2011 was not a banner year for tower crews with T-Mobile and AT&T both largely holding off on cell tower development and Sprint still preparing for its Network Vision project. Many tower crew companies went out of business and disbanded. But with LTE rollouts going full speed ahead this year, Thomas Dolislager, principal of SellTower Consulting and SellTower Services, told AGL Bulletin that this year couldn’t be any more different.
“This year, everyone is working,” he said. “I have heard many people say this is the busiest line and antenna year they have ever seen in the industry.”
Both through his consulting work helping companies to find tower crews and in his own tower crew company, Dolislager has seen the competition to find tower crews markedly increase and with tower crew companies competing among themselves to keep their climbers from joining other companies.
“I have a small tower crew company, Selltower Services in Texas, which does antenna and line work for Goodman Networks, and we are having work offered to us almost every week that we can’t find anyone to do,” he said. “We are seeing tower crews become very choosy about which jobs they take, based on the pricing and payment terms.”
As a result, Dolislager estimates that the rollout of LTE sites may be a little slower and more expensive.
“I expect to see delays of 15 percent to 25 percent, but nothing dramatic,” he said. “Not having the resources will slow them down and it will raise the cost.
Dolislager said he has been working hard, but successfully, in procuring personnel for his major clients to convert the towers to 4G technology. He is seeing unprecedented cooperation in the industry as it copes with the strains on its personnel resources.
“We feel very fortunate to have found vendors to handle all the tower work. We had to go much more local and with much smaller companies than in the past to get those needs met,” he said. “It has been ‘all hands on deck’ to find the right resources. The carriers are actually helping us find resources from their preferred ranks. That is unusual.”