Generating Revenue Through Telecommunications Equipment: Options for Self-Storage Property Owners

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By Hugh D. Odom

Like many property owners, self-storage operators are always seeking ways to generate additional revenue from their investment. One solution is the placement of telecommunications equipment. This could be cell towers, rooftop equipment, an internal switch, or even distributed antenna-system equipment that can be placed inside existing storage units.

For the most part, self-storage facilities are ideally suited for the placement of this equipment for three reasons:

  • The layout of the facility, which avails the property to the placement of various types of equipment
  • Favorable zoning classification needed for placement of such equipment
  • Proximity to commercial and residential areas

If self-storage facilities have these advantages, why don’t more of them have telecommunications equipment on their premises? The simple answer is the right people have to first know your property is available.

Sparking Interest

Most people think the major telecommunications carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint and Cricket) are the points of contact for the placement of telecommunications equipment on a property. They’re not. While it’s beneficial to have connection with these companies, to make any headway in getting your site selected, you really have to know the right people inside these entities, the ones who make the decisions. Here are your options:

1. You can hope a carrier, tower company or one of their representatives knocks on your door and offers to place equipment on your site. Even so, how do you truly know the value of your property as it relates to its use as a telecommunications hub? Or the value of the revenue center created through the subleasing of space on your property? Remember that while this type of transaction has a real estate foundation, it’s truly more of a telecommunications transaction, and the terms and value should be set accordingly.

2. You can work with a company whose sole purpose is building telecommunication sites, referred to as a “land-banking” company. It’ll shop your property around to see if it can build or place equipment there. If it finds an interested party, it’ll pay you a fraction of what it’s going to receive from the carrier. Beware of these companies, as their primary motivation is their own interests.

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