2023 Q2 TMT Earnings Calls Summary


Earning calls for the second quarter of 2023 revealed a more pronounced softening compared to the first quarter — a trend that is anticipated to persist through the second half of the year.

The major public tower companies have concluded the initial stage of 5G upgrades in urban and densely populated suburban locations. The subsequent phase, which centers on upgrades in lower density geographies and new sites in capacity strained areas, is expected to be rolled out at a more gradual pace and with reduced capital expenditure. This progression follows a similar pattern observed in previous 3G and 4G technology cycles.

Viewed in isolation, this quarter’s slowdown might attract skepticism. However, the reality is positive. Significant upgrades have already been deployed, and as data consumption is propelled by technologies like generative AI, demand is expected to surge for years to come.


  • Dish Network stated that they met their FCC defined June 2023 network buildout requirements and announced a merger with EchoStar, which is expected to provide the company with additional capital to continue their network build. Their ability to compete in the wireless business is still uncertain, and many industry analysts believe they have an uphill battle to be viewed as a legitimate fourth major carrier
  • Comcast and Charter, cable companies operating on Verizon’s network, continue to gain subscribers. While materially expanding their independent networks could directly benefit site owners, there is no indication of an immediate appetite to do so.
  • US Cellular announced they are exploring “strategic alternatives”, suggesting that they may be open to the possibility of being acquired, which could result in substantial churn of their sites. 


Crown Castle reported 5.8% gross organic growth in the second quarter on their tower assets and reiterated their long-term forecast of 5% organic growth on these assets. CEO Jay Brown stated “I believe this initial surge in tower activity [from 5G upgrades] has ended. In the second quarter, we saw tower activity levels slow significantly,” and later clarifying that this slowdown primarily took place in the second half of the quarter and from multiple carriers. Looking forward, Crown expects increased activity from the carriers densifying their networks via small cells, noting they have a backlog of 60,000 small cell deployments.

SBA reported 4.3% net domestic organic growth in the first quarter despite a higher than normal 3.9% churn rate primarily due to Sprint. This Sprint churn is expected to continue through 2026, with the out years of 2025 and 2026 seeing the greatest impacts. Amendment activity and new leases were 42% and 58% of bookings, respectively, in the quarter compared to 51% and 49%, respectively, in the first quarter. They further announced that they signed a five-year MLA with AT&T, which will provide a pop to 2023 organic growth. They anticipate leasing activity to step down throughout the year but still believe in the long-term tailwinds in the market. Finally, they stated again that they are not seeing attractive M&A opportunities globally.

American Tower reported 5.1% domestic organic growth in the second quarter, and 6.5% when removing the impact of Sprint churn, which is down from 5.6% and nearly 70%, respectively, in the first quarter. Expectations of future organic growth remain unchanged and are expected to be at least 5%-6% over the next five years when removing the impact of Sprint churn. Like the other tower companies, they saw a slowdown of carrier activity in the second quarter and expect the activity to continue to decelerate throughout the remainder of the year but do note that carrier capex still remains at historically high levels. Finally, while not naming specific names, they did note that the slowdown in activity was more significant from some carriers than others.

Verizon Wireless reported year-over-year improvement to their postpaid consumer wireless subscriber net losses and an eighth consecutive quarter with strong business wireless subscriber net gains. They stated that their accelerated C-Band capex program was fully completed, and they would be at their run-rate, business-as-usual capex level for the foreseeable future. They clarified that in areas they have already densified their network they deploy all their available spectrum and will turn on the additional C-Band spectrum later this year when cleared. Additionally, they continue to gain fixed wireless subscribers and expect the opening of additional C-Band spectrum this year to enable them to expand their fixed wireless offer areas. Finally, they stated they were actively researching their exposure to legacy lead-sheathed cables but downplayed that it would have a major impact on the company.

AT&T reported postpaid wireless subscriber net adds of 326,000 for the quarter, continuing a trend of subscriber growth but at a slowing rate. They stated that capex in the second half of 2023 would be about $1 billion lower than the first half, and this lower rate of capex will continue into the coming years. They now cover about 175 million people with mid-band 5G and expect this number to increase to 200 million by the end of the year, further adding that this mid-band spectrum has demonstrated better propagation than anticipated. Additionally, CEO John Stankey stated that “the lifetime value of our mobile customer is significantly higher than that of a cable MVNO customer. Cable’s busy adding wireless customers at very low lifetime values just to protect customers they already have.” Finally, like Verizon, AT&T stated they were actively researching their exposure to legacy lead-sheathed cables but downplayed that it would have a major impact on the company.

T-Mobile reported postpaid wireless subscriber net adds of 760,000 for the quarter and 0.77% churn, both best in the industry. They, like AT&T and Verizon, noted that capex was expected to slow in the second half to the year for a 2023 total of $9.5-9.7 billion, and expect the 2024 capex to be generally in line with this as well. They noted that they now have 285 million POPs covered by mid-band spectrum, up from 275 million at the end of the first quarter and expect this to increase to 300 million by year end. They further added over 500,000 fixed wireless subscribers to cross over 3.7 million total fixed wireless subscribers. Finally, they stated that they were seeing a lower rate of ports of their customers to the cable companies or MNOs.

Dish reported that they met their June 2023 FCC buildout requirement of covering 70% of the US population. They are expected to have a brief slowdown in activity, and then estimate another $2 billion in capex to meet their 2025 buildout requirements. They announced a merger with EchoStar which, according to industry analysts, is expected to provide them with additional capital for their continued network build. Finally, they remain engaged on the purchase of 800 MHz spectrum from T-Mobile.

US Cellular reported a continued trend of net postpaid subscriber loss, however their rate of postpaid churn has slowed 8% year over year. On fixed wireless, they stated they surpassed 100,000 subscribers in July. Additionally, they reported 10% year over year growth in tower rental revenues – their current owned tower portfolio is more than 4,300 sites with almost 2,500 colocation tenants on these towers. Finally, the company stated that they are exploring “strategic alternatives”, meaning a sale of the company or its assets, although additional detail was not provided. Industry experts have speculated that T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon are the most obvious perspective buyers, in which case they would acquire US Cellular’ s subscribers and wireless spectrum, while potentially reselling their tower assets.

Comcast and Charter reported that they added 316,000 and 648,000 subscribers, respectively, by the end of the quarter and both now exceed 6 million subscribers. Both have MVNO agreements with Verizon, but are attempting to offload as much traffic as possible onto their own WiFi networks, and Charter specifically has deployed CBRS in one market with plans to deploy additional markets next year, although they emphasized it’s going to be highly targeted with disciplined capex, and they do not have plans to build a large network of macro cell sites.

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