Negotiating with the tower conglomerates

FM does it with frequency!
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oldradioguy
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Negotiating with the tower conglomerates

Post by oldradioguy » Wed Jun 12, 2019 1:17 pm

First time negotiating with one of the big tower companies. The math they learned in school does not even come close to what I learned.

This particular company requires a 5 million dollar umbrella policy for a 250 watt translator with a one bay antenna with 7/8 line. Of course I have to pay thousands for their engineer to assert that nothing will go wrong. Have to pay a premium to use their heavily insured tower contractor to make sure nothing will go wrong. Then they want 5 million dollars in insurance. My agent just laughed at me.

I have talked to some fellow small broadcasters who are on a corporate tower and none has ever been asked for more than two million. I found some actual contracts online between Verizon and this particular tower owner and they only needed 2 million.

Is this three letter tower company pretty much telling me they would rather not deal with a little pipsqueak like me and please go away.

TPT
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Re: Negotiating with the tower conglomerates

Post by TPT » Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:59 pm

Yes--to your question in the last line of your post. There is a view in the corporate centers of Bos-Wash (AKA/Acela Corridor) that towers are made of 14 K gold, and tower space should be priced accordingly. While this may be true in certain areas of the NIMBY-east, in many parts of the country you can build a tower more cheaply than what it will cost for installation, studies and rent for a year on a cell tower.

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kkiddkkidd
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Re: Negotiating with the tower conglomerates

Post by kkiddkkidd » Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:41 pm

The large vertical real estate companies would rather not mess with small owners but will certainly take your money if you insist... And don't try to slip in a fly-by-night tower crew. A ministry group that I did some work for many years ago tried that and got to pay the VRE's certified tower crew to replace some broken panel antennas and jumpers for their other cell tenants.

Of 30+ clients, I only have 2 that are on VRE towers and they are both astoundingly expensive but are DA's shoehorned in and neither can move from their current home.

I had to up my umbrella to 5 million just to access VRE sites. 5m wasn't too much more expensive than 2 million. On the other hand, the VRE tower crew is often at least double the cost of any other reputable tower crews.

In general, I strongly recommend that broadcast stations stay far, far, far away from vertical real estate properties.

Also be aware that your high (IIRC, 9th-12th) harmonics can cause interference to hyper-sensitive cell equipment. Typically this is cabinet radiation but you would have to fix it.

Regards,
--
Kevin C. Kidd CSRE/AMD
WD4RAT
AM Ground Systems Company
http://www.amgroundsystems.com
KK Broadcast Engineering
http://www.kkbc.com

TPT
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Re: Negotiating with the tower conglomerates

Post by TPT » Thu Jun 13, 2019 6:02 am

Don't count on the expertise of the cell phone techs when you get an "interference" complaint.

Have a broadcast site with a cell installation on top--the station owns the tower. The cell firm was installing some 700 mhz. equipment and found "spurs" around 8 times carrier frequency. Seemed to be coming from the metal door of the enclosure....rusty hinges. Cabinet radiation from an ECO-6

More recently same cell company had a problem with a signal getting into an 800 mhz. receiver at the site. Seemed to be coming from their 700 mhz transmission equipment. Tower crew comes in, starts banging on the tower, tried stringing #18 wire from our rack to transmitter for "grounding."

Meanwhile, got a good look at how their system worked. Shielded heavy gauge cable feeding -48 VDC to the amplifiers on the top of the tower. About 15 feet above the antenna was a junction box (which the tower guys called a "squid") where short jumpers fed power to various amplifiers and receivers.

A little basic math and the tech and I figured out that the interfering signal = the 700 mhz signal plus the FM frequency. Obvious (to me) that the FM carrier was getting into the 700mhz. equipment, probably at the DC power feed. Problem: the shield of the power cable was grounded into the "squid" but shields on the little 3~5 foot jumpers weren't connected to anything. I brought a little SWR FM antenna to the site--showed the tech that while the antenna looked like a DC short (center conductor to the antenna) --it obviously wasn't at RF frequencies. Light bulb came on. They grounded the shields on all the jumpers and problem went away.

oldradioguy
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Re: Negotiating with the tower conglomerates

Post by oldradioguy » Thu Jun 13, 2019 7:45 am

Thanks for the input. I too have very limited options due to 3rd adjacent clearance, and how far I can go. Would be OK with building my own tower on a hilltop, but the available hilltops in the right location are largely inaccessible and forested. Building tower not bad. Building a road and getting power.... not so much.

As a small business I like doing business with other small businesses. It's obvious the big VRE companies would rather not deal with me.

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Deep Thought
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Re: Negotiating with the tower conglomerates

Post by Deep Thought » Thu Jun 13, 2019 1:23 pm

kkiddkkidd wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 9:41 pm
In general, I strongly recommend that broadcast stations stay far, far, far away from vertical real estate properties.
And in typical broadcast industry irony, the broadcast stations are largely responsible for the creation of the vertical real estate properties as they ate their seed corn by selling their towers to the VRE outfits two decades ago...
Mark Mueller • Mueller Broadcast Design • La Grange, IL • http://www.muellerbroadcastdesign.com

TPT
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Re: Negotiating with the tower conglomerates

Post by TPT » Fri Jun 14, 2019 5:21 pm

And lots of speculation involved driving up tower prices. Maybe other monkey business. We bought an FM station just about 10 years ago, co-located with a CC station on a 200' tower. Assignment (open area) fairly tight (I did the original channel allocation). Couple of years later, as our lease term was expiring, an adjacent property came for sale. 17 acres with a commercial garage, and about 2 1/2 acres of level land. So we bought that site for $80,000, put in about $25K improvements to the building, built a new 200' tower and moved our 2 bay to this new tower.

Couple of years later that original tower site is sold. Now this is a an 1.7 acre site in WV, with a 30 year old guyed tower & small concrete communications shelter. The sale price on the deed was $854,000!!

kb4mdz
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Re: Negotiating with the tower conglomerates

Post by kb4mdz » Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:41 pm

It's not just the tower conglomerates; it seems to be everybody, thinking they can get top dollar.

While I was working for a municipal radio shop and maintaining some equipment on a tall building, I approached them about siting a 2M. repeater there for a long-established local club. I had a nice introductory letter, 501C-3 Status, promise of being the main contact, offer to vett all other club technicians, yadda yadda yadda.

15 - 20 years ago the radio room was jammed with chain-link fence cages, and every cage was full of stuff; lots of paging. Now? Only 2 of the 8 cages have anything in them, rest are used for storage.

Nope, not gonna do it, they're waiting for real paying customers instead of even using our tax status for a write-off.

Nobody but nobody has moved into there in the last 12 years. But!!! .. .. .. They'll wait for current rates to improve!!

Yeah, right.

radio_guru
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Re: Negotiating with the tower conglomerates

Post by radio_guru » Fri Jun 21, 2019 3:50 pm

Not entirely true. The 501c-3 is a PIA to account for on the donor side. Especially in non-tangible things such as services and space-available amenities which there are no otherwise paying customers being displaced or obstructed.

More over, all the buildings I've ever dealt with which didn't require insurance and other higher security measures now require such and is a cost them to administrate access to the radio room for what is/are non-revenue producing tenants.

The only time it's worked is where there is a quid-pro-quo like kind exchange of services that passes audit standards. But such would also include the necessary liability insurance to be there. And that also presumes the building is not already managed by a site manager...which they generally want nothing of the barter sort short of specific expertise in managing the site.

RG...

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