Thursday, April 25, 2019

Who Sits on the Throne For Most Fiber-Lit Buildings?

For the third year in a row, it's AT&T, reports, with Crown Castle climbing the charts at number seven.  While there has been some jockeying from year-to-year, the top contenders remain, in order: AT&T, Verizon, Spectrum Enterprise, CenturyLink, Comcast, Cox, Crown Castle Fiber, Frontier, Zayo, and Altice USA. To make the list, the fiber providers had to wrap up the previous year with at least 10,000 fiber-lit buildings in the United States.

The challenge defined "fiber-lit" as "a commercial site or data center that has on-net optical fiber connectivity to a network provider’s infrastructure, plus active service termination equipment onsite.” The definition did not include cell towers, small cell arrangement, private installations, and other alternatives.

VSG Principal, Rosemary Cochran, stated: "Following a flurry of mergers and acquisitions, fiber providers focused on new build-outs in 2018, to meet customer demand for higher-speed dedicated access to business services and to support 5G pilots.” She added that the wealth of buildings that are not yet fiber-lit represents a true opportunity for providers to step in and offer their services.

Additionally, 13 companies qualified for recognition with 2,000-9,999 U.S. fiber lit commercial buildings. They include: Atlantic Broadband, Cincinnati Bell, Cleareon, Cogent, Consolidated Communications, FiberLight, FirstLight, GTT, IFN, Logix Fiber Networks, Segra, Unite Private Networks and Uniti Fiber.  
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Tuesday, April 16, 2019

High Flying Tower Market Slows Its Roll

Shares of American Tower (NYSE:AMT) opened 1.2 percent lower premarket yesterday after Wells Fargo Securities downgraded them to Market Perform from Outperform. AMT shares, however, are up 22.7 percent in the past three months and up 36.1 percent over the past six.

“Our tower dinner and data center broker events last week, seemed to take a bit of air out of the balloons for Q1 strength for both of these sectors,” said Jennifer Fritzsche, Senior Analyst, Wells Fargo Securities. “Our new price target on AMT is $196. The only tower stock we now are recommending is CCI; raising price target to $142. The towers peers trade at 23.6x 2019E AFFO and 21.9x 2020E AFFO, by our estimates. The multiples continue to push and set recent peak levels. Each of the tower stocks are trading at forward year AFFO multiples are the highest we have seen since 2017 (with AMT’s multiple at a 5-yr high),” she said.

Fritzsche said recent checks have indicated that while spending has continued, it has not realized the growth that was hoped for in 2019. She believes spending will ramp in 2020 but much has to be digested before this can be seen. As a result, she believes the setup for tower stocks should be viewed with a more conservative lens as her analysts struggle to see near-term drivers for further multiple expansion from these levels. Continue Reading

Monday, April 15, 2019

President, Pai Lay Out Next Steps to Speed 5G, With NATE Climbers in Spotlight

President Donald Trump put to rest Friday any hints that the federal government might privatize 5G networks. In a speech at the White House, Trump said, “We don’t want to do that because it won’t be as good or as fast” as what private investment can accomplish.

When members of the administration floated that as a possibility earlier this year, several FCC Commissioners, including Chairman Ajit Pai, and industry, opposed it.

With members of the National Association of Tower Erectors standing behind him wearing their harnesses, hardhats and other safety gear, Trump said 5G will be “more secure and resilient” than 4G and will “create astonishing opportunities for our people.”

Trump said: “The FCC is taking very bold action,” to free up more spectrum for 5G and reduce regulatory barriers to wireless infrastructure deployment. FCC action to streamline local permitting means, “They must now approve physical infrastructure within 90 days,” as opposed to the three or four years it sometimes takes, the President said. “And there is now a cap on unreasonable fees” local governments sometimes charge to approve small cells in a public right-of-way. Continue Reading

Friday, April 12, 2019

Tax Court Reduces AT&T Cell Tower Assessments By $1.75M

Although the tax man is coming for many of us in a few days, AT&T Mobility got a reprieve Wednesday after a Missouri Tax Court ruled they were not responsible for $1.75 million in assessed property taxes. The ruling covers over two dozen towers sites the carrier owns across five counties in the north central region of the state. The court ruled the counties did not follow federal guidelines in evaluating the sites.

The case of AT&T Mobility vs the Boards of Equalization of Caldwell, Daviess, Harrison, Henry, and Mercer counties (BOEs), ruled in the carrier’s favor after presenting, “substantial and persuasive evidence rebutting the BOE’s presumption of correct assessment” and established the ”true value in money” of their property.  Litigation on the case began in 2016.

The Court said AT&T argued that the proper method for valuing the subject property in these appeals was the cost approach using the replacement-cost-new-less-depreciation (RCNLD) method as determined by the company’s appraisal expert.  AT&T further argued that the counties presented no substantial and persuasive evidence to rebut their findings. The counties believed a correlation existed between AT&T’s revenue from the operation and use of the subject property and the value of the subject property. They posited that a 15-year life should apply to the subject property resulting in values higher than those they had initially assessed. Continue Reading

Thursday, April 11, 2019

WIA, EWA Battle Over 800 MHz Land Mobile Applications

By Jim Fryer, Managing Editor, Inside Towers In a statement issued yesterday by the Enterprise Wireless Alliance (EWA), the association expressed frustration at how various frequency advisory committees (FAC’s) have been unable to reach a consensus on processing 800 MHz applications for the Expansion/Guard Band for land mobile use. The EWA singled out the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) as an unsupportive entity among the FAC’s.  The EWA fears the inaction will produce hundreds of mutually exclusive applications that will have to be sorted out one-by-one without a clear standard for determining priority.

“The opportunity to arrive at a consensus among the Business/Industrial and Public Safety frequency advisory committees (FACs) on how best to process 800 MHz Expansion/Guard Band (EB/GB) applications that avoid mutual exclusivity remains elusive after one year of effort,” the statement read. The EWA said that last week, during a meeting with a majority of the certified FACs in attendance, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) staff informed the FACs that Commission leadership had rejected the “round-robin” application approach.  EWA said it was because it was believed that it would prejudice FACs with a greater number of applications to process and possibly cause customers to move their applications to another FAC. Continue Reading

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Vandals Cut Guy Wires to Bring Down Tower For Scrap Resell

According to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, three men were arrested and accused of breaking into an inactive 150-foot tower last Wednesday. The trio allegedly cut the guy wires, causing the tower to crash into the on-site shed and then returned to the scene on Saturday to steal aluminum, copper and other scrap metal from the site, according to WALA-TV.

Lt. Bobby Jeter said it’s one of the stranger cases he’s ever seen. “I got in law enforcement when I got out of the service in ’96. I’ve never seen a cell phone tower cut down before,” he said.

A nearby resident called investigators when the individual heard activity at the site Saturday afternoon. Deputies and McIntosh police then closed in on the suspected thieves, reported WALA.  Continue Reading

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Amazon Joins the Space Race in Satellite-Delivered Broadband

Amazon is throwing its hat in the ring, or better yet, into the stratosphere, to develop satellite-delivered broadband connectivity. Named “Project Kuiper,” the effort was discovered when Amazon submitted three sets of filings with the International Telecommunication Union last month by the FCC on behalf of Washington, D.C.-based Kuiper Systems LLC, reports GeekWire.

The ITU oversees worldwide satellite operations and would need to approve the constellation. The FCC has not yet taken action on the project.

According to the filings, Amazon plans to launch more than 3,200 satellites into low Earth orbit. The satellites will provide "low-latency, high-speed broadband connectivity to unserved and underserved communities around the world," an Amazon spokesperson stated to GeekWire. “This is a long-term project that envisions serving tens of millions of people who lack basic access to broadband internet. We look forward to partnering on this initiative with companies that share this common vision.” Continue Reading