After almost 25 years, the telecommunications equipment owned by Sprint Corporation was removed from the Newton Highlands Congregational Church (NHCC) tower on January 27, 2023. A crane was used for the removal.
Sprint merged with T-Mobile US on April 1, 2020; before that, it was the fourth largest mobile network operator in the country. T-Mobile terminated the Sprint agreement as of the end of November 2022, but they have continued to pay rent pending removal of the Sprint equipment. T-Mobile is currently replacing the air conditioning unit that cools its equipment.
Buildings & Grounds Committee member Rich Bryden is negotiating with T-Mobile on a new rental contract.
What is the origin of the rental agreement with Sprint?
The agreement with Sprint began in November 1999 through the efforts of Dennis Rieske, who also brought about agreements with T-Mobile (formerly Omnipoint) and MetroPCS. Member and attorney Hugh Starkey drew up use agreements with the companies. Under the use agreements, the cell phone companies pay property taxes attributable to their use of the tower.
Sprint’s rent was originally the same as T-Mobile’s, but in 2008, in recognition of Sprint’s financial difficulties, NHCC agreed to a reduction in Sprint’s rent.
T-Mobile’s acquisition of MetroPCS and Sprint led to the termination of use agreements with the latter two companies as their operations were integrated with T-Mobile’s systems.
How much revenue has been generated from cell phone company rentals?
Since 1999, NHCC has received $660,000 in rental income from Sprint. From 2009-2014, NHCC received $154,000 from MetroPCS.
Altogether, NHCC has received nearly $1.6 million from cell phone companies. “Telecommunications lease income is truly what made so much at the church possible over the past 20 years,” said Randy Ellis, chair of the Buildings & Grounds Committee.
About 60 percent of this income has been allocated to the Capital Fund, with the balance supporting the Operating Budget. Since 2015, cell phone income has been divided equally between the Capital Fund and the Operating Budget.
The companies have also made structural improvements to the tower.