One of the most frequent questions Vertical Consultants receives is “Will 5G make cell towers obsolete?” The quick answer is “No”. 5G is not a vehicle for the replacement of existing cell towers, but rather a means for improving their value and necessity.
There are approximately 300,000 cell sites across the United States, and there will be a need for almost another 1,000,000 sites to be built to establish 5G throughout the country. 5G is a complicated technology, but one of the primary reasons that 5G can provide the benefits it is expected to garner for users is due to the “density” of the wireless networks that will be established. Simply stated, you need more cell sites, not less, to achieve this foundational element of 5G.
Recently, American Tower Corporation’s CEO, Jim Taiclet, broke down how the 5G buildout and T-Mobile-Sprint merger are positive for his cell tower development company.
Current technology does not provide a means to replace the infrastructure, cell towers, needed to implement that technology. The primary focus of wireless technology’s expansion today is keeping up with the tremendous growth in current wireless demand, both phones and data needs. This unfettered growth in this very demand can be compared to a rocket ship and the cell towers as the launching pad needed to take off.
Right now, both traditional telecom companies, like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and even the new entrants such as DISH Network, and cell tower companies that rent space to the aforementioned players in the industry, continue to spend billions of dollars in the development of new cell sites and the improvement of existing sites.
While the technology that is being heralded in the CNBC article and television interview may be a way to handle certain aspects of the ever-growing needs of wireless customers, it is unlikely in the foreseeable future that, on a macro level, this type of technology will be able to fully replace cell towers, rooftop antenna sites and other ground-based infrastructures.
We rely upon this infrastructure to serve the wireless networks, which make everything from a simple phone conversation to the most sophisticated mobile application not only feasible, but actual.
If you need more validation, then just follow the money. What do I mean? It is simple: the largest cell tower developers have recently, in the last twenty-four months, spent tens of billions of dollars acquiring the rights to approximately twenty thousand cell tower sites and have spent even more money securing long-term agreements to secure these cell sites well beyond the current ground leases that were presently in place.
Why? These companies know that technology will always be evolving and, thus, certain solutions will be able to handle certain things associated with you being able to make a phone call or transfer data via your phone. But, not in the near future, will you be able to replace the good “ole” cell tower as being the best option to serve as the foundation of local, regional or nationwide wireless networks.
If you are a property owner with a cell tower on your land or cell antennas on your rooftop, it is important to know the true value of your individual cell site and how changes in technology affect you.
Contact us today for a free review of your cell site and lease. The telecom companies have experts on their side, shouldn’t you?