Crown Castle buys DAS provider NextG for $1B

Crown Castle said it will pay $1 billion to acquire distributed antennas systems (DAS) provider NextG Networks, giving the tower company a leg up in the DAS market and potentially enabling it to serve more customers outside of its traditional footprint.

Crown Castle will buy NextG from private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners, which purchased NextG in 2009 as part of a consortium. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2012, and Crown Castle said it expects to fund the acquisition with debt financing.

DAS technologies can be used for indoor locations--mainly to boost signal coverage in large buildings and at stadiums and shopping malls--as well as for outdoor purposes. Essentially, DAS is a collection of small antennas spread over a specific geographic area and connected by fiber back to a central location or power source, usually a base station.

"Increasingly, we believe that small-cell architecture, such as DAS, will be an important complement to traditional macro tower installations," Crown Castle CEO Ben Moreland said in a statement.

NextG is the largest outdoor DAS provider and currently has over 7,000 nodes-on-air and a further 1,500 nodes under construction. NextG also has rights to over 4,600 miles of fiber. Crown Castle noted that over 90 percent of NextG's nodes are in urban and suburban locations, with 80 percent in the top ten U.S. metropolitan areas, including Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Los Angeles and New York City.

This is not the first time Crown Castle has targeted a DAS company. In September 2010 Crown Castle completed a $115 million acquisition of DAS vendor NewPath Networks from Charterhouse Group.

For more:
- see this release
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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