Book Review: John Rowe’s “Firmly Anchored in Midair, The Handbook of Wireless Site Acquisition and Permitting”


You may not be able to judge a book by its cover but you can tell a serious reference book by its binding. John Rowe’s soup-to-nuts treatise on wireless site acquisition and permitting impresses you with its gravity right away with two-inch spiral binding.  Like a good tower site, this is a book built for long term usage.

Rowe’s “Firmly Anchored in Midair, The Handbook of Wireless Site Acquisition and Permitting,”  is a comprehensive survey of the wireless site acquisition process, explaining fifteen essential job functions in seven sections with thirty-one chapters including thirty-seven pages of notes, twenty-seven pages of indexes and five appendices captured within 574 pages. Not only does Rowe deliver on content, getting into the nitty-gritty on due diligence, co-location applications, purchase contracts and permit rights, but he adds a nice sprinkling of quotes from Proverbs to Ecclesiastes to his dad, to help lighten some ponderous subjects.  

A biblical quote from Luke (14:28), a Tower Dog if there ever was one , says it all:

“For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it.”  

Rowe is a ‘site acq’ veteran since 1980 and owner of Telecom BirdDogs, LLC and Communications Real Estate, Inc., consulting firms dedicated to the tower industry; and with that, brings decades of experience to a succinct and well-delivered point.

A book this comprehensive can better be defined by what it doesn’t cover.  “While this book is not about spectrum auction, environmental compliance or wireless technology,” Rowe said, “it does touch on the relationship of wireless site acquisition and local permits to each.”  While you won’t learn real estate investing from Rowe’s opus, “you will come to understand prerequisites for developing quality cell site assets and favorable contracts and speaking the language of the industry,” he said.

Part One is about how to select a wireless infrastructure facility location. Part Two, preparing the selected site for implementation. Budgeting capital is addressed during the initial stages and construction considerations are added as the project begins to take shape.  Detailed milestones are presented that cast light on the typical tasks and outcomes derived for site acquisition projects.

And, finally, if you’re going to “write the book” on a subject, you better back up your work and cite your references, which Rowe does and then some. The last 100 pages of the book are devoted to its appendix, notes and index along with a glossary of abbreviations and acronyms worth the price of the book alone.

Rowe’s mantra throughout is “fast-tracked and quality controlled.”  This is a ‘must-have’ reference guide for anyone in ‘site acq’ or any tangential tower field.

The individual book retail price is $79.99 (sales tax included) plus $7.95 shipping and handling.  Quantity discounts are available. Orders can be arranged by telephone (303-220-9100), through e-mail (, or on the book sales website ( starting Monday, October 30, 2017.

By Jim Fryer, Managing Editor, Inside Towers

October 26, 2017               

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