The Wireless Pulse- 4th Edition

The following information is from a call with industry leaders on April 19th, 2021.
1.      All firms that supply telecom equipment, A & E services as well as telecom construction have seen an uptick in RFP’s Q1-2021 and geared mostly towards 5G upgrades.

2.      Of the main 3 carriers, ATT level of activity is on par with projections while T-Mobile and Verizon are exceeding expectations.

3.      DISH is now real about the cost of deployment. They have the right people in key positions, which will spur their deployment.

4.      DISH will focus on backfilling major markets where Sprint was a dominant player, New York, Los Angeles and other major metro cities.

5.      DISH will have a difficult time swaying contractor’s away from Verizon and T-Mobile. Contractors will be reluctant to move from their bread-and-butter clients to build DISH out.

6.      Smart phones are being used less and less for voice and used primarily for data and hot spots.

7.      Carrier RFP activity remains strong, but focused on Engineering, (90%) and less on actual construction, (10%). Logical given the need for approved drawings to obtain permits.

8.      We are probably at the worst labor shortage in the history of telecom. Upgrades and construction demand is the highest of all time. Not enough tower climbers to satisfy the need.

9.      In the next 3 to 5 years, expect the big 3 carriers to spend more than the last 5 years by way of upgrades and infrastructure.

10.  No one is using the “Inflation” word, but the handwritings on the wall. Contractors and equipment suppliers will need to pass along the higher costs of labor and equipment. Carriers will have no choice but to pay more overall. Inevitably, consumers will not be able to enjoy the inexpensive plans they currently enjoy.

11.  Some believe small cell systems, (micro cell) will be the leader in spending as they link macro 5G networks. Look for deployment on light poles in a city near you.

12.  Tower companies will benefit greatly by the tranche of spending as well as fiber, which we are basically out of nationwide.

13.  After a cell site is built or upgraded to 5G, the companies that contract to calibrate and field test must buy all new equipment to be able to measure and test 5G equipment. Most of their existing equipment is becoming obsolete.

14.  Because carriers are so busy running their networks, they are being forced to outsource as much as they can. Lease negotiation, A & E, equipment purchases and construction are not performed in-house. This trend will continue for the foreseeable future.

15.  While the Big 3 carriers are burdened with their legacy infrastructure, not so with DISH. Since DISH is building a brand-new system, they will change the landscaping but might be disruptive to the Big 3.

16.  Look for CommScope to emerge a big winner. They are streamlining their components and antenna systems. They can only go up from here.

17.  As expected, the big 3 tower companies are the real winners. Through their MLA’s, they provide turn key solutions to all wireless users from site acquisition, entitlement, A & E and constructions. This will cause construction company profits to compress.

18.  If you have a child looking to enter the workforce, the telecom equipment installers and construction firms are looking for people and will be for the next several years.