Wireless contractors can’t be profitable with the hourly rates set by carriers and turfing contractors in many markets or the rates that they have to use to successfully win a bid, according to company executives who registered their concerns in an extensive nation-wide survey taken by Wireless Estimator that will be released this week.
“They treat us like we’re a typical household serviceman or a U-Verse tech, and when they want to lay off more work on you they don’t understand how difficult that is. They have absolutely no idea what it costs for us to fully equip a crew truck. Then when they slow down, the equipment’s sole function is to remind you that you’ve got a loan payment due,” wrote the troubled contractor, one of hundreds of others who provided honest assessments of the current state of wireless contracting.
He’s likely correct regarding his clients’ lack of knowledge regarding the actual cost of a crew cab and equipment since a few company owners contacted by Wireless Estimator couldn’t pinpoint it with any degree of accuracy.
Six established contractors offered to detail costs to Wireless Estimator and they were all close in their provided expenses listed below, with the average three-technician crew cab and its equipment totaling $225,000. In some cases in rough terrain markets, the crew cab cost could be considerably more.
The excessive cost to outfit a crew is most likely one of the highest of any industry. As an example, a garage door service technician rolls up to a contractor’s bay door and the charge could easily be $100 or more per hour. Yet, the $23,000 cargo van most likely is stocked with a few hand tools, springs and hardware, totaling no more than $3,000.
Yet, carriers oftentimes will limit wireless contracting crew pricing to $65 to $75 per man hour in some markets.
If you’re calling AT&T to troubleshoot your home’s DSL service, their published pricing is $99 to tell you that a ten-minute check at your test port identified that the problem was inside your home. Then it will be $149 to spend in most cases an average of an hour to identify and fix the problem.
Also, before they do any work, you’re required to authorize it with your signature, and payment must be paid during the next billing cycle. What a concept.
A U-Verse technician provides a vital link in maintaining telecommunications. However, there is no comparison between the skillsets and training required of a tower technician.
Hopefully, the carriers aren’t aware of the fragile state of the industry and the high cost born by contractors to equip a three-man crew, and the survey will create the necessary dialogue with contractors, associations and other stakeholders if they want to ensure a healthy industry that can partner with them in rolling out 5G.
|Truck w/Utility Body||1||$55,000||$55,000||F-250 Utility Crew Cab or Equal|
|Trailer 8’x16′ Enclosed||0.5||$10,000||$5,000||Various, Not Used Every Time|
|Drum Hoist||0.25||$20,000||$5,000||2 Drum, Not Used Every Time|
|BBU Emulation Tool (Verizon)||0.25||$38,000||$9,500||Not Required For Every Truck, But Every New Build|
|PIM Sets||3||$22,000||$66,000||3 Different Frequencies|
|Sweep Set w/Accessories||1||$10,000||$10,000||Sweep Set|
|Antenna Alignment Tool||1||$7,500||$7,500||Various Aligners|
|Remote Electrical Tilt Tool||1||$1,300||$1,300||RET Tool|
|Fiber Test and Cleaning Set||1||$9,500||$9,500||Fiber Tester and Accessories|
|Spool Stands||1||$1,500||$1,500||Tx Line Spool Stands|
|Cordless Tool Set||1||$1,500||$1,500||Various Tools|
|PPE Climber Kit/w Radio||3||$1,800||$5,400||Various PPE Equipment|
|Rope Access Kit||1||$1,600||$1,600||Various|
|Compression Connector Gun||1||$5,100||$5,100||Includes Dies & Accessories|
|Misc. Tools, Thermowelding Molds||1||$4,000||$4,000||Various|
|Repel Kit||1||$1,500||$1,500||Rope Access Equipment|
|Compute/Cell Phone/Camera||1||$1,600||$1,600||Crew Issued|
|Plum & Tension Set||1||$7,500||$7,500||3 Transits, Dillon, Grips, Come-Alongs, Etc.|
|Truck Stock||1||$1,700||$1,700||Connectors, Ground & Weatherproof Kits, Etc.|
|Equipment Calibration, Repairs||1||$1,500||$1,500||Various|
|Finance Truck and Equipment||1||$4,000||$4,000||Per Year|
|Miscellaneous Carrier-Specific Requirements||1||$3,600||$3,600||Various|