Telecom operators’ Capex grew 10.1 percent to $325 billion, while their revenues rose 5.5 percent to $1,891 billion in 2021, MTN Consulting said in its latest research report. Telecom operator Capex will be $328 billion in 2022.
The ratio of Capex to revenues, or capital intensity, reached 17.2 percent in 2021, the highest level since 2015.
The surge in mobile network spending was due to: COVID-delayed projects finally getting fulfilled; 5G’s spread into more countries and growth in subscriber counts; 5G core scaling up with a growing number of stand-alone deployments, many leveraging partners from the cloud; and increased fiber deployment in rural areas and for mobile infrastructure connectivity.
Excluding China-based companies, the top 10 biggest 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 (+$2.54 billion versus 2020), Telecom Italia (+$2.49 billion), Verizon (+$2.09 billion), AT&T (+$1.93 billion), Deutsche Telekom (+$1.74 billion), BT (+$1.63 billion), and Rakuten ($1.47 billion).
Leading Indian telecom operators such as Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea (Vi) are not finding a place in top 10 Capex list despite them managing huge mobile subscriber base in the country.