Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Vertical Bridge Says It’s Still Owed for Cumulus Tower Leases

While Cumulus Media emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 4, with $1 billion less debt on its balance sheet, some creditors claim they are still owed money. Vertical Bridge tells the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York it’s still owed several thousands of dollars for unexpired tower leases.

In an objection to “Debtor’s Second Notice of Satisfaction of Claims,” filed by CM WIND DOWN TOPCO, INC. and its affiliates, Vertical Bridge told the court: “The Debtors represent they have paid the ‘cure’ necessary to assume certain leases and therefore the claims or scheduled amounts identified should be expunged.” But the towerco says regarding its radio tower leases, the “cure” has not been paid and the relief sought by the Debtors should not be granted. Continue Reading

Monday, July 9, 2018

Christmas in July: Township Nets $2M Upfront in Restructured Lease Deal

SBA Communications will pay Lower Makefield township $2 million upfront under a restructured lease agreement, reported Bucks Local News. Under the agreement, the township will receive a lump sum payment of $2,020,000 from SBA and a 35-year lease on the site. Currently, the township receives annual lease payments in addition to a share of the revenue from the carriers that have co-located on the tower.

“What we’re getting here is 18 years worth of rental fees right up front today,” said Township Manager Terry Fedorchak. “There are pros and cons to that, but I would think that would be a very attractive play for us to make at this time.”  Fedorchak, a strong proponent of the deal, added “It’s guaranteed,” whereas the current lease arrangement is not.

The township first signed an agreement with SBA Communications in 1999, allowing the company to construct a cell tower on township-owned land, according to Bucks LocalContinue Reading

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

In the Room Where It Happened

As an editor I have a soft spot in my heart every Independence Day for one Thomas Jefferson.  The 33-year old delegate from Virginia was asked in the summer of 1776, to bang out a quick paper on, oh, Everything America Stands For based on pure conjecture.  “And, yo, Tommy, we need it by Friday,” was likely the sum total of his instructions. So Jefferson secludes himself in the second-floor room of the two-room apartment pictured above (a ‘must see’ if you come for a visit) located in a building on the southwest corner of 7th and Market Streets in Philadelphia.  He rolls up his sleeves…it was hot…fills up his inkwell, sends his manservant Bob (true!) down to the corner for a couple of cheesesteak hoagies with fried onions and goes to work. (That last part is still undocumented historically speaking, but his rough draft does show some unexplained grease stains.)
A copy of that rough draft shows how he agonized over every word making it not just a legally viable document but one of the great works of prose in the english language. Continue Reading

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Qualified CAF II Auction Bidders Revealed

More than 200 bidders have been deemed qualified to take part in FCC Auction 903 for Connected America Phase II funding. The auction, set to begin on July 24, will award up to $1.98 billion over 10 years to telecom providers that commit to offer voice and broadband services to fixed locations in unserved high-cost areas.

Large, incumbent carriers like Verizon, Frontier, Cincinnati Bell and U.S. Cellular made the list, as did rural telcos such as Red River Cellular Telephone Corporation. Wireless companies like Skywave Wireless and Surf Air Wireless are on the list. Satellite broadband providers like Hughes Network Systems and Viasat made the cut. So too, did cable companies such as Altice, Cox and Troy Cablevision. Rural electric companies like Paul Bunyan Rural Telephone Cooperative and Wells Rural Electric Company are on the list, as are several Wireless Internet Service Providers.

When the Commission originally issued the list in May, the agency said only 47 applications were complete and 230 were incomplete. Now, only 57 applications were deemed “not qualified” to bid. Some of the names on that list are: Bay Country Communications, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, the city of Hudson, and the Ohio and Wyoming Mutual Telephone Company. Continue Reading

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

American Tower vs. CellInfo: Was Proprietary Info Taken?

By Jim Fryer, Managing Editor, Inside Towers
In a motion filed June 15, in a Massachusetts District Court, a small data consulting company, CellInfo, claimed American Tower Corp. (ATC) took their “confidential information and trade secrets for the purpose of unfairly competing with CellInfo and improperly benefiting ATC.” The two companies signed a Master Consulting Services Agreement in January of 2017, but CellInfo claims American started developing its own rudimentary version of their application when they began getting requests from ATC employees for algorithms used in its development.

CellInfo describes itself as a small Massachusetts company, founded in 2014, by two former high-school classmates who built “an innovative asset intelligence platform that provides real-time analysis for strategic and tactical business decisions” for companies in the broadband infrastructure business. ATC had, according to the suit, worked with CellInfo for the past two years and “had tailored [their platform] for ATC’s specific needs” because “they did not have any similar platform or software.”

By retrieving, normalizing and analyzing data from disparate sources both inside and outside of ATC, CellInfo believed that it could “unlock untapped revenues for ATC.”  One of the applications of CellInfo’s data was to “quickly and easily determine whether all equipment installed on a cellular tower is allowed to be there and also determine if equipment installed on the tower exceeds wind loading restrictions.” Continue Reading

Friday, June 22, 2018

AT&T to Transfer Data Center Co-location Operations, Assets to Brookfield

AT&T signed a strategic alliance with Brookfield Infrastructure and its institutional partners to transfer its data center co-location operations and assets to Brookfield. Under Brookfield’s ownership, the business will continue to deliver co-location services to customers in 18 internet data centers in the United States and 13 outside the U.S., according to the carrier. The co-location data center operations serve a customer base of more than 1,000 companies across the technology, financial, industrial, media retail and other sectors.

Under terms of the agreement, AT&T will receive $1.1 billion, which it will use to pay down debt. After the deal closes, expected within six to eight months, customer contracts, employees supporting the co-location operations, fixed assets, leased and owned facilities will transfer to Brookfield. 
Once finalized, AT&T will continue to deliver network services to its customers at the IDCs. AT&T will become a sales channel for the business and will be the anchor tenant of the co-location operations. Continue Reading

Thursday, June 21, 2018

“Tower Geeks” From Around the World Meet in “Boca”

In a not so veiled swipe at other trade shows (and you know who you are) the promoters at TowerXchange Meetup Americas in Boca this week suggest the Florida event is more focused. “Passive infrastructure is typically hidden away as an under-appreciated small part of a broader show,” is their assessment of the others. Their show, they claim, is a “networking club for tower geeks” attracting 80 to 90 percent “of the CXO’s who lead tower strategy.” While I’m not here to document that personally, the mix of international players in attendance in the macro tower arena is unmistakable.  The international markets are active, alive and open for business. Industry veteran Maria Scotti, CEO of Torrecom, said it is very reminiscent of the old days in the U.S. tower industry. “It’s back to the future!” she said enthusiastically.

Analysis of the CALA telecom infrastructure industry kicked off the conference with a address by Kieron Osmotherly, CEO of TowerXchange.  Taking a global perspective, Osmotherly said commercial tower companies (i.e., non-carrier, utility or government) own 67.4 percent of the world’s towers, with the top 12 owning 56 percent of those. Skewing that number a bit is China Tower, on the cusp of an IPO, holding roughly 1.9 million sites.  However, even active international markets, he cautioned, are “reaching a degree of saturation” as to their acquisition potential. Additional revenue opportunities are being considered and applied, he said, with towercos laying and buying their own cable and the rise of micro data centers. Continue Reading