Cingular to take lease reduction negotiations in house?

We heard a unsubstantiated rumor that Cingular is planning on pulling back the AT&T and Cingular cell site lease optimization program contracts back from Black Dot Wireless and MD7 and doing their own lease renegotiation in-house. There has been no formal press release to this effect and if you are still being contacted by MD7 or Blackdot Wireless- then perhaps they have some time to finish up loose ends or there is no truth to this rumor.

If this rumor is real, then we applaud (loudly). Don’t have someone else do your dirty work on a commission basis- and don’t have someone else mislead or use scare tactics to renegotiate YOUR leases with YOUR landowners. Have the *&@#*& to do it yourself.

Verizon Questioned about Forum Shopping for Cell Tower Sites

From the Associated Press: “Two state officials want to know if Verizon Wireless is putting cell towers on the New Hampshire side of the Connecticut River to avoid Vermont’s rigorous permitting process.” From Verizon: “Vermont has been very good to use (sic) over the last five or six years. We have not lost a local zoning or an Act 250 application in the last five years.” [Read more…]

Verizon sees wireless margins near 50 pct: CFO – (Reuters)

9/23/15 Update to Verizon Wireless Margins

During Q1 2015, Verizon’s retail postpaid churn stood at 1.03%, indicating that its retaining most of its customers who approve of Verizon’s price plans and service coverage.  This number was lower than the previous quarter as well as the year before. The company’s contract free plans have also been a huge hit in the consumer marketplace and have helped to lower  its churn rate. However, competition from T-Mobile’s “uncarrier” approach, and even Sprint with its ever-changing, competitive pricing plans (and slowly improving network) are keeping Verizon on its nose, if not posing outright threats. For Instance, Sprint’s churn declined sequentially from 2.3% to 1.84% during Q1, while its postpaid net adds stood at 211,000. T-Mobile added an impressive 1.1 million net postpaid customers in Q1, while its churn rates dipped to 1.3%.

While Verizon still leads the industry in terms of overall LTE coverage, the gap with rivals has decreased significantly over the past two years.  Recently, Verizon has been focusing on strengthening its network capacity in order to maintain its pricing power, amid a surge in data usage. The company has been increasing capacity through a combination of small cell technology combined with deploying its AWS airwaves in high-traffic markets. Verizon recently spent $10.4 billion in acquiring a total of 181 licenses in the AWS-3 auction covering 192 million POPs, or around 60 percent of the U.S. population. This could eventually help the carrier increase revenues as well as profitability, since LTE networks are much more efficient than older 3G and 2G networks, and help realize higher data usage at lower cost.

As for Verizon’s margins, industry analysts expect them to rise over time.

Verizon said its wireless operating income margin in the third quarter was 31.9 percent, down from 33.8 percent in the year-ago quarter. The company said its segment EBITDA margin on service revenues was 49.5 percent, down from 51.1 percent in the year-ago period.

For landlords involved in cell tower leases with Verizon, we’d like to offer the following tips:

Verizon is, in our opinion, tied with AT&T as the most difficult wireless service provider (WSP) with whom to negotiate changes to its cell tower or cell site Lease Template. Their attorneys are mostly outsourced, and Verizon has dished out stringent requirements for what its attorneys can and cannot approve.

When it comes to site modifications, Verizon isn’t as transparent as we would like. It’s very common for the process to happen as such: You will receive a simple one-page letter stating that Verizon needs to make changes in order to “maintain its competitiveness and technological advantage”. Their letters almost always imply that said “changes” are being done in compliance with the Lease, and that a simple signature of consent is required to allow them access to your property. Unfortunately, it isn’t always true that the changes are implicitly allowed or are “in compliance” with your Lease. Of course Verizon doesn’t spell out that it might (or should) be required to pay fees for any changes. Rather, the carrier entices you to consent without question. We want you to know, that you can, in fact, gain an advantage in these equipment modification requests, and we have had ample success in providing property owners with the guidance they need to do so.

See more:


Verizon Wireless posted a 44.5% margin for 2006 first-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. A Verizon executive apparently wonders if they can get to 50%.

Cingular announced its first quarter margin at 31.9%.

Not too shabby.

Ownership of Towers by the Carriers

9/23/15 Update: Number of Cell Towers Owner per Carrier

It’s been almost a decade since we’ve updated this blog post (although we do keep our website up to date, and send out regular Cell Tower and Wireless Industry Newsletters on pertinent and timely developments in the network infrastructure industry). [Read more…]

Number of Cell Towers Expected to Grow Significantly by 2010

CTIA figures show that the number of cell towers is expected to grow from 175,000 to 260,000 in 2010. That represents a 48% increase.

It is clear that many municipalities expected that the growth of cell towers had slowed- not increased in pace. We spoke to a planner director in a top 10 city who suggested that she currently had 85 new applications in- and that the shear number of applications were preventing her from focusing on other planning matters. (She also said that some of the site ac/zoning contractors were some of her worst constituents to deal with- apparently they believe they are entitled to immediate review and can’t understand that they are in line). [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…]

Et tu, Crown Castle?

I have been contacted by numerous landowners who have received calls or letters from Crown Castle. These calls or letters attempt to convince the Crown Castle ground lease owner that the tower is “under-performing” and that the landowner needs to accept a reduction in rent to assure the continued use of the tower. Crown Castle actually goes as far as sharing their revenue from the tower and their expenses to operate the structure. [Read more…]

Verizon Cell Phone Tower Leases Expiring in Sizeable Numbers

It appears that many of the initial Verizon’s cell phone tower leases are getting ready to expire over the next few years. This includes a number of towers acquired by Crown Castle. Although hardly empirical- our data suggests that Verizon is waiting to approach many landowners until a few months prior to the expiration of their cell phone tower leases. [Read more…]

Recent Statistics on Cell Use in the US

“According to a Merrill Lynch report published at the end of 2005, the United States is enjoying a year-over-year growth of 14%. It is number three in the world in the number of wireless subscribers (behind China and a combined Europe) with a penetration rate of just over 67%. The average revenue per customer is $56, moving upward (we are number four in the world in this category), and we have the highest average number of voice minutes of any country: 781 minutes per month per subscriber compared to Canada and Hong Kong, tied for second place at 393 minutes.”

From Andrew Seybold’s Commentary 4Mobility 04-20-06 “Musings Around the Industry”

Cell Tower Industry Partially Responsible for Difficulty Zoning Towers

One Disclaimer: This following commentary is my opinion and, since Steel in the Air is my company, it’s Steel in the Air’s opinion too.

I have read articles regarding the need for legislation on the federal level calling for increased federal power to override local land use law for cell tower placement. While I fully agree that some municipal planning boards/city councils deny almost every cell site that comes before them- I don’t believe that increased federal guidance is the answer, nor do I believe that the FCC should usurp the ability of local government to guide the time place and manner in which towers/cell sites are allowed. [Read more…]