Last week, AT&T and Crown Castle International Corp. announced a deal whereby Crown Castle will purchase or lease 9,700 of AT&T’s towers in exchange for $4.85 billion in cash.
Crown Castle plans to finance the deal through the sale of common stock. AT&T intends to use the cash for network upgrades and new spectrum.
Under the terms of the deal, Crown Castle—one of the world’s largest tower operators– will lease 9,100 towers from AT&T and will purchase an additional 600 outright. AT&T will lease a fixed amount of capacity from the towers and has an option to lease additional capacity, if needed.
“This deal is good for AT&T and our shareholders,” said AT&T senior vice president for network planning and engineering Bill Hogg. “This deal will let us monetize our towers while giving us the ability to add capacity as we need it.”
The deal will, in one fell swoop, double AT&T’s cash holdings. The company had previously announced plans to invest $14 billion over three years to improve its network.
Houston-based Crown Castle also will have an option to purchase the leased towers for $4.2 billion beginning in 2032. “We are very pleased with our agreement with AT&T, which strengthens our position as the largest provider of shared wireless infrastructure in the U.S.,” said Ben Moreland, Crown Castle president and CEO.
AT&T announced recently that it has agreed to buy Leap Wireless. Leap is best known for its Cricket brand, a low-priced, prepaid mobile wireless service that has approximately 5 million customers. AT&T has said that it will keep the Cricket name and service and expand it in certain markets.
The deal requires approval by the FCC and the Department of Justice. AT&T said that it expects the deal to close in six to nine months.
If approved, the AT&T purchase of Leap would continue the consolidation in the mobile wireless industry in the United States. T-Mobile recently acquired MetroPCS, and that newly combined company has about 43 million customers nationwide. Read more
A friend and I once argued about who was more OCD. After several minutes of parries and ripostes regarding who checks the stove before leaving the house or tugs the door handle to ascertain that is locked, my friend pulled his trump card: “Have you been medicated?” he asked triumphantly. Acknowledging that my habits are only merely inconvenient to myself or amusing to others, I acknowledged his victory. It’s a good thing we did not discuss paranoia.
A piece of advice I give new interns or freshly-minted colleagues is to assume that each piece of email will ultimately arrive at the in-box of their worst enemy. The inability to convey tone or inflection coupled with the “now it’s out there” nature of electronic communications demands extraordinary caution before either critiquing co-workers or confessing some otherwise embarrassing or potentially compromising matter via email or Facebook. On the Internet, it (everything) lasts forever. Read more
In New York City last week, AT&T, along with solar kit manufacturer Goal Zero, and Brooklyn’s Pensa Design unveiled Street Charge, a solar-based charging unit for mobile devices. The 25 solar-powered charging stations will be placed in parks, beaches and other outdoor areas around the five boroughs. This project began in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, where many city residents had to stand in long lines at shops and restaurants to charge their dying smartphones.
For all of Manhattan’s amenities, as AT&T spokesperson Neil Giacobbi puts it, “none of that works if you don’t have a charge on your phone after a 10-hour day at the office.”
Each Street Charge unit can accommodate up to six devices at a time, and has dedicated ports for iPhones, Androids and Blackberrys. Each unit also has three female USB ports for people who have their own cables. Street Charge is powered by Goal Zero’s powerful sun-fueled battery, which allows it to operate 24 hours a day, and charge as fast as most OEM wall chargers. Read more
I had intended to title this article on competing Google and AT&T plans to bring gigabits to Austin “Gigabit Smackdown.” But in this video, Bo Fishback of the Kauffman Foundation describes the Google venture as a “huge bet on human creativity.” And I thought that more aptly (and certainly more positively) describes these fiber-rich ventures.
To be sure, AT&T has indicated that it wants the same licensing, permitting and other incentives that Google might be enjoying. And this emerging competition also raises the specter of whether AT&T will rethink how it offers voice once that gigabit gets deployed – recall that in Google’s maiden Kansas City giga-voyage, it opted to not offer voice service, citing regulatory obstacles that would have interfered with its preferred business plan. So as providers look more toward IP-only platforms, the task of preserving public policy goals will continue to emerge and confront Federal and local regulators. Read more
I was beginning to wonder whether I would have anything to write about this week. To be truthful, I sometimes worry that I keep harping on same themes – the wonder of new technology, the need to ensure access to it everywhere, the commitment of rural providers who bring services to their communities. Fortunately, however, AT&T kick-started a focused industry inquiry into the transition from TDM to IP networks, and that has generated rigorous debate about the future of National telecom policy.
Several months ago, AT&T and NTCA each asked the FCC to examine how the growing use of IP-based networks and might warrant reconsideration of existing regulatory frameworks. Whereas AT&T’s petition sought to suspect many telecom regulations in select test markets, NTCA urged the FCC to ensure that any changes be grounded in statutory polices that include but are not limited to consumer protection and universal service. NTCA proposed that where AT&T might be suggesting a sledgehammer, the FCC instead reach for jeweler’s pick. Read more