WISPs and Tower assets – LLC or what?

As a Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) grows, they tend to acquire some tower assets of their own.  Sometimes these are ones they build and sometimes these are towers they acquire from various sources. What is a WISP to do with these assets and, how should they treat them? In this article, I give you some options to consider. *DISCLAIMER* This article is not to be construed or viewed as actual legal advice.

One of the first business questions is how will owning a tower affect my current business? Will it cause your insurance rates to go up? Do I have liability concerns, especially if the tower is required to have lights according to FAA rules? Will I rent out space to other entities? All of these are valid questions and can affect how you structure these assets.

One of the everyday things a WISP can do when they build or acquire assets is to form an LLC for the tower side of things.  The question is do you form an LLC per tower or an overall LLC for your tower assets.  Let’s look at what forming an LLC will help you with before we get into the above question.

If you are a WISP, forming an LLC for your tower assets will most likely save your WISP operations from insurance penalties.  You may not have to carry extra business insurance or even have to switch carriers because your current insurer does not cover towers. Sure, you have to carry insurance for the LLC, but it can be a cut-down policy and causes things like workers compensation for the WISP side to rise. You are mainly concerned about the tower causing damage or damage to the tower.

Secondly, by having an LLC own and manage your assets, you have put yourself in a better position if you decide to sell your WISP operations.  On paper, your WISP is renting space and whatever from the Tower LLC.  If you have other forms of income from the tower you can decide whether to sell the tower or keep it. If the towers are separated from the WISP operations a sale of either side is much cleaner come sale time.  This is not to say you can’t sell the tower assets with the WISP operations, but it gives you more flexibility.

The last question is, should you form an LLC for each tower.  Some operators like this approach for several reasons.  The first is it allows one tower issue not to affect the other LLCs.  Should you come into legal problems with a tower, a properly set up and documented LLC will shield the members from potential personal liability.  With the ease of online LLC formation, it is easy enough to form an LLC for each tower asset. As mentioned earlier the separate LLCs give you more flexibility. Should you own some carrier-grade assets you have the potential to sell these to a larger tower aggregator without affecting your WISP operations. This is one way several of my clients have infused cash into their operations.

The downside is you now have more paperwork and filings to keep track of.  You have to keep up on LLC renewals, filings, and other paperwork. If you have processes or teams in place, this may not be an issue. Legally, you need to make sure you are not mixing the LLCs, which could cause you to lose the protection of the company.  It just depends on how savvy you are or if you have proper legal representation which is affordable.

At the very least I think it is very advantageous for the WISP to move any tower assets into at least one LLC. You are doing your business a favor.

Some Towers under 200’ now need to be marked

Some points from the news article. Communications towers have the option is the key for you WISP friends.

New FAA regulations require landowners to mark any towers between 50′ and 200′ on their property, as well as include the towers in a new database the FAA is developing.

The new requirements are due to provisions in the FAA Extension, Safety and Security Act of 2016 and the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.

Under the provisions in these laws, meteorological evaluation towers (METs) meeting the requirements stipulated in the bills must be both marked and logged in to the FAA database. Communication towers of the same size have the option to be either be marked or logged in the FAA database.

https://generalaviationnews.com/2019/07/08/new-faa-regulations-require-towers-under-200-to-be-marked/

Tower Climb items you never have enough of

If you are like me you get to a tower site and don’t have enough Carabiners, or don’t have enough rope.  You make a mental note to order more, but after a long day you forget, that is until you are at the tower site the next time. So I have compiled a list, with the help of the Folks at toweroneinc.com, of things you don’t can’t have enough of.

Carbiners
https://toweroneinc.com/collections/connectors

Gloves – I am always needing a decent pair of gloves
https://toweroneinc.com/collections/clothing/gloves

Eye Protection
I did a blog post on the MTIN blog awhile back on the Skullerz. https://www.mtin.net/blog/skullerz-first-looks/

Tool Lanyards – These are now required to be OSHA compliant
Check out a post on TowerOne about Lanyards. https://toweroneinc.com/blogs/news/ansi-121-2018-tool-lanyards
https://toweroneinc.com/collections/tool-lanyard 

FlashlightFlashlights – Get a couple of rechargeable flashlights and a Headlamp
https://toweroneinc.com/collections/flashlights
https://toweroneinc.com/collections/headlamps

Pulleys – How many times have you not had enough pulleys to rig the tower for mximum effectiveness?
https://toweroneinc.com/collections/pulleys

These are just a few of the things I always forget to buy the next day because I didn’t have them.  I am hoping this list will help you.

PTp550 Throughput with RF elements horns

Distance:5.03 Miles
Downlink RSSI: -59
ChannelWidth: 40MHZ
DownlinkSNR:33bB
Antennas: RF elements Ultra Horns
Downlink Ratio set to 75/25

Question: Why are you not using channel bonding? 
A)Having some reliability issues with channel bonding at the moment on the 550 platform.

Question: What was the link like before the horns?
Check out this previous post. (pictures are screwed up for now): http://www.mtin.net/blog/the-addition-of-rf-elements-horns-to-a-ptp550-link/