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What You Should Know About T-Mobile Cell Site Leases

There are three main reasons that property owners and local governments consult with us regarding T-Mobile Cell Tower Leases:

1. New T-Mobile Cell Tower Lease Proposals

If you have been contacted by a T-Mobile representative (aka, site acquisition agent) regarding the construction of a cell tower on your property, you may want to:

  1. Educate yourself regarding the real world effects of entering into a Landlord/ Tenant lease with T-Mobile;
  2. Determine appropriate rent, escalation and lease duration terms; and/ or
  3. Get tips on favorably negotiating the terms of the proposed Lease Agreement prior to signing.

2. T-Mobile Cell Site Lease Modification Requests

If you are already party to a wireless lease, then you might be somewhat familiar with common cell site lease negotiation tactics. Indeed, there are certain “tricks of the trade” that we like to educate our clients about to ensure that you not only receive fair treatment, but also reap ultimate benefits when renegotiating the terms of a lease agreement with Wireless Carriers, like T-Mobile. We can help you to:

  1. Understand T-Mobile’s reasons for requesting any change;
  2. Determine what fees (if any) should be charged to T-Mobile;
  3. Evaluate whether or not changes to the language and terms of the Lease are favorable; and/ or
  4. Negotiate the Lease in a way that protects and supports your interests.

3. T-Mobile/ Crown Castle Lease Extensions and Lease Buyouts

In late 2012, T-Mobile announced it would sell 7,200 towers to Crown Castle. Those landowners who own the land upon which the 7,200 towers were built have since been receiving proposals from Crown Castle (as successor to T-Mobile) to either extend or buy their lease. (Crown Castle now has the right to waive the consent to sell provision mentioned above). If you have received a proposal to extend the term of your lease or to purchase your lease, please contact us first.

What You Should Know about T-Mobile as a Tenant

New Site Builds

T-Mobile has been fairly active when it comes to new site development during the second half of 2015 and all of 2016 to date. They had slowed down following its successful 2013 acquisition of MetroPCS, and the failed attempts to merge with AT&T (2011) and Sprint (2014).  Over the last two years, we estimate that T-Mobile has constructed a total of 1,500-2,500 new cell sites.

DAS Leases

T-Mobile has entered into more new DAS (distributed antenna system) leases in 2016 than any other carrier to our knowledge.  It appears that T-Mobile has identified indoor coverage and capacity as a priority and is rushing to catch up with the already substantial indoor builds by AT&T and Verizon.

Lease Buyouts

While T-Mobile lease templates are basically the same as the other Big 4 Carriers: AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon, there is one notable difference. When it comes to lease buyouts, T-Mobile is very aggressive in its attempts to prevent landowners or structure owners from selling their leases to third parties. For instance, while each of the other wireless carriers adds a Right of First Refusal (ROFR) clause to their lease templates, T-Mobile instead uses a consent provision. By inserting language that states that the landowner may not assign or transfer the Lease without T-Mobile’s consent, which may be withheld at T-Mobile’s sole discretion, it effectively removes the landowner’s ability to sell the Lease in the future. For most landowners, this is an unreasonable restriction (i.e. alienation) on the right to sell or convey the Lease. T-Mobile is unlikely to delete this provision, however, unless you have a unique property or structure upon which T-Mobile must collocate.

PROS

  1. T-Mobile is straightforward when it comes to lease negotiations.
  2. T-Mobile is a responsible Tenant once the Lease is said and done and the site has been constructed.

CONS

  1. T-Mobile restricts the right for landowners to sell the rights to their Lease to a third-party.
  2. T-Mobile tends to prefer sub-par locations if they can lease them for cheaper rent.

T-Mobile’s Lease Negotiation Tactics

If you happen to be one of the 1,000 or so property owners lucky enough to be approached by T-Mobile this year, you should know that T-Mobile is relatively straightforward to deal with when it comes to negotiating a proposed lease. However, compared to other wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon, they tend to be cheaper when it comes to paying rent. They are more apt to consider alternative locations that are slightly inferior, if the landowner or structure owner asks for too much rent or unreasonable terms in the lease agreement. Once installed on the property or structure, T-Mobile tends to be a good and responsive tenant. However, like the other wireless service providers, they have recently conveyed most of their towers to one of the public tower companies.


T-Mobile’s Network Builds

Subscribers ~58.5 million subscribers
Rank by Subscriber #3
Technology GSM/LTE
Wi-Fi Offload Yes- T-Mobile offers WIFI Offload for voice calls and data. 7 million of their subs have used it. T-Mobile is also working on trials of LTE-Unlicensed.
Number of Cell Sites ~58,651
New Sites: 2015 ~1,000
Tower Sales In late 2012: T-Mobile subleased the rights of 7,200 towers to Crown Castle for $2.4 B.
Acquisitions 2013: MetroPCS
Lease Value High- just below AT&T and Verizon

Steel in the Air Inspires Landowners, Venue Owners and Local Governments to Make the Best Out of Each Unique Location

Steel in the Air has been assisting landowners and communities with cellular/ wireless telecom lease negotiations for over a decade. We have reviewed hundreds of T-Mobile leases and know the ins and outs of the industry better than anyone. We take great pride in providing unique, unbiased and reliable guidance.

Together, we will implement a plan based on educated goals. Your objective might be to:

  1. Understand your rights and obligations as a cell site Lessor.
  2. Negotiate the lease (or lease renewal) before signing.
  3. Determine the real market value of your lease as derived from rent, escalation and duration figures, as well as situational metrics, such as location and wireless infrastructure build plans.
  4. Use the lease as an asset, or part of an investment portfolio.
  5. Determine what type of wireless network is best for your community, organization, or venue.
  6. Create a process and Master Plan for county or municipal wireless infrastructure leases.
  7. Better understand industry dynamics, site acquisition strategies and policies or rules that could affect your lease now or in the near future.

Do you have Questions? Visit our Q&A Forum or Chat with us.


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