What You Should Know About Verizon Cell Tower Leases
There are two main reasons that property owners and local governments consult with us regarding Verizon Cell Tower Leases:
You may have been contacted by a Verizon representative (aka, site acquisition agent) regarding the construction of a cell tower on your property. If so, you may want to:
- Educate yourself regarding the real world effects of entering into a Landlord/ Tenant lease with Verizon;
- Determine appropriate rent, escalation and lease duration terms; and/ or
- Get tips on favorably negotiating the terms of the proposed Lease Agreement prior to signing.
If you are already party to a cellular lease, then you are probably somewhat familiar with lease negotiation tactics. However, there are certain “tricks of the trade” that we like to educate our clients about to ensure that you receive fair treatment, and reap ultimate benefits, when renegotiating the terms of a lease agreement with Wireless Carriers, like Verizon. We can help you to:
- Understand Verizon’s reasons for requesting the change;
- Determine what fees (if any) should be charged to Verizon;
- Evaluate whether or not changes to the language and terms of the Lease are favorable; and/ or
- Negotiate the Lease in a way that protects and supports your interests.
Verizon is actively seeking to enter into master lease agreements with municipalities to place small cell infrastructure on municipal assets like light poles and street signs or lights. Verizon also directly contacts landowners and building owners to add small cell antennas to exisitng light poles on the landowners building or light poles. If you have been approached by Verizon to enter into a small cell agreement whether a master or individual site lease, we can help you to:
- Understand why Verizon is seeking access to your building or light poles;
- Determine what rent is appropriate for the use of the structures;
- Help advise you on the upside and downside of entering into a lease agreement with Verizon for a small cell.
What You Should Know About Verizon as a Tenant
When it comes to negotiating new cell tower leases, Verizon is relatively consistent and predictable. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Verizon has more money to spend, but the #1 Big Tier Wireless Carrier does trend towards paying fair-market values for good tower locations. Particularly, as of recently, Verizon has been more interested in acquiring the right site as opposed to the cheapest site. Because of this, as of late, they have been fairly easy and reasonable to work with – that is until you get to the contract phase.
- Verizon will pay fair market value for new leases.
- Verizon appreciates a site’s uniqueness based on location metrics.
- Verizon is a responsible Tenant once the Lease is said and done and the site has been constructed.
- Verizon does not easily accept changes to its standard Lease Template.
- Once the Lease has been signed, Verizon expects Landlords to easily agree to any modification requests, and is often less than transparent about what it will be doing.
- Verizon does not immediately offer compensation for equipment modifications.
Verizon’s Lease Negotiation Tactics
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.
When you receive this type of letter, or any letter that requests access to the cell site, we would advise you to, at the very least, understand the specifics before consenting to any requests by the carrier, specifically since many modifications are deserving of compensation. For instance, if Verizon is doing more than simply replacing antennas, then it is likely making a strategic move. The addition or repositioning of antennas, as well as the extension of the ground space footprint, can easily affect the overall value of the cell site.
That being said, if Verizon has approached you as a potential tenant, we would highly recommend that you move forward without delay. Verizon’s site acquisition agents typically reach out to multiple property owners at the same time, seeking the best (which does not always translate into “the cheapest”) location that they can find that aligns with their specific engineering requirements and strategic objectives. If Verizon is interested in building on your property, you can bet that it has already done its due diligence, and feel certain that your property is valuable. Exactly how valuable is the question we can help with!
Verizon Industry News
|Rank by Subscriber||#2|
|Wi-Fi Offload||None as of yet.|
|New Sites: 2015||~3,000|
|Tower Sales||In 2015, Verizon agreed to sell and leaseback ~11,500 towers for ~$15 billion to American Tower.
In 1999, Airtouch (acquired by Bell Atlantic) sold 2,100 towers to American Tower.
In 1999, Bell Atlantic (pre-cursor to Verizon) sold 1,460 towers to Crown Castle and entered into build to suit agreement via Crown Atlantic Joint Venture.
|Acquisitions||Alltel, Qwest, Cincinnati Bell|
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 Verizon 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:
- Understand your rights and obligations as a cell site Lessor.
- Negotiate the lease (or lease renewal) before signing.
- 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.
- Use the lease as an asset, or part of an investment portfolio.
- Determine what type of wireless network is best for your community, organization, or venue.
- Create a process and Master Plan for county or municipal wireless infrastructure leases.
- Better understand industry dynamics, site acquisition strategies and policies or rules that could affect your lease now or in the near future.
Steel in the Air’s Process Works for You.
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