All Posts By

Telecom Law Firm

Robert “Tripp” May III

By | Meet the Team

Robert May III

Robert (“Tripp”) May, Partner, specializes in telecommunications infrastructure, policy and contracting, and represents both public agencies and private landlords in regulatory and transactional matters.

Mr. May advises local governments and public agencies on the scope of local authority in wireless facilities siting. He drafts and revises wireless ordinances, and counsels government staff and officials on federal and state rules for permit application processing.

His transactional practice focuses solely on representing landlords — both public and private. Mr. May negotiates and drafts leases, licenses, easements, assignments, pole-attachment agreements, and other transfers related to wireless and other telecommunications infrastructure. He also assists landlords administer, enforce, and amend existing infrastructure agreements.

Mr. May regularly speaks on panel discussions for governments, wireless associations and at wireless facility conferences.

He was recognized by the States of California and Nevada, National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (SCAN NATOA) as its 2014 Member of the Year for his outstanding pro bono federal advocacy on behalf of California local governments in Federal Communications Commission rulemaking proceedings.

Mr. May is admitted to practice by the State Bar of California.

Education

  • University of San Diego School of Law (J.D.)
    • Executive Editor, San Diego Law Review
    • National Competitor, San Diego Moot Court Board
  • University of California, Santa Barbara (B.A.)
    • High honors and distinction in the major

Associations & Memberships

  • States of California and Nevada, National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, Member
  • Federal Communications Bar Association, Member
  • San Diego County Bar Association, Member
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association, Member

Admissions

  • State Bar of California
  • United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
  • United States District Court for the Central District of California
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of California

Honors & Awards

  • Member of the Year, SCAN NATOA (2014)
  • CALI Excellence for the Future Award, Telecommunications Law and Policy (2013)
  • First in Class, Advanced Legal Writing and Analysis, USD School of Law (2013)
  • Academic Achievement Scholarship, USD School of Law (2010-2013)
  • Student Leadership Scholarship, USD School of Law (2010-2013)

Speaking Engagements

  • “5G: Convergence between the Wireline and Wireless Providers” National Webinar eNATOA (Feb. 11, 2019)
  • “Small Cell Deployment: Meshing Two Different Worlds” Panel Discussion
    AGL Local Landing (Jan. 24, 2019)
  • “Cell and Wireless Tower Law” National Webcast
    NBI, Inc. (Jan. 14, 2019)
  • “Issues of Local Control and Wireless Telecommunications Facilities” Lecture
    CA City Attorneys Spring Conf. (May 3, 2018)
  • “Cell and Wireless Tower Law” National Webcast
    NBI, Inc. (Feb. 8, 2018)
  • “Wireless Facilities: Regulatory and Leasing Update” Lecture
    New Mex. Muni. Atty’s Ass’n (Dec. 6, 2017)
  • “Infrastructure Deployment: Towers, Fiber and Small Cells” Panel Discussion
    NATOA Annual Conference (Sep. 11, 2017)
  • “The State of Communications Law in California and the Nation” Panel Discussion
    SCAN NATOA (May 11, 2017)
  • “Advance of Wireless Infrastructure” Panel Discussion
    CA Cities Annual Conference (Oct. 7, 2016)
  • “Cell and Wireless Tower Law” National Webcast
    NBI, Inc. (Sept. 9, 2016)
  • “Small Cell Zoning: It’s a Problem, We Can Fix It” Panel Discussion
    CTIA Super Mobility (Sept. 8, 2016)
  • “Section 6409 vs Reality” Panel Discussion
    Wireless West Conference (Apr. 20, 2016)
  • “Aesthetics and Location: The Small Cell Site Acquisition Puzzle” Panel Discussion
    IWCE Expo (Mar. 23, 2016)
  • “Primer on Wireless Shot Clocks – Northern California” Panel Discussion
    SCAN NATOA (Feb. 4, 2016)
  • “Primer on Wireless Shot Clocks – Southern California” Panel Discussion
    SCAN NATOA (Jan. 21, 2016)
  • “Section 6409” Panel Discussion
    CalWa (Oct. 7, 2015)
  • “Federal Law of Cell Tower Zoning Presentation” Webinar
    IMLA (July 9, 2015)
  • “The Brave New World of Wireless Regulations for Planners” Panel Discussion
    APA Cal. Orange Sec. (May 21, 2015)
  • “Trends in Cell Site Leasing” Panel Discussion
    CCIM—San Diego Chapter (May 20, 2015)
  • “Navigating Cell Tower Regulations” Public Workshop
    Alameda Cnty, Office of Nate Miley (Apr. 1, 2015)
  • “Practical Impacts of the New FCC Rules” Panel Discussion
    Law Seminars Int’l (Feb. 19, 2015)
  • “Wireless Communications Legislation: Impact on Cities” Panel Discussion
    Gateway Cities COG (Feb. 11, 2015)
  • “Wireless Infrastructure Regulatory Update” Webinar
    Arizona League of Cities (Jan. 27, 2015)
  • “Wireless Infrastructure Regulatory Update” Panel Discussion
    California Wireless Association (Jan. 15, 2015)
  • “Telecommunications 101” Seminar
    SCAN NATOA (Jan. 15, 2015)
  • “Local Governments, Wireless Siting Practices and the FCC” Panel Discussion
    eNATOA (Dec. 2014)
  • “4G Wireless Deployments: Zoning Challenges and Opportunities” Panel Discussion
    CA Cities Annual Conference (Sept. 4, 2014)
  • “Wireless Facility Regulatory Update” Webinar
    SCAN NATOA (Mar. 19, 2014)

Dr. Jonathan L. Kramer

By | Meet the Team

Dr. Jonathan L. Kramer

A.S., J.D., L.L.M., DLP

Dr. Jonathan L. Kramer, Esq., Founder and Principal Attorney, has more than 35 years of experience in wireless, broadband, cable television and telephony sectors advising private, institutional and government clients.

Dr. Kramer is a telecommunications regulatory leader and technology advisor. He was the co-chair of the FCC recognized committee that developed the technical standards and regulation of all U.S. cable television systems. He has been a testifying expert witness and trial consultant in over 40 federal and state court cases regarding wireless and cable television technology. Additionally, he served as the advisor to the League of California Cities during the key negotiations regarding SB 1627, California’s wireless co-location law.  He was also a member of the League’s that successful fought SB 649, a land-grab by the wireless industry in 2017 that was one of the few bills vetoed by Gov. Brown that term.

He is a frequent lecturer and panelist on communications technology for conferences and MCLE events by the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, IMLA, and Lorman. Dr. Kramer is also the co-author and editor of articles in federal government publications on radio frequency interference matters and wireless technology.

Dr. Kramer is admitted to practice by the State Bar of California and the State Bar of New Mexico. He is also admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.

He holds five Federal Communications Commission licenses and endorsements, as well as a C7 communications contractors license (inactive) issued by the California Contractor’s State License Board.

Education

  • Northeastern University – Doctor of Law and Policy (LP.D)
    • Doctor of Law and Policy (2016)
    • Dr. Kramer now teaches law and regulatory policy at Northeastern University at the masters and doctoral levels.
  • University of Strathclyde School of Law (L.L.M.)
    • Master of Laws degree in Information Technology and Telecom Law with distinction
  • Abraham Lincoln University School of Law (J.D.)
    • Juris Doctor degree cum laude
  • Los Angeles Trade Technical College (A.S.)
    • Associate of Science in Radio Communications with honors

Associations & Memberships

  • State Bar of California, Member
  • State Bar of New Mexico, Member
  • Bar of the Central District of California, Member
  • Advisory Council of Abraham Lincoln University School of Law
  • American Radio Relay League, Life Member
    • Volunteer Counsel, Volunteer Examiner
  • California Wireless Association, Charter Member
  • Federal Communications Bar Association – National Organization, Attorney Member
  • Federal Communications Bar Association – Southern California Chapter, Founding Member
  • International Municipal Lawyers Association, Attorney Member
  • International Right of Way Association Wireless Committee, Former Chairperson
  • Joint Task Force on Technical Standards Committee, Former Co-Chair
  • National Technical Standards Committee, Former Co-Chair
  • New Mexico Municipal League, City Attorney’s Section, Attorney Member
  • State Bar of California Public Law Section
    • Appointed Advisor to Executive Committee Board Member
    • Former Executive Committee Board Member
  • National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors
    • Former Director
  • States of California and Nevada Chapter, National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors
    • Founding Member
    • Board of Directors
    • Former President
  • Society of Broadcast Engineers, Senior Member
  • Society of Telecommunications Engineers (US Society), Senior Member
  • Society of Telecommunication Engineers (UK Society), Fellow Member

Certifications & Licenses

  • Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials
    • Public Safety Radio Technician
  • California Contractors State License, Class C7 – Low voltage systems
  • Federal Communications Commission
    • Amateur radio operator license
    • General radiotelephone operator license
    • Global maritime distress and safety system maintainer’s license
    • Global maritime distress and safety system operator/maintainer’s license
    • Restricted radiotelephone operator permit
  • National Institutes of Health, Protecting Human Research Participants Training Certification
  • Society of Broadcast Engineers
    • Certified Broadcast Technologist

Honors & Awards

  • Elected Member, Loyal Order of the 704; Membership is limited to those with more than 30 years in broadband engineering field
  • Volunteer Counsel, American Radio Relay League
  • Volunteer Examiner, American Radio Relay League
  • Twice-awarded Member of the Year, National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors

Regulatory

By | Services

Regulatory

Telecom Law Firm P.C. works for and with governments all over the country. Jonathan Kramer, TLF’s principal, has worked for over 700 governments as a telecommunications technology advisor and attorney.

Service #1

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec vitae mauris ante. 

Service #2

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec vitae mauris ante.

Service #3

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec vitae mauris ante. 

Have you been approached to LEASE YOUR LAND OR BUILDING for a wireless cell site?

Now what?

Have you been approached by a wireless firm (usually through a 3rd party intermediary) to lease a portion of your property for use as a cell site? Congratulations!

Do you speak ‘radio frequency technobabble’? Wireless companies are banking on the fact that you don’t.

Technobabble allows the wireless companies representatives tell you, the potential landlord, that certain terms in their standard agreement are ‘required for RF engineering reasons and can’t be changed because of federal regulations.’ Generally, there are very few real lease terms that fall into this category, but it’s unlikely you’ll know which terms they are.

We can help take the babble out of the techno, and help put you on an equal footing and help negotiate a reasonable deal.

Jonathan Kramer, Telecom Law Firm’s principal attorney, has over 30 years of wireless engineering experience. Holder of the highest-grade FCC commercial and amateur radio licenses, Jonathan has also been licensed as a telecommunications contractor in California for over 20 years. He’s member of the State Bar of California and the United States District Court (C.D. CA), as well as the Federal Communications Bar Association and the International Municipal Lawyers Association.

Jonathan and the staff use our firm’s technical expertise to negotiate wireless leases that reject the babble in favor of meaningful and understandable terms.

Some examples of recent successes we have achieved for our cell tower clients:

  • Increased the total lease payments for a client by nearly $60,000 by changing just one key term
  • Blocked a hidden land-grab in an innocuous request by a wireless tower company that would have deprived our client of the full use of portions of his land beyond the cell site leasehold
  • Produced a 6-figure increase in value for the cell lease after and cell company withheld rent
  • Generated a 4-figure per month increase in revenues for a client without increasing the leasehold area of the existing cell site
  • Assisted a land management firm to maximize future revenue potential for one of their clients selling a wireless lease to a third party

Are you a Wireless Site Landlord who may be BEING UNDERPAID on your existing Cell Tower Lease?

Don't leave money on the table.

In our experience, the number one reason wireless site landlords are being underpaid is because their wireless tenant has occupied more space than is allotted to them in the lease.

How much more space? We see overages from as small as 4% over-occupancy to as large as 70% over-occupancy.

How could this happen, you ask?  Sometimes a wireless carrier will simply decide that it must have more space for an extra cabinet or two so it constructs the addition without notifying the landlord.  Sometimes it’s a misunderstanding or misreading of the plans. Sometimes it’s a contractor mistake during the site installation. Sometimes it’s because the tenant, without telling you, moved the actual location of the site or reoriented the site (both of which really ARE an over-occupancy in most cases).

If the landlord is not attentive, the overage may go unnoticed.   Sometimes the landlord isn’t sure, or it seems like a small overage, so it goes uncontested.

That’s a potentially Really Big Mistake that only benefits your wireless tenant, and why would you want to do that?

Let’s look at some numbers, and you’ll see why you MUST keep an eye on your wireless tenant’s occupancy of your land.

To start, here are some basic facts in two different situations, based on matters we’ve recently handled for wireless landlord clients (the facts have been altered slightly to protect the identity of our clients):

_
Rent per Month per Lease:
over-occupancy/Underpayment:
Years of over-occupancy:
Years remaining on Lease:
Recovered Underpayment:
Recovered Back Interest:
Additional Back Payment:

Added Value for
Remaining Lease Term:
Value Recovered for the Landlord:

Case 1:
$915
4%
9
21
$3,900
$1,800
$2,500

_
$12,800
$21,000

Case 2:
$800
23%
14
11
$34,100
$25,000
_

_
$24,000
$83,100

Obviously we’re not talking about small numbers, here. As is always the case in legal engagements, and most of the time in life, every matter is factually unique. Accordingly, prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome in your matter. The examples above, however, should give you a basic idea of why you, as a wireless site landlord, should check the occupancy, and not leave money on the table when dealing with occupancy overages. We know where to look for money on the table, and how to negotiate the fair recovery.

So what’s your first step as a Wireless Site Landlord to see whether you’re on the short end of the occupancy deal?

Actually, there are three steps.

First, pull out your wireless lease, including all of the exhibits. You’ll need the entire lease to review after you’ve completed the third step. Step two is grab (to go to your local hardware store and buy) a 100′ fiberglass measuring tape. Step 3 is to go out and measure the outside edges of your wireless tenant’s cell site. For ground-mounted facilities, this will usually be the outside of the fence or wall. While you’re at it, take lots of high resolution photos of the site from at least all sides. This will be very helpful later if you find an over-occupancy and decide to you wan to pick up the money laying on the table. (It gets trickier to properly measure the boundaries of a rooftop site…call us toll free on 855-CELL SITE and we’ll give you some helpful pointers specific for your site. No charge. By the way, still take the photos before you call…we’ll want to look at them to give you the pointers.)

Finally, with the lease data and the actual measurements, you can figure out whether your wireless tenant is over occupying the leasehold, and if so by how much. If you find that an over-occupancy exists, it’s time to pick up the phone can call your local attorney if your attorney is specifically knowledgeable about cell site leases and occupancy.

If you’d like to call us and discuss your findings and your lease terms, we’d be pleased to talk with you.

PS: What about the case where the tenant has UNDER-occupied the lease space? Most of the time it’s not an issue for the landlord. If you find this to be the case, or if the tenant wants a rent reduction or refund because they are not occupying as much space as they agreed to in the lease, give us a call. We’re pretty sure you’ll like our usual answer to this rare situation. (855) CELL-SITE.

Are you a Wireless Site Landlord who just received a notice that your SITE BEING TAKEN OVER BY A NEW TENANT?

Be VERY careful about what you as asked to sign.

Over the course of the life of your cell tower lease, your tenant is very likely to approach you asking for things.

Somethings they’ll ask for permission to modify the existing site.

Sometime they’ll ask you to allow them to renew and extend their lease years before the lease is up.

Sometime they’ll ‘ask’ that you cut their rent…or else.

Our attorneys have seen virtually all there is to see in the way of tenant requests.

In our experience, many requests are reasonable (and some may even require the landlord’s approval under the terms of the lease). In that case, we’ll explain the true scope the request and recommend the landlord seriously consider approving the requested action…perhaps coupled with a request or two by the landlord to ‘true-up’ the lease and fix earlier problem language.

Sometimes, however, a seemingly innocent request by your tenant can open a Pandora’s Box of new problems that will last for decades, and cost the landlord tens- or hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue. You’d be surprised how often this is the case.

It’s not unusual for a wireless tenant to hire third parties to contact the landlord to use high-pressure tactics to try and coerce the landlord into making concessions that are simply not necessary, and usually only in the best interests of the tenant. These third parties will demand you cut the rent…offer a rent vacation…change material terms in the lease, or else.

Or else what?

The usual ‘or else’ is that absent consent by the landlord, the tenant may trigger an early termination of the lease. Most of this time, this is simply a hollow threat made by a firm who has a financial stake in parting you from your best interests, all to benefit your tenant.

Even if you don’t know which requests are reasonable, and which aren’t, we can help guide you along a proper course, usually saving you substantial money in the process.
Have a question about a request? Give us a call and take advantage of our policy of giving a free initial consultation to potential new clients.

Are you a Wireless Site Landlord considering SELLING YOUR EXISTING CELL LEASE?

There are ways to increase the value of the sale.

Are you thinking about selling your cell site tower lease? Lots of site landlords do.

Have you been approached by someone offering to take control of of buy out your wireless lease? Probability, it was one of these firms:

  • AP Wireless
  • Communications Capital Group
  • Landmark Dividend
  • Lease Advisors
  • TriStar Investors
  • Wireless Capital Partners
  • Unison

Of course there are other firms out there in this market segment, but the list above represents the industry’s leaders in our perspective.

Here are the most common lease buyout questions we get and answer for our clients:

  1. Why should I sell my wireless lease?
  2. When should I avoid selling my wireless lease?
  3. How much can you expect to make from the sale?
  4. What about the sales fees and legal fees?
  5. What about rent-sharing in the future after I sell the lease?
  6. How about the impact of a sale on my income tax?
  7. What’s the best way to sell my lease?
  8. How can I maximize the value of the sale of my lease?
  9. Don’t all of those firms offer the same basic terms and conditions?
  10. What if I have more than one cell tower lease on my property?
  11. What are the ‘gotchas’ I need to avoid?

If you are considering selling your wireless lease, or you just have questions, give us a call and take advantage of our free initial consultation offer.

Have you received a letter from your Wireless Tenant with a DEMAND TO CUT THE RENT on your existing cell site lease?

Fight off these baseless demands.

Are you a private or government wireless site landlord who has been approached by your wireless tenant, or a firm representing your tenant, demanding you cut the rent and/or significantly change the terms of your wireless lease?

This often-odious practice is called “Lease Optimization.” Not surprisingly, usually the only truly valuable optimization is for your wireless tenant.

The usual threat is that if you don’t give the concessions demanded, your wireless tenant may invoke a clause in the lease to walk away, perhaps in 30 days or less. The implication is that you’ll lose out on all of your future site income if you don’t give in now.

The larger wireless firms often use use third-party companies to do their lease optimization bidding. Two of the major players performing rent optimization on behalf of wireless firms are are Black Dot Wireless, Md7 and the Lyle Company, but there are others out there as well.

If you’re contacted, it’s quite possible that they’ll tell you something like this: Your wireless tenant has ‘many other sites in the area,’ or because of ‘economic conditions’ or because of ‘changes in the wireless industry’ so they no longer have a pressing need for the site they lease from you, but (and here’s the kicker) if you agree to cut the rent usually give other concessions, the tenant select a different site to close down instead of your site. Gosh, it’s your lucky day!

Sometimes in trade, the wireless tenant through the lease optimizer will offer a ‘rent guarantee period.’ During the guarantee period, the carrier will agree–essentially–not to walk away from the lease or try to reduce the payments again for a period time, commonly for a period 10 years. At the same time, you’ll usually be asked to give up other valuable rights, such as the right to sell your lease to whomever you want. You might be required to give a first-right-of-refusal on the sale of your property (which can reduce the marketability of your property…just ask us how).

This is a particularly good time to go out and take some measurements of your tenant’s cell site. If it is over-occupying your property this would be a particularly good time to know this as a fact, and to act on it. If your site is being over-occupied by your wireless tenant, you’ll want to be very, very careful about agreeing to a rent cut, and especially a rent cut based on an inaccurate occupancy. Click “Are You Being Underpaid?” (link/scroll back/open to previous section) for more information about over-occupancy and underpayment.

We have grateful private and government clients who have faced this vexing dilemma, and we’ve helped them survive this type of frontal assault on the value of their existing lease. We know how to determine if the story being told is true–and usually this is not the case–or if it’s just a ploy to squeeze the landlord using techniques that may well be legally improper.

We’re ready to help you, the wireless site landlord, fight off these often-baseless demands.

If you get a call from your wireless tenant, or their representative, let us help you, as we’ve helped many other cell sit landlords. For a free initial 30-minute consultation with one of our wireless lease attorneys, please call us toll-free on (855) Cell-Site or send us a message by clicking here.

Have you received or are expecting a TERMINATION NOTICE from your existing Wireless Tenant?

What NOT to do is as important as WHAT to do.

Some wireless carriers shuttering a number of their existing wireless site leases. If you’ve received a notice of lease termination, it means that the tenant had decided that your site is no longer necessary in light of some change in ownership or technology.

Lease terminations translate to the loss of anticipated and substantial lease income for years or decades. For savvy landlords, site lease terminations can contain nuggets of significant value that your terminating tenant will not want you to know about, or take advantage of.

Adding insult to injury, some carriers employ third-party vendors to call and ‘convince’ landlords why, on the way out, they should execute a novel “Lease Termination Agreement and General Release” document. This document can cost you many thousands of dollars (or more) if you don’t understand all of its legally-dense burden-shifting terms.

A wireless site tenant, when terminating a lease, wants to save lots of money by not removing most of the equipment, wiring, conduits, cables, and the other things it installs. Removal of these items is typically required by most wireless leases, as is returning the leasehold to the landlord in the same basic condition that existing just prior to the lease. Some tenants now want to abandon their nearly-valueless equipment in place and transfer title of the abandoned equipment to the site landlord with no warranties whatsoever. With the abandonment go all of the legal liabilities, as well, which may include liabilities imposed by the local governments on your departing wireless tenant, but are then transferred by this agreement to the landlord.

‘Just sign right here on the dotted line and you get to take on all of your departing tenant’s discarded stuff and legal risks, and you save them a boat-load of money, too!‘ is just one way to think about this type of proposed deal.

Even worse, sometimes the third party contacting you on behalf of the departing tenant will suggest in writing that they can likely find a replacement wireless tenant quickly because these decommissioned sites will be “plug and play” solutions for other carriers…IF…you give up a 25% commission for the life of the revenue stream the vendor can negotiate. We’ve never seen a decommissioned site that’s really “plug and play” especially since the the valuable radio equipment is removed before abandonment of the junk cables, antennas, etc.

What to do: If you are a wireless landlord and you’ve received a notice of termination, go back and pull out your lease documents, including amendments.

Look at the termination terms and restoration terms, then give us a call for a free no-obligation initial 30-minute consultation. Our toll free telephone number is (855) CELL-SITE.

Have you just RECEIVED A LEGAL LETTER from your existing cell site tenant or its legal representative?

It could be nothing; it could be a real issue. We can tell you the right answer.

It’s a great day.

You’ve just returned from a trip to the bank. You just deposited your monthly cell site lease payment and you’re feeling mighty happy about that check. You decide it’s such a nice day that you’ll stop on the way back to enjoy a cone of ice cream. Ah, two scoops of creamy decadent French Vanilla in a traditional sugar cone. The sprinkles on top are just the way you like them.

It is delicious!

Having finished your treat, you drive off and reach your driveway.

You get out of the car and walk to your door. Just as you start to push open the door you hear your Letter Carrier call out your name. You turn and wave, returning her greeting. She says she needs your signature for a delivery. You smile at her. You say, “Sure.”

You watch while she fishes through her letter bag. After a moment she pulls out a while envelope and looks up at you. As she extends her arm, you spy what she’s holding to be about the size of a Number 10 business envelope. You see a green bar across across the top that says, “CERTIFIED MAIL.” Your heart flutters. Then you see the return address starting with, “Law Offices of…” Your heart skips a full beat.

The Letter Carrier turns over the letter and hand you a pen, pointing to the receipt you are to sign. You dutifully sign the receipt, and she removes it from the back of the envelope. Finally she hands you the letter. You stare down at it. She gives you the rest of your mail and says goodbye. You manage to mumble your thanks as she retreats from your doorway.

Clutching the Certified Letter and the rest of the day’s mail, you go inside.

Rather than ripping open the envelope, you find a letter opener and carefully slice open the top. Ever-so-gently you pry apart the front panel from the back allowing you to peek inside. The letter is folded over on itself. No text is visible.

Resigned, you remove the neatly-folded letter, unfold it, and start to read:

Cell Site Lease Landlord:

This law firm represents your cell site lease tenant in the matter discussed below. Your immediate attention to this matter is required…

You read, then re-read the letter and as your heart sinks to somewhere near your ankles.
Not understanding why you got this letter, or how to respond, you put the letter aside.

Later, you pick up the letter again and realize that you need to talk with a competent lawyer who knows about the wireless industry, what the letter says, and what it means. . .

Over the course of a 20 or 30 year cell tower lease, it’s likely that you receive an ominous-looking certified letter or two from your tenant’s law firm, or even your wireless tenant. Most of the time, there is some issue that requires that you be formally notified of something that is happening, or something that has happened, in connection with the cell site lease. We frequently deal with these matters on behalf of our clients and explain what’s going on and how to deal with it from a legal and business perspective.

If you have received a legal letter from your wireless tenant’s law firm or directly form the tenant, let us explain what’s going on. Initial consultations free and without obligation. For a free no-obligation initial 30-minute consultation, give us a call on our toll free telephone number: (855) Cell-Site. A thirty-minute call might save you 30 nights of nightmares, all for nothing.

F.A.Q. • Transactional

By | Services

F.A.Q. • Transactional

The following content addresses some basic questions and situations wireless landlords and perspective wireless landlords will have.

Have you been approached to LEASE YOUR LAND OR BUILDING for a wireless cell site?

Now what?

Have you been approached by a wireless firm (usually through a 3rd party intermediary) to lease a portion of your property for use as a cell site? Congratulations!

Do you speak ‘radio frequency technobabble’? Wireless companies are banking on the fact that you don’t.

Technobabble allows the wireless companies representatives tell you, the potential landlord, that certain terms in their standard agreement are ‘required for RF engineering reasons and can’t be changed because of federal regulations.’ Generally, there are very few real lease terms that fall into this category, but it’s unlikely you’ll know which terms they are.

We can help take the babble out of the techno, and help put you on an equal footing and help negotiate a reasonable deal.

Jonathan Kramer, Telecom Law Firm’s principal attorney, has over 30 years of wireless engineering experience. Holder of the highest-grade FCC commercial and amateur radio licenses, Jonathan has also been licensed as a telecommunications contractor in California for over 20 years. He’s member of the State Bar of California and the United States District Court (C.D. CA), as well as the Federal Communications Bar Association and the International Municipal Lawyers Association.

Jonathan and the staff use our firm’s technical expertise to negotiate wireless leases that reject the babble in favor of meaningful and understandable terms.

Some examples of recent successes we have achieved for our cell tower clients:

  • Increased the total lease payments for a client by nearly $60,000 by changing just one key term
  • Blocked a hidden land-grab in an innocuous request by a wireless tower company that would have deprived our client of the full use of portions of his land beyond the cell site leasehold
  • Produced a 6-figure increase in value for the cell lease after and cell company withheld rent
  • Generated a 4-figure per month increase in revenues for a client without increasing the leasehold area of the existing cell site
  • Assisted a land management firm to maximize future revenue potential for one of their clients selling a wireless lease to a third party

Are you a Wireless Site Landlord who may be BEING UNDERPAID on your existing Cell Tower Lease?

Don't leave money on the table.

In our experience, the number one reason wireless site landlords are being underpaid is because their wireless tenant has occupied more space than is allotted to them in the lease.

How much more space? We see overages from as small as 4% over-occupancy to as large as 70% over-occupancy.

How could this happen, you ask?  Sometimes a wireless carrier will simply decide that it must have more space for an extra cabinet or two so it constructs the addition without notifying the landlord.  Sometimes it’s a misunderstanding or misreading of the plans. Sometimes it’s a contractor mistake during the site installation. Sometimes it’s because the tenant, without telling you, moved the actual location of the site or reoriented the site (both of which really ARE an over-occupancy in most cases).

If the landlord is not attentive, the overage may go unnoticed.   Sometimes the landlord isn’t sure, or it seems like a small overage, so it goes uncontested.

That’s a potentially Really Big Mistake that only benefits your wireless tenant, and why would you want to do that?

Let’s look at some numbers, and you’ll see why you MUST keep an eye on your wireless tenant’s occupancy of your land.

To start, here are some basic facts in two different situations, based on matters we’ve recently handled for wireless landlord clients (the facts have been altered slightly to protect the identity of our clients):

_
Rent per Month per Lease:
over-occupancy/Underpayment:
Years of over-occupancy:
Years remaining on Lease:
Recovered Underpayment:
Recovered Back Interest:
Additional Back Payment:

Added Value for
Remaining Lease Term:
Value Recovered for the Landlord:

Case 1:
$915
4%
9
21
$3,900
$1,800
$2,500

_
$12,800
$21,000

Case 2:
$800
23%
14
11
$34,100
$25,000
_

_
$24,000
$83,100

Obviously we’re not talking about small numbers, here. As is always the case in legal engagements, and most of the time in life, every matter is factually unique. Accordingly, prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome in your matter. The examples above, however, should give you a basic idea of why you, as a wireless site landlord, should check the occupancy, and not leave money on the table when dealing with occupancy overages. We know where to look for money on the table, and how to negotiate the fair recovery.

So what’s your first step as a Wireless Site Landlord to see whether you’re on the short end of the occupancy deal?

Actually, there are three steps.

First, pull out your wireless lease, including all of the exhibits. You’ll need the entire lease to review after you’ve completed the third step. Step two is grab (to go to your local hardware store and buy) a 100′ fiberglass measuring tape. Step 3 is to go out and measure the outside edges of your wireless tenant’s cell site. For ground-mounted facilities, this will usually be the outside of the fence or wall. While you’re at it, take lots of high resolution photos of the site from at least all sides. This will be very helpful later if you find an over-occupancy and decide to you wan to pick up the money laying on the table. (It gets trickier to properly measure the boundaries of a rooftop site…call us toll free on 855-CELL SITE and we’ll give you some helpful pointers specific for your site. No charge. By the way, still take the photos before you call…we’ll want to look at them to give you the pointers.)

Finally, with the lease data and the actual measurements, you can figure out whether your wireless tenant is over occupying the leasehold, and if so by how much. If you find that an over-occupancy exists, it’s time to pick up the phone can call your local attorney if your attorney is specifically knowledgeable about cell site leases and occupancy.

If you’d like to call us and discuss your findings and your lease terms, we’d be pleased to talk with you.

PS: What about the case where the tenant has UNDER-occupied the lease space? Most of the time it’s not an issue for the landlord. If you find this to be the case, or if the tenant wants a rent reduction or refund because they are not occupying as much space as they agreed to in the lease, give us a call. We’re pretty sure you’ll like our usual answer to this rare situation. (855) CELL-SITE.

Are you a Wireless Site Landlord who just received a notice that your SITE BEING TAKEN OVER BY A NEW TENANT?

Be VERY careful about what you as asked to sign.

Over the course of the life of your cell tower lease, your tenant is very likely to approach you asking for things.

Somethings they’ll ask for permission to modify the existing site.

Sometime they’ll ask you to allow them to renew and extend their lease years before the lease is up.

Sometime they’ll ‘ask’ that you cut their rent…or else.

Our attorneys have seen virtually all there is to see in the way of tenant requests.

In our experience, many requests are reasonable (and some may even require the landlord’s approval under the terms of the lease). In that case, we’ll explain the true scope the request and recommend the landlord seriously consider approving the requested action…perhaps coupled with a request or two by the landlord to ‘true-up’ the lease and fix earlier problem language.

Sometimes, however, a seemingly innocent request by your tenant can open a Pandora’s Box of new problems that will last for decades, and cost the landlord tens- or hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue. You’d be surprised how often this is the case.

It’s not unusual for a wireless tenant to hire third parties to contact the landlord to use high-pressure tactics to try and coerce the landlord into making concessions that are simply not necessary, and usually only in the best interests of the tenant. These third parties will demand you cut the rent…offer a rent vacation…change material terms in the lease, or else.

Or else what?

The usual ‘or else’ is that absent consent by the landlord, the tenant may trigger an early termination of the lease. Most of this time, this is simply a hollow threat made by a firm who has a financial stake in parting you from your best interests, all to benefit your tenant.

Even if you don’t know which requests are reasonable, and which aren’t, we can help guide you along a proper course, usually saving you substantial money in the process.
Have a question about a request? Give us a call and take advantage of our policy of giving a free initial consultation to potential new clients.

Are you a Wireless Site Landlord considering SELLING YOUR EXISTING CELL LEASE?

There are ways to increase the value of the sale.

Are you thinking about selling your cell site tower lease? Lots of site landlords do.

Have you been approached by someone offering to take control of of buy out your wireless lease? Probability, it was one of these firms:

  • AP Wireless
  • Communications Capital Group
  • Landmark Dividend
  • Lease Advisors
  • TriStar Investors
  • Wireless Capital Partners
  • Unison

Of course there are other firms out there in this market segment, but the list above represents the industry’s leaders in our perspective.

Here are the most common lease buyout questions we get and answer for our clients:

  1. Why should I sell my wireless lease?
  2. When should I avoid selling my wireless lease?
  3. How much can you expect to make from the sale?
  4. What about the sales fees and legal fees?
  5. What about rent-sharing in the future after I sell the lease?
  6. How about the impact of a sale on my income tax?
  7. What’s the best way to sell my lease?
  8. How can I maximize the value of the sale of my lease?
  9. Don’t all of those firms offer the same basic terms and conditions?
  10. What if I have more than one cell tower lease on my property?
  11. What are the ‘gotchas’ I need to avoid?

If you are considering selling your wireless lease, or you just have questions, give us a call and take advantage of our free initial consultation offer.

Have you received a letter from your Wireless Tenant with a DEMAND TO CUT THE RENT on your existing cell site lease?

Fight off these baseless demands.

Are you a private or government wireless site landlord who has been approached by your wireless tenant, or a firm representing your tenant, demanding you cut the rent and/or significantly change the terms of your wireless lease?

This often-odious practice is called “Lease Optimization.” Not surprisingly, usually the only truly valuable optimization is for your wireless tenant.

The usual threat is that if you don’t give the concessions demanded, your wireless tenant may invoke a clause in the lease to walk away, perhaps in 30 days or less. The implication is that you’ll lose out on all of your future site income if you don’t give in now.

The larger wireless firms often use use third-party companies to do their lease optimization bidding. Two of the major players performing rent optimization on behalf of wireless firms are are Black Dot Wireless, Md7 and the Lyle Company, but there are others out there as well.

If you’re contacted, it’s quite possible that they’ll tell you something like this: Your wireless tenant has ‘many other sites in the area,’ or because of ‘economic conditions’ or because of ‘changes in the wireless industry’ so they no longer have a pressing need for the site they lease from you, but (and here’s the kicker) if you agree to cut the rent usually give other concessions, the tenant select a different site to close down instead of your site. Gosh, it’s your lucky day!

Sometimes in trade, the wireless tenant through the lease optimizer will offer a ‘rent guarantee period.’ During the guarantee period, the carrier will agree–essentially–not to walk away from the lease or try to reduce the payments again for a period time, commonly for a period 10 years. At the same time, you’ll usually be asked to give up other valuable rights, such as the right to sell your lease to whomever you want. You might be required to give a first-right-of-refusal on the sale of your property (which can reduce the marketability of your property…just ask us how).

This is a particularly good time to go out and take some measurements of your tenant’s cell site. If it is over-occupying your property this would be a particularly good time to know this as a fact, and to act on it. If your site is being over-occupied by your wireless tenant, you’ll want to be very, very careful about agreeing to a rent cut, and especially a rent cut based on an inaccurate occupancy. Click “Are You Being Underpaid?” (link/scroll back/open to previous section) for more information about over-occupancy and underpayment.

We have grateful private and government clients who have faced this vexing dilemma, and we’ve helped them survive this type of frontal assault on the value of their existing lease. We know how to determine if the story being told is true–and usually this is not the case–or if it’s just a ploy to squeeze the landlord using techniques that may well be legally improper.

We’re ready to help you, the wireless site landlord, fight off these often-baseless demands.

If you get a call from your wireless tenant, or their representative, let us help you, as we’ve helped many other cell sit landlords. For a free initial 30-minute consultation with one of our wireless lease attorneys, please call us toll-free on (855) Cell-Site or send us a message by clicking here.

Have you received or are expecting a TERMINATION NOTICE from your existing Wireless Tenant?

What NOT to do is as important as WHAT to do.

Some wireless carriers shuttering a number of their existing wireless site leases. If you’ve received a notice of lease termination, it means that the tenant had decided that your site is no longer necessary in light of some change in ownership or technology.

Lease terminations translate to the loss of anticipated and substantial lease income for years or decades. For savvy landlords, site lease terminations can contain nuggets of significant value that your terminating tenant will not want you to know about, or take advantage of.

Adding insult to injury, some carriers employ third-party vendors to call and ‘convince’ landlords why, on the way out, they should execute a novel “Lease Termination Agreement and General Release” document. This document can cost you many thousands of dollars (or more) if you don’t understand all of its legally-dense burden-shifting terms.

A wireless site tenant, when terminating a lease, wants to save lots of money by not removing most of the equipment, wiring, conduits, cables, and the other things it installs. Removal of these items is typically required by most wireless leases, as is returning the leasehold to the landlord in the same basic condition that existing just prior to the lease. Some tenants now want to abandon their nearly-valueless equipment in place and transfer title of the abandoned equipment to the site landlord with no warranties whatsoever. With the abandonment go all of the legal liabilities, as well, which may include liabilities imposed by the local governments on your departing wireless tenant, but are then transferred by this agreement to the landlord.

‘Just sign right here on the dotted line and you get to take on all of your departing tenant’s discarded stuff and legal risks, and you save them a boat-load of money, too!‘ is just one way to think about this type of proposed deal.

Even worse, sometimes the third party contacting you on behalf of the departing tenant will suggest in writing that they can likely find a replacement wireless tenant quickly because these decommissioned sites will be “plug and play” solutions for other carriers…IF…you give up a 25% commission for the life of the revenue stream the vendor can negotiate. We’ve never seen a decommissioned site that’s really “plug and play” especially since the the valuable radio equipment is removed before abandonment of the junk cables, antennas, etc.

What to do: If you are a wireless landlord and you’ve received a notice of termination, go back and pull out your lease documents, including amendments.

Look at the termination terms and restoration terms, then give us a call for a free no-obligation initial 30-minute consultation. Our toll free telephone number is (855) CELL-SITE.

Have you just RECEIVED A LEGAL LETTER from your existing cell site tenant or its legal representative?

It could be nothing; it could be a real issue. We can tell you the right answer.

It’s a great day.

You’ve just returned from a trip to the bank. You just deposited your monthly cell site lease payment and you’re feeling mighty happy about that check. You decide it’s such a nice day that you’ll stop on the way back to enjoy a cone of ice cream. Ah, two scoops of creamy decadent French Vanilla in a traditional sugar cone. The sprinkles on top are just the way you like them.

It is delicious!

Having finished your treat, you drive off and reach your driveway.

You get out of the car and walk to your door. Just as you start to push open the door you hear your Letter Carrier call out your name. You turn and wave, returning her greeting. She says she needs your signature for a delivery. You smile at her. You say, “Sure.”

You watch while she fishes through her letter bag. After a moment she pulls out a while envelope and looks up at you. As she extends her arm, you spy what she’s holding to be about the size of a Number 10 business envelope. You see a green bar across across the top that says, “CERTIFIED MAIL.” Your heart flutters. Then you see the return address starting with, “Law Offices of…” Your heart skips a full beat.

The Letter Carrier turns over the letter and hand you a pen, pointing to the receipt you are to sign. You dutifully sign the receipt, and she removes it from the back of the envelope. Finally she hands you the letter. You stare down at it. She gives you the rest of your mail and says goodbye. You manage to mumble your thanks as she retreats from your doorway.

Clutching the Certified Letter and the rest of the day’s mail, you go inside.

Rather than ripping open the envelope, you find a letter opener and carefully slice open the top. Ever-so-gently you pry apart the front panel from the back allowing you to peek inside. The letter is folded over on itself. No text is visible.

Resigned, you remove the neatly-folded letter, unfold it, and start to read:

Cell Site Lease Landlord:

This law firm represents your cell site lease tenant in the matter discussed below. Your immediate attention to this matter is required…

You read, then re-read the letter and as your heart sinks to somewhere near your ankles.
Not understanding why you got this letter, or how to respond, you put the letter aside.

Later, you pick up the letter again and realize that you need to talk with a competent lawyer who knows about the wireless industry, what the letter says, and what it means. . .

Over the course of a 20 or 30 year cell tower lease, it’s likely that you receive an ominous-looking certified letter or two from your tenant’s law firm, or even your wireless tenant. Most of the time, there is some issue that requires that you be formally notified of something that is happening, or something that has happened, in connection with the cell site lease. We frequently deal with these matters on behalf of our clients and explain what’s going on and how to deal with it from a legal and business perspective.

If you have received a legal letter from your wireless tenant’s law firm or directly form the tenant, let us explain what’s going on. Initial consultations free and without obligation. For a free no-obligation initial 30-minute consultation, give us a call on our toll free telephone number: (855) Cell-Site. A thirty-minute call might save you 30 nights of nightmares, all for nothing.

Coronado, CA Adopts New Wireless Ordinance

By | Firm News

Last night, August 21, 2018, the City of Coronado, California adopted a new wireless ordinance.  In fact, it was their first wireless ordinance.

During the hearing, I presented a short PowerPoint presentation on 5G and why the wireless industry moves in seemingly mysterious ways.

If you’d like to learn about the new ordinance, and listen to my lecture to and discussions with the City Council, please visit:  https://coronado.12milesout.com/meeting/council/8-21-2018 and select item “8b“.

Dr. Kramer to present at HAMCOM 2017

By | Firm News

Dr. Jonathan Kramer, W6JLK, will present his (in)famous “I’m From the Government (Planning Department), and I’m Here” lecture at the ARRL Southwest Convention. He’ll be presenting twice on Saturday, September 16th, 2017. The first presentation will be at 10:00 a.m., followed by a repeat of the lecture at 2:00 p.m. That way you can pick the time that works best for you!

This lecture is updated to include information regarding collocations-by-right under 47 U.S.C. 1455(a) as that law applies to ham radio operators.

Hamcom 2017 will be held at:

Torrance Marriott Redondo Beach Hotel

3635 Fashion Way

Torrance, CA 90501

For more information regarding registration and discounted hotel reservations, you can visit http://www.hamconinc.org/.

I hope to meet you in person at Hamcom!

Jonathan, W6JLK

Dr. Jonathan Kramer’s Cell Site Leasing Article in NM Lawyer

By | Firm News

The New Mexico Bar has published Dr. Kramer’s article “Cellular Tower Site Leasing: Avoiding Bear Traps” in its May 2017 edition of the New Mexico Lawyer (Vol. 12, No. 2). The article is a lease agreement primer for attorneys or landlords who are dealing with a wireless carrier wants to lease property for a cell site. Most or all of the insights shared in the article will be valuable to any attorney or landlord in other states. (Download PDF)

New Mexico Lawyer is Copyright © 2017 by the New Mexico Bar.

Upcoming Webinar: Cell Tower Leases (Lorman 12/8/16)

By | Firm News

John Pestle and Dr. Jonathan Kramer will, once again, present their very popular “Current Issues in Cell Tower Leases” live Lorman webinar on December 8, 2016. This 90 minute webinar covers virtually all of the key aspects of cell site leases from the Landlord’s perspective.

A unique aspect of this popular webinar is that we will stay on the webinar until all participant questions are answered, even if we run over the scheduled 90 minute time frame.

If you sign up with Lorman using the link below, you’ll receive a 50% savings over the regular catalog price.

For more information and to receive a 50% registration discount CLICK HERE.

 

Learn about the key aspects of cell tower leases and the sales of such leases.

The wireless industry has built more than 300,000 cell sites in the United States in the past 20 years. But many more cell sites are needed as iPhones®, iPads®, Droids and the like strain existing network capacity. More sites are needed to meet the government’s goal of using wireless to increase broadband speeds and coverage. At the same time, tower management companies are offering to buy existing cell leases and future leasing rights for large sums of money.

This topic helps level the playing field by providing private and municipal property owners with the expertise of two faculty members highly experienced in cell tower leases and sales. This will help property owners who usually are negotiating such leases or the sale of a lease for the first and only time, while the companies have teams of lawyers who work exclusively on such matters.

We will focus on key business issues in wireless site leases, including lease rates, who gets the revenues from additional antennas or carriers being co-located at a site, major rent increases for renewals and avoiding lease terms which can restrict or prevent an owner’s use or development of its own property or trigger a mortgage default. We also address the sale of cell leases and future leasing rights, including typical sale prices, when to sell, when it is generally not advisable to sell, how to get the best price and terms in a sale, and avoiding provisions that restrict the use or development of the underlying property. You will be better able to identify and resolve issues that are unique to wireless leases and sales, including what municipalities can include in a lease that cannot be included in a government-issued permit, site location and value, options on selling a lease, lease term and terminations, access requirements, interference regulation and mitigation, design and camouflage, and radio frequency emissions issues.

Dr. Jonathan Kramer to Discuss Mobilitie on eNATOA National Call

By | Firm News

Dr. Jonathan Kramer has been invited by NATOA to be one of three speakers on a national eNATOA conference call. Our topic will be the shape-shifting Mobilitie, which is building a new network for Sprint. Some industry pundits have called this Project Network Suicide, but maybe not.

This national call will take place on 6/21/16 at 1:00 p.m. EST. Details should be out real soon now at NATOA.ORG. Yes, Jonathan will have lot of pictures, and lots of thoughts to share regarding Mobilitie and its dozens of alias entities.

Jonathan Kramer to Discuss Mobilitie on eNATOA National Call

By | Firm News

Jonathan Kramer has been invited by NATOA to be one of three speakers on a national eNATOA conference call. Our topic will be the shape-shifting Mobilitie, which is building a new network for Sprint. Some industry pundits have called this Project Network Suicide, but maybe not. This national call will take place on 6/21/16 at 1:00 p.m. EASTERN TIME. Details should be out real soon now at NATOA.ORG. Yes, Jonathan will have lot of pictures, and lots of thoughts to share regarding Mobilitie and its dozens of alias entities.