Who the heck is Crown Castle?

by Colin Berkshire

Colin here.

T-Mobile has sold off all of their towers to Crown Castle for $2.4 Billion.

AT&T Sold their towers to Crown Castle for $5 Billion.

Now, Verizon wants to sell their towers to Crown Castle for $6 Billion.

Think about this: The towers of the top three carriers (AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile) will no longer be in the tower business, and they will be sharing a common landlord, Crown Castle.

This isn’t just weird, it’s highly monopolistic.

Add together the growing trend of Carrier Aggregation where the carriers share spectrum, antennas and radios, and you discover that you really have one clique controlling one infrastructure. There will be no place for consumers to turn. There will be no incentive for carriers to fill in the coverage gaps…because all carriers will share the same gaps (Unlucky you!) All will share LTE, together.

Cell phone companies will own neither the Cells nor the Phones. They will simply be billing and marketing monopolies.

But the dark side of this is that new companies will find it difficult to build towers, and they may be prohibited from joining the clique. New companies who want to offer better service at lower cost will not be invited into Carrier Aggregation agreements. It will become economically unviable to build towers for one single carrier.

You may never have heard of Crown Castle (CCI), a company Morningstar recently gave only a BBB- rating to, but it is at the very hub of facilitating America’s cellular monopoly.

I find it very interesting that the cellular companies consider building and owning towers such an UN-important part of their business. They could double their tower infrastructure for about one month’s revenues. But instead, they are cashing out by selling off their towers to Crown Castle. Talk about putting all of your eggs in one basket! (And a lousy BBB- rated one at that.)