EY Entrepreneur Of The Year®
Real Estate, Construction and Lodging
Newport Beach, CA
Sometimes, something old is the right fit for something new. When Gary Jabara left his position as partner-in-charge of wireless real estate and infrastructure with a global service provider to found Mobilitie, he did so with an eye toward bringing back something old. He used the leasing model for commercial office space as an option to obtain cell tower space for mobile communications companies.
According to Jabara, whose roots in mobile communications date back to industry pioneer Craig McCaw’s Los Angeles Cellular Telephone Company in the 1980s, “Our business model allows us to offer infrastructure terms and conditions against which no other firm can compete.”
Before Mobilitie, telecommunications companies’ options were limited to making large capital investments to acquire and build their own towers, or entering into leases where existing operators imposed restrictive clauses that made changing and upgrading their networks far more onerous than necessary.
Jabara recognized that the largest cellular carriers were being treated like second-class citizens, and he built his company around catering to their needs first. To that end, Mobilitie does not place restrictions on what types of technology “tenants” can deploy on their space on the tower, just as an office building owner wouldn’t prescribe which computer system a law firm could use.
Borrowing further from the world of traditional real estate, Mobilitie seeks an “anchor tenant” for a tower, often giving them a break on the rent. As subsequent tenants fill up the space on the tower, as with an office building, the tower becomes more profitable.
Unlike companies in an office building, cellular tower tenants are far less likely to leave. Jabara notes that the nature of the business is expansion — carriers require ever greater coverage and greater accessibility — and Mobilitie provides the flexibility they need to get it.