In 2004, TowerCo was founded in Cary, NC by industry veterans to meet the needs of wireless infrastructure developers. In 2008, it acquired 3,000 cell towers from Sprint for $680 million, making it the fifth largest independent tower company in the U.S. They have towers in 47 states and in Puerto Rico and they bring in more than $100 million in revenue.
In July 2012, TowerCo sold almost all of its cellular assets in a deal that gave SBA Corp. 3,252 towers in exchange for $1.45 billion. This was a gain of over 100%. In October 2012, TowerCo reignited by purchasing 119 towers from IWS, a T-Mobile and Iowa Network Services partnership (based in Iowa). The IWS sale includes a five-year, build-to-suit agreement, as well as the opportunity to acquire future towers from IWS.
TowerCo is known in the industry for its advancements in “collocation simplicity.” In May 2013, it struck a deal with wireless service provider, C Spire, to devise a tower collocation program in which TowerCo would help market and promote C Spire’s towers to other wireless carriers in an effort to boost network efficiency (while also reducing costs).
By August 2013, TowerCo increased its tower portfolio to 164. It receives most of its revenue by leasing towers to wireless carriers, and currently advertises 650 towers that are available for collocation. TowerCo also builds-to-suit custom towers, specializing in multi-mode base stations that are purposed for multiple wireless carriers, and performs cell site management services.
Each cell tower is unique and specifically built to service a given coverage enabled by a specific capacity. The trend in today’s market is to build towers with high enough capacity to serve multiple carriers. At the same time, carriers prefer to utilize existing towers than build new ones, so sometimes expanding upon older towers is the more lucrative investment. In either case (with new builds or tower expansions), leaseholders could benefit from:
Increase in rent. Depending on how old your lease is (and other factors), it may or may not have allowed for multiple-carrier collocation or subleasing from the get-go. If this is the case, and the company with whom you are engaged in the lease wishes to collocate, then you are probably in a good bargaining position and the chances of increasing your rent are high.
Additional ground leases or lease expansions. In some cases, the original lease footprint is simply not big enough to accommodate additional equipment when new carriers are brought onto the site. Depending upon the size of the original lease footprint, you may or may not be approached by a new carrier to lease more of your property. If TowerCo (the original Lessee) is the company interested in negotiating more ground space, it’s technically called a “lease expansion.” However, in the case where a new company is interested in leasing ground space, that would be an entirely new lease. Contact us if you’d like help understanding the difference.
Rent from future tenants. If you are a landowner, property owner, or public entity who has decided to sell your lease to TowerCo, the future collocation of wireless carriers would benefit you – provided that you properly negotiated the lease buyout from the start. TowerCo targets valuable towers that are ripe for carrier collocation and has been known to make deals with leaseholders, which offer them a portion of the future rent that comes when new tenants are added to the tower.
Steel in the Air also consults with small tower owners on issues involving tower collocation, and tower valuation.
Please contact us to discuss any questions you might have about a proposal you have received from TowerCo. The initial discussion is free, and once we talk to you and understand your needs, we can advise whether you should retain our services and what the cost will be. Unlike our competitors, we offer the flexibility of either a fixed fee consulting service or a contingency-based service.