The Wireless Pulse 6th Edition
September’s attendees are comprised of various telecom executives working across the national wireless real estate spectrum.
1. Dish’s rollout is moving forward at an amazing clip. This is the most activity the market has seen since their proposed rollout as the nation’s number 4 carrier.
2. ATT remains static and is lagging in new site development and existing site modifications.
3. T-Mobile appears to have a good handle on which of their locations as well as Sprint locations they intend to keep. Letters terminating the majority of Sprint leases and some T-Mobile leases are finding their way to Landlords across the country.
4. With lease termination, T-Mobile has a new challenge to actually deconstruct the sites that will no longer serve their purpose.
5. Oddly enough, with all of the 5G hype and advertising by the carriers, Cap/Ex spending velocity in 2021 seems to be lower than industry expectations.
6. Leading the charge in spending is Verizon, then T-Mobile, DISH and last, ATT.
7. We are just now seeing the beginning of national 5G rollout picking up steam. 2022 will be by far the year of spending for existing site upgrades.
8. Supply chain bottlenecks experienced in most industries are now starting to be realized by equipment vendors. Lead times from order to delivery have doubled but the biggest issue is chips required for radios used at cell sites are in short supply.
9. Be on the lookout, in 1 to 2 years ATT will more than likely leverage DISH’s spectrum. DISH has bought so much spectrum over the last several years and ATT has not. ATT will need that spectrum as they upgrade sites. DISH has the ability to provide what ATT needs.
10. Build to Suit tower activity has hit rock bottom economically. The carriers are making it economically difficult for tower companies to make their financial model work. The direct affect is lower ground rents and escalators are being offered to potential landlords.
11. ATT seems to be avoiding SBA owned towers to co-locate upon and focusing on American Tower and Crown Castle sites instead.
12. One new twist is Verizon is preordering equipment for sites they don’t have licenses for and aren’t entitled. Bold move and they are probably taking into account supply chain delays and optimistic that the licenses and equipment will arrive simultaneously.
13. Verizon’s lofty goals of having 3 to 6 sectors, (rings) with 3 sets of antennas per sector on towers will add significant increases in material and labor costs for each site. Not to mention the tower companies will be charging Verizon accordingly.
14. Expect T-Mobile and ATT to follow Verizon’s lead preordering equipment while awaiting licenses and entitlements.
15. Inevitably with all of the carriers in full upgrade mode, the supply chain won’t be able to keep up with the volume. Samsung, Nokia and Erickson supply the bulk of the radios used in cell sites and the supply of chips needed in the radios is at an all-time low and will probably run dry soon.
16. CBRX antennas are another macro site component in short supply.
17. CommScope, a major supplier of equipment is able to provide the US carriers with radios and antennas, they will make a killing and dominate the US equipment market.
18. Out of the three main radio suppliers, Erickson seems to be the doing the best in sales performance and delivery.
19. In all industry sectors, labor shortage dominates conversations. Telecom is no different. There aren’t enough tower climbers, equipment installers and trained technicians to build or upgrade the sites nationally.
20. Exacerbating the situation are States like California and Virginia, who have extremely rigid labor laws, which are actually preventing work to proceed.
21. There is a spectrum auction next month with another to follow in a few months. Lots of speculation about which carrier will show up and buy. Wild card is more than likely Comcast of Charter will show up to boost their capacity in pursuit of more broadband through cable to consumers.
22. Out of all of the carrier upgrade activity, ATT remains flat. They are behind the other 3 in upgrading their sites. With equipment and labor shortages this could really affect them in the coming year. Consumers won’t be happy.
23. SBA remains strong and not hampered by micro cell which is expensive to build and no real financial upside.
24. Automated industrial engineering, wireless vehicles and machinery will probably be supported by privately owned 5G service providers and not the carriers or tower companies.
25. Lots of speculation that Amazon could end up providing capital or buy DISH as they continue their push for drone delivery and fulfillment center wireless needs.
26. DISH has failed on their promise to have a fully functional 5G system launch in Las Vegas. They need to get it together because Las Vegas was to be their proving ground.
27. Another failure is the cell industry as a whole has not focused on developing and training labor required to build cell sites. They are way behind the curve attracting talent for many reasons, especially wages.
28. Companies that build cell sites will need to pay higher wages period. Any Federal money used requires prevailing wage. The costs can’t be absorbed by the construction side and will be passed along to the tower companies, carrier and inevitable-CONSUMERS. Your plans will be greatly affected in the coming months and years.
29. Companies to keep an eye out for who are benefitting from all of this activity: Valmont, CommScope, Corning and the big 3 towers companies to name a few.