No. 3: Demand for wireless data, 5G networks drive Crown Castle’s growth

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Cell tower owner and operator Crown Castle is No. 3 on the Chronicle 100 list for public companies for 2019, riding a boom in tower and fiber growth as major U.S. telecommunications providers gear up for a 5G future.

Consumers’ and businesses’ demand for reliable, faster internet access is driving Crown Castle’s fortunes, as cell phone companies order more equipment to mount on its towers and connect to its fiber-optic cables.

Jay Brown, Crown Castle’s chief executive, says the trend should continue into the next two years as U.S. providers expand nascent 5G networks and more handset makers offer more smartphones that work on them.

“We are focused on the U.S. market, and the U.S. is the largest and fastest-growing wireless market,” Brown said. “5G is a key driver of our long-term growth.”

Although 5G has been a long time coming, buildouts got serious in 2019. All the major providers launched networks that support the next-generation wireless data technology.

As a result, Crown Castle’s profits jumped 38 percent in 2019 to $860 million from $622 million the previous year. Revenues rose 7 percent to $5.8 billion from $5.4 billion in 2018.

“We were able to increase our dividends to 7 percent in 2019,” Brown said, “and over …

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