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The Role of Rooftop Infrastructure for 5G

As mobile network operators increase 5G capabilities, rooftops will play a vital role. Learn what they look for when considering a rooftop for 5G.

The market size for 5G services is projected to grow 46.2% every year1 from now until 2028. The growth of 5G will require a massive infrastructural investment by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), and rooftop infrastructure is going to play a pivotal role in this investment.

For a building owner, this presents an attractive opportunity. The rooftops and sides (facades) of your buildings are prime real estate for MNOs looking to densify networks and increase capacity or coverage.

Rooftops make it possible for antennas on the 5G network to transmit 5G signals directly to users through a better line of sight in an urban area. In this way, people and devices on the ground and near the edges of neighboring buildings can consistently get reliable 5G reception.

Direct Line of Sight

A direct line of sight enables a 5G signal to go directly from an antenna to a user’s device, without getting corrupted by buildings or other objects that would otherwise be in the way. To truly unleash the potential of 5G, including the significantly faster speed than 4G and 3G, higher frequency should be utilized. Frequency refers to the number of waves within a signal over a period of time. The higher the frequency of the waves, the more data being transferred per second.

One of the challenges with utilizing a higher-frequency spectrum is that it cannot travel long distances. For this reason, MNOs must increase the number of cell sites in a given area, making rooftops often the only option when incorporating a 5G network in an urban location.

Another critical challenge with higher-frequency spectrum is it does not travel well through buildings and walls. With 5G antennas installed on several rooftops or building facades in an area, the signal of each antenna can go directly to each device, using it instead of traveling through other buildings.

Considerations for Rooftop Leases

Marketing your rooftops to MNOs is important in helping establish an additional revenue stream. Our goal is to provide a streamlined collocation experience for our customers. Here are some things our customers look for when considering a rooftop:

Agreement Type

The kind of agreement you have with us plays a significant part in the feasibility of your buildings’ rooftops as hosts for 5G antennas. In many cases, MNOs already have their coverage gaps mapped out. They prefer to work with building owners who have easement or long-term lease agreements in place, because this allows for a smoother rollout of their infrastructure.

Comprehensive Rooftop Specifications

From the perspective of an MNO, speed to market plays a critical role. When doing Radio Frequency (RF) analysis and comparing rooftops, the more information regarding a site, the better. Comprehensive information makes it easier for them to determine the feasibility of a site, without having to make assumptions and reach out to the owner, causing delays. Here are some documents they look for:

  • Photographs
  • As-built plans, detailing areas that can be used
  • Maintenance contacts
  • Auxiliary information the customer may need to move forward

Action Steps for Building Owners

To take advantage of the additional revenue renting your building’s rooftop or façade makes possible, as a building owner, you can:

  • Provide your American Tower real estate account manager with complete information for your location
  • Once we have customer interest, prepare to grant access for:
    • A site walk to verify the suitability of your building
    • A preconstruction walk before the installation of antennas
    • Installation of equipment
  • Be responsive, as our customers are looking for an owner who is active and committed to making the collocation process smooth and timely

The objective is to work with American Tower to provide a speedy approval, which will make your building a more attractive prospect for MNOs. Our customers like to see lease approvals wrapped up within 30 days or less. This still allows ample time for American Tower to handle any paperwork, site preparation, and concerns that may arise throughout the process.

Use the Growth of 5G to Build Revenue With American Tower

Due to positions and locations that enable direct lines of sight, building rooftops and facades can be prime real estate for MNOs. With American Tower, you can build an additional revenue stream and enjoy a hands-off, hassle-free experience. Contact us to discuss ways we can work together to better meet the needs of our customers.

Jay is responsible for rooftop portfolio management at American Tower, with a priority of ensuring rooftop owners are satisfied with our care and service.

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1Grand View Research, Inc., 5G Services Market Size, Share &Trends Analysis Report By Communication Type (FWA, eMBB, uRLLC, mMTC), By Vertical (Manufacturing, IT & Telecom, BFSI), By Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2021 – 2028, Mar. 2021.

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