Churches have been, and will continue to be, approached by wireless companies looking to install equipment necessary for the development of wireless networks. Churches are usually asked to place a traditional cell tower on a portion of their raw land not being used, a portion of their rooftop or even inside an existing structure such as their steeple.
Wireless carriers are even more attracted to churches due to the explosive rollout of 5G networks that are going to be the wireless carriers’ cash cows well into the twenty-first century.
The Most Important Question Churches Must Answer
The question that all churches must answer is, “Will we be a resource for the wireless carriers in their pursuit of their greater profitability, or will we be able to recognize and take advantage of the new 5G rollout thereby maximizing additional revenue that can be garnered by our church from the use of our property?”
So, why would a cell tower company or wireless carrier be attracted to a church as a possible solution to their 5G needs?
Benefits To The Wireless Companies
Churches have an immediate advantage due to their low impact to the surrounding area. What is almost impossible to accomplish in a residential neighborhood is typically an easier passage when requested by a church.
5G services will be able to provide wireless speeds up to 100 times faster than available on existing 4G networks. However, a 5G cell site located on a church property will be able to provide more than additional speed to wireless customers surrounding their property in that it, at the same time, provides services available that will reduce wireless “latency”.
What is latency? The best way to define latency is the response time between when you click to download data and when the data becomes available. Presently, with 4G networks, there can be a certain lag time for data to download, but with 5G it will be almost instant.
An increasing number of churches are being approached to place cell phone equipment and facilities on their properties, and, more particularly, to allow the installation of a wireless antennas on their existing structures.
Churches should be aware that even though a cell site lease can seem like a win-win proposition, especially when it comes to being able to meet certain budget obligations, several considerations need to be considered beyond just the amount of rent they will receive.
Things To Consider Before Signing A Lease Agreement
One of the primary concerns that will need to be considered are the possible health and safety issues that may be associated with a cell site. Certain exposure risks to radio frequency emissions associated with 5G networks are being debated. Thus, it is important that a church not only understand what equipment is being installed on their property, but also how that cell site’s equipment is being installed not only on day one, but throughout the term of any agreement they sign.
A church should ensure they have certain oversight on how their property is being used by any wireless carrier operating equipment on their church’s property.
Another consideration that a church must consider when structuring a cell site lease is how the revenue achieved from a cell site agreement will be classified for tax purposes. Rent your ministry receives may still be subject to taxes, such as the Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) classification.
Generally, income from rental property is not subject to UBIT; however, if the property is financed with borrowed money, UBIT can apply. In addition, if your ministry earns a substantial amount of its gross revenue from Unrelated Business Income, it can lose its tax-exempt status.
As a result, it is not only important that a church maximizes the amount of rent that they receive from a cell tower company, but also makes sure that the structure of any agreement they sign does not trigger certain obligations that can cut into the rent they do receive.
Find An Expert To Help
No matter what the situation, a cell site agreement is a long-term commitment, so understanding the bigger picture before you sign any agreement is extremely important, not only for the purposes of optimizing the revenue generated, but also making sure they are being properly protected.
Remember, the cell tower companies have experts on their side, shouldn’t you?