Crown Castle co-founder Ted Miller has launched a proxy fight against the company as he outlines his vision to change the firm's strategy.

His most notable aim is to sell the firm's fiber assets, which he said could fetch as much as $15 billion.

Crown Castle
– Sebastian Moss

In an open letter to Crown Castle, Miller revealed plans to realign focus as a pure-play US tower company, and run the company more efficiently. Crown reported a 23 percent decline in its shares over the past year.

The tower company, which operates more than 40,000 telecom towers in the US, has undergone a reshuffle in the past few months, with CEO Jay Brown to step down this year.

"Crown Castle lacks leadership, expertise, vision, and urgency. It needs a plan," wrote Miller earlier this week, who co-founded Crown Castle in 1994.

"This is a pivotal moment for the future of the company I founded, Crown Castle Inc. Like you, I believe that Crown Castle must be rebooted after the shameful adventure into fiber, which has cost investors tens of billions and turned the global industry-leader into a ridiculed laggard."

Miller, who left the company in 2001, added that he, along with his fellow nominees, have spent the last six months and $5 million in "direct, personal cost, dissecting every dimension of the fiber transaction including leading a due diligence process." According to him, the process has found 25 prospective buyers.

"Our models showed that Crown Castle could go all the way to 2050 and never earn back its own cost of capital. Sadly, the facts show that Crown Castle would be worth tens of billions more today if it had simply held on to its international towers and never ventured into fiber," said Miller.

Miller wants to instead focus on the company's tower business.

He pointed out that back in 2013, the company owned 40,000 towers and employed 1,400 people. Comparing it to today's situation, where the company still owns around the same amount, but employs more than 2,200 people, even despite cutting cutting 15 percent of its workforce.

"How can the company have gotten less efficient over time given so many advances in technology? Elliott has rightly had similar observations," he said.

Activist investor Elliott Investment Management has previously been critical of Crown Castle's strategy, notably against some of the board and executives.

Miller added that if he's allowed to serve as executive chairman at the company, he'd improve the efficiency at Crown Castle, and would integrate digital-twin and AI technology to support this.

"Currently Crown Castle has 18 towers for each employee, the worst among the major three providers. We target taking that number to 23 for each employee by 2026 which is in line with AMT's US tower operations."

The firm operated with 29 towers per employee back in 2013.

Other priorities that Miller outlines in his 39-page plan, include capturing tax benefits, buyback shares, delivering improved financials, and expanding carrier partnerships. On top of this, he wants to repair, what he calls a "broken company culture."

Miller didn't mention anything about data center assets in his proposal, something which Brown has previously ruled out investing in as part of its future infrastructure portfolio.

In response, Crown Castle said that it has engaged in “multiple discussions” with Miller since last year, but will not be changing course.

“The Crown Castle board and management team are confident in the actions the company is taking to remain well-positioned for long-term success and shareholder value creation. In particular, during the last two months the company has made significant strides forward toward creating a stronger and more valuable Crown Castle,” said the firm this week.