In 2004, two years before Facebook became accessible to the general public and Yahoo! Groups were getting their internet legs, there was the now-defunct Tower-Pro group. It boasted 2,200 members at its peak, and was one of the few vehicles offering news and only when a member posted a link.
At that time, former journalist and veteran contractor in the wireless industry, Craig Lekutis, who assisted in building out one of the first analog cell phone networks in America, believed there was a better way to deliver immediate breaking, investigative, and actionable news and information. Thus, he founded Wireless Estimator.
His belief was well-founded, and this year marks the website’s 20th Anniversary, making it America’s oldest-operating industry news website. This telecom industry’s staple’s success has been shaped by staying in its lane of covering wireless infrastructure development and focusing on contracting and worker safety.
With over a million viewers every year, the site continues to grow in readership, with just one article last year receiving an unprecedented total of over 207,000 views verified by Google Analytics; many articles will capture over 10,000 views in a matter of days, bearing testament to the urgency and quality of the journalism the site has been able to provide.
Three industry leaders and avid readers of Wireless Estimator have capsuled what many viewers have said over the years.
Providing “the stories that really matter”
“What I love about Wireless Estimator is that they delve into topics on a deeper level than other industry media. They aren’t afraid to give us the news and say the things we’re hoping to learn about, even if it isn’t flattering. Back in their early days, we were having multiple industry fatalities per year, and no one wanted to think about it. We could depend on Wireless Estimator to remind us of the total count. That reporting helped us all strive to improve, and we have. In similar ways, their investigative reporting is making a difference today. Congratulations, Craig Lekutis and Wireless Estimator, for 20 years of bringing us the stories that really matter.” – Craig Snyder, President and CEO, VIKOR Teleconstruction
Exclusive content on a daily basis
“As Wireless Estimator enters its 20th year as a go-to industry media entity, I would like to offer congratulations on behalf of NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association and our 1,050 member companies. As President & CEO of NATE, I am an avid reader of the myriad of exclusive content Wireless Estimator provides daily, ranging from industry marketplace trends, safety updates, legislative and regulatory news, and much more. I would also like to thank Wireless Estimator for all of the coverage of NATE’s initiatives and activities through the years, including being a constant presence at the Association’s annual conference and trade show, NATE UNITE.” – Todd Schlekeway, NATE President & CEO
Offering “a voice for difficult stories”
“For almost two decades, Wireless Estimator has consistently provided a voice for difficult stories that mainstream media does not cover or elects a less exhaustive means to deliver a story lacking important details. The comprehensive information is a testament to the editor’s disciplined and deliberate approach to journalism. The website also provides important tools and programs to further safety within our industry.” – Don Doty, VP, Broadcast Construction Solutions
A long history of being safety-centric
The tools that Doty referenced include the nation’s only emergency information-populated Safety Compliance Forms used by most infrastructure contractors to remain OSHA compliant.
OSHA has lauded the free proactive safety service that will unveil a Spanish component in March.
In addition, former OSHA Directorate of Construction, Dean McKenzie, said he was overwhelmed by the support Wireless Estimator provided in securing over 1,300 comments from tower climbers and safety professionals for a tower safety rulemaking initiative he was shepherding.
“This was amazing,” McKenzie said, “We never anticipated that we would get such a huge response. I wish other industries would adopt what you did.”
In 2006, after exhaustive research, Wireless Estimator identified that cell tower climbers had the most dangerous job in America, based upon 8,700 elevated workers in the industry at that time.
A few industry leaders registered great concern over the reporting since it put a harsh safety spotlight on the industry. They also questioned its analysis.
The Wall Street Journal investigated Wireless Estimator’s high fatality claim and provided tacit approval of the findings in 2008.
In 2012, ProPublica and Frontline tackled a year-long investigation that resulted in an article and TV program primarily sparked by the statistics.
In 2015, Wireless Estimator released an extensive workforce survey that identified that there were over 29,000 tower techs working on elevated structures. This time, wireless infrastructure associations and safety professionals embraced the findings since they, suppliers, and carriers were using incorrect data to make marketing and workforce projections.
In 2023, Wireless Estimator was eager to expose that industry fatalities witnessed a steep decline in 2021, putting wireless construction workers at 10.8 per 100,000 workers, far below the top eight professions with deaths, and considerably lower than structural iron and steel workers at 36.1.
A steadfast voice for contractors and their workforce
The website has exposed the many problems contractors must overcome, from demanding and confusing onboarding requirements to predatory matrix pricing that has forced many contractors to close their doors.
Wireless Estimator also exposed a possible terrorist cell site security hole in AT&T and T-Mobile’s nodes where an offshore company they were using could simultaneously open multiple sites in a cluster and lock them down. In addition, they could close down AT&T’s FirstNet, the mission-critical wireless network for first responders and public safety professionals that doesn’t compete with commercial networks.
Wireless Estimator is proud that it has made a meaningful impact in the industry and looks forward to its continued journey of delivering stories that truly make a difference.
Your comments on how Wireless Estimator can continue to serve the industry better are welcome. They will help us shape our coverage, improve our safety modules, and enhance our help wanted and positions wanted boards as well as the site’s Buyer’s Guide. Please get in touch with CraigLekutis@WirelessEstimator.com with any suggestions you have as we continue to serve you in the coming years.