AT&T and Comcast Business remain dominant SD-WAN players in a challenged market

March 7, 2024
Vertical Systems Group notes SD-WAN growth slowed in 2023 due to various challenges to service providers.

While more businesses are embracing SD-WAN, the market posed various challenges for service providers in 2023, causing a strain on overall growth. 

According to Vertical Systems Group’s (VSG) 2023, U.S. Carrier Managed SD-WAN LEADERBOARD, service providers cited delayed purchase decisions due to economic uncertainties and shifts to work from home (WFH) or anywhere else impacting network site requirements.

Additionally, the research firm cited the continuing challenge of integrating multiple SD-WAN and SASE/SSE solutions for marketing, sales, and technology teams.


“The number of managed SD-WAN sites in the U.S. expanded by 24% in 2023, which was lower growth than expected. Many service providers focused primarily on order fulfillment, upgrading bandwidth, and adding SASE/SSE for existing customers,” said Rick Malone, principal of Vertical Systems Group. 

Market leaders remain 

VSG reported that seven companies qualified for the 2023 U.S. Carrier Managed SD-WAN Services LEADERBOARD position. 

The research firm ranks these providers based on site share: AT&T, Comcast Business, Verizon, Hughes, Lumen, Windstream, and Zayo. 

As of December 31, 2023, each service provider had four percent (4%) or more of the billable Carrier Managed SD-WAN customer sites installed in the U.S.

The research firm noted that five companies retained their Challenge Tier citations from mid-2023: Aryaka, Cox Business, MetTel, Spectrum Enterprise, and TPx.

Additionally, two companies have advanced to the Challenge Tier from the mid-2023 Market Player tier: Cogent (including Sprint assets from T-Mobile) and Fusion Connect.

Five of the seven 2023 U.S. LEADERBOARD companies have MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Service Certification, including AT&T, Comcast Business, Verizon, Lumen, and Windstream. Spectrum Enterprise is the only Challenge Tier provider with MEF 3.0 SD-WAN Certification.

Cable MSOs make gains

One of the growth dynamics VSG found was that cable operators have been making progress in advancing their SD-WAN sales into mid-sized business customers. 

“Share gains were led by cable MSOs and providers specializing in mid-size business sectors,” Malone said. 

Charter and Comcast reported in their fourth-quarter earnings results that they saw gains in business service platforms related to security and the cloud.

Charter’s commercial segment fluctuated during the fourth quarter as its Spectrum Enterprise revenues climbed amidst losses in the small to medium-sized business (SMB) segment. 

Enterprise revenue, excluding wholesale, increased by 6.1% year over year. Driven by 6.5% primary service unit (PSU) growth, Charter’s Enterprise revenue grew 3.8% year over year.

Comcast Business’ fourth-quarter business services connectivity revenue grew 6% to $2.4 billion. 

The cable MSO noted that products like SecurityEdge resonate with small and medium-sized businesses. The product protects the network and the devices connected to it against several existing and emerging Internet-related threats, including malware, ransomware, phishing, and botnet infections, without requiring additional hardware or software beyond the Comcast Business Internet modem.

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