Fran Shammo (pictured), Verizon Communications’ CFO, apparently inspired by AT&T raking in $4.85 billion from a tower deal with Crown Castle last year, said he’s open to similar network divestment.
Speaking at an investor conference, reported on by Reuters and Bloomberg, Shammo said AT&T’s arrangement with Crown Castle was a good one. “It opened our eyes and we said ‘OK, maybe there is a way to get through this and protect our interest and get a deal that is palatable to us’.”
As part of AT&T’s $4.85 billion deal, which was cash up front, the US heavyweight agreed to lease around 9,100 of its wireless towers – and sell another 600 – to the tower firm.
By leasing towers, rather than selling them outright, AT&T reserved the right to add capacity where and when it needed. Shammo told the investor conference he was keen on similar flexibility.
The Crown Castle arrangement might see AT&T eventually bag over $9 billion. As the leases expire – the average length is around 28 years – the tower firm has the option to buy them for about $4.2 billion.
Separately, Shammo added that the company’s LTE multicast technology will be available in most devices launched during the fourth quarter.
By simultaneously delivering media content to multiple users over a single data stream, operators can give their networks some protection from data overload (which is more likely if single data streams are allocated to each single user).
Verizon is negotiating deals with content providers to create a web-based TV service delivered to mobile platforms, but Shammo reckons it will take a few years before multicast technology will drum up revenues from content providers due to the limited subscriber base.
Shammo said Verizon would have better leverage with content providers once Nielsen Holdings, which measures TV audiences, measures mobile viewers as well. Nielsen is expected to launch that service in the fourth quarter.