Brattle economists have authored a report discussing how the wireless infrastructure industry will impact the U.S. economy in the coming years, as mobile wireless services and networks continue to expand.

The report, prepared for the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) with cooperation from American Tower, Crown Castle, and SBA Communications, explains that wireless infrastructure providers, the largest being organized as real estate investment trusts (REITs), have played a key role in wireless infrastructure funding for years. REITs in particular help to drive the expansion of the industry by answering wireless carriers’ demands for more network capacity with increased monetary investments, allowing smaller investors to participate, as well. In this manner, REITs solve a market challenge by ensuring that capital is efficiently invested in wireless telecommunications infrastructure.

To explain the impact of these wireless infrastructure investments on the U.S., the authors examine the industry’s capital expenditures as well as the flow-through impact of those investments on the general economy. They find that the industry has supported approximately $6.8 billion in spending and 32,500 jobs in the U.S. in 2016 through direct, indirect, and induced expenditures resulting from its capital and operating expenditures.

The authors note that as the economic importance of universal broadband grows and as advanced wireless services spread across industries, the wireless infrastructure’s role in supporting the U.S. economy’s continuing growth will only expand. In addition, the REIT structure will also continue to play an important role in ensuring that efficient amounts of capital are invested in wireless infrastructure deployment.

The report, “REIT Supported Wireless Infrastructure: Foundation of the Mobile Economy,” is authored by Brattle Principals Coleman Bazelon and Pallavi Seth. It is available for download below.

View Report