What’s up with…. AT&T and Verizon capex, MWC22, NVIDIA & Arm

  • Major US operators unveil their 2022 capex plans
  • NTT DOCOMO is staying away from MWC22 
  • NVIDIA reportedly set to abandon Arm acquisition

Capex news from US telco giants, some stay-aways from MWC22 and, it seems, the end of a rocky M&A road for NVIDIA are the lead news items in this daily roundup. 

AT&T and Verizon have provided insights into their spending plans for 2022, and it’s a mixed bag for the vendor community that relies on business from such major network operators. In announcing its fourth quarter and full year financials today, AT&T noted that its capital expenditure (excluding vendor financing) totalled $16.5 billion in 2021, but that it’s 2022 capex would come in at around $20 billion! That will get some vendor pulses racing. For the full year, AT&T generated revenues of $168.9 billion versus $171.8 billion in 2020, “reflecting the separation of the U.S. Video business in the third quarter of 2021, and the impacts from other divested businesses.” Discounting such changes in the portfolio, the total sales would have edged up slightly year-on-year. For the full story of AT&T’s financial year, see this earnings press release

Verizon, meanwhile, boasted a 4.1% increase in annual sales in 2021 as its full year revenues hit $133.6 billion and its retail wireless connections topped 142 million. "2021 was a transformational year for Verizon that will serve as a catalyst for us," boasted the operator's Chairman and CEO Hans Vestberg. "We delivered on all of our goals in 2021 and made great progress on our five paths of growth, finishing the year with strong operating and financial momentum. As we move into 2022, we have the necessary assets to realize our strategy that we laid out in 2019. We are laser focused on executing our 5G strategy and providing value to our customers, shareholders, employees, and society, as 2022 will be the most exciting year yet for Verizon." Easy fella... The giant US operator expects sales to grow by a further 3% this year, while adjusted earnings (after one-time items) should grow by 2-3%, but in disappointing news for the vendor community, this year’s capex budget is set at between $16.5 billion and $17.5 billion, down from $18.2 billion in 2021, as “the company has started its progress towards lower capital intensity.” But hold on, because the planned spending on its C-band 5G network infrastructure isn’t included in that total, and it’s due to come in at between $5 billion and $6 billion, so the mobile infrastructure tech suppliers can breathe a bit easier. 

For those thinking hard about MWC22, news of some companies deciding they’ll stay away for another year. Japanese telco giant NTT DOCOMO, for example, has announced it will “participate virtually in MWC Barcelona 2022 from February 28 to March 3. The online exhibition will showcase DOCOMO's evolving 5G and 6G technologies as well as the company's global businesses and services. Exhibits and presentations will be introduced on the DOCOMO website (from 10:00 JST, February 28) and the company's exhibitor page on the MWC 2022 website.” And Lenovo and Sony Mobile have also reportedly decided to stay at home. BUt it seems these companies are, currently, in the minority: TelecomTV has had a steady stream of requests and invites for MWC22 in the past couple of weeks, in contrast to the very few interactions about MWC21, which took place in June last year. So it seems that, barring any major change in the situation in Spain and any debilitating travel restrictions, MWC22 will likely go ahead and be a bigger show with more attendees than last year, but it’s hard to imagine it will be anything other than a shadow of its 2019 100k+ attendee size. I guess we will find out in just over a month’s time…

NVIDIA looks set to give up on its $40 billion planned acquisition of chip developer Arm, which has been plagued by regulatory hurdles and opposition since it was first announced in September 2020. Bloomberg has reported that NVIDIA has been telling partners the deal is doomed, while Arm’s current owner, SoftBank, is now believed to be prepping an IPO of the business. 

Openreach offered an update to its plan to deploy Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) connectivity to 25 million sites by December 2026. The coverage map has expanded across most of the four nations in the UK, except for Northern Ireland. Most investment efforts will be poured into the homes and businesses in the North-West of England (£58 million), followed by the East Midlands where the company will invest £39 million for a broadband boost. The region of Yorkshire and the Humber will be boosted by a £27 million injection, and Wales will also benefit from a similar sum (£25 million). Openreach also unveiled a new £16 million investment for Scotland and £15 million for County Durham. The end game for the company is to supply ‘gigabit capable’ broadband to around 80 per cent of the UK by the end of 2026. It unveiled its updated coverage plans via a series of statements here.

Moving to the east, Qatari newspaper The Peninsula reported Ooredoo has participated alongside Microsoft, Al Jazeera and other locally based companies in an International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) accelerator programme which focused on using 5G to enhance live sports broadcasting and to improve the fan experience physically and remotely, including by utilising artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). During a testing phase, Ooredoo has provided its 5G-enabled network and mmWave spectrum, while Microsoft delivered its Azure cloud platform to explore options to improve the speed and scalability of live sports and related news broadcasting. Sixteen different camera feeds, including AI-boosted cameras, drones and attendees’ mobile phones, were used within the trials. The trials were undertaken during the FIFA Arab Cup at the end of 2021 and are reportedly aimed at preparing the country for the biggest football championship this year, the FIFA World Cup, which kicks off on 21 November 2022. Read more about the tests.

In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it has made another contribution to boosting connectivity availability in the nation, committing nearly $241 million to fund schools, libraries and consortia in 49 states, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands and the District of Columbia. As part of the move, they will receive nearly 683,000 connected devices and 182,000 broadband connections. Funding can also be used for off-campus learning, such as nightly homework. This is the eighth wave of support the FCC gives through its Emergency Connectivity Fund programme since its start in June 2021. Total commitment amounts to more than $4.4 billion. “In a little over six months, this program has helped over 12 million students across the nation get the digital tools they need to connect with teachers and online educational resources,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel commented.

The saga with the 5G deployment in the US seems to be getting unwound. The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gave the green light for an estimated 90% of the US commercial fleet to conduct low-visibility landings at airports with 5G deployments. It said it has done it after approving seven additional aircraft altimeters, taking the total number approved to 20. The move comes after the FAA established the altimeters are reliable in the 5G C-band environment. The agency also issued an airworthiness directive, which addresses unsafe conditions, which bans Boeing 747-8, 747-8F and 777 airplanes from landing at airports where there could be interference with deployed 5G. Reuters reported there was disruption caused by the 5G band at smaller airports, citing claims made by Alaska Air. Verizon has reportedly accepted to delay switching on about 500 towers near airports while working on a solution between operators and the administration.

- The staff, TelecomTV

Email Newsletters

Sign up to receive TelecomTV's top news and videos, plus exclusive subscriber-only content direct to your inbox.