Midband 5G and Fiber Drive Increased 2022 CapEx Guidance from US Operators

John Byrne, Service Director

Summary Bullets:

  • After a COVID-related decline in CapEx in 2020, US operators returned almost exactly to 2019 levels in 2021, in line with guidance provided at the beginning of the year.
  • Operators are planning to increase CapEx by double digits in 2022, with the increase being driven by midband 5G deployments and increasing appetite for fiber from both large and small operators.

An analysis of US operator financial results based on Q4 2021 earnings releases shows that CapEx in 2021 came in nearly identically to 2019 levels after a COVID-driven dip in 2020. The nine network operators shown below – all of which spent more than $1 billion in CapEx – spent $70.6 billion in 2021 CapEx, up 5.2% from 2020 and nearly flat from 2019. GlobalData estimates that the big three that account for nearly 70% of total CapEx – AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile USA – spent roughly $49 billion, up 7% from 2020. Continue reading “Midband 5G and Fiber Drive Increased 2022 CapEx Guidance from US Operators”

SoftBank Sustainability Bond Plans May Face Skeptical Investment Community

John Byrne, Service Director

Summary Bullets:

  • SoftBank plans to issue a sustainability bond to help fund its high-altitude platform station (HAPS) project designed to enable Internet service in currently hard-to-reach locales.
  • Investors may be reluctant to invest in the new bond because of the long timeframe to commercial viability, lack of a clear path to profit, and emerging competition from LEO competitors like Starlink and Project Kuiper.

Japanese investment management conglomerate SoftBank Corporation announced it will issue a sustainability bond to fund its novel HAPS project designed to enable Internet service in currently hard-to-reach locales. Sustainability bonds are becoming an increasingly popular way for telecoms operators to fund environmental initiatives; however, investors may be skeptical of SoftBank’s plans to use a sustainability bond to fund development of its still-unproven HAPS model. Continue reading “SoftBank Sustainability Bond Plans May Face Skeptical Investment Community”

Orange and Nokia Push the Circular Economy Forward with RAN Refurbishment

Andy Hicks, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • Orange’s expansion of its equipment refurbishing efforts to the radio network represents new levels of scale, complexity, and maturity in its circular economy initiative.
  • Fears that reused radio equipment will not match the improved energy consumption of new units have not been borne out in real-world usage.

In October 2021, Paris-based multinational telecoms operator Orange announced an agreement with Nokia to increase its use of refurbished network equipment across its entire 26-country footprint. Beginning with radio access network (RAN) equipment, the arrangement will extend to other network infrastructure elements. In taking this step, Orange is establishing an advanced position that it hopes other telecoms groups will follow. Continue reading “Orange and Nokia Push the Circular Economy Forward with RAN Refurbishment”

AT&T and Verizon Showcase Two Approaches to Environmental Sustainability

John Byrne, Service Director

Summary Bullets:

  • AT&T announced a new initiative designed to help its customers dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The company still has work to do on internal ‘greenification.’
  • Verizon is taking a different approach, issuing its second and third $1 billion green bonds recently to fund a host of renewable energy contracts.

AT&T arguably took a leadership position among U.S. telecommunication operators, announcing August 31 that it will drive a reduction of a gigaton of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions —1 billion metric tons — by 2035, in conjunction with a consortium of partners that includes Microsoft, Equinix, Duke Energy, and a number of research universities. A gigaton is equal to roughly 15% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and 3% of global emissions based on 2020 estimates. Continue reading “AT&T and Verizon Showcase Two Approaches to Environmental Sustainability”

Industry Mulling Impact of AT&T-Microsoft Core Deal

John Byrne, Service Director

Summary Bullets:

  • AT&T announced it will transfer its mobile network to the Microsoft Azure cloud, beginning with the 5G core.
  • Other operators are likely to make a similar transition, though many will take much longer to do so than AT&T.

AT&T certainly grabbed the headlines – and stole some of the already dim MWC Barcelona spotlight – with its announcement June 30 that it will move its 5G network to Microsoft’s Azure for Operators cloud, beginning with its 5G core. Continue reading “Industry Mulling Impact of AT&T-Microsoft Core Deal”

Vodafone Radio Contract with Samsung Is Small in Size but Large in Significance

John Byrne, Service Director

Summary Bullets:

  •  Samsung has traditionally found itself outside of the sphere of influence with European operators, but a combination of emerging vRAN and O-RAN technologies and geopolitics is creating a new opportunity.
  • The company’s O-RAN deal with Vodafone UK, announced in June, is small in size but could represent the beginning of a long tail of opportunity.

Vodafone UK announced in June it will deploy new radio technology from Samsung, including virtualized radio access network (vRAN) solutions as well as open RAN (O-RAN) compliant radios. For both technological and competitive reasons, the new deal – while relatively small in size – could be large in its impact. Continue reading “Vodafone Radio Contract with Samsung Is Small in Size but Large in Significance”

Huawei Software and Services Lays the Foundation for an Ecosystem Play

Andy Hicks, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • At Huawei’s recent analyst event, the company said that it was placing greater emphasis on building a services and software partner ecosystem.
  • Although Huawei has historically not built much of a partner ecosystem outside its local deployment and maintenance relationships, it now has several pieces in place to make more progress in the area.

At the annual Huawei Analyst Summit (HAS) in April 2021 – the second year it was conducted largely virtually – Huawei’s Software and Services leadership went into detail on its advancements and strategies for the group. Discussions touched several times on Huawei’s desire to build up its partner ecosystem, both to expand the innovation it can deliver to clients and to extend its reach to additional service provider business lines. Huawei has historically maintained a substantial ecosystem in local country network deployment and operations field forces, but its progress on building a service creation ecosystem has been less apparent. At HAS, Huawei executives made clear they understand that developing an ecosystem is vital to its goal of emphasizing software and services as a means to enhance customer loyalty and diversify its revenue stream in the wake of ongoing hardware supply chain challenges. Continue reading “Huawei Software and Services Lays the Foundation for an Ecosystem Play”

Why It’s Already Time to Start Talking About 5.5G

Ed Gubbins, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

• Huawei has begun promoting “5.5G,” assigning it three new capabilities related to faster uplink, real-time broadband, and harmonization

• 5G is already evolving faster than 4G; going forward, the conventions of technology branding may change

For much of the previous decade, the mobile telecom industry promised that 5G would arrive in 2020. Now we’re only a few months past 2020, and we’re starting to hear more about the next steps: 6G won’t arrive until 2030, but in 2025, there’s 5.5G. Continue reading “Why It’s Already Time to Start Talking About 5.5G”

Huawei Annual Report Shows Increasing Reliance on Home Market in Response to Geopolitical Challenges

John Byrne, Service Director

Summary Bullets:

  • Huawei posted modest growth in 2020 despite pandemic-related challenges; however, the company relied heavily on its domestic market while revenue outside China declined significantly.
  • The Chinese market alone makes Huawei one of the largest ICT providers in the world; however, the company’s global supply chain will continue to pose significant challenges.

The 2020 annual report released by Chinese telecommunications vendor Huawei Technologies shows the company’s share of revenue coming from its home market rose sharply in 2020, increasing to nearly two-thirds of total revenue. In total, Huawei reported revenue of CNY 891.4 billion, or $136.7 billion, in 2020. The company managed to increase revenue nearly 4% compared to the prior year – an impressive feat in the midst of a global pandemic. Continue reading “Huawei Annual Report Shows Increasing Reliance on Home Market in Response to Geopolitical Challenges”

2021 Predictions: Three Things to Watch in the CSP Transport & Routing Sector This Year

Glen Hunt, Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • Orchestration of IP infrastructure resources will become mainstream, replacing fragmented element and network management solutions to reduce complexity and operational cost.
  • 5G private network initiatives will go global as operators position to capture lucrative new 5G network opportunities and address the needs of multiple vertical markets.

Resource Orchestration Matures

5G services and applications are driving more routed IP traffic into the network, with the traditional role of switched Layer 2 Ethernet traffic being sidelined and replaced by more dynamic routed IP flows. This is prevalent in the mobile transport and business Ethernet services domains, which were the last frontier that could claim a cost and simplicity advantage by remaining at Layer 2. The maturation of SDN, which supports a centralized control plane and distributed data plane, has been augmented with simplified routing protocols such as segment routing and Ethernet VPN (EVPN), which minimize the need for complex node-based management and control intelligence. It is painfully clear that the telco infrastructure must be fully automated in order to avoid being crushed by its own weight. Continue reading “2021 Predictions: Three Things to Watch in the CSP Transport & Routing Sector This Year”