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Vice Chairman, Head of Business Development, Jorge Pedraza

What was the most significant development that happened during 2023 in the wireless infrastructure industry and why?

Wireless industry traffic continues to grow at a rate of over 30% year over year. The major carriers made significant investments in response to this network need both in scale and efficiency, with continuing spectrum deployment, 5G network upgrades and investments in Open RAN (O-RAN) supporting interoperation between vendors’ equipment. As a company focused on macro wireless real estate, we see the ripples of this investment are felt across both the telecom and real estate industries, affecting wireless macro rooftop assets and tower ground lease assets.

This brings me to the other big story of ’23, the rising cost of capital that created new headwinds for some industry participants and that have resulted in well publicized cost rationalizations around the industry. Similarly, we were also reminded of the connectivity of telecom real estate assets back to the overall domestic U.S. real estate market, as a large proportion of landlords have been impacted by the complications in the wider property market, in particular commercial real estate.

As such, 2023 served as a good reminder on how to invest profitability in infrastructure with a long-term view. In that respect, 2023 also created significant opportunity for well capitalized, partnership orientated wireless infrastructure providers to deliver creative solutions for their customers — such as Symphony Wireless tries to create with carriers, tower companies and real estate owners every day.

What trend do you think will impact the wireless infrastructure industry the most in 2024 and why?

Demand for AI skyrocketed in 2023. With untapped potential ahead, how companies deal with AI growth across the digital infrastructure ecosystem, including wireless, will be a major factor in 2024.

With AI as an example of a new, network intensive application, perhaps the largest and most important theme going forward will be the continued high growth of wireless network demand and what decisions are made to deal with it.

The long-term need for more network capacity with low latency will be enduring. We expect to see further 5G densification in urban and rural markets in 2024, alongside ongoing network investment and innovation. Rising to meet these challenges will supersede cyclical cost of capital considerations as we seek to meet these demands and help support U.S. wireless innovation for the rest of this decade and beyond. From our perspective, this will include the need to secure high-value real estate locations, with flexible, long-term value for our carrier and tower customers.

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