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Global Network Operator Forecast Through 2026: Capex to Reach $659B by 2026; Telcos Represent Less than Half of 2026 Capex -

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DUBLIN--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The "Network Operator Forecast Through 2026" report has been added to's offering.

This forecast spreadsheet details the publisher's forecast for revenues, capex, headcount, and other metrics across three segments of network operators: telecom operators (telcos), webscale network operators (webscalers), and carrier-neutral operators (CNNOs). The spreadsheet provides 2011-21 actuals and projections through 2026, and includes projections from past forecasts for reference.

War and inflation worries emerge as COVID concerns fade

Our last network operator spending forecast was published in December 2021. Since then, COVID-19 worries have continued to dissipate. The severity of recent strains is much lower, vaccines have improved and vaccination rates have risen, travel has begun to normalize and business life has resumed in most countries.

There are long-term effects from the pandemic. It gave a boost to online activities and enterprises, new businesses were created, and existing ones accelerated growth. It broadened awareness of public health issues. Virtual classes, meetings, and events are now more common, even when COVID is not a factor.

Network operator capex to reach $659B by 2026; telcos represent less than half of 2026 capex

This network operator forecast aggregates expectations for three network operator segments: telco, webscale, and carrier-neutral (CNNO). In 2021, these three markets accounted for $4.116 trillion of revenues (+14.9% YoY), $532 billion of capital expenditures (capex)(+15.4% YoY), and 8.91 million employees (+4.4% YoY).

Over the last several years, the webscale market has grown rapidly, which accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic as business shifted online. Webscale growth will drive the market going forward through 2026, as well. For the 2017-21 five-year period, webscale accounted for 26.4% of total capex, but that will rise to 37.2% of total over the next five years.

Telcos will still account for the majority of total network operator capex, or 54.4% of capex over the next five years, but that's down from 67.6% of total in the previous 5 years. For 2026 alone, telco capex will drop slightly below 50% of total. Meanwhile, CNNOs continue to rise in importance from a small base; their capex will rise from 5.8% of total in 2021 to about 8.7% of the 2026 market.

There are hundreds of network operators across the globe, of various types. We cover about 200, across the telco/webscale/CNNO market. A small number of very large players stand out. Focusing on capex over the last three years (2019-21), the largest 13 operators accounted for over 50% of the total; 5 of these are webscalers.

The largest 50 operators captured over 80% of capex in the same time period; three of these are carrier-neutral providers (China Tower, Equinix, and Digital Realty), 10 are webscalers (Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, Facebook/Meta, Apple, Alibaba, Tencent, Oracle, IBM, and HPE), while the remaining 37 are telcos (from China Mobile, the largest of the group, to LG UPlus, the smallest of the top 50).

These large operators not only make the most attractive customer targets for suppliers; they also have the most impact on technology development in networks, through their own R&D, participation in industry bodies, and work with (and purchasing from) vendors.

Companies Mentioned

  • American Tower
  • Arqiva
  • Balitower
  • Bharti Infratel
  • Cellnex
  • China Tower
  • Chorus Limited
  • Cogent
  • CoreSite Realty
  • Crown Castle
  • CyrusOne
  • Digital Realty
  • DuPont Fabros
  • EI Towers
  • Equinix
  • GDS Data Centers
  • GTL Infrastructure
  • GTT Communications
  • Internap
  • Interxion
  • Inti Bangun Sejahtera
  • Inwit
  • Level 3
  • Lumos
  • NBN Australia
  • QTS Realty
  • Sarana Menara Nusantara
  • SBA Communications
  • Solusi Tunas Pratama
  • Superloop
  • Switch
  • TDF Infrastructure/Arcus
  • Telesites
  • Telxius/Telefonica
  • Tower Bersama Infrastructure
  • Uniti Group
  • Zayo
  • A1 Telekom Austria
  • Advanced Info Service (AIS)
  • Airtel
  • Altice Europe
  • Altice USA
  • America Movil
  • AT&T
  • Axiata
  • Axtel
  • Batelco
  • BCE
  • Bezeq Israel
  • Bouygues Telecom
  • BSNL
  • BT
  • Cable ONE, Inc.
  • Cablevision
  • Cell C
  • Cellcom Israel
  • CenturyLink
  • Cequel Communications
  • Charter Communications
  • China Broadcasting Network
  • China Mobile
  • China Telecom
  • China Unicom
  • Chunghwa Telecom
  • Cincinatti Bell
  • CK Hutchison
  • Clearwire
  • Cogeco
  • Com Hem Holding AB
  • Comcast
  • Consolidated Communications
  • Cyfrowy Polsat
  • DEN Networks Limited
  • Deutsche Telekom
  • Digi Communications
  • DirecTV
  • Dish Network
  • Dish TV India Limited
  • DNA Ltd.
  • Du
  • EE
  • Elisa
  • Entel
  • Etisalat
  • Fairpoint Communications
  • Far EasTone Telecommunications Co., Ltd.
  • Frontier Communications
  • Globe Telecom
  • Grupo Clarin
  • Grupo Televisa
  • Hathway Cable & Datacom Limited
  • Idea Cellular Limited
  • Iliad SA
  • KDDI
  • KPN
  • KT
  • Leap Wireless
  • LG Uplus
  • Liberty Global
  • M1
  • Manitoba Telecom Services
  • Maroc Telecom
  • Maxis Berhad
  • Megafon
  • MetroPCS Communications
  • Millicom
  • Mobile Telesystems
  • MTN Group
  • MTNL
  • NTT
  • Oi
  • Omantel
  • Ono
  • Ooredoo
  • Orange
  • PCCW
  • PLDT
  • Proximus
  • Quebecor Telecommunications
  • Rakuten
  • Reliance Communications Limited
  • Reliance Jio
  • Rogers
  • Rostelecom
  • Safaricom Limited
  • Sasktel
  • Shaw
  • Singtel
  • SITI Networks Limited
  • SK Telecom
  • Sky plc
  • SmarTone
  • SoftBank
  • Spark New Zealand Limited
  • Sprint
  • StarHub
  • STC (Saudi Telecom)
  • SureWest Communications
  • Swisscom
  • Taiwan Mobile
  • Tata Communications
  • Tata Teleservices
  • TDC
  • TDS
  • Tele2 AB
  • Telecom Argentina
  • Telecom Egypt
  • Telecom Italia
  • Telefonica
  • Telekom Malaysia Berhad
  • Telenor
  • Telia
  • Telkom Indonesia
  • Telkom SA
  • Telstra
  • Telus
  • Thaicom
  • Time Warner
  • Time Warner Cable
  • TPG Telecom Limited
  • True Corp
  • Turk Telekom
  • Turkcell
  • Veon
  • Verizon
  • Virgin Media
  • Vivendi
  • Vodafone
  • Vodafone Idea Limited
  • VodafoneZiggo
  • Wind Tre
  • Windstream
  • Zain
  • Zain KSA
  • Ziggo
  • Alibaba
  • Alphabet
  • Altaba
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Baidu
  • ChinaCache
  • Cognizant
  • eBay
  • Facebook
  • Fujitsu
  • HPE
  • IBM
  • JD.COM
  • LinkedIn
  • Microsoft
  • Oracle
  • SAP
  • Tencent
  • Twitter
  • Yandex

For more information about this report visit

Laura Wood, Senior Press Manager

For E.S.T Office Hours Call 1-917-300-0470
For U.S./CAN Toll Free Call 1-800-526-8630
For GMT Office Hours Call +353-1-416-8900

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First published on Thu, Aug 11, 2022

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ResearchAndMarkets Carrier-Neutral Operators (CNNOs) Telecom Operators (telcos) Webscale Network Operators (webscalers)

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