Crown Castle appointed Catherine Piche as the new chief operating officer of its tower division, effective the start of September.
Piche has been with Crown Castle since 2011, most recently as SVP project delivery, design & construction for the tower company’s fiber business. She’s replacing Robert Ackerman, who is retiring after more than two decades with Crown Castle including as COO of its small cell business.
Ackerman will stay on in an advisory role until 2022.
Piche is an alum of tower peer American Tower and has held roles in site development at Sprint and AT&T.
“I want to thank Bob for his significant contributions and steady leadership that helped us generate significant growth and create value for our shareholders during the last 23 years, and I want to wish him the best in his retirement,” said Crown Castle CEO Jay Brown in a statement. “I am excited to welcome Cathy to our executive management team and believe her proven leadership capabilities and extensive operational experience will be invaluable as we support our customers’ nationwide 5G deployments.”
Crown Castle’s tower portfolio includes around 40,000 U.S. sites. Last November it was the first of the public tower companies to ink a major infrastructure deal for Dish Network’s 5G build, which includes up to 20,000 sites. Verizon reached an agreement with the company earlier this year to add new gear to existing sites, as it prepares to deploy C-band spectrum in December.
During second quarter earnings last month, Crown Castle executives said activity on macro towers was higher than they’d seen in the company’s history. SBA also reported a busy second quarter from carriers, in particular calling out Dish and Verizon.
In July, Brown said activity is increasing not just with major carriers submitting applications, but smaller U.S. operators as well.
While macro towers are getting early priority for C-band and from Dish, Crown Castle cut expectations for small cell deployments in half – to about 5,000 from a previous 10,000 – while upping its full-year financial outlook for 2021.