The four big wireless operators in the U.S. will spend a bit more on capital expenditures in 2021 than they did in 2020, according to a Fierce analysis of their 10K annual reports and year-end financial statements. Click through our story (below) to see what T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T and Dish have said about their 2021 capex spends.
GlobalData analyst John Byrne conducted a wider analysis of nine U.S. operators, both wireless and wireline, looking at their 2020 capex spends. He found that the Covid pandemic did not ultimately have a huge impact on capital investment. “Thanks to a flurry of activity toward the end of the year, the nine publicly-reported carriers, all of which spent in excess of $1 billion in capex, accounted for just over $67 billion in spending,” said Byrne in a blog. “That was down by approximately $3 billion, or 4.2%, compared to 2019.”
GlobalData estimates that the big three that account for nearly 70% of total capex – AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile – spent roughly $46 billion in 2020, down 6.1% from 2019. However, the bulk of the decline was attributable to AT&T.
Factoring in 2021 guidance provided alongside year-end 2020 results, GlobalData estimates that the 2021 spend among these three U.S. operators will be up by about 3.5%. That would return full-year investment of the nine companies to $69.4 billion, just below the $70.1 billion these operators spent on capex in pre-pandemic 2019.
Check out these pages for more detail on what AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Dish have publicly said about 2021 spending, especially related to their 5G deployments.