For every landowner with an open parcel of land that isn’t currently under use, a cell tower sounds like a great way to add value to the land and bring in an extra monthly income. If you know anyone who owns a cell tower lease, you’ve probably heard that the income is a welcome addition to their finances and that having a cell tower on the land turns out to be a lucrative investment. So how do you get a cell tower on your own plot of land? The answer to this question is not so clear, as cell tower leasing isn’t a simple matter of getting a tower company to build a tower and solicit a wireless company for tenancy. Here are some suggestions for marketing your land and increasing your chances of getting a tower built.
Getting a Cell Tower on Your Land
Before we get started, you should know that the chances of getting a new tower built on your land is close to 1%. That’s right: wireless carriers are very selective about where to build a new tower. A wireless company will select a parcel of land to build on based on a set of narrow criteria in the form of a “Search Ring.” A Search Ring is an area on a map chosen by company engineers as the best location to build a new tower. This area takes into account the topography of the land, gaps in wireless coverage, surrounding populations of customers, zoning conditions, distance to adjacent towers, and other characteristics that make a given stretch of land more desirable for cell tower placement.
Most cell tower lease owners are contacted by a company agent requesting usage of their land. So really if you think your land is a viable location for a cell site, the waiting game is the best chance you’ve got at being selected for a tower lease. However if your land exhibits a lot of the characteristics required by a wireless carrier to build a tower, there are certainly some things you can do to actively improve your chances.
If you decide to market your land, you should think about the characteristics your land demonstrates; otherwise you risk wasting your time. First of all, your land shouldn’t be less than a mile away from another cell tower. Due to the current demand of coverage and data usage, wireless companies are having towers built every mile or so. Are you surrounded by a dense population, or is your land located next to a major highway? These things help.
You should also see about getting into contact with your local zoning department and find out whether your land is even zoned for cell tower usage. Many jurisdictions don’t allow cell towers on residentially zoned plots, and they will have other regulatory requirements that your land should meet. One last question to ask yourself is this: is your land unique? If your land is perfect for a cell tower, is it the only area that can accept a cell tower in the region, or could a neighbor possibly accept a cell tower as well?
Market Your Property
If you think your land uniquely exhibits the characteristics required for a cell tower, there are some things you can do to make yourself more visible to wireless carriers, tower companies, and their agents. Put out a sign on your property or near the closest highway that advertises your availability for a cell site, along with a phone number you can be reached at. You can also attend any local zoning hearings for new cell tower construction and see if you can talk to a company agent or representative.
Contact Carriers and Tower Companies Directly
Carriers are not always easy to approach directly. Many of them have their own procedures for scouting out cell tower sites and they are solicited by landowners all of the time. However you can try getting through to major carriers like Verizon, T-Mobile, Cingular, and Sprint to see whether they are interested in scouting out new cell sites.
Tower companies tend to work with carriers when they build new towers. They can’t just build towers all over the country and hope to get paying tenants for the reason mentioned above: wireless carriers are very selective about where they lease cell towers because they have particular plans for their wireless networks. Plus if a cell tower is going to be built at all, many localities require a letter of intent from a licensed carrier that is going to be using the cell tower as part of the zoning regulations. However it doesn’t hurt to try to contact these companies for prospects, or to simply gather more information about your own region.
Get Professional Help
It also helps your chances if you network with professionals that are involved in the industry. There are various databases that tower companies and carriers set up to make their searches easier; getting your information into one of these databases can help. The closer you are to industry professionals, the more you’ll know about what is happening in your region and you’ll be positioned to take advantage of an opportunity if it comes your way.
There are also leasing acquisition and consultation companies, like Lease Advisors, which mediate between cell tower lease owners and other industry professionals. Companies like these offer negotiation services, enabling everyday people to more easily access and communicate with tower companies. Whatever path you choose, make sure you don’t go it alone. A professional helping hand is an invaluable asset, and the right lease agreement pays huge dividends. So be patient, be persistent, and be practical.