Top 10 Cell Tower Companies | Everything You Need To Know

By Nick G. Foster

January 9, 2020

There are over 100 cell tower companies with headquarters in the United States. They range from the largest players, like the top three publicly traded tower companies, to small mom-and-pop operators. Typically the larger the cell tower company, the more sophisticated their operations.

The list of below is information obtained by publicly available sources on the top 10 cell tower companies. In some cases the tower company might not own the structure, but has lease rights and the ability to acquire the towers on the property for a set period of time. Totals shown below do not include distributed antenna systems (DAS) or small cells.

#1 American Tower Corporation | 40,000+ Sites

As of November 27, 2019, American Tower Corporation (NYSE: AMT) represented that they have over 40,000 cell tower sites in the United States. Headquartered in the Boston market, AMT is a large company with over 5,000 employees and offices in 17 countries. Due to the large size of the AMT portfolio, we often represent property owners in new lease negotiations, lease renewals, and sales transactions with AMT. Overall our experience with AMT is positive and we find them professional to work with.

#2 Crown Castle Corporation | 40,000+ Sites

Crown Castle (NYSE: CCI) is the second largest cell tower operator in the United States. They lease land for approximately 30,000 cell towers which represents approximately 74% of their portfolio. On average they have 2.2 tenants per tower with approximately 6 years remaining on the lease with their tenants. Crown Castle is trying to extend their leases and when they are successful are averaging a lease extension of 43 years. Crown Castle landlords NEED to seek expert help when dealing with Crown Castle.

#3 SBA Communication | 30,000+ Sites

SBA Communications (NASDAQ: SBAC) is the third largest cell tower company in the United States headquartered out of Boca Raton, Florida. The company owns approximately 30,000 sites and has offices in the United States, Brazil, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and South Africa.

#4 US Cellular | 4,207 Cell Towers

US Cellular (NYSE: USM) is the fourth largest holders of cell towers in the United States. According to their tower locator, they have 4,207 towers. The majority of their towers are in the mid-west, north west, and the mid Atlantic region. We have completed many lease renewals with US Cellular. It appears they have a small real estate management group, as we have worked with the same attorney at US Cellular on lease renewals many times over.

#5 Vertical Bridge | 3,000 Cell Towers

Vertical Bridge is the largest privately held cell tower company in the United States. Founded in 2014, they are headquartered out of Boca Raton, Florida. Which is also the headquarters to SBA Communications. Their website states they have 268,000 owned and managed assets, however, it is unclear what is wireless, raw land, billboards, etc. In our interactions with Vertical Bridge they have been pleasant to work with and they use an AT&T lease template that has been revised to reflect their needs.

#6 InSite Wireless Group | 2,000 Cell Towers

Founded in 2000, InSite Wireless Group is the second largest privately owned tower and wireless company in the United States. They state they have 2,000 tower and sites across the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Australia. It is unclear how many sites they have exactly in the United States.

#7 PepperTree Capital | 1,000 Cell Towers

Founded in 2000, PepperTree Capital purchased 1,000 cell towers from AT&T at a transaction valued at $680 million. Headquartered in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, PepperTree Capital is a private equity firm focused on investing in communications infrastructure companies. 

#8 Diamond Communications, LLC | 1,000 Cell Towers

Founded in 2006, Diamond Communications, headquartered out of Short Hills, New Jersey, states that they have 1,000 tenanted sites on their website. Their executives formerly held positions at AAT Communications, acquired by American Tower Corporation, and SBA Communications. 

#9 Uniti Towers | 630 Cell Towers

Uniti Towers is part of Uniti Group, Inc. a publicly traded company listed on the NASDAQ. Their parent Uniti Group, Inc., has subsidiaries such as Uniti Towers, Uniti Leasing, and Uniti Fiber.  According to their most recent 8-K filing with the SEC, they have 630 cell towers and six million fiber strand miles. 

#10 Phoenix Tower International | 630 Cell Towers

Founded in 2013 by previous leaders at Global Tower Partners, which was purchased by American Tower Corporation. Phoenix Tower International is headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida. Phoenix Tower states on their website that they have over 86,000 sites across 14 countries, however, it is difficult to determine how many of those are in the United States. We believe Phoenix Tower may have around 630 cell towers in the United States. 

What should you do if you have been contacted by one of these cell tower companies?

Contact Airwave Advisors today for expert consultation on how to maximize your opportunity with top players in the industry!

Call Us Today

(888) 443-5101

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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).