Wireless Carriers

Wireless Carriers ("Wireless Communications Service Providers" or "Mobile Network Operators") are companies who own and/or operate infrastructure that provides wireless voice and data services to subscribers. Wireless carriers bid for and are awarded licenses by the FCC for specific spectrum frequencies that allow them to serve a designated area of potential subscribers (POPs)1. In the United States, there are four major wireless carriers: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, and a handful of smaller wireless carriers.

Top 10 Wireless Carriers

Wireless Carriers # Subscribers # Cell Sites
Verizon Wireless 118,000,000 45,000
AT&T 107,884,000 57,000
Sprint 62,408,000 80,000
T-Mobile 44,016,000 42,500
U.S. Wireless 4,968,000 8,250
Leap Wireless (Cricket) 4,839,000 12,500
C-Spire Wireless 1,000,000 1,500
ATN (Alltel) 591,000
nTelos 455,000 1,400
Cincinnati Bell Wireless 370,000

Wireless carriers provide services to their subscribers through the use of cellular sites, which may be placed on towers, rooftops, or on other structures like water tanks or billboards. They either own the cell towers themselves (e.g. AT&T and Verizon) or have recently sold their towers to separate tower companies (e.g. Sprint and T-Mobile).

When carriers contact landowners, building owners and tower owners, it is typically with the following requests:

  1. To inquire about leasing land or structures upon which to build a new tower;
  2. To inquire about adding a new cell site to an existing structure, such as a building or tower;
  3. To inquire about modifying/expanding an existing lease to accommodate additional equipment (or new equipment), such as generators, fiber optic cables or other utilities.
  4. To discuss collocation or subleasing agreements, which involve installing other wireless carriers' equipment on the cell site;
  5. To discuss modifications of an existing lease that include, for example, the addition of a Right of First Refusal Clause (although these requests typically come through a lease optimization company) or
  6. To extend existing leases before they expire.
Are you curious about the wireless industry? Read our featured article: "The History of U.S. Wireless Carriers"

Steel in the Air can assist you with any questions relating to any aspect of cellular lease negotiations. We look forward to working with you.

(1) POP refers to "potential customers per region," which is calculated by multiplying the population of a given region by the carrier's percent interest in that area.