Cell Tower Equipment Modifications

A number of our clients have been receiving requests from their tenants (most notably wireless carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint) regarding the installation of additional telephony equipment onto the leased cell site. Typically, these requests come in the form of letters asking for the property owners’ consent, and might imply that the underlying lease allows for these changes.

In many cases, we believe that these letters express, at best, half-truths. While in many cases, the tower lease or rooftop lease does allow for the replacement of existing antennas, it may not always allow for additional antennas. Carriers take very optimistic interpretations of what they are allowed to do under the lease agreement. Perhaps they expect that you, the property owner, won’t be sophisticated enough to understand the changes because they use technical jargon like “TMA,” “LTE,” “RRU” or “diplexer,” and send complicated spec sheets for the new equipment that only Radio Frequency engineers can understand.

If you receive a letter expressing intent to make any modifications to the cell site located on your property, we advise that you analyze the terms wisely, and consider taking the followings steps:

  • Request construction drawings and specifications for any proposed equipment modifications.
  • Ask the carrier to point out where in your Agreement, the proposed modifications are specifically allowed – without your consent. In some cases, your consent can be conditioned on additional rent payments ‐ but the carriers won’t be the ones to point this out!
  • Make sure you understand what your lease agreement does and does not allow. Unfortunately, many leases were not written well originally and the language may be purposely vague. Consult a cell tower attorney or contact us for guidance. We’re happy to answer any questions or explain any terms.

If you believe that you have the right to additional compensation and want advice on how much the changes are worth, contact us. We can review your existing drawings and lease agreement and determine if you are entitled to additional compensation.