Radio Spectrum Assets as a REIT?

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Even though House Representative Dave Camp of Michigan is looking to restrict what types of assets (like towers) can be recognized as real estate investment trusts (REITs), some are speculating whether spectrum could qualify companies for this tax exemption status. American Tower and Crown Castle currently operate as REITs, but could Verizon and AT&T apply for this status given their wireline networks and spectrum holdings? Recently, Windstream Holdings announced their plans to convert their copper, fiber, and other fixed real estate assets into a REIT, so why couldn’t the two major carriers? In a research report, Oppenheimer analyst, Tim Horan, speculated that AT&T and Verizon would spin off their spectrum assets into REIT holding companies. At the Oppenheimer Technology, Internet, & Communications Conference in August, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo noted that the company has examined a REIT structure for the company, but that it’s a complex process. However, with Windstream Holdings paving the way, AT&T and Verizon might be more interested in this change. The wireless carriers and other phone companies will be on the look out to see how Windsteam does during their first quarter as a REIT before making any moves.

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