LTE Expansions on Rooftops
Steel in the Air regularly hears from clients who have received proposals from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and US Cellular declaring their intent to add LTE antennas (Long Term Evolution) to existing cell sites on our clients’ rooftops. LTE deployment will enable the carriers to provide higher data speeds and seamless service to their subscribers. Please take a look at our featured article, LTE Upgrades and Lease Modifications, for an update on the top wireless carriers’ LTE deployment plans.
When wireless carriers contact our clients, it’s typically either via letter, and on occasion, in person. The letters state that the carrier wants to do “maintenance” or “minor performance modifications” to the existing cell site, and implies that any such maintenance or modifications are permitted under the lease agreement. We advise our clients to read the language in their agreements carefully. In many cases, we discover that while the lease may mention that the wireless carriers do have a right to add equipment, it doesn’t say that the property owner can NOT ask for additional rent. In other words, we tell our clients that their consent is not mandatory – for free. They do, in fact, have the right to ask for compensation for any “improvements” or changes that the carriers wish to make to existing cell sites.
Instead of blindly granting consent, we recommend that a property owner who has received a vague letter asking for consent for LTE modifications do the following:
- Ask the carrier representative for drawings showing the proposed modification;
- Ask the carrier representative whether they believe the lease requires that the building owner agree to the changes without additional compensation.
- If the carrier representative says that the lease does require consent without compensation, ask the representative to send a letter with the specific language highlighted.
- If the carrier offers a one-time payment for your approval, tell them you would prefer an increase in your monthly rent.
Many times, these questions by themselves will force the carrier to acknowledge that they need the building owner’s consent and the carrier will offer some type of compensation for the consent. They will then make an offer of a small monthly increase in rent in order to get approval for the additional LTE antennas. Alternatively, if they have the right to add the LTE equipment without additional compensation, they will point to the specific language in the lease that permits such modifications. If the carrier makes a proposal for additional rent, at that point, you should contact Steel in the Air to find out whether the proposal is fair market value. Our staff is well versed in how lease amendments for LTE antennas and additional equipment should be priced. We can advise you on whether the offer is fair or needs to be improved. We can also review the proposed drawings and amendment and recommend additional terms that will be of benefit to the property owner.
At no cost to you, we will review the documentation and suggest whether it would be worth your time to retain our services. If the carrier is right, we will tell you that we can’t help. If the carrier is wrong, we will either recommend that you retain our services or those of an attorney like Cell Tower Attorney.
Please note that Steel in the Air is not affiliated with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, or US Cellular, or any other wireless carrier..