Ten years ago, Arcadia Towers was formed by Sam Johnston and Tom Patterson for the purpose of developing, owning and operating wireless communications towers throughout select markets in the United States. The Cincinnati, Ohio-based company has seen a lot of changes throughout its decade in the industry, however some things have stayed the same.
Johnston, who was a managing director at Lattice Communications prior to forming Arcadia, said that one thing that he thinks has impacted his business the most and the tremendous growth of the industry over the past 10 years is the proliferation of the cell phone itself. What was termed a feature phone has morphed into phones with extended data and applications.
“I remember seeing the presentations from Nokia once probably 10 years ago about how phones were going to do all this stuff, and you sat around and wondered, ‘Really? Is that really going to happen?’ And sure enough, it has,” Johnston said.
Increased speeds of networks, proliferation of data, the launch of the iPhone when AT&T had an exclusive on the product and the iTunes store, which went from zero to 100 miles an hour “literally overnight” also are cited as game changers over the past 10 years for the industry, according to Johnston.
“The towers and the infrastructure themselves in terms of what we do doesn’t change a lot,” he said. “Those towers still have the ability to handle the antennas, the lines and the equipment of our carriers and users. But, there’s more of them and more equipment and more frequencies and more spectrum that has been put to good use, and that’s been a positive for our business and for our consumers as well.”
Networks also have become more dense. There are more sites per square mile due to demand. Johnston said that if you look back to the early days of the industry, there were fewer sites.
“You look at the history of American Tower and how many towers they had—a lot of that is being driven by the data demand, which is the pressure on the densification of the networks. The usage within a mile or two-mile radius of a tower is much greater today than it was 10 years ago,” he said.
Part of the celebration of 10 years in the industry includes watching his parent’s generation adapt to cell phones.
“It’s exciting. Both of my parents have the big tablets, the big iPhone, because they can’t see. But, it’s too big to hold next to their heads so it’s on speaker phone, and they’re both deaf, so they’re screaming at this device in their lap. It’s been amusing to watch them adopt it,” Johnston said.
Gregory Leszczuk has been chief operating officer and partner of Arcadia Towers since 2013. Prior to Arcadia, Greg launched the Large Corporate Banking division for Huntington National Bank. He wants to thank the company’s partners for the successes that Arcadia Towers has achieved in the past 10 years.
“Our successes are built on a foundation of the achievements of our partners,” he said in a statement. “This milestone is a testament to Arcadia Towers’ commitment to deliver solutions through innovation, and to the future of the company, our partners and the wireless industry. Looking ahead, the future of Arcadia Towers and the industry is dynamic and boundless.”
With that testament, Arcadia Towers just picked up 12 new sites in Indiana. Leszczuk said that the majority of Arcadia’s towers are in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. The company builds within a five-hour driving radius, with adjacent states in the footprint including Western Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Tennessee and West Virginia.
“We’re a hands-on developer, so towers are within a drivable distance of headquarters. This allows us to get several touches on the development side, working with our vendors and our customers,” Leszczuk said.
Arcadia has 11 towers complete or under construction, with another nine towers queued up to break ground. There are an additional 21 sites under contract; tenants include AT&T and Verizon, with other carriers showing interest.
Johnston said that he thinks the industry will see that carriers will continue to invest in wireless infrastructure for the next generation of their networks. Verizon and AT&T are talking about 5G, so he is waiting to see what that’s going to bring.
“These technologies are reliant on infrastructure in order to function, so we see a nice ramp for the continued use of towers for the foreseeable future. That’s evident by when our customers sign leases with us. They sign long-term, 20 to 30 year leases, so they’re making investments for a long period of time,” he said. “We think that with user demands, the increased speeds of the network and what we hear from other folks in the industry, that it’s a good, healthy outlook for towers for some time to come.”
Celebrations for the 10-year anniversary include a series of events with vendors and customers throughout the year, as well as making a donation to the American Red Cross. Both Johnston and Leszczuk are proud, and think the longevity points to pride, integrity, and how they operate the business via relationships with customers and vendors.
“Many of them are more than just customers and vendors, but they’re also good friends that we’ve made and it’s been a real pleasure to have been part of that with Arcadia for 10 years and with Lattice beforehand,” Johnston said. “We think we’re industry veterans. I don’t want to say we’re the old men of the industry, but we’ve been around for a while, and we really enjoy the industry. We think it’s a fantastic place and full of good people. There’s a lot of gratification in that.”
For more information, visit http://www.arcadiatowers.com/.