AT&T Cell Tower Lease Rates in 2023

Over the last 30 years, AT&T has built a network of ~75,000 cell sites and towers across the US. In some cases, AT&T approaches the landowner directly to lease property.  In others, AT&T partners with a third-party tower company to build a tower for them.  These tower companies are also known as a “build-to-suit”.

In 2023, we expect some activity from AT&T but not as much as other years. AT&T is behind T-Mobile and Verizon in deployment of faster 5G midband spectrum and as a result, they are spending their capital on adding 5G equipment to their existing network of cell sites.  However, starting in 2024, we expect to see more new tower construction and leasing from AT&T and its partners.

We also expect to see continued efforts by AT&T to lower their average lease rate.  AT&T has been very aggressive at trying to lower their rent on average, both with new leases and existing leases.  Furthermore, they also are pushing lower escalation in new cell site leases to reduce their costs over time.

Please note that we are not affiliated with AT&T, and we cannot help you procure a AT&T cell tower lease. We help landowners who have been approached by AT&T for a cell tower lease and those who already have a AT&T lease. If you found this page accidentally while trying to contact AT&T about an AT&T lease or issue, please reach out to them at [email protected].

Renegotiating Cell Site Leases

How Does AT&T Decide How Much to Pay?

AT&T or its third-party tower company partners employ specialized agents (Site Acquisition Agents, also known as an SAC or SAQ) to find and lease property for the placement of a cell tower. AT&T issues search rings to the agents so they can research and find a location for a new tower within a given radius of a specific point on a map. Once they find suitable properties in the search ring that meet AT&T’s needs, they submit them for review by AT&T. No amount of marketing will encourage AT&T to use your property if your property isn’t in a search ring (which is why we both discourage the use of “marketing companies” and we don’t offer marketing services ourselves).

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    Next, the agent will identify those properties in the search ring that meet local zoning regulations and where the landowner may be willing to enter into a lease. Then they contact the landowners who own the best properties and make their inquiries. If the landowner is interested, AT&T will submit a proposal to lease the property. The lease rate is based upon several factors:

    1. Whether the location is considered urban, suburban, or rural
    2. Average property values in the area
    3. Average cell tower lease rates for other AT&T leases in the area
    4. The uniqueness of the property
    5. The availability of alternatives in the search ring
    6. Whether the site would be comparatively more or less expensive to construct a tower on

    With these factors in mind, AT&T’s agent will negotiate with the qualified candidates to determine which site offers the highest probability of approval for zoning and permitting, but also requires the lowest total cost. Notice that we use the phrase “lowest total cost,” instead of the lowest lease rate. AT&T will look at both the cost to construct the tower on the property and the ongoing rental obligation when considering which location is best.

    Average AT&T Cell Tower Lease Rates

    If we look at all AT&T cell tower ground leases in our database, AT&T’s average rent is $1,450/mo. which equates to $17,400/year.  Before you ask AT&T for this amount though, we strongly urge you to consider the following:

    1. This sample includes over a thousand AT&T leases across the country. There is wide variance in the data.
    2. This average includes leases that have escalated over 25 years. Some of the leases date back to the late 1980s and have tripled from their original lease rate due to escalation since their commencement.
    3. We also include data from municipalities and unique institutions like airports or convention centers where the landowner has much stronger negotiating power than you do.

    By comparison, if we limit our query to only newly proposed leases from AT&T, the average drops to $1,100/mo. across the entire US.

    In other words, don’t assume that AT&T is underpaying you just because the lease rate they are offering is less than $1,100/mo. Likewise, don’t think that you have a great deal because AT&T’s lease proposal or existing lease is above the average rate of $1,100/mo.

    EVERY SITE IS DIFFERENT AND THE AVERAGE AT&T CELL TOWER LEASE RATE IS JUST THAT – THE AVERAGE.  Just as you probably wouldn’t list your home at the average home value across the entire US, you shouldn’t negotiate your lease based upon averages.

    How Can I Find Out the Appropriate Cell Phone Tower Lease Rate for AT&T in My Area?

    Wireless carriers (including AT&T) do their best to prevent landowners from finding out what they pay – going so far as to add confidentiality provisions in their new leases. There is no Multiple Listing Service (MLS) of cell tower lease rates.  We are not aware of a publicly available database which shows how much property owners receive in cell tower lease rent. AT&T records a “memorandum of lease,” but they omit how much rent they are paying in it. You may be able to find one or two owners who have AT&T towers in the area. However, how do you know if they negotiated the best deal that they could?

    Alternatively, you could contact us. We are experts in AT&T cell tower ground lease rates and tower leases. We have a database of 15,000 leases with lease rate data that we have painstakingly assembled over the last 20+ years. We can tell you not only what AT&T typically pays for their cell sites in your area, but what other wireless companies pay in rent for their cell tower leases.

    More importantly, we can tell you how your particular property compares to the other properties in the area and why AT&T is likely to pay more (or less) given the alternatives.

    If you have an existing AT&T lease or have received a proposal from AT&T to lease your land, please contact us. Here is our commitment to you:

    1. The initial call is free.
    2. Information you share in this discussion will be treated as confidential.
    3. If we don’t think we can help you improve your situation, we will tell you.
    4. You are under no obligation to use our services until you sign a service contract with us.
    5. We offer flexible payment options to suit your individual needs.
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