$102.4 Billion Is Highest Broadband Capex in 21 Years, USTelecom Says

Randy Sukow


The post-COVID era and billions in government support for broadband construction projects appear to have sparked a significant jump in activity, according to USTelecom’s 2022 Broadband Cap Expenditure Report. The association’s research finds that the American internet providers spent $102.4 billion last year, an increase from $86 billion in 2021.

“The annual figure represents a 21-year high for investment from the communications sector and a 19 percent year-over-year increase,” according to the report.

USTelecom has been collecting broadband capex data since 1996. It uses data from major wireline telcos, mobile network carriers and cable TV broadband providers. It does not include expenditures by most NRTC members, including small telcos, electric cooperatives, or satellite Internet providers.  “We estimate these competitors’ capex contributions at no less than $2 billion. Thus, the $102.4 billion figure we report today is a conservative estimate,” the association said.

The only other years USTelecom found more than $100 billion in expenditures were 2000 ($118.1 billion) and 2001 ($111.5 billion). In total, the report estimates that providers have invested $1.2 trillion since 1996.

The report finds that rural broadband construction is one of several reasons for broadband projects. Providers are also investing in upgrades of existing facilities into gigabit networks; integrating fiber with wireless networks and increasing capacity to meet growing demand for broadband connections.

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