Towers Will See Strong Growth in 2019


Despite the 5G talk, investment in LTE will see plenty of runway in 2019, which is leading to more new tower builds, tower executives say. T-Mobile is building coverage sites for its low-band 600 MHz and 700 MHz spectrum, and AT&T is contemplating a network improvement project as well as its FirstNet-related project. Both of which involve ample new sites, Alex Gellman, CEO, Vertical Bridge, told AGL eDigest.

“We are in a renaissance period for good old macrotowers in the next few years ahead of 5G,” Gellman said. “The reason I feel that way is we are seeing a lot of rings for new towers. The economics and speed of collocations is hard to beat, but there will be new builds as well.

Ron Bizick, CEO, Tarpon Towers, described the new-build business as “vibrant.” It is bringing good times to the independent tower companies.

“There are a lot more towers being built in the rural areas to fill out the white spaces, particularly for AT&T’s FirstNet,” he said. “We are seeing the other carriers build out their coverage, as well. We have targeted some rural areas where we think a second tenant is possible, but only a second tenant.”

With that said, carrier capital expenditures are a quarter-by quarter-question mark. In the first quarter of 2019, tower owners will be looking closely at the capex budgets of AT&T and Verizon after the Big Two pulled back on their spend toward the end of 2018. AT&T’s reduced capex came after the Time Warner deal closed and Verizon shaved $1 billion off its guidance after announcing 44,000 in layoffs last year. Additionally, Verizon had a $4.6B write down of Oath (Yahoo and AOL).

“They pushed capex out at the end of 2018. Was that a trend or a one-time occurrence?” Gellman said. “The layoffs and the write down may be a signal a greater focus on the network in the future.”

Whither Sprint/T-Mobile?

Last year’s big story, the Sprint/T-Mobile merger, is carrying over to this year. It was bad news for some tower companies, which saw Sprint business go away after the deal was announced. Gellman believes the quiet surrounding the deal is a portent for its blessing from the Department of Justice. In the long run, he believes the merger will be positive for the industry.

“Sprint has not spent on its network in a meaningful way for a number of years, while T-Mobile has been very aggressive,” he said. “A stronger, larger T-Mobile will be excellent for our industry. T-Mobile is solely focus on its network, while AT&T and Verizon have other places to put their capital and have sometimes invested elsewhere than in the network. If T-Mobile is the same size as AT&T, it will be more difficult for it to do that.”

Jennifer Fritzsche, senior analyst, Wells Fargo, believes the Sprint/T-Mobile merger will go through in the first half of 2019. “Our regulatory checks suggest that the DoJ/FCC approval process has been relatively drama-free thus far,” Fritzsche wrote in an Equity Research note.  “We do, however, believe that T-Mobile will have to divest assets – most likely spectrum – to receive approval. The New T-Mobile plans to create a more scaled, viable competitor to AT&T and Verizon, and help turbocharge the carriers’ push to 5G.”

Towers Still a Wall Street Darling

Fritzsche has written that the towers will be remain a compelling investment for shareholders 2019, despite the possible Sprint/T-Mobile merger. Tower stocks beat the S&P index in 2018 (+4.9 percent vs. S&P -6.2 percent), and in 2017 (+40.4 percent vs. S&P +19.4 percent).

“Even with these recent moves, we believe towers will remain very topical in 2019,” Fritzsche wrote. “In our view, there exists a number of tangible catalysts (i.e., FirstNet, T-Mobile’s 600 MHz deployment, 5G densification efforts, edge computing, etc.), which should more than offset expected choppiness in international markets (particularly India) and impact from carrier M&A (namely Sprint and T-Mobile) in the short term.”

Carrier leasing activity, which has grown year over year in recent quarters, is expected to continue to increase in the coming 12 months, according to Fritzsche.

“There is much ‘naked spectrum’ that has yet to be deployed (600 MHz, FirstNet 700 MHz, AWS-3, WCS, 2.5 GHz, mmWave, etc.) – where towers will clearly play a role,” she wrote. “Most deployments are part of multi-year strategies designed by the carriers and complement what they plan to build for densification needs ahead of 5G technology rollouts.”

January 22, 2019


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Ron Bizick, II

President and Chief Executive Officer

Ronald G. Bizick, II is President and Chief Executive Officer of Vertical Bridge. He has 33 years of telecommunications industry experience, and together with the senior leadership team, oversees the company’s strategic growth initiatives of infrastructure development, sales and marketing, site leasing, and operations.

Prior to joining Vertical Bridge, Mr. Bizick co-founded and served as CEO of Tarpon Towers, LLC, which develops, acquires, and manages wireless communication sites throughout the United States. Earlier in his career, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Global Signal, Inc., a former NYSE-listed company. During his tenure at Global Signal, the company completed a successful IPO, acquired nearly $2 billion in tower assets, raised over $2.2 billion in mortgage-backed securitizations, and tripled its portfolio from 3,500 to over 11,000 owned and managed communication sites. Prior to Global Signal, Mr. Bizick was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of SBA Communications, a NASDAQ company, helping grow it from a start-up to a nationwide public company.

He received his BA in Business and Communication from the University of Pittsburgh and completed executive education programs at The Wharton School and Harvard Business School.


Richard Stern

Senior Vice President of Real Estate

Richard Stern oversees the production, drafting and negotiation of all Vertical Bridge’s ground, tower and rooftop leases. He is also responsible for other property rights agreements, including management agreements with third-party real estate owners.   

Before joining the company, Richard co-founded and served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Eco-Site, a privately owned independent tower company. Previously, he was the chief executive officer of Access to Money. Richard began his wireless career as general counsel for Apex Site Management before its acquisition by SpectraSite in 2000. There, he held the position of vice president for the building division where he was instrumental in establishing the in-building neutral-host model. Richard graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts in economics.  

He also has a Juris Doctor from The Boston University School of Law and a Master of Laws in Taxation from The New York University School of Law. 

Tim Shine

Senior Vice President of IT

Tim Shine is Senior Vice President of Information Technology (IT) at Vertical Bridge. Mr. Shine is responsible for implementing technology-driven solutions across all aspects of Vertical Bridge’s business to deliver more streamlined and efficient processes and solutions for clients. He brings more than 25 years of experience in IT and strategic-technology initiatives to Vertical Bridge.

Prior to joining Vertical Bridge, Mr. Shine served as Vice President of IT at Improving (formerly Innovative Architects). Mr. Shine led Improving’s expansion to South Florida and was responsible for directing IT-focused technology projects across the region. Previously, Mr. Shine served as Vice President of IT at NationsBuilders Insurance Services, where he planned, developed, and led IT initiatives enabling the company to more effectively manage itself. Earlier in his career, Mr. Shine spent 12 years with HomeBanc Mortgage in increasing roles of responsibility, most recently as VP of Application Development.

Mr. Shine holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Florida Atlantic University.

Bob Glosson

Senior Vice President of Real Estate Solutions

Bob Glosson is the Executive Vice President of Real Estate and Technology at Vertical Bridge. Mr. Glosson leads Vertical Bridge’s Strategic Assets Group, which is responsible for the acquisition, management and leasing of the firm’s third-party-owned assets including rooftops, billboards, and utility transmission structures.

Previous to Vertical Bridge, Mr. Glosson was the President and Chief Operating Officer of Eco-Site, a leading developer of wireless communication, tower sites and infrastructure. As President and COO of Eco-Site, Mr. Glosson was responsible for nationwide sales, tower development, and operations. Earlier, Mr. Glosson served as Senior Vice President of Global Sales at, an enterprise cloud communications company, and as Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Shared Access, a wireless tower operator in the U.K. and Ireland. Prior to Shared Access, Mr. Glosson held increasing roles of responsibility at SpectraSite Communications, including Vice president of Business Development for its Building division and Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Tower, Rooftop and In-Building division.

Mr. Glosson received a Bachelor of Science from Drexel University and a Master of Business Administration from Temple University.

Johnny Crawford

Senior Vice President of Development

Johnny Crawford is the Executive Vice President of Tower Development at Vertical Bridge. He is responsible for overseeing all sales and delivery of build-to-suit opportunities for the company.

Prior to joining Vertical Bridge, Mr. Crawford was Vice President of Business Development, Network Services at SBA Communications Corporation where he was responsible for sales to SBA’s national customers. Additionally, he has served as Vice President of Engineering and Operations for Airgate PCS, a Sprint PCS affiliate and as Director of Engineering and Operations for Sprint, where he launched one of the first PCS markets. Mr. Crawford was also a co-owner of Optima Towers, a South Carolina-based regional tower owner.

Mr. Crawford was recently appointed as a Board Member for Music-Movement.Org, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization that develops and funds music-centric programs for children and young adults living with autism.

Daniel Marinberg

Senior Vice President and General Counsel

Dan Marinberg is the Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Vertical Bridge. Mr. Marinberg is responsible for legal, regulatory and government affairs, as well as Secretary to the Board of Directors. 

Prior to joining Vertical Bridge, Mr. Marinberg was a partner at top international law firm Greenberg Traurig where his practice focused on real estate including, acquisitions and dispositions of commercial real estate, financings, leasing, development, and joint venture structuring for individual properties and multi-asset portfolios. He also assisted clients with international issues arising from these transactions.

Bob Paige

Senior Vice President of Mergers & Acquisitions

Bob Paige is the Executive Vice President of Mergers and Acquisitions and Corporate Development of Vertical Bridge. Mr. Paige is responsible for all portfolio acquisitions, joint ventures and other strategic transactions.

Prior to joining Vertical Bridge, Mr. Paige was a Principal and Telecom M&A Group Head at Brown Brothers Harriman where he led all assignments for companies in the telecommunications industry with a specific focus on the wireline and wireless sector. He also served as the Managing Director at Falkenberg Capital Corporation where he advised wireline and wireless companies in M&A transactions.

Mr. Paige started his career as a telecom lending executive with Northern Telecom and GE Capital.

Dale Carey

Executive Vice President of Strategy and Convergence

Dale Carey is the Executive Vice President of Strategy and Convergence at Vertical Bridge. Mr. Carey is responsible for identifying new convergence opportunities across the digital infrastructure ecosystem and coordinating with other providers, particularly those within the Digital Colony portfolio, to bring new infrastructure offerings to our customers.

Prior to joining Vertical Bridge, Mr. Carey was Founder, Chairman and CEO of Eco-Site, a leading developer of wireless communication, tower sites and infrastructure. As CEO of Eco-Site, Mr. Carey led the firm from its inception to become the sixth largest privately held tower company in the U.S., with 700 towers across 38 states. Prior to Eco-Site, Mr. Carey was President and COO of Shared Access, a wireless tower operator in the U.K. and Ireland. He also served as President of SpectraSite Communications’ U.S. Wireless division, which encompassed 8,000 towers and 20,000 rooftops, and was also President of its Building division, where he pioneered the firm’s use of the neutral-host distributed antenna system model. Earlier in his career, Mr. Carey spent 11 years at AT&T/Vanguard Cellular Systems, most recently serving as Vice President for the mid-Atlantic region.

Mr. Carey holds a Bachelor of Arts from Temple University. He serves on the Board of Advisors at the J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship at York College.

Michael Romaniw

Chief Financial Officer

Mike Romaniw is the Chief Financial Officer of Vertical Bridge. He is responsible for all financial aspects of the company including accounting, finance, tax, treasury, budgeting, forecasting, and investor relations.

Prior to joining Vertical Bridge, Mr. Romaniw was Chief Financial Officer of the Sterling Organization, Senior Vice President of Finance for Parmenter Realty Partners, and held various tax and financial management roles at the AES Corporation. Mr. Romaniw started his career with Ernst & Young and has Master of Business Administration and Master of Taxation degrees from Canisius College, a BA from McMaster University, and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Michael Belski

Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing and Co-Founder

Michael Belski is the Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Vertical Bridge. He is responsible for creating deep relationships with clients, working with some of the country’s largest carriers to develop leasing contracts.

Prior to co-founding Vertical Bridge, Mr. Belski was the Senior Vice President of Leasing & Marketing at Global Tower Partners (GTP), where he was responsible for leasing and marketing the company’s portfolio of assets and securing build-to-suit contracts.

Mr. Belski previously held senior positions at Morrison Hershfield Corporation and SBA Communications Corporation.

Alex Gellman

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Alex Gellman is the Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of Vertical Bridge, the largest private owner and operator of wireless communications infrastructure in the US. As Executive Chairman, he is responsible for developing and leading the firm’s overall strategy and growth. Mr. Gellman is also a co-founder of DigitalBridge (NYSE: DBRG), a leading global digital infrastructure REIT that owns, operates and invests across the full spectrum of digital infrastructure and real estate.

Prior to co-founding Vertical Bridge, Mr. Gellman was President and COO of Global Tower Partners. Mr. Gellman was instrumental in growing the company into what was the largest privately-held tower company in the United States at the time of its sale to American Tower Corporation in 2013 for over $4.8 billion. Previously, Mr. Gellman served as President and COO of Sonitrol Corporation, a leading provider of verified electronic security in North America, which was sold to Stanley Works (NYSE: SWK) in 2008.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Gellman co-founded Apex Site Management, the largest third-party manager of wireless and wireline communications sites in the U.S., which merged with SpectraSite Communications in 2000 to create the largest telecommunications site portfolio in the country. Mr. Gellman also co-founded and was VP of Development of Horizon Cellular Group, a McCaw Cellular-backed company that acquired, developed and operated rural cellular franchises in the eastern United States.

Mr. Gellman received an MBA in Finance and Accounting from The Wharton School of Business and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Tufts University. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Wireless Infrastructure Association, serving as Vice Chairman, and is also on the Boards of Directors of EdgePoint Infrastructure and Highline do Brasil. 

Marc Ganzi

Vice Chairman

Marc Ganzi is a successful real estate and telecommunications entrepreneur. In addition to serving as Vice Chairman of Vertical Bridge, he is the President and Chief Executive Officer of DigitalBridge (NYSE: DBRG), a leading global digital infrastructure REIT that owns, operates and invests across the full spectrum of digital infrastructure and real estate. He previously co-founded Global Tower Partners (GTP), an owner and operator of communications, real estate and related companies, where he played an instrumental role in building the business, which was ultimately sold in 2013 for over $4.8 billion.

Prior to GTP, Mr. Ganzi was a consulting partner at Deutsche Bank’s DB Capital Partners overseeing the institution’s radio tower sector investments in Latin and North America. His other earlier experience includes Apex Site Management and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Foreign Commercial Service Department.

Mr. Ganzi is a member of Young Presidents’ Organization, a Director of Olympus Media, LLC, and a three-time finalist for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in Florida. He is a graduate of Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.