New Cell Tower Leases – Cell Tower Companies are not the Bad Guys

Posted June 23, 2014 by admin


Sometimes during a new cell tower lease consultation, the tower company ends up looking like the “bad guys”. Remember all it really wants is to build a new cell site or cell tower and have the best coverage in the area.


First let’s understand how the new cell tower location process works.


The tower company (American Tower, Crown Castle or SBA Communications) or the carrier (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint) needs to increase coverage in the area and build out 20 new sites in that area.


It contracts the work to companies called “turf vendors”. Usually a turf vendor the first point of contact with land or building owners. These turf vendors then want you to sign a long-term “business terms” cell site lease. At this point their goal is to determine two things; first are you interested and second, how low will you go on rent or other compensation accept if they locate a cell site on your property.

90% of the time they are compensated more by getting you to accept less.


In order to do this, they tell you they are contacting everyone in the area and unless you are willing to accept their offer they will move to the next person/neighbor. Usually it doesn’t happen this way. Remember, network layouts are very specific. If a carrier needs to be in a specific place, it will pay anything reasonable to be there.


At this point, we receive the call from the attorney or landowner looking for advice on the business terms of the deal. I can usually tell quickly if the turf vendor is getting compensated to “low ball” the lease. Market rents for each area are always different and can vary wildly depending on the area and carrier. At Cell Site Capital we use our database of tens of thousands of cell site locations to determine if you are receiving a fair offer for your cell site lease and location.


Once we are hired to negotiate a good value for the landowners, our first call to the turf vendor is usually not received well. They tell the landowner that consultants over-price the value, and sometimes the wireless carrier or tower company will move down the road. In our experience in doing this for more than 8 years, this is not the case. Again, if the tower company wants to be there, we are asking for market rents, and the tower company just wants to locate the cell site tower in the best place to maximize its network.


Using our market data and experience allows us to respond with facts on other cell site locations in the area, rather than a guessing. We have good relationships with the tower companies so we can call them directly! This helps with keeping negotiations on track and removing the turf vendor’s threats to go to the neighbor.


The point of this post is this – cell tower leases are complicated, long-term agreements that are meant to allow a wireless tower company or wireless carrier to operate a tower on your property for 30 plus years. It is a mutual agreement between the wireless tower company and the landowner. Both parties will benefit from a fair deal. Turf vendors can hinder a wireless cell site lease because their interests are short term (commissions). Chances are you will never hear from them again once the tower is built.


Tower companies are not usually the “Bad Guys” during wireless cell site lease negotiations. The landowner (you) and the tower company understand the value of a fair deal for both parties. Knowing the market and the wireless lease rates for your area are just the starting point to making a fair deal but make no mistake, tower companies just want to add to their network and build more cell site locations.


Cell Site Capital can help you better understand the value of your new cell site location before signing any new cell site. The more you know they better decision you can make for you and your family.


Leave a Reply