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An Overview of the Wireless Tower Industry


Jan. 12 2016, Updated 7:23 a.m. ET

The world of the wireless tower industry

Communication technology has been an integral part of the human race, from the time of the invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell to the present. In the past few years, the wireless tower construction industry has grown rapidly. This rapid growth is attributed to the demand for mobile data and high-speed data connections. Wireless technology has replaced old technology to reduce costs. Industry profitability has increased mainly due to improved pricing of wireless service contracts and the strengthening of infrastructure investments.

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Wireless tower construction industry

The above graph shows cell tower ownership according to company. The industry primarily engages in the wireless communication construction business, focusing on towers, cable lines, and transmission data. The industry provides contracts for the construction of communication lines and the rehabilitation of construction sites. It is a rapidly changing industry.

  • There is a total of 205,000 cell phone towers in the United States. Most of them are owned by Crown Castle International (CCI), American Tower (AMT), and SBA Communications (SBAC). Carriers such as AT&T and Verizon are selling their towers to Crown Castle and American Towers. However, with less competition, they might end up paying higher prices for tower space.
  • The focus of the industry is to manage contracts efficiently. The pressure to deploy services to new markets has made operators focus on the wireless infrastructure. Safety concerns have led operators to pay closer attention to the qualifications of contractors.
  • Training has played a vital role in the advancement of the industry and has contributed to the country’s economy. Wireless infrastructure investments might generate as much as $1.2 trillion in economic growth and create 1.2 million jobs.

Investors planning to gain exposure to specialized REITs can invest in the iShares Dow Jones US Real Estate ETF (IYR), the iShares Cohen & Steers REIT ETF (ICF), and the Vanguard REIT ETF (VNQ).


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