Energy costs spike 2022 opex for carrier-neutral sector
For many carrier-neutral operators, energy is largest operational expense and can account for up to 80% of opex (ex-D&A); costs surged in 2022 for many
By Matt Walker

This brief presents data on energy spending by operators of cell towers, data centers, and fiber networks, and discusses the implications of the data and likely future directions. Utilities represent a large portion of operating expenses for these infrastructure-focused companies, which we track as “carrier-neutral network operators” (CNNOs). CNNOs also spend more than other types of operators. Webscale spending on power is miniscule relative to their size, less than 1% of opex (ex-D&A). Telcos spend a few % of opex (ex-D&A) on utilities. But CNNOs can spend more than 30% and up to 80% of opex (ex-D&A) on utilities. 

Table Of Contents

  • Summary – page 2
  • CNNOs are more energy-intensive than other operator types – page 2
  • Sustainability in networks needs to start with CNNOs – page 4
  • Implications – page 5
  • Appendix – page 6

Figures and Tables

Figure 1: Power intensity by operator type (MWh consumed per US$1M in revenue)
Figure 2: Utilities spend as a % of opex (excluding depreciation & amortization), 2020-22
Figure 3: Utilities vs. D&A costs as a percentage of total opex, 2022


Companies mentioned:

America Movil
Bharti Infratel (Indus)
China Tower
Chorus Limited
Crown Castle
Digital Realty
GDS Data Centers
Helios Towers
IHS Towers
QTS Realty
Sarana Menara Nusantara
TDF Infrastructure/Arcus