Jay A. Brown
President and Chief Executive Officer at Crown Castle
Thanks, Ben. Good morning, everyone. Thanks for joining us on the call this morning. As you saw from our results yesterday, we remained on track to generate an anticipated 12% growth in AFFO per share this year. We expect to be at the high end of our long-term growth target in 2022, with 8% AFFO per share growth.
Being driven in large part by our expectation at tower core leasing activity will be approximately 50% higher in 2022 than our trailing 5-year average. And we increased our annualized common stock dividend by approximately 11% to $5.88 per share, marking the second consecutive year of dividend growth that meaningfully exceeds our long-term target.
Given that our dividend payout ratio has remained largely unchanged since 2014, our dividend remains the best indicator of how we are performing both financially and operationally. Our significant out-performance in 2021 combined with our forecast for 2022 enabled us to raise our dividend 11%, well above our stated goal for the second year in a row. In essence, we've achieved three years of targeted dividend growth in just two years.
Since we established our common stock dividend in 2014, we have grown dividends per share at a compounded annual growth rate of 9% with growth ranging from 7% to 11% in each year. Before adding a little more detail to my summary points from the earnings release, I wanted to comment on the other press release we issued yesterday, where we announced our goal to be carbon-neutral by 2025. We aim to provide profitable solutions to connect communities and people. And our carbon-neutral goal builds on our commitments to deploy our strategy sustainably.
Our business model is inherently sustainable, shared solutions limit infrastructure in the communities in which we operate and minimize the use of natural resources. Further to the point, our core value proposition, since we began operating more than 25 years ago has centered around our ability to provide our customers with access to mission-critical infrastructure at a lower cost, because we can share that infrastructure across multiple operators.
In addition, our solutions help address societal challenges like the digital divide in under-served communities by advancing access to education and technology. To-date, we have invested nearly $10 billion in towers, small cells and fiber assets located in low-income areas. As a way of quantifying how our business model minimizes the use of natural resources, our business in it's just one ton of CO2 per $1 billion of enterprise value, which is 90 times more efficient than the average company in the S&P 500 based on industry estimates.
Although we are proud of our limited environmental impact, we are focused on making even more strides by reducing our energy consumption and sourcing renewable energy to help us achieve our goal of carbon neutrality by 2025. We are excited about this announcement and look forward to continuing to find ways to help our communities and planet while driving significant returns to our shareholders.
Turning back to our 2022 outlook. We are benefiting from record levels of activity in our tower business with our customers upgrading thousands of existing cell sites as a part of their first phase of 5G build-out. Adding to the opportunity, we are seeing the highest level of tower co-location activity in our history with DISH building a nationwide 5G network from scratch. I believe our strategy and unmatched portfolio of more than 40,000 towers and approximately 80,000 route miles of fiber concentrated in the top U.S. market, have positioned Crown Castle to capitalize both on the current environment and to grow our cash flows and dividends per share in the near term and for years to come. We are focused on generating this growth while delivering the highest risk adjusted returns for our shareholders. By investing in shared infrastructure assets that lower the implementation and operating costs for our customers while generating solid returns for our shareholders. To execute on this strategy, we are providing our customers with access to our 40,000 towers and 80,000 route miles of fiber help them build out their 5G wireless networks. We are investing in new small cell and fiber assets that meet our disciplined and rigorous underwriting standards to expand our long-term addressable market. And we are identifying where wireless networks are going and investing early to position the company to capitalize on future opportunities, as we have done with small cells, edge computing and CBRS.
One of the core principles underpinning our strategy is to focus on the U.S. market, because we believe that represents the best market in the world for wireless infrastructure ownership, since it has the most attractive growth profile and the lowest risk. And we believe this dynamic of higher growth and lower risk will continue into the future, which is why we expect our U.S. based strategy will drive significant returns for shareholders.
With that in mind, we have invested nearly $40 billion in towers, small cells and fiber assets in the top market that are all foundational for the development of future 5G network. We believe our unique strategy, portfolio of the infrastructure assets and proactive identification of future opportunities provide a platform for sustained long-term dividend growth as wireless network architecture evolves and our customers' priorities shift over time.
Today, our customers are primarily focusing their investment on macro sites as towers remain the most cost-effective way to deploy spectrum at scale and established broad network coverage. With our high quality towers concentrated in the top markets, we are clearly benefiting from this focus with an expected 6% organic growth for our Tower segment in 2021 and an expected 20% increase in tower core leasing activity next year when compared to these 2021 levels. With history as a guide, we believe the deployment of additional spectrum on existing cell sites will not be enough to keep pace with the persistent 30% plus annual growth in mobile data traffic.
As a result, we expect cell site densification to remain a critical tool for carriers to respond to the continued growth in mobile data demand as it enables our customers to get the most out of their spectrum assets by reusing the spectrum over shorter and shorter distances. When the current cell site upgrade phase shift to densification phase, we believe the comprehensive offering of towers, small cells and fiber will be critical for our customers and provide us with an opportunity to further extend the runway of growth in our business.
While we expect the densification phase of build out will drive additional leasing on our tower assets for years to come, we believe small cells will play an even greater role as the coverage area of cell sites will continue to shrink due to the density of people and therefore the density of wireless data demand. With more than 80,000 small cells on air or committed in our backlog, high capacity fiber assets and the vast majority of the top 30 markets in the U.S. and industry-leading capabilities, we believe we are well positioned to deliver value to our customers as their priorities evolve, driving meaningful growth in our small cell business.
Bigger picture, when I consider the durability of the underlying demand trends we see in the U.S., how well we are positioned to consistently deliver growth through all phases of the 5G build out with significant potential upside in our comprehensive asset base as wireless networks continue to evolve. Our proven ability to proactively identify where wireless network architecture is heading and to be an early investor in solutions to help future networks, the deliberate decisions we have made to reduce risks associated with our strategy and our history of steady execution.
I believe that Crown Castle stands out as a unique investment, that will generate compelling returns over time. In the near term, as I mentioned before, we expect to deliver outsized AFFO per share growth of 12% in 2021. We expect to generate 8% growth in AFFO per share in 2022 at the high end of our long-term growth target and supported by an expected 20% increase in tower core leasing activity and we increased our common stock dividend by 11% for the second consecutive year.
Longer term, we believe Crown Castle provides an exciting opportunity for shareholders to invest in the development of 5G in the U.S., which we believe is the best market for communications infrastructure ownership. Importantly, we provide access to such attractive industry dynamics, while providing a compelling total return opportunity, comprised of a high-quality dividend that currently yields 3.5% with expected growth in that dividend of 7% to 8% annually.
And with that, I'll turn the call over to Dan.