Economics, Housing, & Commercial Real Estate Analysis

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  • Alex Pettee, CFA

Cell Tower REITs: 5G's True Killer App

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  • With 5G on the horizon, Cell Tower REITs have outperformed the broader real estate sector in each of the past four years. 5G technology will fundamentally disrupt the communications sector.

  • The true “killer app” for 5G will be fixed wireless broadband internet. Dense small cell networks will allow carriers to deliver fiber-like speeds without the last-mile wires into each home.

  • The technological limitations of 5G – notably the very small coverage area per antenna – mean that 5G small cell networks will complement, not replace, macro cell tower networks.

  • The Sprint/T-Mobile merger saga continues. Just when a deal appeared imminent, a new curveball emerges. We think that Sprint’s troubles are overstated and that no-deal outcome would benefit tower REITs.

  • Cell tower REITs continue to benefit from a favorable competitive positioning within the telecommunication sector. Concentrated ownership and strong demand have translated into substantial pricing power for cell tower operators.


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