Featuring Connectivity Wireless’ Chief Revenue Officer, Thom Antonopoulos
What is one thing you really wish property owners knew about carrier funding for commercial buildings?
Property owners are very savvy business people who are looking to maximize the significant investment they have made in developing their buildings. The carriers are also extremely savvy about how they invest their capital to achieve their expected ROI’s. Carriers are expecting and demanding that property owners participate in funding the in-building wireless systems through either direct project cost offsets or in-kind contributions. Carriers are constantly reassessing priorities and projects based on current market conditions and their network requirements. The building owner that helps the carriers maximize ROI will usually see their system built first.
Based on your area of expertise, what do you think is the single most important thing property owners should know or understand about carrier funding for commercial buildings?
That the market for carrier funding is fluid, and there is not enough capital to support every project. What it really boils down to is making your property as attractive as possible to the wireless carriers by helping them get the highest expected returns for the use of their capital. There are two parts to accomplishing this: first, working with a partner like Connectivity Wireless who understands the changing environment and has demonstrated success in designing and building networks very efficiently. Second, we all need to have “skin-in-the-game” to move a project forward. The building owner that helps to reduce build costs has a much higher probability of accelerating a carrier- funded solution.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR PROPERTY OWNERS TO MAKE THE CARRIER FUNDING PROCESS AS EASY AS POSSIBLE?
Plan as far in advance as possible to work with your wireless partner, so you have ample time to develop the best plan and approach for carrier participation. Listen to the carrier’s needs and be flexible when being asked to provide additional node locations, especially outdoor nodes. Make sure you provide all relevant tenant information, daily foot traffic, etc., that allows both your wireless partner and the wireless carriers to make informed decisions on the optimal design and financial review.
WHAT DO YOU PREDICT IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS FOR THE FUTURE OF CARRIER-FUNDED SYSTEMS?
I believe the carrier-funded model will begin to phase to a DaaS model where the building owner initially funds the entire build and is partially reimbursed as carriers join. I also believe there will be custom Build-To-Suit models that the carriers will deploy in select vertical markets to achieve their business objectives and ensure they are investing in the right place at the right time. We live in a time now of great uncertainty that requires the ability to change plans quickly as the market changes. One thing we do know is that the reliance on wireless technologies is accelerating at an unprecedented pace. With IOT, 5G and the requirement for ubiquitous coverage I can’t think of a better business to be in.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN WIRELESS?
30+ years in telecom.
I started in the telecommunications business two weeks out of high school as a central office installer. The first half of my career path was all related to engineering and construction disciplines, and the second half has been in various sales roles. I worked for Verizon for 32 years in various roles of increasing responsibility. I’m pretty sure the best job I ever had was my first one, where I got to install, test, and turn-up equipment all over the US. Five years ago, I had the great fortune to come to Connectivity Wireless to help launch a new business in owning and operating in-building wireless systems.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
I’ve lived in California most of my life, but I was actually born in Bergen, Norway. My wife, Connie, and I have five children and a Newfoundland dog named Cooper. I like to hike and play golf in my spare time.