Most analysts from Wall Street believe that bright things are coming the tower industry’s way this year. In a report recently released by research firm Barclays, industry watchers fully expect that tower operators can take full advantage of recent developments concerning FirstNet, AWS-3, WCS, and 600 MegaHertz spectrum. Moreover, the rise in popularity of small cells roll outs also present incremental growth opportunities for the tower industry. The anticipation for 5G service is already at a high level right now, and much of the spectrum available for 5G will be at very high frequencies, which could necessitate further network densification, likely by way of additional deployments of small cell technology.
Meanwhile, analysts from Wells Fargo also shared their thoughts with regards to what lies ahead for tower operators in the very near future. They are essentially saying that as more airwaves are rolled out across mobile operator networks, the Big Four carriers (namely Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint) will be proceeding to further densification of their respective network infrastructures in order to meet the incoming demand for added capacity. With all that extra work needed, tower operators are in an excellent position to provide support.
There is a strong possibility that among today’s tower operators, Crown Castle, as well as SBA Communications and American Tower, will take care of most of the new spectrum build outs, while the four major US wireless carriers look to enhance and broaden the reach of their respective networks.
Speaking of wireless carriers, Barclays projects that AT&T, the second biggest mobile operator in the country, will likely complete the most tower roll outs. AT&T has already claimed that it holds over 40 MegaHertz of unutilized airwaves across 700 MegaHertz, AWS-3, and WCS that it has not yet used.
Barclays also expects AT&T to increase its spending in the coming months, especially on the aforementioned licenses, plus the agreement it had struck to build FirstNet’s public safety network. According to the research firm, the number two wireless carrier in America will probably roll out new equipment on more than 40,000 towers, and potentially install thousands of new towers so as to meet the countrywide coverage requirements of the FirstNet agreement.
Apart from AT&T, Sprint is also expected to increase its spending in the next few months. Sprint’s Tarek Robbiati has recently stated that he expects spending to rise two fold because of network densification efforts.
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