American Tower Backs Off!

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Can you believe it? Big bad American Tower backed off the threat to fire any contractor that worked for the competition. This is all news that I saw on AGL’s and Inside Tower’s posts. Good work crew!

That’s right, after coming to a decision that shows they really care about their contractors, they decided to rescind the “don’t do it or you will never work for us again” type of order. Thank you American Tower Company! For showing that you care about the people that have been taking care of you for the past several years. WOW! You have a big heart.

Small Cell Cover 4Do you think it could have been the fact that Verizon pushed back? Did you see the article in Wireless Estimator that said Verizon was thinking of suing American Tower? Not sure how that would have panned out, but I would bet Verizon pays American Tower millions every year.

This is one more bullet in the gun that is about to go off against the big tower owners here in the USA. The carriers feel like they are being held hostage, so they are going what they can to lower rent. I get it, but American Tower decided to fight back by holding the contractor’s hostage. Smooth move, NOT! What the hell? They stop the contractors from getting honest work.

So the threat that American Tower had on the industry had been rescinded. Thank you American Tower for waking us up. Thank you for showing that you care. The climbers of America will remember this, for years to come. How you stood by them when the chips were down.

Hey everyone, they did rescind the order, in part thanks to the bad publicity they got and to Verizon threatening them. We have the press to thank, like Wireless Estimator, AGL Magazine, and Inside Towers! Thank you all for bringing this to light! I would also like to thank Steel in the Air for publishing the letter that they sent out to the contractors. Good job to the industry sticking together.

I heard from most of you that this is normal in the industry, but usually, no one makes it public. They just stop giving work to the contractors that work for the enemy. I guess American Tower wanted to send a clear message.

On the other hand, someone commented that this didn’t surprise them. Ron commented on the post, stating this, and I quote,

“I don’t normally agree with any company that tries things like this, but this case has some mitigating factors.

1) The tower companies building these nearby towers are taking advantage of non-municipal spaces to get these towers in, in most cases, there isn’t even a meeting for the nearby residents to voice concerns. When Tillman or VB try to do this in zoned areas they get laughed at.

2) Any tower company would be none too happy with losing tenants, not much fun there.

3) The concern caused by #1 above is that when someone actually needs a tower in say a county space it may become difficult as here in Mississippi, many counties along I-55 are now discussing strict zoning because of this. From Memphis down to Jackson, there are now 11 towers that now have twins visible from the highway. By twins, I mean towers built within 1000 feet of existing towers.

4) These competitive towers are being rented out for what most consider to be ridiculously low rent rates, the kind of rates that without a second tenant, there is not much in the way of profit. Good luck to AT&T and Verizon on having clean, vegetation-free sites.”

Thanks, Ron, you make some good points. That’s even more reason it surprised me that American Tower sent out the letter. It is so hard to build a new tower anywhere with all the municipalities regulations. It is very hard to build new structures. I think if it were easy, tower owners would build more and upgrade existing less. While it’s expensive to build a new tower, it’s expensive to continuously do structural upgrades on existing towers.

However, on the low rent part, I am not sure if any carrier would agree with you there. I know when I did Site Acquisition, I thought the rent was high, it all depends on what you put on the tower, but from what I have seen, the days of low rent are behind us. Tower real estate is prime property. Combine that with the fact you have to enter into a long-term lease and pay for any upgrades, it begins to add up. Could you imagine having a rental property where you could lock the tenant into a minimum 5-year lease, make them pay for any repairs to the building when needed? Don’t forget the annual increases.

I get it though, the tower owners run profitable businesses and they are always maintaining their inventory. They have huge expenses to look after. They also don’t see the expansion happening like it did 10 years ago. They are fighting to stay profitable. With that said, it’s a bigger reason to build good will in the industry, not threaten the contractors.

I think what American Tower did was create an attitude of “it’s us against them” for the contractors. It’s now out in the open. What a shame. That move created animosity that we don’t need, especially with the industry starting to pick up at the end of 2018.

It comes down to this, who do you trust in this industry? That’s a question only you can answer after working with some of these companies.


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