5G and LTE-U Test Markets for Each Wireless Carrier

We were curious what markets we would start seeing modifications requests come in for new antennas on existing cell towers for 5G and LTE-U installations.   These trials in most cases will require new antennas with new frequency bands.   So we created the map that you can see below- or see the online version of the 5G and LTE-U Test Market map. [Read more…]

Verizon Small Cell for Comparison

As an addendum to our earlier article about Crown Castle and Mobilitie small cell proposed installations in Orlando, we thought it would be helpful to include a drawing of a Verizon proposed small cell from Massachusetts.   In this case, Verizon is installing a Cloud Radio Access Network (C-RAN) with two small cells to augment their coverage and capacity in the vicinity of an existing Verizon macrocell which is collocated on an existing SBA Communications tower. [Read more…]

Crown Castle (CCI) Small Cell Initiatives and Reporting

Crown Castle DAS Node
Picture of Crown Castle DAS Node from FCC Presentation by Crown

So as a clear indication that Wall Street is very focused on small cell initiatives by the public tower companies, Crown Castle
started reporting their small cell financials separately from their tower financials in the Q1 2016 quarterly earnings and call.   They must have been receiving a significant number of questions from the analysts because the earnings call presentation is carefully crafted to show a rosy picture even though Crown hasn’t been completely transparent on their small cell financials.

SOME VISIBILITY- BUT QUESTIONS STILL REMAIN

In general, we are excited to see them Crown add this reporting, as we have been suggesting to the various analysts that retain us that it is difficult to measure how successful their small cell efforts are without this breakdown. Unfortunately, Crown still isn’t distinguishing between small cells and DAS in the breakdown preferring to treat all DAS nodes and small cells as if they are the same and have similar financial attributes.  Interestingly, an analyst from Bank of America specifically asked this same question in the Q&A without getting a substantive answer.

What we do know from the earnings call is that Crown’s small cell business still amounts to approximately 12% of their consolidated site rental revenue similar to what it was in late 2015.  Crown indicates that new small cell builds amount to 75% of their small cell systems’ incremental revenue – while 25% is additional collocation on existing fiber routes/DAS networks. They suggest that they have 16,500 miles of fiber, but don’t disclose how many miles are actually used for small cell nodes or DAS.   CCI says they are focused on the top 25 markets which isn’t surprising given the location of Sunesys fiber in these same cities. This suggests a few obvious questions for CCI that were partially addressed in this call and should be expanded upon in future calls:

1.  How do they expect to grow once those 25 markets are complete?

2.  Now that the world is fully aware of the value of dark fiber and surplus capacity, is it reasonable to expect another fiber company acquisition?

3.  How many nodes are in top 25 markets or Central Business Districts (CBD) as opposed to non urban core areas? [Read more…]

T-Mobile’s Rampant Success

Just thought this was worth sharing- a great article on T-Mobile’s Tremendous Success in the last quarter of 2015.  Also of interest is that Sprint seems to be churning its good established customers while adding new customers presumably at 1/2 of the rate of the other wireless service providers.  That can’t be a sustainable business model.

Wireless Adds and Drops
T-Mobile’s rampant success comes at the expense of other carriers- not from new additions.

Pricing War in South Africa with Chinese Tower Manufacturers

In a random web search, I came across this document on tower steel pricing which is from a South African tower manufacturer describing the issues that they are having with Chinese manufacturers flooding the South African tower market with cheap towers.   I can’t comment on the accuracy of the article or the impact in the US- but I just wanted to share it because it is fascinating.

Please note that this is a link to a word document on tower steel pricing- so it may be blocked in your browser.

Tale of Two Small Cell Proposals – Crown Castle vs. Mobilitie

The City of Orlando, Florida recently received two separate applications for two separate sets of DAS nodes and/or small cells. The applications were submitted by Crown Castle and Telemobilitie, both of whom purport to request planning approval for new poles and/or the replacement of existing poles. We believe that Telemobilitie is a “Doing Business As” name for Mobilitie – the applicant who submitted the plans to the City on behalf of Telemobilitie has a LinkedIn page indicating she works for Mobilitie, a company which is purported to be assisting Sprint with the development of 70,000 “mini-macro” small cell sites. [Read more…]

Key Takeaways from American Tower (AMT) Q4 2015 Earnings Call

American Tower Corporation (AMT) provided its 4th Quarter 2015 earnings call this past week.  In reviewing the transcript, here are our takeaways:

1. American Tower now has upwards of 140,000 towers worldwide – which represents a sizable increase in India of 42,000 towers over 2015 and the 11,500 sites from Verizon this past year.  AMT expects to be at 145,000 sites by the end of the year, which suggests that there aren’t any sizable acquisitions out there for 2016.

2. American Tower built approximately 3,000 towers and 50 new indoor DAS networks in 2015 (almost all of them outside the US). [Read more…]

T-Mobile’s Misleading Superbowl Ad- “Drop the balls”

T-Mobile_LTE_Towers_Superbowl-AdIn last night’s Superbowl ad, T-Mobile has Steve Harvey announced that T-Mobile has doubled their LTE Coverage and that T-Mobile has more “LTE towers” than Verizon does.  While the commercial itself is moderately humorous given the play on Steve Harvey’s mistaken announcement at the flubbing of the Miss Universe contest, T-Mobile misstated a number of key facts. [Read more…]

Key Takeaways from Crown Castle (CCI) 2015 4th Quarter Earnings Call

We reviewed the transcript and presentation materials for the CCI earnings call for the 4th quarter of 2015 and compared to the same call back in 2014.   Here are the things we found interesting from the call. [Read more…]

We Assessed the Accuracy of Wireless Coverage Maps per Carrier, and the Results Disappoint

It’s been a dozen years since Verizon’s catchphrase “Can you hear me now?” became a commonplace precept for any mobile phone user having problems with a cellular connection. Since then, there has been a tremendous amount of industry activity regarding partnerships, mergers, acquisitions and dissolutions amongst wireless service providers. Today, there are four major players in the U.S.; sometimes known as the “Big Four,” Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile are the survivors who have staked claims to national airwaves and their respective licensed markets of POPs. Both Verizon and AT&T currently boast “nationwide national coverage” while Sprint and T-Mobile are standing at about half-mast. Even, so according to the FCC’s end of year report on the state of wireless, the industry is as competitive as it’s ever been. [Read more…]