2020 Cell Tower Lease Rates

By Nick G. Foster

January 6, 2020

In 2020 cell tower lease rates should adjust upwards with the deployment of 5G technology. In addition, the increasingly competitive cell tower development market should benefit the land owner in the long run.

Rates will often depend on the following:

  • Location
  • Rural vs. in-fill development
  • Wireless tenancy (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint)
  • Is the cell tower owner a tower company or a wireless carrier.
  • If the site is a new build or a relocation of an existing site

Here are a few frequently asked questions we receive when it comes to cell tower lease rates.

What Are Cell Tower Lease Rates In My Area?

At Airwave Advisors we maintain one of the nation’s largest database of cell tower lease rents. Rents will differ from market to market; however, some rates may surprise you!

We have analyzed a cell tower in the rural mid-west paying over $15,000 per month along with a single-tenant rooftop tenant paying $13,000 per month in San Diego, California. There are also numerous cases where the landlord has been taken advantage of and is receiving only $100 per month for his cell tower.

Some property owners make great deals, while others do the best with the knowledge they have, however, they unfortunately often leave a significant amount of money on the table.

Are Cell Tower Lease Rates Increasing In 2020?

Yes and no. It depends on who you are negotiating with and the context of the negotiation.

I am working on a new Vertical Bridge T-Mobile build-to-suit project and Vertical Bridge’s site acquisition agent is representing that the max annual rent escalator Vertical Bridge can agree to is 1.5% annual.

This of course is a terrible rent escalator.

Historically inflation in the United States has trended around 3% annual. Why would anyone agree to lock in an annual rent escalator for decades at half of the historical inflation rate?

On the other hand, we are typically seeing rents go up in almost all areas across the United States.

Will cell towers become obsolete in 2020?

Not a chance. Wireless communications are currently dependent on terrestrial based cell towers, also known as macro sites. It is highly likely that one day in the future low-orbit satellites will antiquate ground-based cell towers. Companies such as Amazon have announced their intentions to provide internet service to the globe via low orbit satellites.

How much revenue does a cell tower generate?

How much revenue a cell tower generates depends on the tenancy of the tower. A multi-tenant tower will generate significantly more than a one-tenant tower. Major wireless companies such as AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile will typically pay the most to lease space on a cell tower. However, don’t let tower companies fool you. We have seen leases where federal government agencies were paying $10,000 per month to lease space on a cell tower. Many times, more than what the wireless companies were willing to pay.

Can I put a cell tower on my property?

We receive this question multiple times a day. The way the industry operates is that they contact you. You typically do not contact the wireless companies to have them place a cell tower on your land. Typically, there is no shortage of willing property owners willing to lease unused land for a cell tower, so the cell tower developers don’t need help finding property.

When I was working on cell tower development for one of the top wireless providers I would get bombarded with requests for a tower. As you can imagine, professionals in this space typically ignore these requests. Why? Because they already know where they want to go and there is an ample supply of willing landlords to lease them space. If you would still like to pursue leasing your land for a cell tower, check out our article “How Do I Get A Cell Tower?

Are cell towers dangerous to live by?

A few months ago we wrote an article titled “Are 5G Cell Towers Dangerous?“. The jury is still out on how 5G radiation will affect the human body over the long run.

Are cell towers dangerous to live by? I wouldn’t say they are dangerous, so long as you are on the ground and the antennas are high up in the air. This is the case in many cell tower installations across the country.

Do you have cell tower lease rates comparable data?

Yes. We have thousands of cell tower lease rents across the country. With over a decade of industry experience, we are highly qualified to assist you in understanding the true value of your cell tower lease.

It is important to remember however to treat lease rate comparable data with a grain of salt. Sometimes the comparable down the street may be a sweetheart deal, or the property owner may have made multiple mistakes when putting together his deal.

What is the latest with the Sprint & T-Mobile merger?

As of right now the merger is in court and final arguments will be delivered next week. Then the judge should deliver his decision in the upcoming weeks on if he will block the merger or not. Depending your preferred news outlet, some say the judge has a 60% chance of blocking the merger, others say less.

Engage a cell tower lease expert

Airwave Advisors are the nation’s leading cell tower lease experts rated A+ by the BBB. To make sure you are not making any mistakes and are capturing as much as you can capture in your cell tower lease, contact Airwave Advisors today. Give us a call at (888) 443-5101 or e-mail us at info@airwaveadvisors.com.

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  1. Carter on January 12, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    Currently own a 15 story high rise apartment complex that includes a
    long term roof lease with Verizon Towers. I am interested in selling the
    lease. Can you help?

    • Nick G. Foster on January 13, 2020 at 8:22 am

      Hi Carter,

      Absolutely! We have helped over 100 property owners sell their cell tower leases over the years. We will discuss with you here shortly. Thanks for reaching out.

      Nick G. Foster

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Nick Foster Airwave Advisors

About Nick G. Foster

Since founding Airwave Advisors® in 2014, Mr. Foster has added value to over 400 clients ranging from the State of Nevada, City of Beverly Hills, to Habitat For Humanity. Mr. Foster focuses on cell tower lease renewals, buyouts, new lease negotiation, and cell site lease management. Prior to starting Airwave Advisors® Mr. Foster founded and led the Cell Site Services Group within nationwide commercial real estate services leader Cassidy Turley (now known as Cushman & Wakefield).