Tower Crews Experience Unprecedented Demand
Just when the wireless industry breathed a collective sigh of relief as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint finally kicked off their LTE projects, a new problem arose. There are too few tower crews and too many carriers needing their services.
What had been a fair $15,000 installation project is now costing $22K up to $30K in some markets. Even companies willing to pay the higher rates cannot find crews available. What are the factors driving this low Supply and high Demand?
The Supply problem has its roots back in the failed AT&T acquisition of T-Mobile. While AT&T made their case to the FCC and DOJ, both companies largely shelved their network upgrade and expansion plans. At the same time, Sprint delayed it Network Vision project while waiting for the LightSquared GPS interference issue to get ironed out. Many small network infrastructure installation firms ran out of money and left the industry during this 2011 lull.
In 2012, Sprint finally kicked off Network Vision, AT&T and T-Mobile initiated their LTE deployments, and regional players like C-Spire and US Cellular also ramped up their own LTE deployments. Demand for tower crews soared along with the temperature this Summer as all of these parties discovered that there were not enough crews to get the work done. As expected the price of tower crew work started to rise as the carriers and their larger network infrastructure partners scrambled to lock in crews.
What is the net result of this bidding war? Higher costs for the carriers (except Verizon who is close to completing its LTE network build) and project delays as crews working on Friday disappear to better paying jobs on Monday. Even if you find replacements, it takes time to get them trained. SellTower predicts that the market for tower crews will not cool off until the Summer of 2013 at the earliest.
So…if you know of any tower crews looking for work, send them my way!