AT&T to buy Leap Wireless – What It Means for Cell Tower and Rooftop Owners

AT&T’s acquisition of Leap will affect thousands of individual landlords across the country.  This deal is not strictly a customer grab for AT&T, but also a purchase of valuable spectrum licenses.  AT&T says that Leap’s PCS and AWS bands are “largely complementary to AT&T’s existing spectrum licenses”.  That being said, you can expect AT&T to immediately, begin to use, any unused spectrum to further develop it 4G LTE network.
It was instantly clear to me and anyone else in the real estate side of the Wireless Communication industry that this will certainly mean the decommissioning of thousands of Cricket (Leap Wireless) sites around the country.  The value of a Cricket lease instantly plummeted from a value of about 11-12 years of annual net revenue, to being worth about 3 years of annual net revenue.  This is because as an industry we see it taking somewhere between 3-5 years for AT&T to evaluate the overlaps in coverage and complete the decommissioning of the redundant sites.  As a comparison, many landlords have already received decommission letters from Metro PCS, who’s merger with TMobile was announced less than a year ago.

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