It was approaching the turn of the millennium. Brandy and Monica debated whose boy was whose on the radio, Will Smith was getting jiggy with it, and Nokia had just overtaken Motorola with the best-selling mobile device – the 5110, a state-of-the-art phone that came with an 84-by-84 pixel monochrome screen and could be had in different color casing.
Here in Brick, likewise, technology forged ahead. That year, the township council struck a deal with Omnipoint, which after a heap of mergers became known as today’s T-Mobile, to build a co-located cellular communications tower at town hall. Being co-located meant that while the tower was owned by one company, any provider could place their own antenna arrays on the tower and pay a lease fee to the owner. Brick received $1,200 per month for the use of its land, a 4 percent increase in rent per year, and the 40 percent of whatever profits the tower brought in from other providers subletting space.
Fast forward to 2023. Apps have largely replaced terrestrial radio stations playing the hits, and Apple and Samsung do battle to one-up each other in phone technology. Also, by the way, the long-term lease on the tower is finally up.
With the impending end of the lease, the township council on Tuesday night authorized the solicitation of bids for the tower to either remain as it is, or be replaced. The structure itself is physically owned by what is now T-Mobile, so there is a chance it would have to be removed if another company submits the most attractive bid. T-Mobile could end up becoming the winning bidder, or a new owner could privately negotiate an equipment sale with them.
Regardless of how things turn out, Brick will begin receiving market-price rent for its space at town hall. Officials said Tuesday night that the tower’s current lease expires July 16, 2023.
Currently, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile occupy space on the tower, and in Dec. 2022 the township authorized a third provider – the up-and-coming Dish Network Wireless – to occupy space on the tower and in a ground station. At the time, Councilman Derrick T. Ambrosino said the township removes a storage shed from the rear property area, squared off the plot, and provided a fenced-in area which increased the available ground-rental space.
The township maintains its own emergency communications tower adjacent to the commercial tower.
“By fencing off the area, we now provide a private, secure area for ground rental equipment for the rental users, separate from our equipment,” Ambrosino said.
Bid specifications will be prepared by FSD Enterprises, a communications consulting firm based in Red Bank, which will then be advertised publicly.