Due to the increasing popularity of the Internet and the growing demand for data transfer infrastructure, the telecommunication equipment sector and the IT equipment sector have started to overlap more and more in the last few years. In 2018, IT spending worldwide was forecast to reach 3.74 trillion U.S. dollars. Overall global IT spending is forecast to grow further as is telecom equipment spending, which is projected to increase from 44.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2015 to around 49.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2020.
Ericsson, Cisco Systems, Fujitsu, Nokia, NEC Corporation and Qualcomm are the leading telecom equipment companies worldwide. Cisco Systems is the leading Ethernet switch vendor, with more than 50 percent of the market share. Ethernet switches are an important and profitable part of the industry, as they are an integral part of IT infrastructure. They are used to receive, process and transmit data between two devices connected by a physical layer. Together, the top 5 vendors of Ethernet switches generated more than 25 billion U.S. dollars in revenue in 2017. Cisco is also the main vendor of enterprise WLAN, accounting for 45 percent of the global market share. HPE/Aruba, Arris/Ruckus, Ubiquiti and Huawei are also important vendors of enterprise WLAN worldwide.
Ethernet switch, WLAN and telecom towers are only a few examples of telecom equipment. This industry is vast, and includes other important markets such as smartphones. More than 1.5 billion smartphones were sold worldwide in 2017. Samsung, the global mobile market leader since 2012, sold about 20 percent of this total. Apple and Huawei are Samsung's closest competitors in the market, with around 14 percent and 10 percent of the global smartphone market share respectively.