Avoid Common Errors
With New Cell Tower Proposals


By: Steve Kazella

Congratulations if you've received a new cell tower proposal in the mail or by phone from a real estate site acquisition company or agent representing a cell tower developer or a major wireless carrier. Having your location selected and then having a cell tower placed on your property is kind of like winning a lottery ticket. The wireless industry is booming especially with the industry trying to play catch-up with the 5G network deployment. Our company, Tower Genius LLC specializes in helping property owners who have been contacted by carriers like Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile Sprint, DISH Wireless or US Cellular, or cell tower companies like American Tower, Crown Castle International or SBA Communications, and small local tower developers who want to lease property from you to construct a cell tower. 

I will try to break down some key factors to pay attention to if you have been contacted, that can significantly improve your chances of your location being selected. Keep in mind, if you are talking to a site acquisition company, chances are they are also talking to a handful of your neighbors with the same kind of offer. Especially if you are in a rural location where there is plenty of open space, these cell tower leasing representatives are looking for the path of least resistance and want to get deals done quickly.

Understanding How Wireless Networks Are Built and How New Cell Towers Are Leased.

The first step involved in this process occurs when a carrier’s Radio Frequency Engineering (RF) department determines that there is a specific need for improvement in their network in a geographic area. The local RF Engineering department then releases a search area request to their network implementation teams, and to their real estate department, who then may provide the "search ring" to a real estate site acquisition firm or to a tower development company so that they can begin identifying potential new cell tower site candidates within a given cell tower search ring that will meet the needs of their network. These needs can be based on coverage issues, capacity issues or both. 

Today’s wireless networks are currently strained for bandwidth due to the success of the carrier’s marketing departments selling smart phones. Smart phones and all the applications running on the devices such as Social Media Instagram, Facebook, Twitter texting, instant messaging and the occasional phone call, are putting a huge strain on cellular phone companies network capacity.  Carriers need to build more sites and or upgrade their current capacity at existing sites. Over the past decade the carriers have chosen to add capacity and additional frequencies at existing cell sites throughout their networks to help alleviate this, when they upgraded from 3G to 4G. This was the equivalent of putting a band-aid over a gaping wound, ushering in the path for the fifth generation network, 5G. The development costs involved in these programs have hampered the carrier’s ability to build new sites during the time period that has only exasperated the problem. 

The Network Implementation Team looks at the following factors to determine the best new cell tower location to meet the radio frequency engineering department’s needs: 

  • Look to see if there are any existing structures (types of structures) in the area. Developing new cell sites sites on existing rooftops, towers or water tanks are usually seen as preferable by most municipalities when compared to building a new cell tower structure.
  • They review the zoning code to determine which sites would have greatest chance of receiving municipal approvals.  
  • They then gauge interest of landlord and ease of leasing the site. 

Obviously in areas where there are many candidate selections, many commercial real estate entities view wireless tenants as renting unusable space and are eager to do so. Other landlords do not want to encumber their properties for such an insignificant revenue stream. Each area is unique and though many competing properties may exist, obtaining a willing landlord is not always so easy. They then provide those candidates they find viable for approval to the RF Engineering Department to determine which primary candidate property they wish to pursue. Once RF approves a site a due diligence period begins where the carrier will invest funds in performing an architectural engineering study, order a title review from a legal counsel, conduct environmental investigations and finalize a preliminary zoning determination. After these tasks are completed the carriers finalize negotiations to move forward on a site and prepare for lease execution and applying for the zoning process.

The Do's and Don'ts of New Cell Tower Proposals

If you have been contacted with a new cell tower proposal, you should be focused on gathering as much information as you can. Try not to be confrontational but don't look too eager. Don't start negotiating price. Remember, you want to try to find out from them exactly why they like your property as opposed to your neighbor's site. Try to find out who is leasing the tower, and see if they have an initial offer for you -- just don't counter it. Get the leasing representative's contact information, and or business card. Make sure that you give them your vital contact information, your cell phone number and your email address. Your goal is to make them understand that you are interested, and that you can get the deal done quickly. That's all they care about. Really. The leasing representative just wants to get paid. The faster the lease is signed, the faster they get paid. 

The Do's:

  • Get back to them within 24 hours of initial contact.
  • Tell them you are interested and would like to find out more.
  • Tell them you can probably get the deal done fast.
  • Ask them when they can come visit the property?
  • Schedule a site visit.
  • Sign an Entry + Testing or Access agreement, so they can set foot on the property.
  • Offer them a copy of the property survey.
  • Get their business card.
  • Give them your contact information.
  • Ask then to provide a lease agreement so you can start looking it over.
  • Ask them if they had an offer in mind, but do not counter offer, just smile and tell them you'll consider it.
  • Read your location cell tower zoning ordinance.
  • And please make sure you call Tower Genius at 1-888-313-9750, we provide coaching and consulting assistance.

The Don'ts:

  • Don't seem over excited or eager, and also don't seem too intimidating. 
  • Don't sign any letters of Intent or Term Sheets, even if they tell you it's not binding.
  • Don't negotiate the rent, especially if they have not spent a penny on engineering designs.
  • Don't negotiate the rent, especially if they just handed you a lease and you are flying blind.
  • Don't discuss revenue for additional tenants. 
  • Don't shoot down their low-ball offer if one is made, just tell them you will consider it. 
  • Don't forget to ask who the lease is with.
  • Don't negotiate yourself into a corner in an area of expertise that most people know little or nothing about.
  • And don't forget to call Steve or Kevin at Tower Genius at 1-888-313-9750, we are what you would call, industry experts in the field of cell tower lease consulting and coaching.

Talk to Tower Genius Today.

Avoid the major mistakes potential new cell tower landlords make when initial contact is made to lease space for a cell tower on your land, and then pick up the phone and call Tower Genius. Calling us won't cost you a dime, but not calling Tower Genius can cost you a small fortune. 

Call 1-888-313-9750.

Contact Tower Genius

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  • Cell tower lease agreements
  • Selling Cell Tower Lease
  • Tower lease extensions
  • Cell site upgrades
  • Small cell proposals
  • Lease amendments
  • Tower lease buyout offers
  • Rooftop lease buyout offers
  • Rooftop cell site audits
  • Lease Agreement defaults
  • Cell tower valuations
  • Rent reduction solicitations
  • Lease Optimization Help
  • Lease Revenue Purchase
  • Transactional Coaching
  • Verizon Wireless 
  • AT&T
  • T-Mobile
  • DISH Wireless
  • US Cellular
  • SiriusXM
  • Crown Castle
  • American Tower
  • Atlas Tower
  • Phoenix Tower PTI
  • Vertical Bridge
  • SBA Communications
  • Tillman Infrastructure
  • Lyle Company, Black Dot, Md7
  • Everest Infrastructure

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