Network Consolidation

The disclosure in May that AT&T and Cricket held merger talks recently underlines an important point – a principal risk to cell site value in the next year to 5 years is all forms of network consolidation. For example, it is public knowledge that Sprint and T-Mobile considered combining their wireless networks prior to the AT&T buys T-Mobile deal. While this deal did not happen for anti-trust reasons, the pressure on the number 3 (Sprint) and 4 (T-Mobile) carriers will not go away.  They need to reduce costs to compete against industry giants AT&T and Verizon. To give a sense of relative size, both AT&T and Verizon now have more than 100 million subscribers – Sprint has only 55 million and T-Mobile has 35 million. AT&T and Verizon are GM and Ford – Sprint and T-Mobile are like Chrysler – they will be bought, merged or otherwise subsumed. As will the even smaller wireless providers like Cricket and MetroPCS (which tried to sell itself to Sprint). Watch out for major events like these which will dramatically change the value of cell sites. Not long ago, Unison was offering considerable sums for Nextel leases which will all be decommissioned by 2013. These Nextel leases now have zero economic value. – Dewey K. Shay, CEO.

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