Telecom equipment market posts best year in almost a decade: Dell'Oro

huawei logo at mwc 19
Huawei continues to dominate the market for telecom equipment, according to analyst firm Dell'Oro Group. (Huawei)

Noting that its report is based on preliminary estimates, Dell'Oro Group said that in 2020 the telecom equipment market had its best year since 2011, with annual revenue growth of 7%. Mobile core networks and RAN both increased above expectations, and the analysts noted that both Ericsson and Nokia improved their RAN positions outside of China.

Huawei, Ericsson and ZTE picked up market share, while Nokia and Cisco lost share. Nokia and Ericsson are now neck-and-neck, the analysts said, but both companies trail Huawei by a significant margin. Dell'Oro said the top six suppliers, ranked in order of market share, were Huawei (31%), Nokia (15%), Ericsson (15%), ZTE (10%), Cisco (6%) and Ciena (3%). Samsung is in seventh place with market share of less than 3%.  As a group, these seven companies have at least an 80% market share, Dell'Oro said.

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Dell'Oro says mobile core network and RAN accounted for roughly half of the $90-$95 billion in global spending on telecom equipment last year. The firm added that revenue shares continued to be impacted by the state of the 5G rollouts in highly concentrated markets.

2020 was clearly an unusual year because the global pandemic disrupted supply chains and caused network traffic patterns to change significantly. Dell'Oro said this traffic shift resulted in strong demand for capacity upgrades in some market segments, and that the impacts of COVID-19-related supply chain disruptions were much less pronounced by the end of the year.

Looking ahead, the analysts remain optimistic about the market. Dell'Oro said that despite the strong growth in 2020, the market will not retract in 2021. They are calling for overall growth of 3%-5%.