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How to create a new income stream from an existing phone mast

For landowners or commercial property owners with tele mast agreements in place:

It’s only seven years since the first iPhone was launched and six since HTC presented its first Android smartphone. No longer simply mobile phones, they have become an almost indispensable part of everyday life, with Ofcom figures for the first quarter of 2014 showing 93% of the UK population owning or using a mobile phone. And as the market has grown, competition between operators has become increasingly fierce. No matter the deals and loyalty gifts, customers switch providers for one main reason – the signal.

Masts have sprung up across the country, with the leasing of land in urban and rural areas. Infrastructure is expensive, however, in 2009 the big four began to consider ways to minimise costs and provide what they say is a better service for customers.

The first to join forces were Orange and T-Mobile, who merged their UK operations under the name Everything Everywhere Ltd (EE).

In July 2010, EE and 3 also partnered under the Mobile Broadband Network Limited (MBNL).

The Cornerstone Project followed, where O2 and Vodafone formed a partnership to operate as separate providers, but share a network.

It was inevitable that providers would have masts in close proximity, so decommissioning masts to put a stop to duplication is a method of cutting costs.

That leaves those who have masts on their land or property in an extremely difficult position, with the prospect of losing crucial rental income. Landowners could find themselves under pressure regarding rental rates or extra demands from the network, knowing that another mast is in the vicinity and one will go.

One solution for landowners is selling the lease on, to a company who will take the risk along with the rental income for the mast. It eliminates the risk of future rent reduction or complete decommissioning. Furthermore the capital received could be invested in other projects or development opportunities and would also free up time as the landowner would no longer need to deal with the mobile operators.

APWireless is a company who has worked with thousands of landowners to lease their mobile phone masts and continues to assemble a portfolio of telecoms sites to market to the operators for future growth. Unlike a landowner with one site, having a portfolio shields APWireless from the effects of a single site being decommissioned.

The situation of each landowner or leaseholder is as varied as the sites themselves which is why APWireless employs surveyors throughout the UK and Ireland who will visit and discuss the site and its current lease position with the landowner.

It’s not just rural locations which are of interest, the sites can be ground based towers, rooftop masts or those on structures such as flagpole and towers used for floodlighting.

Once terms are agreed, it usually takes six to eight weeks to complete a transaction, with funds either being paid in a lump sum or in regular instalments.

It’s an uncertain time for those who may be depending on rental income from masts. Selling the lease on to AP Wireless would provide guaranteed income and leave time free to pursue other projects.

There are also funding options to support the legal support required to achieve this.

If you would like to know more contact me on sl@businesslaw.co.uk or 01383 721 621. We work with clients across Scotland.

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