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Telecommunications Network Operators: 4Q20 Market Review

This market review provides a comprehensive assessment of the global telecommunications industry based on financial results through December 2020 (4Q20). The report tracks revenue, capex and employee for 138 individual telecommunications network operators (TNOs). For a sub-group of 50 large TNOs, the report also assesses labor cost, opex and operating profit trends. The report also covers annual data for other financial metrics such as debt, cash & short term investments, M&A spend and cash flow from operations for the TNO-50. Our coverage timeframe spans 1Q11-4Q20 (40 quarters). The report's format is Excel.
The year 2020 will always be remembered as the year of COVID-19, when a pandemic spread rapidly across the globe and brought economies to a standstill, forcing extreme changes in human behavior in the attempt to stay healthy. Network traffic patterns changed as people worked and studied from home. Service demand changed as the work & study from home crowd required resilient, high-speed connections from home and videoconferencing and collaboration tools became more important than raw connectivity. Network operators attempted to make the best of a bad situation, naturally. Cloud providers from the webscale world did this effectively, and many startups without their own networks (Zoom, in particular) grew dramatically. Telcos attempted to upsell consumer broadband and find ways to benefit from increased at-home entertainment consumption. Their record of success was mixed.
In addition to all things COVID, telecom’s 2020 was also marked by three other important trends: widespread deployment of 5G networks across all regions of the world, even if mostly at a small scale; rising telco interest in automation across their operations, and the related adoption of software-based network technologies; and, real momentum behind the Open RAN movement. The latter trend was given force by Huawei’s continued struggle to remain #1 among suppliers, due to a mix of supply chain constraints and tangible security concerns in many of its key markets. Open RAN had appeal even before Huawei’s loss of standing, as part of a broader movement towards network disaggregation. However, without Huawei as a leader in the mobile RAN, few telcos want to rely on just two large suppliers (Ericsson and Nokia) for this central aspect of their operations.
Revenues grew 3.4% YoY in 4Q20 after two horrible quarters
Telco revenues surged at year-end 2020 as economies began to recover: vaccine development news promised an eventual end to the COVID-19 pandemic. Telco revenues for 4Q20 totaled...
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