Cell Phone Towers - Posted by Lenny S.

Posted by Chris on February 24, 2005 at 13:37:09:

Ken: I was just wondering if you’ve had any luck in your search for leasing your land. I manage a hi-rise in Nashville and am on the search myself.

Cell Phone Towers - Posted by Lenny S.

Posted by Lenny S. on November 27, 2004 at 18:36:08:

-Can anyone elaborate on the possibility of cell phone companies renting rooftop space for their equipment. I’ve
heard it was being done but don’t know if that opportunity has passed its time.

-If anyone knows how much space they need,building height,regions of the country, and any ballpark rental rates they pay,or any other relevant info; that would be very much appreciated !

Thenk You;
Happy Holidays !!

Re: Cell Phone Towers - Posted by ray@lcorn

Posted by ray@lcorn on November 28, 2004 at 12:49:47:


Cell tower leases can be a lucrative proposition, but the challenges noted by Carlos below are just the first hurdles. Most of the major providers no longer build their own towers. Separate entities that do nothing but build and lease towers such as American Tower (ticker symbol AMT), owner of over 15,000 towers. They have an online application for property owners to pitch a potential site at http://americantower.com/mainweb/landowners.asp There is also a searchable national map on the website for existing locations.

In most areas cell towers are tightly regulated by local land use ordinances, to the extent that a few years ago the industry lobby convinced the FCC to issue regulations that somewhat supersede local ordinances, the Telecommunications Act of 1996. I say somewhat because even the FCC regs can’t force a community to allow a new tower if they have a plan in place that regulates all towers.

As a result, many communities now have area maps showing existing towers and their coverage areas as part of the comprehensive plan. Such plans include policies to force new providers to first exhaust all potential co-location opportunities on existing towers. If they can be accomodated, a new tower will not be approved. Towers are a flash point for planners, conservationists and neighborhood groups, and rabid opposition is common.

For that reason locations on tall buildings, water towers and other existing structures are easier to get approved, and the leases more valuable. Many local governments, ever alert to new revenue streams, capitalize on their ownership of water towers, schools and other buildings and are first in line to lease space when a new tower is proposed.

The upside is that if your community has such a plan, it greatly simplifies the effort to figure out which provoders are not well-represented in the area, and the ability to locate your property in relation to existing towers. Once you identify the carriers that may need new locations, and assuming interest in yours, there is still much work to do, including an evaluation of the location in relation to alternate locations required by the local ordinances. The process can take up to a year in some communities, and may wind up in court before it is resolved.

AMT is the best I have seen in making a case for a new tower, but they were turned down on several applications in my area, then lost the ensuing court cases. They wound up buying several existing towers as well as a regional tower company that had gotten here first. Seems to be a cutthroat business, so there must be money in it!


Re: Cell Phone Towers - Posted by Carlos

Posted by Carlos on November 27, 2004 at 19:42:08:

Hi Lenny,

I used to own a cell tower company, so let me try to answer your questions. Yes, you heard right, the cell companies do rent rooftop space to install their equipment. They are continuing to install new sites all over the country, in all regions. The hard part is figuring out if your building meets their needs, and that depends on where their other cell sites are located, and if you fill a “hole” in their coverage. And that varies from one carrier to another. So your location might be of interest to one, but not to the next carrier. Ballpark rates are hard to give, because they vary so much as a function of geography, but they may range from a few hundred dollars per month to a few thousand. (the high end would be a very desirable location, maybe next to the intersection of two interstate highways, or some other busy location)

Before you get too excited, let me tell you that getting these companies to show interest in your site can be a long and difficult haul. There are five national players: Sprint, Verizon, Cingular/AT&T, Nextel, and T-Mobile. There are also regional players, some of whom (like Alltel) are really pretty large. The problem is that you have to approach each of these individually, and at the regional level. That’s a bunch of work – just finding out who to talk to is a lot of work! You can also try listing your building on some of the site guides, such as Fryer’s guide, and some of the internet site guides, and that might help.

It’s found money if you can get it, but it ain’t that easy to get. I hope this helps some, and good luck.


Re: Cell Phone Towers - Posted by Tim Lawver

Posted by Tim Lawver on February 02, 2005 at 12:59:20:

Greetings and Thank you!

Singed that lease yet?? Lets go fishing! If your in the area of the Illinois/Wisconsin border drop me an email and we’ll fish Delavan Wisconsin. (An awesome lake!) We can trade town hall & tower horror stories:)


Tim L.

Re: Cell Phone Towers - Posted by Carlos

Posted by Carlos on November 28, 2004 at 13:22:07:

Ray’s comments are accurate, but I think that Lenny was asking about renting rooftop space for cellular equipment, not building towers, which is a whole 'nother story. (been there, done that)

Putting cell sites on rooftops is actually much easier in most localities, as no structures are usually built. The antennas might have to be disguised – that can be done by paint, or putting them behind plastic panels that look like they are part of the building. Rooftop cell sites are usually run by the carriers, not the tower companies, although there are some exceptions.

Ray’s idea of using web sites to submit your location is a good one. Do it first for the carriers, and then, if you have time, for the tower companies. (American Tower, Crown Castle, Spectrasite, and Global Signal are the largest tower companies)


Re: Cell Phone Towers - Posted by Mike

Posted by Mike on November 27, 2004 at 21:48:40:

I know of a couple who are now getting $500 a month from a cell phone tower on their farm. The company actually approached them about placing the tower on their property. Im still wondering why they didnt ask for $1000 a month!

Re: Cell Phone Towers - Posted by Ken Schmidt

Posted by Ken Schmidt on December 09, 2004 at 16:02:29:

My company, www.steelintheair.com, provides lease negotiation assistance for landowners who have been approached for a cell tower lease. Many landowners are just unaware of what they can ask for. They ask their friends and neighbors and if they find anyone who has a tower, they assume that tower rates are the same from one are to another. The problem with this is that every parcel is different. Every parcel has a different value to a cellular carrier looking to lease land for a tower. And to make matters worse, different carriers pay different amounts. The problem with looking on the internet for lease rates is that the information that is made available is poor. In some areas it is true that landowners get $2500- $3000 a month. But these areas are in Boston or the Hamptons. If the average landowner asked for this amount, they would be laughed at and worse- the carrier would go next door to build a tower.

Many people have contacted me about renegotiating their leases- but the problem is that they are tied into the lease already and these leases are one sided. You cannot terminate, only the carrier can.

So get the lease reviewed prior to signing it- talk to a local attorney and see if they have wireless experience, use a consultant, or get the information some way. Because just a $100 difference in lease price can mean over $40,000 over the term of the lease.



Re: Cell Phone Towers - Posted by david

Posted by david on January 10, 2006 at 10:57:34:

alltel wants to build a 250 foot tower on my property. i feel bullied by them, how much do i ask for??? they have approached me twice on this issue

Re: Cell Phone Towers - Posted by Ann Roberts

Posted by Ann Roberts on January 21, 2005 at 15:25:50:

I am interested in leasing some of my property to be used by a cellphone tower. I live in Union County,TN.