Comcast-Backed firm acquires Vyve towers

Thursday, Nov 26, 2015

CTI Towers, a wireless tower operating company majority owned by Comcast Ventures, has struck a deal to acquire 120 towers from Vyve Broadband, the independent cable MSO formerly known as BCI Broadband and founded by two former Bresnan Communications execs.

CTI Towers said the deal, its largest tower acquisition agreement so far, expands its coverage into Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, and Wyoming.  Tenants of those towers include Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, as well as broadcasters, utility companies and government entities.

CTI Towers  expects to close the deal by year-end.

The deal with Vyve also caps off a recent string of deals involving  Franklin, Mass.-based CTI Towers. In April, CTI Towers struck a deal to sell 294 communications tower sites to InSite Wireless Group.

"Over the past year, we have worked closely with the Vyve team lending support to their tower leasing efforts," said Tony Peduto, CEO of CTI Towers, in a statement.  "CTI understands the priorities of cable television companies so this agreement was structured to minimize any potential disruption to Vyve's operations. We are excited to extend our national footprint and look forward to reaching out to all of the carriers and service providers in our new markets."

“CTI’s rapid growth shows their knowledge of the US tower market and unparalleled ability to execute quickly,” added David Zilberman, managing director at Comcast Ventures. “We’re excited for the company's strong and growing portfolio.”

While CTI Towers’s business centers on leasing access to others, it’s not clear how those efforts might fit into future cable-focused mobile and wireless strategies. For Comcast’s part, it’s been rolling out a metro  WiFi network and noodling how it might execute its MVNO agreement with Verizon. Comcast also has an MVNO deal with Sprint.

In the grand scheme, CTI Towers is a small player in the tower market.

According to Wireless Estimator’s market snapshot, last updated on November 19, American Tower, with 39,928 towers, led the market, followed by Crown Castle (39,739); SBA Communications (14,873); United States Cellular Co. (4,207), Vertical Bridge (2,998) and InSite (1,100).

Other industry notables include Time Warner (653 towers); Mediacom Communications (424); CenturyLink  (311); Charter Communications (291); Cox Communications (163).  Per Wireless Estimator’s current count, CTI Towers has 124 towers, good for 39th in the market.

Founded in 2011, CTI Towers secured $30 million in debt financing in 2013 to fuel M&A activity.

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