Verizon and AT&T announced a joint venture with Tillman Infrastructure to build and share hundreds of cell towers in more in a move that is sure to be seen as a threat to more established tower companies.
The companies said the new structures “will add to the overall communications infrastructure in the United States,” filling gaps in current tower footprints, but will also enable the nation’s two largest network operators to relocate equipment from towers they’re currently using. Construction plans on the first towers will begin early next year and will come online “quickly” as they are completed.
“We continue to focus on technology innovation and investing in the latest software platforms to provide the best possible customer experience on our network,” Verizon Chief Network Officer Nicola Palmer said in a press release. “At the same time, it is imperative to reduce operating costs. We are reviewing all of our long-term contracts as they come up for renewal and we are excited to develop new vendor partners to diversify our infrastructure lineup.”
Indeed, carriers are increasingly looking to cut tower spending even as data consumption continues to soar, and AT&T has been the most vocal operator in seeking alternatives to traditional models. Bill Hogg, AT&T’s president of technology operations, said earlier this year that “the tower model is unsustainable,” and MoffettNathanson reported last year that AT&T was openly soliciting real estate developers to build new towers close to existing cellular installations to give the carrier negotiating leverage.
Tillman, which owns and operates towers, small cells and smart cities infrastructures, will construct customized towers under terms of the deal, and Verizon and AT&T have committed to leasing and co-anchoring the co-located towers.