Preliminary Dell’Oro Group data pointed to a worldwide decline in telecom capex for full year 2023, due in part to reduced investments in 5G by operators.

The research company noted it was the first market contraction since 2017.

Dell’Oro Group stated 5G-related capital intensity ratios peaked in 2022 and are on track to approach 15 per cent by 2026, down from 18 per cent in 2022.

Its gloomy outlook stated worldwide capex is projected to decline at a mid-single-digit rate in 2024 and at a negative 2 per cent to 3 per cent CAGR by 2026.

VP Stefan Pongratz noted operators have fixed capital intensity budgets and that capex is largely constrained by the revenue trajectory, but stated the “the revenue pie remains fixed”.

“Our analysis shows that operator revenue growth slowed in 2023 and has more or less remained stagnant over the past decade. And based on the guidance, operators, in general, are not overly optimistic that emerging opportunities with generative AI, edge computing, enterprise 5G, FWA, and 5G-Advanced will expand the pie”.

Pongratz told Mobile World Live wireless capex declined at a high-single digit rate in 2023 and that “conditions are expected to remain challenging in 2024 with US wireless capex projected to be down nearly 15 per cent”.

Operator revenue is predicted to increase at a 1 per cent CAGR over the next three years.