View From “The Bridge”: Looks Like a Super Year Ahead

Bernard Borghei is having a good year so far.  Not only did he recently see his hometown Philadelphia Eagles win the Super Bowl but his company, Vertical Bridge, is off to a good start as well. “We’re excited about the year ahead,” Borghei, the Executive Vice President of Operations & Co-Founder told Inside Towers.

“The pipeline looks good,” he said, “with the level of activity by the carriers, Sprint coming back, T-Mobile being aggressive, Verizon’s steady capex increasing and cable companies becoming more active and aware of how they can deliver content, 2018 is heading in the right direction.”

Formed in 2014 through a partnership between key executives of Global Tower Partners and Digital Bridge Holdings LLC, Vertical Bridge now boasts a site inventory of over 60,000 assets, including close to 5,000 wireless and broadcast towers, along with tens of thousands of rooftop and billboard sites, billing itself as “the largest private owner and manager of communication infrastructure in the U.S.”

Would their mercurial growth eventually result in or require a public offering?

“We choose not to at this  time,” Borghei said. “We have the capital we need and we want to stay fast, friendly and flexible.  We want the ability to invest in long-term relationships with our clients without worrying about quarterly results and public market pressures,” he said.

The company has a particular interest in the broadcast tower market, having amassed one of the largest portfolios of “tall” towers in the U.S. and is aware of the migration going on in the market to redeploy and relocate.  “We are receiving more interest from TV broadcasters,” Borghei said, noting that they manage the Willis Tower (the old Sears tower) in Chicago.  As the OTT market and rural broadband deployment gains momentum , Borghei said “height will become an advantage.”

FirstNet is another cause for optimism and Borghei feels will be a positive impact from a leasing standpoint.  “It’s great that all 50 states have joined and there will be one network,” he said. “In the first two quarters AT&T will likely spend time refining its design, and we’ll see more rollout in the second half.”

While macro towers and their development command a large part of Borghei’s attention, Vertical Bridge’s in-building program is flourishing with its partnership with Zinwave, “a global provider of wideband distributed network solutions for in-building wireless.”  The in-building market has been significantly underserved according to Borghei.  In alliance with Zinwave, they can offer support to Vertical Bridge’s over 6,000 real estate assets with a streamlined, all-fiber, small cell architecture that handles any frequency from 150 MHz to 2700 MHz and is purported to be “much easier to install than traditional DAS solutions.”  

“With an op ex-only solution and no capex required from the carriers, we can make it look more like a tower model,” Borghei said.

By Jim Fryer, Managing Editor, Inside Towers

February 16, 2018

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