American Tower Zones In On Fiber and Franchise Rights

UBS Global Media and Communications Conference

Will 5G lead to more tower lease amendments? American Tower Corporation EVP/CFO and Treasurer Tom Bartlett says it could. Speaking Monday at the 45th annual UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, he said “Carriers are continually trying to improve the quality of their signal and add throughputs and radio heads.” He likened the change to an “analog to digital conversion.”

“More fiber is coming onto sites than ever before to ensure all the data being converted is actually transmitted outside the cell.” As carriers bring new spectrum online, they’re “putting bands together to increase the throughput freeway.” AMT is focused on being able to support those demands.   

The move toward small cells and fiber backhaul is “not about owning or leasing fiber,” said Bartlett. “For us, it’s about securing franchise rights. The 40,000 towers we have in the U.S. are unique because” of their unique locations. When AMT comes into a hotel it wants to secure franchise rights, he said.

Its venture to develop “smart poles” with Philips Lighting, a company that has 800,000 unique spots, “could be unique” if AMT ends up putting radios on each pole, he said. Announced in September, the concept is AMT would co-locate small cells for 4G and 5G services from multiple wireless carriers on a single Philips pole.

December 5, 2017 

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