Carriers may not love their tower partners right now, analysts at Evercore ISI say, but the romance is likely to pick up again next time they need to upgrade their networks.
Mobile network operators are increasingly pressuring tower companies to lower their fees and make it easier for carriers to maintain their antennas. And at least one major carrier is openly soliciting developers to build new towers close to existing structures to cut costs, according to MoffettNathanson Research.
U.S. mobile network operators may rein in their investments in traditional macro cells as they densify their networks with small cells and DAS deployments, according to analysts at Pacific Crest Securities. But they'll have to ramp up their spending on towers eventually to keep pace with demand for mobile data.
U.S. tower companies have seen their shares generally hold firm despite concerns about carriers' network strategies as the industry moves toward 5G. But the ongoing strike by Verizon's wireline workers could create a temporary drag on network investments by the company's largest mobile network operator, according to analysts at Evercore ISI.
American Tower Corporation posted a solid quarter, beating estimates and providing more evidence that the cell tower industry is alive and well.
Crown Castle's first-quarter earnings drew relatively positive responses from analysts as the company reported mixed financial results but increased its guidance for the year.
U.S. tower companies could be in for a slow summer if carriers cut back their spending during the upcoming incentive auction, according to analysts at Evercore ISI.
Crown Castle announced late last week that it has bought Tower Development Corporation (TDC), a portfolio company owned by investment firm Berkshire Partners, for approximately $461 million in cash. The deal for TDC give Crown Castle control of 336 towers in the U.S. and Puerto Rico with an average tenancy of approximately two tenants per tower.
Wells Fargo Securities analysts downgraded the entire tower sector, saying that carriers are beginning to balk at traditional network contracts in advance of the FCC's incentive auction and the development of 5G standards.
Shares of wireless tower companies waivered last month following a report that Sprint planned to dramatically overhaul its network and move away from traditional macrocells in favor of smaller cells. But tower companies say they aren't seeing decreased demand for their services.