“LEASE VALUE CALCULATOR FORMULA = What they want you to know ÷ WHAT WE KNOW”
What are Cell Tower Lease Rates in 2023?
We can help you if you’re looking for help, to calculate the accurate rent value of a new cell phone tower ground lease agreement, a rooftop cell site or the rental value of an existing cell site lease, where a cell tower is being upgraded, a lease is being amended or lease agreement needs to be extended.
Hello, my name is Steve Kazella, and I’m a Partner at Tower Genius, LLC. We’ve been helping people understand cell tower lease proposals and navigate tricky and often times confusing cell tower lease negotiations. And one of the top questions we get on a daily basis from visitors to our website is, “what’s my cell tower lease’s value?”
- What are cell tower lease rates in 2023? Is there a range? Is there an average cell tower lease rate?
That’s a loaded question! Not all cell site rent valuations are the same and they can vary significantly depending on location, wireless carrier or tower company, is it a renewal or equipment upgrade and other factors. All cell tower lease rates are calculated based on many factors and are determined on a site by site basis.
Is it a lease agreement or option lease for a newly proposed cell phone tower being built by a cell tower developer for American Tower, Crown Castle, Vertical Bridge or SBA Communications? Is the cell site being developed by a wireless carrier and is the lease agreement directly between DISH Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile, US Cellular or Verizon Wireless and the property owner? Is the property or building inside of the city limits, in a town with a tough wireless zoning ordinance, or does the property fall under county land use guidelines? Is the location zoned commercial, agricultural or residential? What’s the topography like? How is the site’s proximity and access to fiberoptic service? Is it an existing cell tower with a single carrier subtenant, or is it a mature multi-carrier cell phone tower with a lease expiration date approaching?
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These Cell Tower Lease Rate Examples Are From the Same County.
Here’s an example of cell tower rental rates from the same county from 2022. The four cell site rents shown below are all from the same cellular carrier at four separate cell site locations (all towers) leased back in 2022. Remember… The cell site lease rates shown below are from the same wireless carrier, and in the same county. They should all be very similar, right? Same carrier. Same technology. Different lease rates.
- $19,200 annually / $1,600 per month
- $22,000 annually / $1,833 per month
- $24,000 annually / $2,000 per month
- $36,000 annually / $3,000 per month
Experience matters. Kevin and Steve have spoken with tens of thousands of property owners and cell site landlords across the USA in their combined 50+ years in the industry. Tower Genius really knows everything there is to know about cell tower lease rental rates, and what you need to do in order to get a fair deal. They’ve helped over two thousand clients since 2008.
So what’s the difference in cell site values in 2023? These 4 cell phone tower locations are situated within less than one hour’s drive apart from one another in the same county, with the same cellular carrier, yet they vary widely in rent value. The site-specific cell tower lease rental value is always determined by the laws of wireless economics, that is, supply of viable properties to place the cell site, within the search ring or coverage area, and the demand or need for voice and date coverage in the area. There are no cookie-cutter cell tower rent values with the exception of some government agencies who we have seen calculate rent differently. But for the rest of us, cell tower lease rates are not determined by the amount of square feet used, they are not calculated by counting the number of antennas, or by the amount, size or weight of ground equipment, or by the amount of traffic, population density or number of cars that drive past a location daily. Cell tower lease values are determined on a site by site basis, based on the laws of wireless economics, supply and demand. If a carrier has little choice on where they can install a cell tower or cell site, they will tend to have to pay more if the property owner negotiates well or receives sound advice. And the carriers and cell tower development companies will pay much lower rents if they have plenty of choices of available properties and willing property owners ready to sign a cell site lease agreement.
While many in the wireless leasing industry will claim there is a “range” that is only partially correct. There is an average price which is proprietary to the wireless carriers and cell phone tower companies, but you can literally have a town, “Anywhere, USA” that has a total of two cell sites, with one cell site leasing for $600 monthly and have a second cell tower 2 miles away with the same tower management company or exact same cellular carrier(s) renting for $4,000 per month. Saying that the “average cell tower lease rate for this area is $2,300 per month” is mathematically correct, but it grossly misrepresents the value of both cell site locations.
This is the cell tower lease rate formula used by Tower Genius to calculate / determine cell tower rent values:
Higher Demand For Coverage + Lower Supply of Available Property Sites = Higher Cell Tower Rents For Property Owners & Landlords
- What’s the Demand for Coverage? What is the need aka demand for wireless coverage? Are a lot of people in your neighborhood complaining to Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint about dropping calls, or do you have poor coverage?
- What Kind of Lease is Being Offered? This is a major factor in they economics of your deal. Is it a direct lease with a wireless carrier like Verizon offering a 25-year deal, or is it a lease with a cell tower developer like Tillman Infrastructure who is building a cell tower for AT&T and FirstNet and offering you a 90-year deal?
- What’s the Supply of Available Locations? Where are nearby cell sites located? What other choices does the carrier have in the area? What are limiting factors such as zoning ordinance, setbacks, terrain, size of parcel, wetlands, mountains, etc.?
- What’s the Topography? How hard will it be to cover the area based on geography?
- What About Aesthetics? What will the visual impact be and what are local wireless ordinances requiring?
- What About Competing Sites? Is yours the only tall building with a flat rooftop in the area or are you competing against other possible candidates?
- What About Price Per Square Foot? Square foot price is NOT how cell tower lease values are calculated.
While your starting cell tower lease rate may have been worth $2,000 per month had it been built ten years ago, the economics have changed because the wireless carriers have allowed cell tower development companies to own the tower infrastructure, and lease vertical real estate to them, making Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and DISH their tenants.
When determining the value of a rooftop cell site or cell tower ground lease at a particular location the first thing you need to establish is (1.) WHO IS MAKING THE OFFER? Is the TENANT or the LESSOR a wireless carrier? Or is the tenant a cell tower developer on the lease agreement.
The real estate site acquisition representative may simply ask you if you are interested in having a cell tower on your land and they might tell you that they will pay you $500 per month. In rural or exterior suburban areas the cell tower proposal is being made by a tower company and not by a wireless carrier. If your location is in a suburban area with higher property values the lease being proposed will be a direct lease with a carrier like AT&T, Verizon Wireless or T-Mobile.
If a cell site is being proposed on the rooftop of your building in a downtown or urban area, it almost always will be a direct rooftop carrier lease with a cellular service provider and will almost always start above $1,500 per month. The fewer the competing rooftops there are in the area, and the tougher the zoning ordinance is for erecting new cell towers, the better chance you will have for getting a larger annual rent.
ROOFTOP CELL SITE LEASE RATE FORMULA: HIGH DEMAND FOR COVERAGE + LOW SUPPLY OF ROOFTOPS = HIGHER CELL SITE RENT
And of course the opposite is also true. If a cell site is being proposed on your building and there are several competing rooftops all around your property, the carriers will approach your neighbors and they will be able to leverage the competition to get a lower rent if possible. This is why there are some rooftop cell sites leases that pay $3,000 per month and there are some that pay $1,200 per month.
This is also true for cell tower land leases. If your property is one of many properties of equal or similar size, with similar access, elevation, setback and zoning in a search area, the cell tower developer can easily go to your neighbor and see if they are willing to accept a low-ball offer. However if your property falls under the less stringent county wireless zoning ordinance and is twenty acres in size, and all of the competing potential cell tower locations on the other side of the street are smaller and fall under the stricter municipal cell tower ordinance, your property will be easier for gaining approval, and it will speed up the approval and construction process. This will save the carrier or tower developer time and money and help them to get on-air faster and your location’s rent value is also higher. Remember, wireless industry money loves speed.
Tower Genius can help calculate the rental value of your :
- Verizon Wireless lease rates
- AT&T lease rates
- T-Mobile lease rates
- U.S. Cellular lease rates
- DISH Wireless lease rates
- American Tower lease rates
- Crown Castle lease rates
- SBA Communications lease rates
- Vertical Bridge lease rates
- Rooftop 5G small cells with Verizon & AT&T
- New cell tower land leases
- New rooftop cell site leases
- Cell tower and cell site lease renewals
Let’s Talk About Your Cell Tower Lease Rate!
Please fill out the form below if we can help you with your site specific cell site lease and rental value questions. Here are some of the common questions we have recently discussed with visitors to our website:
- A property manager was negotiating a retail lease for a Verizon Wireless store which had a small cell antenna installed on its rooftop paying zero cell site rent to the building owners for years. VZW, upon request of the landlord agreed to offer the landlord a token $500 per month payment for a rooftop lease where they were beefing up the cell site from a small cell to a full-blown macrocell, adding a large amount of equipment and expanding on the rooftop. Verizon as of late has also used third party negotiators to convince landlords to lower the rents and add terms to the lease that limit the rights of the landlord. Do you need to find out the correct Verizon cell tower lease rate at your cell site location?
- DISH Wireless rooftop and ground lease rate questions are also very common. Most of the DISH lease rate requests are for rooftop 5G antenna deployments and we are also fielding frequent requests for ground lease valuations at properties where DISH is planning to install antennas on existing cell phone towers with companies like American Tower, Crown Castle and SBA Communications, and they do not have enough ground space and need to sign a separate land lease with the owner. Similarly DISH is also utilizing electric transmission towers where no other structures exist, and they have easement running though private property and need a ground lease agreement with the landowner. Don’t leave your DISH cell tower lease rate to chance.
- We get frequent requests from building owners where T-Mobile’s leases are reaching 20-25 year maturity and need to be renewed. T-Mobile typically has a third party like Md7 or Black Dot attempt to reduce these rents under the subtle threat exercising their termination rights if a rent guarantee is not given. T-Mobile to its credit has been very consistent in building new cell towers which are usually assigned to a tower management company. Don’t leave your T-Mobile cell tower lease rates to chance, with Tower Genius there is zero learning curve and you can be confident that you are negotiating the correct rental value of your specific location.
- Similar to T-Mobile, AT&T’s rooftop cell sites built during the mid 1990’s and early 2000’s are reaching maturity after being on-air for 20 to 25 years and need to be renewed. Additionally in many markets, AT&T needs to add generators to rooftops. What is the value of your AT&T cell site location’s lease if they need to expand and add a generator? AT&T is also building many new cell towers intended to support the FirstNet emergency responder network. Do you have questions about AT&T cell tower lease rates? We can help you get the information that you need.
- All US wireless major carriers with the exception of US Cellular (AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile Sprint) have for the most part sold the majority of their tower to major cell tower management companies, who now own and manage their towers. The carriers are now tenants and the carriers pay the tower companies rent. The Big-4 cell tower companies American Tower, Crown Castle, SBA Communications and Vertical Bridge control over 80% of the cell phone towers in the United States. These giant vertical real estate companies are in the business of maximizing their profit margins on these tower portfolios. Their biggest expense is paying you, the cell tower landlord. What is an American Tower lease rate on an expiring 3-carrier (AT&T Verizon & T-Mobile) tower surrounded by hundreds of new homes in a Texas subdivision with six years remaining on the lease? What is the SBA cell tower lease rate on a single carrier T-Mobile tower expiring in less than a year next to a major interstate highway in the outskirts of a large metropolitan area? What is the Crown Castle cell tower lease rate on a single carrier AT&T site covering one of the top golf courses on a property owned by a water company?
These are the kinds of questions we’ve been answering for our clients for over 15 years on a daily business, and chances are we can answer them for you too. Please give us a call at Tower Genius at 1-888-313-9750 or fill out this short contact form below. Thank you.
Contact UsWe would love to hear from you! Please fill out this form and one of us from Tower Genius will get in touch with you shortly.
“Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.” — Abraham Lincoln