Thanks to a recovery in both fixed and mobile sectors, service provider revenues passed the US$1.91 trillion mark in 2011, compared to US$1.79 trillion in 2010, according to Ovum, a leading telecoms analyst firm. Carrier capex also rose in 2011, but late-year economic jitters depressed growth rates.
In a new Ovum report, Matt Walker, a Principal Analyst in Ovum’s Networks practice, said: “Economic worries caused budget cuts late in the year, hitting SP capex. Overall for 2011, capex grew 9% to $306 billion, due to double-digit percentage growth in the first three quarters; capex declined 1 per cent year-over-year (YoY) in 4Q11. Among the top 10 capex spenders were two from North America (AT&T, Verizon), China’s three big carriers, NTT, and four European operators with multinational operations (DT, Telefonica, Vodafone, and FT).”
Both revenues and capex for 2011 were in line with Ovum’s most recent forecast, “Service Provider Revenues and Capex Forecast Spreadsheet: 2011–17” (Dec 2011). Global SP capital intensity – or capex divided by revenues – was 16.0 per cent for 2011, also in line with our forecast. Ovum expects the rate to eventually edge towards 15 per cent over the next 5 years.
While the forecast was on target globally, some regions did underperform. Walker commented, “The only sizable 2011 surprise came in MEA, where actual revenues and capex were 10 and 7 per cent lower than expected, respectively. This is due partly to political volatility at year-end which affected some carriers’ expansion plans. On the other side, North America’s revenues were 2% above forecast, though weak 4Q capex by Verizon and Sprint pushed 2011 capex down 4% below forecast,” commented Walker.
Going forward, Walker added: “Signs have emerged in 2012 of a slowly improving economy, and further improvement should help reach the revenue goal and capex growth targets of 3 and 6 per cent respectively.”