It was tough to be a telecoms shareholder in the last two decades. Even with more than $2tn in invested capex since 2013, the returns on capital consistently fell, which lead to growth projects being increasingly financed by debt.
As we moved from basic internet access to high-speed access, higher capacity mobile networks and complex applications, the underlying products and services which telcos provide became increasingly commoditised. Fundamental growth in the business has been hard to come by and additional value created at each new technology inflection point has been captured mostly by other tech giants.
But if you cannot create and capture enough value, you might as well try and unlock it.