Trump’s steel tariffs may be starting to impact some tower companies

Steel is a key element in cell towers. (Pixabay)

President Trump levied stiff tariffs on steel imports in March, and that action may be affecting some of the nation’s tower companies.

“We’ve noticed anywhere from an 8% up to a 22-24% increase in steel prices,” wrote Ariel Rubin, VP of tower development for Vertical Bridge Holdings, in response to questions from FierceWireless. However, Rubin cautioned that the company has not been able to directly identify how those increases might be related to Trump’s tariffs.

Rubin added that a more pressing concern for the company is the rising cost of shipping equipment via flatbed trucksa cost largely unrelated to the political situation.

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Nonetheless, other tower companies expressed similar concerns about the rising cost of steel. Connect-It Wireless told AGL that the cost of steel is rising worldwide, including in the United States.

“It’s a bad deal because so far we have had at least 16% price increases and we have had to increase our costs 5% to cover our costs,” James Schultz, the company’s VP of operations, told AGL.

Other tower companies either didn’t respond to questions on the topic from FierceWireless or said they haven’t seen any direct affects from Trump’s tariffs.

“We don’t have anything to share at this point,” said American Tower’s Julie Beck.

“At this point, we are looking at the tariff issue and working with our members to determine its impact,” said Matt Mandel, head of legislative affairs for the trade group WIA.

Trump enacted the tariffs as part of his work to reverse what he argues are unfair trading policies against the United States. His tariffs on steel are reportedly affecting a number of U.S. companies including Mid-Continent Nail. As noted by the Washington Post, Mid-Continent Nail has already laid off some workers due to the tariffs, and it could lay off all of its 500 employees by Labor Day.

As reported by The Hill, the American Institute for International Steel has filed a lawsuit challenging Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

Steel is a key part of the tower industry, a sector that many believe is poised to grow as wireless network operators upgrade to 5G and deploy additional small cells.

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