Tower owner Crown Castle has announced that it will acquire rights to approximately 9,700 AT&T towers for $4.85 billion in cash. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.
Under the deal AT&T will keep its communications facilities on the towers for a minimum of 10 years with monthly rent of $1,900 per site and fixed annual rent escalators of 2 percent. AT&T will also have access to additional space on the towers for its future use, the company said.
Crown Castle will have the right to sublease other available capacity on the towers and expects to accommodate at least one additional tenant per tower.
It will reinforce Crown Castle’s position as largest provider of wireless infrastructure with approximately 40,000 towers in the US. Nearly 50% of the sites will be in the top 50 US markets.
The number of cell sites in service the United States increased by 11% between 2011-2012, reports the CTIA.
In September, American Tower announced it plans to acquire smaller rival Global Tower Partners’ parent company Macquarie Infrastructure Partners Tower Holdings for approximately $4.8 billion, reports Light Reading. That deal would add around 5,400 domestic towers to American Tower.
That deal brought American Tower closer to larger rival Crown Castle, but today’s AT&T/Crown Castle announcement should keep Crown in the lead, although American Tower has a much larger international business.
Last year Crown purchased the rights to operate 7,200 T-Mobile towers for 28 years for $2.4 billion, or approximately $333,000 per tower, notes Wireless Estimator. If Crown pays $4.85 billion for 9,700 AT&T towers, that would be close to $500,000 per structure. The $167,000 difference from the T-Mobile price could be a result various agreements, says Wireless Estimator.