Verizon Discloses New $7 Billion 5G Tower Liability
The revelation comes one month after the company paid $45.5 billion for new wireless spectrum.
April 28, 2021
Verizon (VZ), a communications, data, and entertainment services provider, disclosed a new multi-billion dollar cost associated with its 5G network buildout. In February 2021, Verizon spent $45.5 billion as the winning bidder in the FCC’s C-Band wireless spectrum auction. In its latest 10-Q, Verizon revealed the cost of outfitting its cell towers with the equipment necessary to leverage the new spectrum:

“In April 2021, Verizon executed agreements that modified the tenure and payment terms for certain existing cell tower operating leases to support the build-out of our 5G wireless network. Verizon expects these lease modifications will result in an increase to our operating lease right-of-use assets and liabilities of approximately $7.0 billion to $7.5 billion in the second quarter of 2021.”

The revelation further muddies the real cost of Verizon’s 5G buildout.

In its earnings release five days prior to the filing, Verizon provided a 2021 CapEx forecast of $17-$18.5 billion but disclosed it isn’t counting additional expenditures for C-Band rollout:

“Expenditures related to the deployment of the company’s C-Band 5G network will be in addition to this amount, and are expected to be approximately $10 billion over three years, with $2 billion to $3 billion expected in 2021.”

If we add the $2-$3 billion in CapEx Verizon would rather not count toward its outlook and the $7-$7.5 billion in tower lease modifications classified as operating lease liabilities, Verizon is poised to spend approximately $9-$10.5 billion more on its 5G rollout in 2021 than investors may be anticipating.
Related: T, TMUS, CMCSA, CHTR
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