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When a deal is the sum of its parts

October 21, 2021
Author: JD Stride

Australia’s existing street pole infrastructure is squarely in the sights of carriers. And that means the nation’s utility providers need to be on their guard.

Without the existing infrastructure of traditional utility providers, suburbia would be a very challenging environment for carriers to establish new sites.  


Across suburban Australia, commercial and industrial zoned land is often in short supply. Community-sensitive areas are off-limits, so carriers have few options for acquiring new sites.  Without additional locations, existing sites can quickly become overloaded.

Luckily for carriers, suburbia has an abundance of vertical infrastructure in the form of street poles belonging to the nation’s various utility providers.  Some utility providers have quickly caught on to the intentions of carriers and know their assets are squarely in the carriers’ sites, particularly when it comes to the 5G small cell roll-outs.

However, when it comes to dealing with carriers, utility providers are typically at a disadvantage. They are not versed in what a small cell roll-out could look like and have received a bare minimum of information from the carrier. 

Recently a leading utility provider contacted siteXcell.  They understood the use of their street pole infrastructure was inevitable.  But they didn’t want to be on the back-foot when the carriers came knocking. The utility provider commissioned siteXcell to provide expert advice and assistance in developing a 5G small cell market schedule of rates. Our work would enable the utility provider to engage constructively with carriers while protecting and capitalising on their street pole infrastructure.   

Our approach

An offer of several hundred dollars per small cell might look fair on face value, but with no comparison to draw upon, our client would not be able to establish a fair market rate for the use of their street poles and would likely undervalue their asset.

To establish a market schedule of rates for our client, we analysed and assessed several commercial and operational factors, including:

  1. Assessing how many configurations of small cell installations would be involved, including the sizes, types, and the number of individual equipment components and where that equipment would be located.
  2. Establishing a fair market value using comparison data and developing a precedent rate schedule, including the savings a carrier enjoys due to reduced construction costs.
  3. Providing the necessary specialist knowledge to assist the client in understanding and dealing with highly technical matters.
  4. Providing insights into current and future network deployment and carrier strategies.
  5. Building mechanisms to identify future carrier non-compliance and prevent the erosion of revenue streams over time.
  6. Building mechanisms to ensure the client’s WHS requirements were adhered to when installing and maintaining their equipment.   
  7. Identifying operational impacts the equipment would have on the client now and into the future and providing mitigation strategies where required.

A successful outcome

With thousands of individual street poles up for use and based on the exact number of small cell sites established by the carriers on the client’s street pole infrastructure, the implementation of the client’s newly established ‘rate card’ was anticipated to result in additional annual revenue of over $4.5 million.