When Marc Ganzi, CEO of Global Tower Partners and chairman of the PCIA Board of Directors, joined industry leaders at the White House in June for the signing of an Executive Order aimed at accelerating broadband build out, it was one of the crowning achievements of PCIA’s recent lobbying efforts.
The order established a federal property working group to develop and implement a strategy to facilitate the efficient deployment of broadband facilities on federal lands, buildings and rights of way, as well as federally assisted highways and tribal lands.
“If the leasing process can be made uniform and commercially sensible for the lessees, that would be an enormous contribution in terms of greater efficiency and shorter time periods to get leases on government properties,” Mike Fitch, PCIA president and CEO, said. “The government has a huge amount of land around the country, which is a terrific opportunity for sites. It would be a big improvement.”
In an interview with AGL magazine, Ganzi and Fitch, said, despite their successes in Congress and at the FCC, PCIA’s work on facilitating tower siting on federal properties is not done.
In terms of leasing federal land for towers, PCIA is pushing for the White House to simplify the process by designating one agency for reviewing and approving the leases and another agency to approve master documents between the tower companies and the General Services Administration.
“The GSA needs practical advice on how to expedite getting those documents routed for signature and to serve up lease documents that are commercial in our market. Those are two the challenges that lay ahead,” Ganzi said.
The tower industry has already been leasing land for towers from the federal government for some time, but the terms of those leases have not been beneficial to the tower companies. Ganzi said getting leases executed with the Bureau of Land Management is particularly difficult, and the lengths of those leases at three to five years are not attractive for financing.
“Something I encouraged the White House to think about is streamlining the process of getting ground leases executed and extended with the BLM,” Ganzi said. “We are in an ongoing dialogue with the White House, the General Services Administration and the BLM concerning longer leases that are less restrictive, which would allow tower owners to include them in financing.”
For more of this interview, see the October issue of AGL magazine.