicly-reported carriers, all of which spent in excess of $1 billion in capex, accounted for just over $67 billion in spending. That was down by approximately $3 billion, or 4.2%, compared to 2019. GlobalData estimates that the big three that account for nearly 70% of total capex – AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile USA – spent roughly $46 billion, down 6.1% from 2019. However, the bulk of the decline was attributable to AT&T. Continue reading “US Operators Signal Higher Capex in 2021 After a COVID-Dampened 2020”→
• GSMA is moving forward with plans for an-in person MWC Barcelona event, though roughly half its normal size and with numerous COVID-19-related precautions.
• Despite moving the date back four months to June 2021, there are still many obstacles to overcome before an actual event will even be feasible.
After the GSM Association (GSMA) made the difficult decision to cancel Mobile World Congress (MWC2020), the largest mobile event in the world, last February, it spent months working with exhibitors on a revised package of discounts to future events. For most exhibitors, the compromise package meant agreeing to forego any cash refund. Instead, these companies agreed to a series of rebates on future events, including a 65% credit on MWC2021, a 35% credit on MWC2022, and a 25% credit on MWC2023.
The event, held annually in Barcelona, was originally scheduled for this week. However, last September the GSMA agreed to postpone the event by four months to hedge its bets, just as Europe was heading into its second wave of COVID-19 infections. The question now is whether even the additional four months will be enough time to carry off a physical event. Continue reading “MWC2021 Organizers Insist the Show Must Go On”→
•T-Mobile US introduced a new incubator program designed to foster 5G innovation. Operators and networking vendors are increasingly in the business of seeding 5G innovation.
•The growing number of 5G innovation hubs highlights the growing challenge facing mobile operators hoping to monetize expensive 5G network buildouts.
Mobile operator T-Mobile US announced a new “5G Connected Future” incubator program in February that combines technology, academia, “Curiosity,” and seed money, in a bid to foster new revenue-generating 5G applications.
T-Mobile will collaborate with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) on the program, which represents an expansion of T-Mobile’s Accelerator program. T-Mobile reports it has worked with 67 startup companies that have raised over $50 million in funding since participating in the Accelerator program, all focused on building immersive 5G-based applications such as augmented/virtual reality applications, holographic displays, and robotics. Continue reading “Mobile Operators Are Looking to Incubate Their Way to 5G Success”→
• In a report released in August, O2 explained how 5G technology will help it reach its goals for 2025 – and well beyond.
• The report calls out the vital role of its primary infrastructure partner Ericsson in helping it “Break the Energy Curve” as it rolls out 5G for O2.
UK operator Telefonica O2 put its ‘green’ stake in the ground in March 2020 by announcing plans to dramatically reduce carbon emissions across its business and network by 2025. In a report released in August, O2 explained how 5G technology will help it reach its goals for 2025 – and well beyond.
• One era ended and another began, with new CEO Pekka Lundmark taking the reins August 1.
• While the company faces a host of challenges and questions to address, there are many recent signs of hope.
Nokia began life under its new CEO, Pekka Lundmark, on August 1 following the departure of his predecessor, Rajeev Suri. Lundmark’s appointment had been announced in March; he had originally planned to begin September 1 but the start date accelerated by one month from the original plan.
The appointment of Lundmark to the helm marks the end of what was an impressive 11-year tenure for Suri, who provided steady leadership through a tumultuous period that included the merger of Nokia and Siemens, and after a lengthy integration period, the eventual acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent. Continue reading “Nokia’s New CEO Has Reasons for Optimism”→
• In their first round of quarterly results since the widespread outbreak of COVID-19, network operators provided few specifics on the true impact of the pandemic on 2020 outlooks.
• Most operators remain hopeful that a fuller picture of the impact of the disease will emerge in time for Q220 earnings releases, but that is likely to vary significantly by region and country.
With most of the world’s largest network operators now having chimed in on Q1 2020 earnings, what is clear is that little remains clear in terms of how COVID-19 will impact them this year. Most operators have withdrawn full-year guidance and have indicated that a reliable picture will not emerge until the true trajectory of COVID-19 becomes clear. Since that answer can vary significantly from country to country, region to region, and city to city, most operators lack the tools to provide reliable guidance. Continue reading “COVID-19: Operators Kick the Can Down the Road in Defining Impact to FY2020 Results”→
Ericsson provided the most level of detail yet on the steps it has taken, both internal and customer-facing, in the wake of COVID-19.
Advanced planning emerges as a key feature of Ericsson’s approach, helping drive a number of important steps that should serve as a template for managing future crises.
As it released its first earnings report since COVID-19 began its rapid global spread, Ericsson took the opportunity to outline the various steps it has taken, both internally and externally, to plan for the known impacts and to predict the unknown effects. The actions taken by the company, which was one of the earliest to make the difficult decision to withdraw from this year’s MWC event in Barcelona, should serve as a case study for ‘how to get it right’ in the case of a crisis. For example: Continue reading “COVID-19: Ericsson’s Proactive Approach Serves as a ‘How To’ in Crisis Management”→
• U.S. Cellular’s rapid increase in capacity, thanks to new spectrum access, highlights the importance of low-touch deployment and software in today’s radio networks.
• The likely extension of the ongoing lockdown raises the chances that current spectrum lending programs will need to be extended.
When it comes to COVID-19, telecommunications equipment vendors are somewhat at the mercy of forces beyond their control. In the U.S. in particular, reports of crew shortages available for tower climbs are abundant. However, with a boost from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), vendors are helping operators gain additional capacity by temporarily gaining access to new spectrum bands.
Since COVID-19 forced the cancellation of its flagship Barcelona event, MWCA exhibitors have been waiting for details on a rebate or refund program.
The package announced March 25 provides a cash refund for smaller exhibitors but realistically represents a ‘take it or leave it’ package of rebates toward future events.
Since the GSMA made the difficult decision to cancel its annual conference in Barcelona in February, exhibitors have been awaiting details on the association’s refund package promised by the end of March. Now that offer has been announced, and while cash refunds are being offered for some, the vast majority of exhibitors will need to accept a package of rebates – albeit generous – toward future shows. However, the package looks punitive toward exhibitors that acted responsibly in withdrawing from the conference before it was officially cancelled. Continue reading “GSMA to MWC20 Exhibitors: ‘Take It or Leave It’ on COVID-19 Refund Package”→