Cellular infrastructure is big business, and start-ups in this space come around about as often as unicorns. Until now. One company is seeking to leverage its clout as a public company and grab an even bigger slice of the 5G wireless buildout.
Against the backdrop of a multi-billion-dollar 5G wireless network buildout that’s just getting started — and a dearth of contractors positioned to piece together the infrastructure to support it — EasTower Wireless Inc. (ESTW:TSX.V), a Florida-based communications infrastructure start-up, is going public.
From its headquarters in Boca Raton, EasTower will offer investors the chance to gain exposure to the most capital-hungry communications system since the LTE buildout peaked in 2013. Shares in EasTower will start trading today at CA$0.25.
This year U.S. telco’s AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile are expected to spend a combined $70 billion ($70B) on cellular infrastructure in 2022, while AT&T alone was awarded the 25-year, $100B federal contract to build FirstNet, a national emergency services network for first responders on the exclusive 700 Mhz Band 14 spectrum.
Furthermore, the Biden Administration has earmarked $65B to widen the high-speed broadband network across the U.S. as part of its American Jobs Plan.
Ireland-based information technology consultant Accenture, in a report titled The Impact of 5G on the United States Economy, says that $92 billion was spent on 5G network construction in the U.S. between 2017 and 2022. The report estimates that as many as 16 million full- and part-time jobs will be created as a result of the increased speed and capacity provided by 5G.
More importantly, the Accenture report estimates that by 2035 the value of global output over 5G wireless will exceed $12 trillion.
The 5G wireless system moves data at 10 gigabytes per second, versus the 100-megabytes-per-second peak rate in the previous 4G network. That unprecedented speed allows companies to provide internet and cable over wireless rather than, say, cable or fibreoptics. The network is also a lot more efficient in how it operates, so there’s less latency.
Businesses that are becoming more dependent on 5G include healthcare, e-gaming, and artificial intelligence tech. Sector pundits believe 5G will even lead to so-called “smart cars” in a few years.
Leading the charge for EasTower is Chairman and CEO Vlado P. Hreljanovic, a Fordham University-educated accountant who has operated EasTower as a private company since it was founded in 2015.
He knows the wireless infrastructure business in Florida and says competition among the big boys is fueling demand for 5G infrastructure.
“The race that is going on now is who’s going to be king of the 5G mountain? Is it going to be AT&T, Verizon, or T-Mobile? They’re all in the race, and the race is huge, so everybody’s jumping on board with new upgrades,” Hreljanovic told Streetwise.
Hreljanovic explains that older towers often have to be taken down because they can’t support the weight of 5G equipment because as many as five carriers can be on one 5G tower. The full-sized 5G antenna arrays are much heavier than those from the previous generation of wireless. The new system also needs greater concentration to transmit over the same distance as 4G.
But It’s Not All Big Bulky Equipment
The 5G spectrum doesn’t penetrate buildings as easily as 4G, so smaller cells are being placed almost everywhere in urban settings.
So far 28 U.S. states have passed legislation to streamline rules for 5G small cell deployment in public areas.
“The Telco’s are so heavily involved in 5G that I believe they will have to take the site acquisition budgets from 2023 and possibly 2024 and move them into 2022. 5G is composed of a lot of small cells; cells that will go on lampposts, buildings, etc. So in order to accomplish that implementation, you need state permits. Telco’s want to get ahead of the curve,” Hreljanovic told Streetwise.
EasTower works with four-man crews. Each crew generates between $65,000 and $71,000 a month. It costs about $75,000 to train a crew and get each member certified.
The company currently has three crews operating as often as possible. Hreljanovic plans to double that number to six by the end of August.
“We have sign-on bonuses for anybody coming on board. We’ve also hired an immigration attorney with NAFTA credentials that would allow us to get qualified labor within a month or two from both Canada and Mexico. And we have trainers in-house to train them and put them to work,” Hreljanovic explained.
Hreljanovic says 40 crews is the sweet spot where the bigger players start to eye companies as takeover targets.
EasTower management projects $3M in revenue in 2022 but expects that number to exceed $11M in 2023 as it hires and trains more crews or uses its public company cash to “roll up” smaller companies via mergers or outright takeovers.
Vancouver-based investor Darren Sontowski is a large EasTower shareholder and helped put together the IPO. He believes the cellular infrastructure market is fragmented between the “mom-and-pop” players, and sees a great opportunity for a roll-up strategy.
“The idea here is to grow EasTower, both organically and through M&A, so it becomes that mid-tier to upper-tier infrastructure company that doesn’t really exist right now,” Sontowski told Streetwise.
EasTower has about 70 million shares fully diluted and a market cap of $15.1M.
1) Brian Sylvester compiled this article for Streetwise Reports LLC and provides services to Streetwise Reports as an independent contractor. He or members of his household own securities of the following companies mentioned in the article: None. He and members of his household are paid by the following companies mentioned in this article: None. His company has a financial relationship with the following companies referred to in this article: None.
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