Agile Networks could be earning nearly $1 million per year by sub-leasing state-owned tower space to T-Mobile in Ohio, and the state doesn’t get any of the money.
According to a Columbus Dispatch report, the unusual agreement stemmed from the state paying Agile $2.2 million to help build the Multi-Agency Radio Communications System, a first responders network, and then allowing the company to sub-lease space on up to 82 of the towers. The state forfeited any proceeds from the T-Mobile lease because it does not want to violate a 10 percent private use limit set by the IRS. But the state is still paying the electrical bills for the towers.
The report figured that, if T-Mobile was paying around a minimum of $1,000 per month to lease space on the 84 towers, it would result in about $1 million in annual revenue going to Agile. Of course, the monthly lease payment could be higher and T-Mobile might not need to or want to lease space on all of the towers.
As the report pointed out, Agile didn't disclose to the state exactly how much T-Mobile is paying to lease the space.
Kurt Kauffman, capital finance director in the Office of Budget Management, told the Dispatch that to his knowledge the Agile agreement is the only one of its kind. The state already earns about $1.6 million a year by leasing space on the 151 towers it does own to operators including Verizon and Vigilant Global.
Agile currently pays $700,000 annually to lease tower space from the state. The company also defended its deal with T-Mobile by saying that it was Agile’s network investments that made the towers attractive to T-Mobile in the first place and that, with Agile’s involvement, those state-owned towers potentially could have gone underused.
Agile is a hybrid fiber wireless network service provider in Ohio. Last year, the company announced that it had built a hybrid microwave and optical network capable of delivering 1 Gbps internet access speeds to business customers. The company said it could scale its service quickly by using the Multi-Agency Radio Communications System.