ATC co-founder Tom Stoner passes away age 88

Tom Stoner, who co-founded American Tower Corporation (ATC) with Steve Dodge as a unit of American Radio Systems in 1995, has passed away at the age of 88

It has been announced that Tom Stoner, co-founder of ATC, has passed away at the age of 88.

Tom Stoner was well known for co-founding the US tower company with Steve Dodge (1945-2019) in 1995 as a unit of American Radio Systems (ARS). American Tower has since rapidly expanded and is now a Fortune 500, S&P 500 and Forbes Global 2000 company that provides infrastructure for modern digital communications.

Starting in 1995 with 2,700 towers, the company portfolio today includes more than 220,000 owned or managed sites around the world. Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, it also holds operations throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia.

Entrepreneur success: Building a telecommunications empire

Tom grew up in Iowa and has been described as having an “intellectual rigour” even before joining the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

A few years prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and well before the widespread availability of the Internet, Stoner initiated "World Talk" - a radio program that aimed to connect everyday Russians and Americans to engage in conversations. Using technology in an earlier form to remotely connect people, he worked hard to orchestrate a human response to a real global event.

Ultimately, Tom Stoner was an entrepreneur. Prior to his work with ATC, he previously built Stoner Broadcasting, a national radio company, before he played a key role in creating ARS. The company started with 16 stations in seven markets and eventually grew into the fourth-largest radio company in the US.

ARS quickly grew to having 96 stations and it was sold in 1998 to CBS Corp. for US$2.6bn, which at the time was an incredibly large acquisition.

Stoner and Dodge saw an opportunity in the tower business, and formed ATC as a result. American Tower was spun out as a separate company as part of the 1998 sale. It has now become one of the world’s largest networks of cell phone towers.

In his personal life, Tom Stoner has been described as a “force of nature” and as having the ability to connect with people as he worked to expand global mobile connectivity. He and his wife founded the TKF Foundation, which would later become Nature Sacred - an organisation that is designed to offer a framework that communities can adopt to introduce more green space.

Through this work, Stoner only hoped to help bridge gaps, bring solace and instil hope.

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