Contractors say rip and replace funding is profitable, but will be shaved at their level

In Featured News by Wireless Estimator

The FCC is seeking comment on a report it has just issued with preliminary eligible expenses and costs for securing the nation's critical communications network infrastructure.

The FCC is seeking comment on a report it issued with preliminary eligible expenses and costs for securing the nation’s critical communications network infrastructure

The Federal Communications Commission has released a new report with an in-depth look at the costs for telecoms to rip and replace eligible Huawei and ZTE equipment, which will aid in the development of a new reimbursement program and its administration.

The agency commissioned consulting firm Widelity to “produce a report detailing the anticipated steps in removing, replacing, and disposing of covered communications equipment or services and an initial proposed version of the Catalog and Replacement List,” the FCC said.

Last week, four contractors dug into the preliminary pricing being proposed by Widelity, and informed Wireless Estimator that although the low and high offerings appear to be profitable – with some being quite generous –  it’s unlikely that their firm will come close to capturing those amounts.

“These projects will be managed by a GC that will siphon off a high percentage of each line item before it hits the subcontractor,” said a Midwest wireless contractor.

The other contractors echoed the same concern.

“Reimbursement is going to require a boatload of paperwork and the carriers are going to pass it off to a MasTec or another turfing-type contractor that will manage the project since they’re not staffed for  it. What’s left for the contractor is not always profitable,” a Florida tower erector said.

The reimbursement program is aimed at providers with up to 10 million or fewer customers.

When Widelity issued its pricing catalog for the repack, they registered their concern that there might not be enough tall tower contractors to meet the FCC’s ambitious deadline.

In addressing tower crew availability for the rip and replace project, Widelity said that in their discussions with participants in the industry, they “have not encountered any concerns about tower crew availability. Generally, the industry believes that there will be adequate resources to install the new replacement equipment.”

Widelity is suggesting that project management, per person, per month should range from $25,950 to $51,900. Construction management is listed from $21,666 to $25,950 per month.

The price to rip and replace up to 12 new radios and new antennas with associated jumpers and plumbing ranges from $32,201 to $42,935.

Other preliminary pricing in the Widelity Report:

Tower modification design – $1,100 to $5,159
Foundation drawings/inspection – $6,858 to $9,514
Foundation install, <200′ (monopole/SS) –  $39,726 to $130,999
Demo existing tower – $13,109 to $ 25,000
Minor tower reinforcement/modifications – $1,000 to $10,000.00
Build new <200′ monopole (erection only including crane) – $14,154 to $29,000
Build new <200′ monopole – materials $36,063 to $117,651
Build new <300′ SST (erection only including crane) –  $16,332 to $42,500
Build new <300′ SST – materials – $ 33,000 to $ 93,514
Major tower reinforcement/modifications – $10,000 to $100,000
Serous ower reinforcement/modifications – tower foundation mods; tower “wrap” – $100,000 to $250,000
Carrier relocation BOM – $650 to $14,789
Carrier relocation, civil work – $1,785 to $32,357
PIM test and remediate 0 to 12 paths – $1,050 to $9,014
Review insurance requirements and OSHA standards for tower climbers – $1,500 to $3,000

Comments on WC Docket No. 18-89 are due by April 26, 2021.

The FCC  wants to know: “To what extent are the cost estimates included in the proposed Catalog reasonable? Are the suggested cost ranges likely to help carriers estimate the costs for application submissions and identify potential replacement equipment and services? Are there additional cost categories and subcategories that should be included in the final Catalog?”