Crown Castle Small Cell and Tower Update- 2ndQ 2016

New replacement pole small cell
New replacement pole small cell

While the call itself was pretty understated as compared to even other CCI calls, it was in the Q&A where the call got interesting.  Here is what we took from the call.

TOWERS:  ($115M organic revenue growth in 2nd Quarter)

New Builds:  In regards to new builds, CCI is not building many new towers- only 50 of them in the last quarter.  They don’t say it, but we believe that the majority of those towers are replacements of their existing towers where the underlying landowner wasn’t willing to extend the underlying tower ground lease at a fair market value rent.   Crown doesn’t expect this slow pace to change, noting specifically that there are a number of new tower company entrants or established mid-tier tower companies that will do non-sensible build-to-suit deals in order to establish market share. [Read more…]

FAA to Reduce Maximum Height of Towers Near Airports

In an effort to establish a wider flight safety path for airplanes that might “lose power during takeoff,” the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has recently proposed that the maximum height of buildings near all U.S. airports should be reduced.   Some industries have balked at this proposal, including real estate developers and cell tower companies.  Wireless telecom players are concerned that the proposed rules would limit the ability to successfully deploy antennas on rooftops, in addition to hampering the construction of cell towers in general.  Current legislation allows buildings to be as high as 250 feet and  towers to be as high as 200 feet at a boundary that begins 10K feet from an airport.   If the new rules go into effect, the maximum height  of towers could be reduced to l60 feet, which is liable to cause a lot of spending due to equipment modifications, and might even cause some carriers to relocate. Many chambers of commerce across the nation are also concerned that the change would slow growth in local economies, especially those with dense urban centers located within ten miles of the airport, such as Tempe, Arizona.

Smart Cell Site Deployment Can Benefit the Hotel Industry – Here’s How.

In 2012, wireless subscriber use surpassed 100% – meaning that the average person in the US had more than one wireless device – and this upside is not going to end any time soon! In fact, wireless data use is expected to quadruple in the next five years, so it’s best to prepare in advance.  Wireless carriers network infrastructure plans were originally intended to optimize and enable voice traffic, as opposed to data; however this strategy has changed dramatically in the past year or two. [Read more…]

Consent Requests for Fiber Optic Cable

Cell tower fiber optic easement
Example of unacceptable repairs by the tower owner after installing fiber optic cable

Building owners and tower ground leaseholders nationwide are being contacted on a regular basis by the wireless carriers and tower companies who occupy their property to grant access rights for fiber optic cable. As data demands increase dramatically, there is a need to improve the data throughput from the individual cell sites. The solution is to lay fiber optic cable, which is faster than traditional copper wire, less expensive, and more efficient than T-1 or DS3 lines. [Read more…]

AT&T-T-Mobile Merger Impact on Tower Companies 2

A follow up story by the Wall Street Journal mentioned reports from American Tower and SBA who confirmed the number of leases impacted:

  • American Tower has 3,100 towers where AT&T and T-Mobile are both on the tower out of 36,000 sites or 8.6% overlap.   American Tower’s lease agreements with T-Mobile have between 5 and 6 years remaining on them.
  • SBA has 1,533 of the company’s 9,260 towers with duplication between T-Mobile and AT&T or 16.5% overlap.   The average lease has 3 years remaining on it.
  • Crown has 4,000 of the company’s  22,000 towers with duplication.   The average AT&T lease has 12 years remaining while T-Mobile has 7 years remaining.

[Read more…]

Sprint’s Questionable Addition of Clearwire Antennas

A client we represent had a Sprint construction crew show up at their doorstep to perform what they called “standard maintenance”. It was a sizeable construction crew and they never notified the landowner prior to showing up. Our client wisely prevented the crew from entering the site at that time- stating that they had the right to do regular maintenance but not modifcation of the existing cell site. The Sprint agent tried to tell the client that they were legally entitled to the modifications. [Read more…]

Sprint’s Sublease of Sites- Part 2- Lightower

Recently, a few of our clients have been contacted by agents of Lightower. Lightower was previously known as National Grid Wireless. These agents are requesting access to upgrade Sprint’s “telecommunications capabilities from traditional “copper” based services, to those of ‘fiber-optic’ service.”

[Read more…]

Sprint’s Attempt to Sublease their Sites

Sprint has been contacting landowners recently with existing Sprint sites and asking to modify the current antenna installation. They propose adding 2 parabolic antennas to the site. When asked, they suggest that the additional equipment is used in “support of” their 4th generation WiMAX technology. Yet a careful review of the proposed lease amendment shows that they want to modify the current lease agreements so that Sprint “OR ANY OF ITS AFFILIATED ENTITIES, SUBLESSEES, ASSIGNS OR CUSTOMERS” can use the Site for installing equipment, antennas and microwave dishes, air conditioned shelters, ect. [Read more…]

BlackDot Wireless and AT&T Still Trying To Get Reductions

Cell site lease groundowners who thought they had heard the last from AT&T and Blackdot after refusing to lower their ground lease rates are being contacted again by Blackdot Wireless with the same pitch- just a different angle. These landowners or building owners with AT&T cell sites weren’t persuaded by the earlier pitch that AT&T and Cingular were merging and that there was possible duplication in the AT&T network that might lead to lease terminations. [Read more…]

Cell Carriers and Tower Companies all Joining the Renegotiation Fray

In the last few weeks, I have received inquiries from a number of cell site lease holders who have been approached to renegotiate their cell site lease.

The reasons for these requests run the gambit from funny to just outright sad. Sometimes, there is a legitimate reason- such as the fact that Cingular and AT&T merged or that Sprint and Nextel merged. [Read more…]