Monday, December 21, 2015

Appeals Court Backs FCC on Tower Siting

In what could be seen as a landmark decision that could effectively speed the decision-making process for approving tower construction in America, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Friday agreed with the FCC’s directive to deploy wireless facilities by preventing intervention by local authorities.

Although the FCC rule had won the support of CTIA and PCIA-The Wireless Infrastructure Association, Montgomery County, MD and other counties in March filed suit against the FCC to prevent the commission from carrying out its order and call the new tower siting rule unconstitutional, arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion and otherwise illegal,” reported John Eggerton in Broadcasting & Cable. Continue Reading

Friday, December 18, 2015

2016 Carrier Spending is Iffy

Nervous. That’s what any brass at a company relying on 2016 infrastructure work from the top U.S. carriers ought to be. It appears that the fog of 2015 that has kept carrier spending grounded will drift into the new year as the big four – AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint – continue moving toward less expensive software-driven network while completing wireless upgrades.

The big guys cut capex spending in 2015 by 8.1 percent, notes Scott Moritz/Moritz Dispatch using estimates compiled and published by Bloomberg this week. Moritz and others have suggested, “the belt tightening isn’t over.”
Moritz reports AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson told investors Tuesday “there’s going to be a continual downward pressure on our capital spending.” Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said last week that capital outlay in 2016 will be “in the neighborhood of $17.5 billion,” compared with a $17.5 billion to $18 billion range for 2015. In October, Sprint said it is targeting a $500 million cut in equipment spending next year. Continue Reading

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Product Alert Issued for 10 AES Fall Arrestor

German manufacturer Tractel Greifzug has issued an immediate product alert to the tower industry to stop using its retractable type fall arrestor “Blocfor 10 AES Fall Arrestor.” In an industry-wide email sent produced by partner Enercon late Wednesday, the advice was toPlease see below for a Product Alert regarding Tractel Greifzug’s Blocfor™ 10 AES Fall Arrestor. If you have this product, halt use until you’ve consulted the manufacturer’s instructions.” The alert continued: “Tractel Greifzug has issued a Product Alert regarding their BLOCFOR 10 AES (SAP 123830).” Continue Reading

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

‘Tis The Silly Season In CarrierLand

Boys will be boys and sometimes even CEOs will be boys. And so far, they are not being very naughty and even somewhat nice! Take Sprint’s Marcelo Claure., T-Mobile’s “unofficial” Blog, reported that on Monday, the CEO sent out gift baskets to T-Mobile stores around the country. Filled with cookies, candies and other sweet nibbles, the gifts also came with a card that read: “Our companies compete to take business from each other throughout the year but this is the season of giving. So enjoy these treats from Sprint. Happy Holidays, Marcelo”.
Continue Reading

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Springs Fire District Cell Tower Sparks Controversy

Inside Towers on Tuesday reported how the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals on Long Island, NY pointedly disagreed with its Springs Fire District over an already erected 150-foot communications tower. While none of the equipment had been put on the tower early last week when the two sides met, the Zoning Board voted 4-1 to revoke the tower permits issued in 2014, rejecting the fire district’s argument that the tower is desperately needed at its Fort Pond Boulevard property. And it began making noise that the freshly-built structure might have to come down.

This past weekend, crews mounted antennas on the tower, urged by District Board of Commissioners Chairman Pat Glennon. Glennon told that the tower is a communications tower and that the antennas are needed to improve emergency systems. The zoning board had argued the permit was issued in error by town building instructors and that the fire district as a municipal entity must “submit its application for further consideration by the town to determine if the project warrants exemption from zoning.” For now, Glennon urged crews to proceed, as “commissioners and their attorneys discuss how to proceed following Tuesday’s revocation of the tower’s building permits,” reports Continue Reading

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

NPS Plans to Increase Cell Service in Parks

The National Park Service (NPS) marks its centennial on August 26, 2016 and park officials are scrambling to bring new technology to its more than 400 parks including high-speed cell and WiFi service to such places as the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. More than 275 million visitors enjoy America’s national parks annually.

“We are looking to help people to pick up their own signal when they are there with their mobile device,” NPS Associate CIO Shane Compton told in an exclusive online interview. Compton said the park service is developing a plan that would bring high-speed connections to all national parks by the centennial. Continue Reading

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

New 150’ Tower May Be Coming Down In East Hampton, NY

The tower behind a firehouse in the swanky neighborhood of famous writers on Long Island, NY, just went up last spring. Not all the equipment has been installed, but now it may have to come down. The Springs Fire District’s cell phone tower permit was revoked last week by the East Hampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals by a vote of 4 to 1.The zoning board said Elite Towers, the company that leased the land for the 150-foot tower, misled the SFD commissioners in suggesting the district was exempt from local zoning review, Continue Reading.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Spectrum Incentive Auction Gets Wings Today

Officially it’s called the House Subcommittee of Communications and Technology and chaired by former broadcast owner Rep. Greg Walden (R-WA) and it’s set to markup bipartisan legislation that aims to promote increased wireless broadband build out. H.R. 1641 was introduced March 26 and gives the FCC the gusto to move ahead with the planned March 26, 2016, airwaves auction and repurpose their commercial use. The 13-page bill also establishes in the Treasury a Federal Spectrum Incentive Fund to be administered by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in consultation with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

“We commend the bipartisan leadership of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology for moving expeditiously in marking up a legislative package that is so integral to America’s economic and technological future,” said the PCIA – The Wireless Infrastructure Association in a statement released late Tuesday afternoon. “Consumer demand for wireless mobile data continues to escalate – with no end in sight. This nation cannot meet that demand and continue to compete in the global marketplace unless we site and deploy greater wireless infrastructure and allocate additional spectrum for wireless communications.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

‘Mobile Data Will Soar Some 700 Percent Over Next Five Years’

That’s what Jonathan Adelstein, chief executive of PCIA – The Wireless Infrastructure Association, told readers of the Los Angeles Business Journal on Monday in a 550 ­word essay on the future of connectivity in Los Angeles and its impact on the Southern California economy.

 “HetNet” might sound like slang for the basketball hoops at Staples Center, but it’s really about wireless broadband – and much of Southern California’s economic and technological future hinges on it,” Adelstein wrote. “HetNet” refers to “heterogeneous networks” – the many different ways that mobile data can be transmitted via wireless broadband facilities, from towers and other “macro” sites to small cells and other “micro” sites. Small cells and distributed antenna systems, or DAS, are now integral components in the arsenal of every wireless carrier. They’re also uniquely suited to Southern California’s terrain and population density.” Continue Reading

Monday, November 30, 2015

Parity For Cablers, FCC Cuts Telecom Pole Rates

Just as turkeys were being prepared for the oven last week, the FCC reheated an issue leftover from 2011 when it was petitioned by industry advocates to realign the rates telecoms pay utility companies to be on their poles and bring parity to cable companies. Late Tuesday, the commission issued its long awaited, much discussed 44-page decision which effectively reduced telecom rates to what cable providers pay. What’s really behind all of it is the commission’s desire to promote deployment of broadband service nationwide.

“The 2011 revisions sought to bring the telecom and cable rates into parity,” the FCC said in explaining its new rule. “In the intervening time, we have seen that our revisions did not fully achieve that objective. Today, we take the next logical step in achieving the goals set forth in 2011.” The commission added, “We additionally act to support incentives for deployment of broadband facilities, particularly in rural areas, and to harmonize regulatory treatment between states where the Commission regulates the rates, terms, and conditions for pole attachments and states where such matters are regulated by the state.” The Commission said subjecting cable operators to higher pole attachment rates “merely because they also provide telecommunications services, such as broadband Internet access, could deter investment in states subject to Commission pole regulation, which would undermine the Commission’s broadband deployment policy. By keeping pole attachment rates unified and low, we further our overarching goal to accelerate deployment of broadband by removing barriers to infrastructure investment and promoting competition.” Continue Reading

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sprint Unveils LTE Plus Network

Sprint last week announced deployment of its LTE Plus network in “77 major markets,” promising faster service – double the network capacity and speed with peak speeds in excess of 100Mbps on devices capable of performing at that rate, strong service with smart antenna technology at 2.5GHz, and more reliable service using three bands of spectrum – 1.9GHZ for broad coverage, 800MHz for better indoor service, and 2.5GHz for even faster data speeds.

Spring’s CTO Dr. John Saw made the announcement on the carrier’s news site. He said LTE Plus, “takes advantage of our rich tri-band spectrum portfolio, and it uses some of the world’s most advanced technologies in wireless such as carrier aggregation and antenna beamforming.” He added, “Simply stated, while our competitors are sending LTE data meant for a specific customer to everyone in a sector, we are able to transmit more directive beams to exactly where our customers are located.” Continue Reading

Monday, November 23, 2015

Analyst: SBA’s ‘Ferrari Hits Speed Bump, Shares Priced Like A Ford’

If a tower company’s growth rate was compared to a car engine accelerating “zero to 60 mph in six seconds,” then SBA Communications might be a reversal of sorts, like 60-to- zero growth in four quarters. That’s the way Macquarie Securities analyst Kevin Smithen put it in his Friday afternoon research report headlined “Tower ‘Ferrari hits a speed bump but now priced like a ‘Ford.’” He said he and his research team spent the past week and a half researching the company to determine “what happened to SBAC’s premium growth rate.” Finally, he had “a long call with CEO Jeff Stoops yesterday (Thursday, November 19), we are now convinced that SBAC is seeing a pause in 2016 US growth almost entirely due to its lack of an MLA (master lease agreement) with AT&T. This fact also hurts its site augmentation revenue due to a more a compressed D&A schedule on this segment than peers (SBAC at 2.5 years vs. peers at 10 years).” Continue Reading here.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Spectrum Auction Mania, Sniping All the Way

T-Mobile wants the FCC to prevent Verizon Wireless from bidding on reserved Spectrum in a dozen U.S. markets. In a November 16 letter to the FCC, T-Mobile attorney Trey Hanbury of the DC law firm of Hogan Lovells told FCC it “incorrectly identified Verizon as reserve eligible” in 12 markets including Oklahoma City, OK, Brownsville, TX, Bozeman, MT, Springfield, MA, and Minot, ND among others. Hanbury provided a list of corrections to the list of nationwide carriers qualified to bid on reserve spectrum in the hope of “protecting against excessive concentration of low-band spectrum holdings by the nation’s dominant wireless providers while insuring competitive bidding.”
Continue reading here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

CTIA Rejects Higher FCC Regulatory Fees

The Wireless Association said taxes on wireless consumers are already too high and cable companies should pick up a greater share of the tab that it takes to keep the FCC funded, not the wireless world. The discussion was sparked by the commission’s budgeting process and the “Assessment and Collection of Regulatory Fees for fiscal year 2015.” In its review, the FCC laid out how much it proposes to spend for its Media Bureau ($120.15 million); Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) $132.81 million; Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) $69.07 million; and the International Bureau (IB) $18.56 million.

Both the American Cable Association (ACA) and the NAB have said CTIA-The Wireless Association should pay more. In fact, NAB said it should pay less because if some 200-to-400 TV stations go off the air as a result of the spectrum auction on March 29, the remaining stations will have a higher burden of regulatory fees to pay, said a BNA/Bloomberg report last week. NAB said, “Indeed, the only equitable approach is for the regulatory fees to ‘follow the spectrum.’ The spectrum to be repurposed through the incentive auction will benefit the wireless service providers.”
Continue reading here.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Judge to AT&T: See You in Court

 Inside Towers told you on November 6, how an AT&T attorney told a Philadelphia judge two days earlier that the carrier had “no presence” in the Keystone State and should be released from a Pennsylvania lawsuit brought by fallen tower climber Thomas Jeglum. Jeglum was employed by JTI Telecommunications as a tower technician, performing maintenance, installation, repair and upgrade to telecommunications towers and related infrastructure.

He was part of a crew working on a 51-foot tower in Allentown, PA, on June 15, 2013 when the rung on a detachable ladder came loose, causing him to fall more than 50 feet. He was critically injured and in a coma, miraculously waking just before Christmas 2013 to have a Christmas Day wedding to the mother of his children in the hospital. Read more here.

Friday, November 13, 2015

NY Appeals Court Invokes Telecom Act, Clears East Fishkill Tower

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York on Tuesday handed the tower industry a significant victory by embracing a lower court’s ruling earlier this year on an effective prohibition claim made by a tower company after a town denied its application to build a 150-foot cell tower for Verizon Wireless.

A three-judge Appeals Court panel denied an appeal by the town of East Fishkill, NY, after a lower court, the U..S District Court for the Southern District of New York, ruled on January 30 the town’s denial to Homeland was effectively prohibiting it from providing wireless services in violation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The landmark decision demands the town immediately issue Homeland Towers LLC and its tenant, Verizon Wireless, a permit to build the tower but it also sets a precedent for all similar cases going forward that courts will generally interpret the Spectrum Act in the same manner.

“We are thrilled that the Second Circuit adopted Homeland and Verizon’s position regarding the significance of the service to be provided, looking at the gap’s physical size, the number of wireless users affected by the gap, the location of the gap, drop call or failure rates and other real metrics associated with providing reliable wireless services to the public,” Christopher Fisher, one of four attorneys with the New York-based firm of Cuddy + Feder, LLP, who represented the plaintiffs, said. “This is a critical advancement of the law, particularly when it comes to regulatory barriers to services being provided in all wireless infrastructure scenarios including towers, DAS, small cells, whether it be coverage or capacity situations.” Continue reading here.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Former Facebook Executive Wants to Form America’s Fifth Wireless Carrier

Former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya, now with Social Capital, intends to spend $4 billion to $10 billion buying spectrum at the FCC’s March auction to build a wireless carrier to compete with the likes of AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint.

In an interview Tuesday with Forbes, the Sri Lankan-born, Canadian-raised 30-something billionaire venture capitalist said he plans to bid on the spectrum and has already lined-up deep-pocketed investors whom he declined to name. 

A part owner of the San Francisco Warriors NBA basketball team, Palihapitiya already is working on bringing Internet access to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, according to Business Insider, and it faces an uphill battle to gain spectrum in the U.S. As Forbes notes, “First, the company will have to start the slow and expensive process of actually building the towers and infrastructure that make up a wireless network. Palihapitiya said he wants to use “microcells,” or tiny cell towers installed on people’s homes, to help build the network quickly and provide better coverage.” Continue reading here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

NAB to FCC: Determine Repacking Deadline After Spectrum Auction

The National Association of Broadcasters yesterday (November 9) asked the FCC to back off its plan to require TV broadcasters to complete their move to new spectrum space—or new channels within 39 months. The broadcasters lobbying group wants FCC to survey the land after the auction, figure out how many stations will need to move and then decide what is a workable deadline. In a three-page letter to the agency sent by NAB General Counsel, EVP/Legal and Regulatory Affairs Rick Kaplan, the NAB said, “depending on the number of stations that ultimately must move to new channels, the current deadline of 39 months may not be achievable. In a report commissioned by NAB, Digital Tech Consulting, Inc. concluded that, under ideal conditions, as many as 445 stations can be relocated to new channels within 39 months. However, if the transition requires more stations to repack, there is simply no way additional stations will be able to meet the current hard deadline. This is not a reasonable approach.” Read more here.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

FCC Fines Florida Tower Owner $3K; Suspends $231K Fine

Johnson Tower Corporation of Seminole, FL, has been charged $3,000 in civil penalties after admitting it violated antenna structure rules. The commission, working with the Federal Aviation Administration, reached a Consent Decree with sole operator, Dan L. Johnson, who demonstrated it would be a financial hardship to pay a larger $231,000 fine. The FCC originally assessed the higher amount on November 1, 2013 when it first charged Johnson.

Johnson admitted it failed to install lights on two antenna structures in Pinellas Park, FL, and update registration information with the FCC to reflect the dismantlement of a third antenna structure. After being charged originally, Johnson installed proper lighting on one of the towers, reduced the height on a second tower so that it was not tall enough to require lighting, and... read more here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Cell Tower Scammer Gets Nine Years in Fed Pen

Gray bars, not cell towers, is what Daniel Williford, age 55, is going to be looking at for the next nine years. The former U.S. air pilot and Salisbury, NC, businessman was convicted in U.S. Federal Court in a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme after he defrauded 100 investors out of almost $18 million, which now is obligated to repay.

According to WBT-TV/Charlotte, NC, Williford promised victims their money would be invested in wireless Internet equipment, Internet towers and other facilities and companies. Instead, court documents say Williford used the majority of the funds to run a Ponzi-style scheme while using a portion to fund his personal lifestyle.

Cindy Adkins and her husband Brent operate a towing service in Statesville and Salisbury, and while they did not invest their money with Williford, they did do business with his company. Several years ago Williford rented space for antennas on a radio tower owned by the Adkins in Salisbury. Continue reading here.

Monday, November 2, 2015

AMT’s MLA with T is A-OK

Cowen & Company analyst Colby Synesael may have hit a nerve — or at least rung an alarm bell – during Friday morning’s Q3 results call when he asked American Tower Corp. CEO Jim Taiclet and CFO Tom Bartlett about reports the company’s Master Lease Agreement with AT&T’s is expiring in 2016.

“Let me be really clear: the Master Lease Agreement is not expiring. Okay?” Bartlett said emphatically. “There are certain elements that Jim talked about that change over that period of time but the MLA is not expiring. I know there have been some write-ups and I want to be very clear on that.” Continue reading here.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Ganzi To HetNetExpo2015: ‘DAS Market To Increase Five Times By 2020’

Digital Bridge Holdings Co-Founder/CEO Marc Ganzi says the future of DAS is now. The swashbuckling tower titan told a HetNetExpo2015 audience in Los Angeles this week that DAS and small cells will be the focus of carrier investment next year and beyond and “the total market will increase five times by 2020.” RCRWireless quoted him as saying “As we turn the page into 2016, we believe all four carriers will be investing next year.”

He’s figuring that Verizon Wireless will deploy as many as 60,000 new nodes in the upcoming months while he pegs the number at 40,000 for AT&T. Ganzi also predicts T-Mobile also will jump on the bandwagon and Sprint likely will follow. Either way, figures Ganzi, carriers will have to densify their networks to keep up with fast-growing consumer demand.

Continue reading here.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Congress needs to put “pedal to the metal” and remove any obstacles the federal government might have placed in the way of speeding delivering of broadband service nationwide, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) told the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology yesterday. The committee was in session in the Rayburn House Office Building for another in its series of “Breaking Down Barriers to Broadband Infrastructure Deployment.”

Fellow committee member Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) stressed the importance of getting broadband service “to the unserved and underserved in our country.” She also took a moment to push the “Dig Once” legislation she, Upton and fellow committee member Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) co-sponsored last week that requires broadband to be installed along all new federal highway projects as “just common sense. It will save taxpayers money.”

Continue reading here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Congress Eyeing StingRay Cell Devices, New Regulations

Congress is now giving a closer look at a device that mimics a cell tower to spy on cell phones after two federal agencies said they will require a warrant to used the tool called a StingRay. The Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security have both recently said they will require warrants to use the devices and on Oct. 21, the House Oversight subcommittee heard testimony from Seth Stodder, an assistant secretary at Homeland Security. The day before the hearing, Homeland Security issued a detailed memo outlining guidelines for using StingRays but critics are still pushing for tighter control over the devices.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who has previously pressed for answers on the technology, said the legal memo was a positive first step, but pointed to “problematic” exceptions, according to TheHill newspaper.

“I am disappointed that DHS..." Continue reading here.

Friday, October 23, 2015

FCC Proposes New Wireless Broadband Rules

Hoping to create fertile ground to spawn 5G mobile service, the FCC yesterday proposed new rules for the wireless broadband in the wireless frequencies above 24Ghz.

The FCC wants to create “new flexible use service rules in the 28 GHz, 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 64-71 GHz bands” and to make these bands available using “a variety of authorization schemes, including traditional wide area licensing, unlicensed, and a shared approach that provides access for both local area and wide area networks.”

“The FCC is taking steps to unlock the mobile broadband and unlicensed potential of spectrum at the frontier above 24 GHz,” the agency said in a statement announcing the proposal. “It was previously assumed physical and tech limitations could not support mobile service in these bands. New tech developments may allow the use of these high frequencies for mobile applications – like 5G service – with significantly more capacity and faster speeds for next generation mobile service.”
Continue reading here.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Unregistered, Unlit Towers Get $620,000 FCC Fine

The FCC has fined Anchorage, Alaska-based General Communications, Inc. $620,000 for failing to register 118-towers and for failing to properly light three of them to comply with flight safety rules. A settlement was reached and announced late Tuesday (October 20) by the FCC in Washington.

The wireless, Internet and phone company’s wholly-owned tower subsidiary, The Alaska Wireless Network, reported to the FCC in early 2014 that it discovered numerous apparent violations of the tower registration requirements, including for many towers that it had recently acquired. A subsequent investigation by the FCC’s Wireless Bureau showed that about 118 communications towers had not been registered in the Antenna Structure Registration system and that three towers did not meet lighting requirements.

Continue reading here. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sprint’s Biggest Mistake?

Some are calling Sprint’s decision to sit out the 2016 incentive auction its biggest mistake since trying to buy T-Mobile. The company cited its reasoning as prioritizing financial resources to improve network coverage, capacity, speed and reliability in the near future. TheStreet reported that Sprint’s stock dropped after the announcement because investors believe the company will be deprived of future network upgrades without this spectrum. On Monday when the market opened, Sprint shares fell 7.3% to $3.98.
Brian Fung of The Washington Post explained that this spectrum which operates at frequencies of 600 MHz should make our cellular data faster and better able to handle intensive applications like streaming music and video. Many have called these frequencies “beach-front property,” and the auction has been dubbed a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity. Continue reading here

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


EVOLVE is a new coalition that was announced earlier this week, whose goal is to promote the consumer benefits of unlicensed spectrum and new technologies for unlicensed spectrum like LTE-Unlicensed (LTE-U) and Licensed Assisted Access (LAA). LTE-U and LAA are new technologies that will substantially increase data speeds and improve coverage for millions of Americans.  Founding members include the Competitive Carriers Association, CTIA—The Wireless Association, Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, Qualcomm Incorporated, T-Mobile, and Verizon.  The EVOLVE coalition believes regulators should reject calls to preemptively interfere with new technologies like LTE-U and LAA that enhance utilization of unlicensed spectrum. Continue reading here

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sprinting for #1

By 2017, Sprint’s network will perform better than Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile. That’s the bold statement Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure made to CNNMoney reporters David Goldman and Hope King. This reiterates the statements that Claure made over the summer, stating Sprint would be among the top two in overall network performance in the U.S. While Sprint has shared plans to build out its macro sites and densify its networks in metropolitan areas, two years is not a lot of time to achieve this goal. Goldman and King explained, “Sprint has the tools to do it — it’s always just been a question of using them the right way. After its 2013 purchase of mobile network Clearwire, Sprint is sitting on a boatload of unused wireless spectrum . In fact, Sprint has more spectrum than any of its competitors.” Claure agreed noting that the company has a big advantage over Verizon.  “We have half their customers and twice the amount of spectrum,” Claure told CNNMoney. Sprint’s spectrum is in the higher frequency range, though lower bandwidth is preferred. Claure told the news outlet that to take advantage of the spectrum they own, they need to deploy three times the number of towers as Verizon utilizes. Continue reading here

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Man Stable After Tower Fall

A man fell from a cell tower in Summit Park located in Harrison County, WV, Friday afternoon. Currently in stable condition, he fell from the tower and was flown to Ruby Memorial Hospital with a head injury, according to WDTV-TV. This accident comes just 18 months after two tower workers and a local firefighter were killed while working on a tower when it collapsed in the Summit Park area near Clarksburg. WDTV-TV reported that there is no word on the man’s name, or whether or not he works with the company involved in the previous tower collapse accident. Continue reading here

Monday, September 14, 2015

Crown Castle Remains Steady

Crown Castle continues to focus on steady execution against a relatively stable spending backdrop. That came out of a meeting between Amir Rozwadowski of Barclays, Crown Castle CEO Ben Moreland and CFO Jay Brown at last week’s CTIA conference in Las Vegas.The executives appeared comfortable in the outlook for 6-7% AFFO per share growth going into 2016 given new leasing activity signed in 2015, small cell growth plus the lapping of churn headwinds, Rozwadowski wrote.  Crown Castle, like American Tower, has not seen a recovery in spending from AT&T just yet. Many analysts predicted that the carrier’s infrastructure spending would spike once the DirecTV deal was closed. The Crown Castle execs did note that they are optimistic about AT&T’s long-term investment needs. Sprint’s network build out plan was discussed, and Rozwadowski wrote that the carrier is in the early stages of executing its network transformation strategy, but spending should increase down the road. Continue reading here

Friday, September 11, 2015

Latin America: Opportunity Awaits

By Jeffrey Yorke

Long the “Land of Opportunity,” America has been the destination for people looking to expand their horizons, beef up their bank accounts, and better their lives. But there may be some opportunities left, south of the border. A slew of American tower companies are discovering the charms of Latin America.
“We have more than 250 assets in Guatemala, 350 in Nicaragua and over 1,000 altogether, all home-grown built with nothing acquired through acquisitions,” Maria Scotti, CEO of Torrecom Partners LLC, said proudly during the opening minutes of the “Tower Strategies in Latin America” session at the Tower Summit in Las Vegas.
Scotti talked about Latin America and the Caribbean with the excitement of a successful 1849 gold rusher skipping over the hills of San Francisco. Noting the devil is in the details of contracting with land owners and carriers, she was optimistic about the near future. “AT&T has finally started advertising, [cellular] plans are reducing. Everyone is fighting for the consumer—trying to get four or five thousand sites rationalized before everyone really gets going.” Continue reading here

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Tower Climber Spots Missing Kids

In Hamilton County, TN, tower worker Corey Fitzpatrick called the police after spotting Hannah Musgrave, 7, and her brother, Gideon, 4, who had been missing overnight. Fitzpatrick spoke with Vince Lennon of WRCB-TV about the experience. “I mean we didn’t do anything,” says Fitzpatrick. “The dog led them out of the woods, that guy up there heard the dog and came down to talk to them and then we called the police,” said Fitzpatrick. The man he is referring to, Eric Elliot, was the tower climber who spotted the children. He was installing new equipment on a tower at Mowbray Mountain. Continue reading here

Friday, September 4, 2015

American Tower Encouraged

Leah Stearns, American Tower Treasurer and Igor Khislavsky, Investor Relations of American Tower, met with Barclays’ Amir Rozwadowski and Sandeep Gupta to discuss the near-term trends and the company’s long-term strategy. The American Tower executives reiterated their commitment to the long-term strategy of leveraging the financial and operational resources at its disposal to continually seek out the best and most optimized means to drive longer-term AFFO growth. “While we continue to believe near-term business momentum remains fairly steady as the industry continues to wait for improved spending activity from a number of select U.S. carriers, we emerged encouraged about the prospects for an improved spending backdrop in the mid-term as densification initiatives continue to gain momentum,” the analysts wrote. Continue reading here

Thursday, September 3, 2015

SoftBank’s Shopping Spree

SoftBank Group has gone on a shopping spree for Sprint’s stock shares, and has boosted the struggling U.S. wireless carrier’s stock nearly 50 percent over the past two weeks, adding $6.7 billion to its market value, according to Bloomberg. As of last Friday, the company had purchased Sprint shares every day since August 10. This increased SoftBank’s stake to 82%, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission. Bloomberg noted that this is below SoftBank’s target limit of 85%. This is just another illustration of how SoftBank founder and Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son is renewing his commitment to the wireless carrier.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Centerline Solutions Acquires IDC Joint Venture

Centerline Solutions has acquired IDC Joint Venture. IDC is a wireless construction firm based in Hawaii. This strategic acquisition not only enhances the company’s services in Hawaii, but makes Centerline Solutions the only full turnkey wireless services provider there.
“With this acquisition, Centerline Solutions is now the leading wireless services provider in Hawaii, offering end-to-end services for all things wireless, completed in-house by Hawaiian residents,” said Benjamin Little, CEO of Centerline Solutions. Continue reading here

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Drone Hits Cell Tower

On August 22, Nick Schwendeman, senior vice president of The Webb Companies in Lexington, KY, got a phone call about a property he managed. Security at one of the Webb Companies’ downtown buildings said a drone hit a cell tower on top of the Lexington Financial Center. The building is one of the city’s tallest, housing a tower on top of the more than 400-foot tall building. “It was fortunate that it landed on the roof,” Schwendeman said. “It could have fallen and hit someone. It was Saturday, probably around noon, at the time of the Lexington Farmers Market when downtown is very crowded. Or it could have hit one of our windows or had fallen and hit a car.” (Lexington-Herald Leader) Continue reading here

Monday, August 31, 2015

CommScope Acquires TE Connectivity’s Wireless Businesses

CommScope Holding Company has completed its previously announced acquisition of TE Connectivity’s  Telecom, Enterprise and Wireless businesses, a leader in fiber optic connectivity for wireline and wireless networks. This acquisition strengthens CommScope’s position as a communications infrastructure provider. The all-cash transaction is valued at approximately $3 billion. The deal is expected to be significantly accretive to CommScope’s adjusted earnings per share and exceed $150 million in annual synergies in 2018.

“We are excited to move forward as one company positioned for continued success,” said Eddie Edwards, CommScope president and chief executive officer. “Together, we look to accelerate industry innovation, solve more wired and wireless network challenges, and better serve customers in more markets around the world. By uniting our complementary solutions, technologies and geographic and market coverage, we have created a stronger platform for competing successfully.” Continue reading here

Friday, August 14, 2015

Son Struggles with Sprint

It’s been two years since SoftBank bought Sprint Corporation for $22 billion. Even though Chairman Masayoshi Son has been committed to expanding the company and building out their network, they recently slipped into last place in subscribers. On August 4, Sprint reported total connections, which fell below T-Mobile’s, putting them into fourth place. However, Son made an appearance on the quarterly conference and expressed his confidence in the company. “I’m extremely excited about the turnaround of Sprint,” Son said. “So as you might have imagined, when I entered into the U.S. market, I had a plan to have a consolidation in the industry but that’s no longer the case. So I lost the confidence for some time. However, the last few months I am totally refocused to help Marcelo and the team have the historical turnaround of the company, and I’ve been working – very, very involved especially on the networks side.” Continue reading here

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What Did We Learn?

Before its Analyst Day in Dallas, Texas, AT&T announced revised guidance for the year, and provided an outlook for 2016 to reflect the closing of DirecTV. The company now expects 2015 earnings per share of $2.62 to $2.68, which most consider a positive starting point for the company. Management also noted that capex for 2015 will be in the $21 billion range. Amir Rozwadowski of Barclays explained, “Our initial take is that this is a pickup in spending. If we assume a half a year of ownership of DIRECTV, on a straight line basis that would suggest $1.5 billion in capex (assuming a steady $3.0 billion run rate). Coupled with AT&T’s prior capex outlook would suggest total capex of $19.5 billion vs. guidance of $21.0 billion.” Continue reading here

Monday, August 10, 2015

No, T-Mo

On Thursday, the FCC adopted bidding rules for next year’s incentive auction. The Commission reiterated that the expected start date for the auction is March 29, 2016, and the application proves should begin during the fall of this year. The Order also maintained its view that 30MHz of reserve spectrum should be large enough to benefit the small carriers. T-Mobile has been very vocal about their hopes that the FCC would increase the reserve to 40MHz. Amir Rozwadowski of Barclays noted, “Overall, we believe that despite prior concerns around the launch of the incentive auction, the FCC seems committed to commence the auction by the end of the first quarter of 2016, and then conclude it under the current administration’s term. With that in mind, we believe that over the coming months, there is likely to be increased visibility around each carrier’s strategy to participate in the auction – including securing the estimated funding requirement.” Verizon hasn’t really committed to the auction, with management saying the company doesn’t necessarily need additional low band spectrum, but that doesn’t mean they’re not interested. Continue reading here

Friday, August 7, 2015

Sprint Steps Up

Sprint reported solid fiscal first quarter earnings earlier this week, and Chairman Masayoshi Son, also CEO of SoftBank, which owns a 78% stake in Sprint, expressed its confidence in the wireless carrier. On the conference call, Son reiterated that there are no plans to sell down its stake in Sprint, that there’s no need for equity or public bond financing, and that there is no pressure to sell Sprint’s existing spectrum. Amir Rozwadowski of Barclays explained, “SoftBank also emphasized its confidence in an eventual Sprint turnaround based on the goals of a ‘large’ opex [operating expense] reduction, improved capital deployment, better network quality, a sensible device financing program (leasing), and debt reduction. SoftBank believes its own turnaround story.” But what are the company’s plans to actually improve their network? On August 4 conference call, President and CEO Marcelo Claure noted, “We plan to deploy tens of thousands of small cells in the next three years to increase the coverage and capacity of the network, leveraging all spectrum bands with the potential to increase the number over time.”  Continue reading here

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Vertical Bridge Goes to Town

Townsquare Media announced their 2015 second quarter earnings yesterday, and reported that the company entered into an agreement to sell 43 towers to a subsidiary of Vertical Bridge Holdings for $22.8 million in cash. Following the sale, Townsquare Media will own more than 250 towers. The 43 towers being divested are located on 41 sites in 28 markets and presently house antenna, which broadcast certain Townsquare Media stations, together with third party tenants who pay rent for similar space on such towers. According to the earnings report, for 35 years following the closing, including an initial term of twenty years and three optional five-year renewal periods, Townsquare Media will pay $41 of rent per annum ($1 per site per annum) to Vertical Bridge for the right to house its existing antenna on the divested towers. The company has also entered into an agreement with Vertical Bridge who will serve as the exclusive marketing agent for the towers retained by the company.  Continue reading here. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sprint Shakes Up Management

Sprint announced management changes ahead of their earnings report on August 3, naming a new CFO, COO, and Chief Network Officer. The company announced Chief Financial Officer Joseph Euteneuer will be leaving the company and named Tarek Robbiati as his successor. Robbiati, who will join in late August, stepped down as chief executive of Australian financial services provider FlexiGroup Ltd in June. G√ľnther Ottendorfer is joining as chief operating officer, technology, effective immediately, and John Saw was promoted to chief technology officer. “While we recognize the timing of these changes are not ideal, we believe the company wanted to make these changes all at once (recall it recently made changes at the CMO level),” Jennifer Fritzsche, Senior Analyst at Wells Fargo, wrote. Continue reading here

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Phoenix Tower International Acquires 600 Sites from T-Mobile

Phoenix Tower International (PTI) announced today that it has entered into a contract with T-Mobile to acquire the ownership or management rights to approximately 600 wireless communication tower sites including the exclusive right to manage and operate the sites from T-Mobile via PTI’s local U.S. subsidiaries.
“We are incredibly excited to transact with T-Mobile and believe these locations are well situated for additional lease-up opportunities as the wireless operators continue to expand and improve their networks,” said Dagan Kasavana, Chief Executive Officer of Phoenix Tower International. “The PTI management team has significant experience operating and leasing tower sites in the United States and is thrilled to have a significant portfolio of high quality sites in the United States to offer to our customers.  Furthermore, this transaction represents another milestone in Phoenix Tower’s expansion and allows us to service our customer’s strategic needs across the Americas.” Continue reading here

Monday, August 3, 2015

Can Sprint Improve?

Chris Neiger with The Motley Fool, a financial news outlet, took a closer look at Sprint’s network plans for the next two years, and wondered if the carrier really will be able to improve its network. Sprint and T-Mobile have been fighting for the #3 spot in the wireless carrier space, and recently T-Mobile was named the third largest carrier. But Sprint isn’t taking this lightly. They have been strategically crafting their plans to improve their network, and continue to say they will rise to the #1 or #2 spot in two years’ time. “It’s going to take some major upgrades to get there, and if some new analyst information proves true then we may now know how Sprint plans to pull it off,” Neiger wrote. The analyst information he’s referring to is that from Wells Fargo and Evercore ISI reporting that Sprint plans to add about 70,000 small cells, in addition to macro towers, to achieve this status. The small cells should help improve the network quality without spending too much money. Continue reading here

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Macro Cells Remain Core of Network

Senior Telecom / Media High Yield Analyst Davis Hebert at Wells Fargo shared some takeaways from the company’s 4th annual telecom symposium, “The Wireless Supply Chain—Soup to Nuts,” that happened in New York last week. While there was much to say about small cells, Herbert noted that macro cells remain the “core of the network.” “One operator noted that the most activity has been coming from Verizon and T-Mobile, with AT&T and Sprint rather quiet,” Hebert wrote. “He expected activity to resume for the latter two, as each carrier tends to go through up-and-down spending cycles. The tower M&A environment has been a great sellers’ market. There is more capital chasing tower assets than one panelist had seen since 1997. Verizon certainly took advantage of tower multiples, selling its portfolio to American Tower, but said control and priority on the existing towers had to remain in place.” Continue reading here

Monday, July 27, 2015

AT&T Talks Capex

Well it’s been a long time coming, but the AT&T/DirecTV deal has finally been approved by the FCC, and the tower industry is saying, “What now?” It’s been a slow year so far for AT&T in the tower world, and many have noted that the carrier’s pullback has slowed their own work down. Now that the deal has been approved, will AT&T’s work pick back up again? Jonathan Schildkraut of Evercore ISI discussed the particulars of AT&T’s annual capex guidance during their second quarter earnings call last week. “AT&T maintained its annual capex guidance of $18 billion but noted the figure would now include the expected spend for upgrading its recently acquired Mexican wireless network,” Schildkraut wrote. “In speaking to management, they did indicate that the overall mix shift in spending would further tilt toward wireless (from wireline) – implying that even though U.S. capex will be down vs. prior expectations, the amount spent on wireless infrastructure may still remain in the same range.” Schildkraut also noted that when AT&T first announced their $3 billion investment into Mexico by year end 2018, the firm through spending would begin in 2016, but the company made it clear it was start this year. Continue reading here

Friday, July 24, 2015

CTI Towers Making Moves

CTI Towers announced it has completed an acquisition with Celtic Corporation, in addition to another tower seller with whom the company has previously worked.  CTI, of which Comcast Ventures is majority owner, continues to own and manage over 500 towers, adding additional assets to its portfolio through tower acquisitions.  “We decided to work with the very capable staff of Excel Capital Advisors as our representatives who introduced us to CTI Towers,” said Michael W. Kay, CEO of Celtic Corporation.  “The process went smoothly and we were pleased to learn that CTI Towers is so highly regarded in the industry. We wish them continued success in growing their company.” CTI Towers, Inc. owns, operates, and maintains wireless towers throughout the United States. The Company leases tower space to wireless carriers, broadcasters, municipalities, utility companies, and others. Continue reading here

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Proof is in the Capex

Yesterday, we asked if the expectation that wireless spending will pick up in the second half of 2015 would become a reality. Verizon was the first wireless carrier to report their second quarter results, and the company reported second quarter capex of $4.49 billion, which brings their total to $8.2 billion for the first half of the year. The company projected that wireless capex for the year would be around $17.5 billion to $18 billion. “We expect capex to ramp in 2H,” Jonathan Schildkraut of Evercore ISI wrote. Kevin Smithen at Macquarie Securities slightly raised their 2016 earnings per share (EPS) forecasts to $3.76 following Verizon’s second quarter earnings call. Continue reading here

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Will Expectations Become Reality?

Multiple reports from analysts predict that the second half of 2015 and early 2016 will see more wireless activity. Amir Rozwadowski of Barclays wrote, “While we expect carrier capex levels to remain tempered during 2Q, expectations for a reiteration of 2015 spending levels by all four major telco’s suggests improving trends should emerge beginning in the back half of the year.” In the story below, you’ll get Jonathan Schildkraut of Evercore ISI’s take. But will it actually happen? Rozwadowski noted that while each carrier has their own initiatives to focus on, the new spectrum and the densification projects will bode well for the industry as a whole. Continue reading here

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Mark Your Calendars

“I remain committed to achieving our goal of beginning the auction in the first quarter of 2016,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wrote in a blog on July 16. This statement comes after the Commission pushed the Public Notice to establish bidding procedures for the incentive auction, and the Reconsideration of the Mobile Spectrum Holdings Order from last week’s meeting until August 6. “Given the complexity of the reverse auction, and undetermined level of broadcaster commitment to date, we had expected the FCC to be more insistent on pushing the matter through its agenda,” Jennifer Fritzsche, senior analyst at Wells Fargo wrote. Continue reading here

Monday, July 20, 2015

No Discounts. No Deal?

After the FCC’s meeting last week, reports have surfaced that Chairman Tom Wheeler has circulated an order recommending rejecting Dish Network’s use of the Designated Entity bidding discounts in the AWS-3 spectrum auction. By using two smaller companies that Dish had an 85% stake in, they were able to secure $3 billion in discounts. Dish claims they followed the rules, but Commissioners and other companies claim it was unfair. “In light of the strong Congressional criticism of Dish’s use of DEs, the FCC has a political motive to deny the discount,” Jonathan Chaplin at New Street Research explained. “As such, investors should not assume that the FCC’s action is solely driven by an assessment of the strength of its legal position against Dish. We doubt that Dish’s legal position and DE structuring was premised on the hope that the FCC would interpret an ambiguity in the law in its favor, as there have been a number of cases in which the FCC has offered its views on the indicia of control. We are certain the Dish lawyers relied heavily on those precedents in crafting the legal structure and doubt they were trying to create new law.”  Continue reading here

Friday, July 17, 2015

Your Move, Dish

Dish Network’s discussions about acquiring T-Mobile US from Deutsche Telekom AG have slowed down over concerns of valuation and structure, Alex Sherman of Bloomberg reported. Sherman noted that this lack of momentum calls into question whether any transaction will take place this year, especially since the two companies will soon begin focusing on the spectrum auction. “Dish and Deutsche Telekom would want to iron out an agreement in the next two or three months before focusing on the auction, the people said, and the halt in talks has made that timeframe unlikely. Continue reading here

Thursday, July 16, 2015

It’s Urgent

Jonathan Adelstein, the President and CEO of PCIA – The Wireless Infrastructure Association  moderated a White House summit yesterday regarding the urgent need to train U.S. workers for careers in the wireless industry. Adelstein called on leaders from industry, government, and academia to work together in developing a safer, more proficient, and more diverse “wireless workforce of the future” to ensure that the U.S. keeps pace with the growing demand for wireless data. “Wireless infrastructure will carry the heaviest load in easing the wireless data crunch, at huge capital cost.  Our goal is to improve the proficiency of every aspect of the skilled workforce that builds, upgrades, and maintains wireless broadband infrastructure.  We need to get the job done safely and properly the first time, so there are no ‘re-dos,’” Adelstein said, while pointing out the U.S. needs more qualified wireless infrastructure workers. Summit principals included representatives from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the White House National Economic Council, the White House Chief Technology Office, the Department of Labor, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Federal Communications Commission. Continue reading here

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A Look into the Tower Future

SNL Kagan recently released their tower projections through 2025. While there was a decline in active sites during 2014 due to the decommissioning of Nextel, Leap Wireless, and MetroPCS sites, SNL Kagan thinks the shrinkage will pass. A number of positive events and trends outweigh the temporary lull of carrier consolidation, including: (1) Consumer demand for mobile data has ramped up like the blade of a hockey stick and will continue to follow that path for several more years; Cisco estimates U.S. mobile data traffic will grow 7x from 2014 to 2019. (2)  The recently concluded AWS-3 auction will generate an uptick in lease amendments and corresponding new equipment roll outs. A similar demand spike will follow the 600MHz incentive auction which is scheduled to start in 2016,” John Fletcher with SNL Kagan explained. Fletcher also noted that now FirstNet has the funding to build out the 700MHz band, they will create a new tenant for approximately 20,000 to 40,000 towers across the nation. Continue reading here

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Investors Want to Know Sprint’s Network Plans

There was a lot of talk about Sprint’s newest “All-In” promotion, it’s the one with David Beckham in the commercial in case you missed it. But it seems like investors just want to know what exactly the carrier’s network build plans are. Because no matter how good the promotion is, if the network isn’t up to par, nothing will last. Amir Rozwadowski of Barclays speculated, “We would expect a combination of macro and micro site investment as a component of Sprint’s network densification initiatives. Based on our checks, the carrier still has work to do with lighting up 2.5GHz on its macro network (which would be the most efficient means by which to execute its build plans). We also believe the carrier is simultaneously focused on its own small cell initiatives in key urban arenas.” Investors want to know the method and manner Sprint will execute their network buildout given the need to maneuver its financing resources. The analysts at Barclays expect SoftBank to continue to support the company’s network strategy. Continue reading here

Monday, July 13, 2015

$1 Billion for Indianapolis

AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon are expanding their network coverage in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Indy Star reported that the carriers have invested over $1 billion alone in the city. “It’s one of the largest capital investments in Indianapolis’ history,” Jeff Swiatek at the Indy Star reported, “Wireless money has been pouring into Indianapolis, and not just because it’s the nation’s 33rd-biggest market, with a metro-area population of 2 million. The four big wireless companies, which compete fiercely for customers, also are spending freely here because of the presence of two big-time sports venues: Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Lucas Oil Stadium.” Continue reading here.  

Friday, July 10, 2015

Caught on Camera: Tower Struck by Lightning

Florida’s not called the “lightning capital of the world” for nothing. Thousands of lightning strikes were reported Monday afternoon in Central Florida, but Bryan Hall, a professor at Full Sail University, got a great tower shot. “So it just finished raining, and the storm is moving away and I decided to take some video because the lightning was going crazy” Hall told WKMG-TV. “The lightning hit the tower over there and when i was going back through some screen shots and I found a pretty awesome frame.” Lightning striking towers is not uncommon, especially during the stormy summer season. Lightning protection for towers is required almost everywhere, according to the experts at LBA Group. Continue reading here

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Tower Worker Injured

A cell tower worker was hospitalized with serious injuries sustained in a work-related cell tower accident in Gorham, Maine, Keep ME Current reported. Officer Dean Hannon and Sergeant Michael Nault said employees from Centerline Communications were removing cable and a section mount when the employee was injured. “Gorham Rescue transported the worker to Maine Medical Center in Portland, the report said. Police did not release the name of the worker pending family notification. Continue reading here

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

AMT All Over the World

American Tower has been tied to a few major deals lately, and Jonathan Schildkraut of Evercore ISI noted how three major news items relate to the tower company. AT&T announced that they would invest $3 billion into its network in Mexico. “We estimate that AT&T’s potential build-out in Mexico could provide AMT with a 77bps annual boost to total revenues (for the next three years),” Schildkraut wrote. American Tower closed their newest tower deal on July 1 with Bharti Airtel, acquiring 4,700 tower sites in Nigeria. “In our post 1Q note, we expected the Airtel acquisition to be immediately accretive to AFFO per share in the $0.05 range, or 1.1% accretive to the implied mid-point of the AFFO per share guidance ($4.90),” Schildkraut explained. “For those expectations, we had assumed a May 31 close. Given the close was one month later, we expect a moderation of the accretiveness of the deal to 2015 numbers.” Finally, it looks like American Tower is considering investing in the Middle East. Continue reading here

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tower Outlook for Second Half of 2015 is Bright

With the second quarter behind us, Amir Rozwadowski of Barclays recently updated investors on the firm’s outlook for the future, and it’s looking bright. It seems to have been a slow year thus far, but analysts are optimistic that the second half of 2015 will be busy. Rozwadowski explained that AT&T, Verizon, and Crown Castle provide the highest yield. “AT&T and Verizon have a more mature business model and have had the highest yield in our sector over the last three years. One of the key factors that bear monitoring is that both Verizon and AT&T can be viewed as bond-like securities and therefore tend to underperform when interest rates go up. Thus the pace of interest rate hikes need to be kept in mind – for good or bad – when considering these names,” Rozwadowski wrote. The analyst also noted that they believe there are several names within our coverage universe that have a propensity for an improving outlook in the next few quarters due to a variety of factors including organic demand improvement, benefits from M&A, and exposure to improving secular demand themes. Rozwadowski highlighted their thoughts for each tower company. Continue reading here

Monday, July 6, 2015

Crown Castle to Benefit from Sprint Upgrade?

Investor’s Business Daily noted that there could be an upside for Crown Castle now that Sprint has announced their network upgrade. “The next phase in Sprint’s 4G network upgrade will likely use small-cell technology, an approach Verizon Communications has also taken,” IBD explained. Crown Castle has stepped up their small cell game. “Similar to towers built in the late 1990s and early 2000s, we are focused on building small cell networks in the most attractive locations in the US, in places like Manhattan, Washington DC, Southern California and Chicago. As mobile data demand grows, the necessity of small cells increase as evidenced by our growing pipeline of over 2500 anchor builds and colocations on existing systems, which have been awarded to us, but are not yet in construction,” Jay Brown CFO at Crown Castle said on the April 23 conference call. “Today, inclusive of our acquisition of NextG in 2012, we have invested approximately $1.7 billion in small cells. Our current yield on investment is 7%, inclusive of our $1 billion investment in NextG at an initial yield of approximately 4%. With our leadership position of over 14,000 nodes on air or under construction, and 7000 miles of fibre, we are winning new opportunities and driving yields up on our existing investments in small cell networks.” Continue reading here

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

California Community Confronts Crown Castle

Residents in La Jolla, California, blocked a crew from Crown Castle who were on site to install a wireless antenna on Monday. The tower company was replacing a light pole with a cell tower near David Haney’s property when residents parked their cars to block the work site and stood together to protest the project. Haney told KSWB-TV that he had been fighting the tower since 2014 when he first contacted city councilwoman Sherri Lightner. Lightner told Haney that Crown Castle would have to go before the city council before anything progressed, but Haney and other neighbors had previously been told that Crown Castle already had an agreement in place with the city. Continue reading here