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Feature Article

Telecom Has a Future, But Not Every Company Does

By Roger S. Conrad on Aug. 7, 2023

In the 120 years plus since electricity, heating and water became essential services, not one regulated operating utility has ever gone out of business. That includes companies forced to declare bankruptcy, most recently California’s PG&E Corp (NYSE: PCG) The same can’t be said for communications. Since the Telecom Act of 1996 ended local phone monopolies, literally hundreds of companies have appeared only to vanish in a few years. And several in my Utility Report Card coverage universe are flirting with some form of debt restructuring now, including Altice USA (NYSE: ATUS), DISH Network Corp (NSDQ: DISH) and Lumen Technologies (NYSE: LUMN). Communications is more essential than ever to a functioning world. According to Statista, annual global revenues from providing wireless services have roughly doubled over the past decade. Cellular devices sold yearly have risen 10-fold. Smart phone subscriptions have doubled since 2016 and are projected to reach 8 billion by 2028.

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