Crown Castle said its pipeline of contracted small cells nodes to be constructed over the next 18-24 months stands at 35,000
Crown Castle expects to deploy between 10,000 and 15,000 small cells in 2019, CEO Jay Brown said during an earnings call with analysts.
“In addition to the expected acceleration and new leasing activity, our pipeline of contracted small cell nodes to be constructed over the next 18 to 24 months continues to grow, and currently stands at an all-time high of approximately 35,000, which is up 40% from this time last year,” Brown said. “This increased activity is a result of all four of our large customers investing in their networks through towers and small cells to both keep pace with the current 4G demand environment and position their networks for 5G.”
Brown emphasized that Crown Castle is currently seeing activity from all four of the operators on small cells deployment, and that there has been “broadening [in]both the increase in the number of nodes that we are turning on year year-over-year, but also the number of new contracted nodes that we are seeing in the business.
“That’s in part a function which we saw over the course of early 2018. Some of that was the broadening of the customer base and all of them beginning to deploy small cells,” Brown added. “But I think more recently, if you took this quarter and what we expect to see into 2019 as the activity accelerates, there is really a broadening of the number of markets in which those nodes are deployed,” the executive added.
Brown highlighted that the vast majority of the activity in the small cells segment will be concentrated in the top 30 markets in the United States.
He also said that Crown Castle is well-positioned to capture a large portion of the business opportunity in the small cells segment in the US market.
“If I think more broadly about the opportunity around small cells, I don’t think 10,000 to 15,000 nodes a year is going to get anywhere close to accomplishing what the carriers have publicly talked about their needs for small cells and the densification that’s going to be required for the 5G,” Brown said. “And I believe based on our operating capability, our expertise, the assets that we have, and how we develop relationships with both municipalities and our customers, I believe we’re going to be the provider of choice as the opportunity scales.”
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