LOS ANGELES � Recently, in the pages of Radio magazine today we�ve reported on differing views of the �tower model� (or macro-cell) technology used by cell telephone carriers (here and here. We�ll continue looking at this industry trend � because, ultimately, this is the technology that competes with the one-to-many broadcast model that we understand, and remains our biggest threat.�
Figures from CTIA show a notable slowdown in tower buildouts last year. �Wells Fargo indicated �the industry added 708 net sites in 2016 vs. 9,571 in 2015. We would expect to see a material change in this trend in 2017 as carriers look to further densify their networks and new spectrum (AWS-3, WCS, 2.5GHz) continues to be deployed,� as quoted in this article in fiercewireless.com
Barclays predicted that AT&T leading the way in terms tower deployments; the carrier owns more than 40 MHz of unused spectrum across 700 MHz, AWS-3 and WCS that it hasn�t yet employed.
Sprint�s Tarek Robbiati promised the carrier would double its spending on its network this year after cutting it back dramatically in 2016. �…we expect spending to double year-over-year to approximately $3.5 billion to $4 billion as we ramp up our densification and utilize the expanded toolbox of the various cost-efficient coverage and capacity options,� quoted in the same article.
Verizon has been spending cash to deploy small cells to densify its network, and T-Mobile is expected to put its vast 600 MHz holdings into use.