By Sylvia Russell
AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile is all about consumers. It’s about keeping up with consumer demand. And most important, it’s about giving consumers what they expect – fewer dropped calls, faster speeds and access to state-of-the-art mobile broadband Internet service – whether they live in a large city, a small town, or out in rural areas.
Consumers all across the nation and here in Georgia will share in these benefits as the transaction will allow the combined company to build out an advanced new 4G LTE network and bring state-of-the-art wireless Internet to more than 97 percent of the American population – far more than AT&T alone was planning before the transaction.
Because of our early leadership in smartphones and supporting mobile apps, our company and network have carried the load in data traffic more than any other. To meet this demand, we’ve invested aggressively.
But investment alone is not enough to meet the ever-increasing demand by consumers. That is exactly what the combination of AT&T and T-Mobile will do. It will increase overall network capacity beyond what the two companies had separately, because it allows for more efficient use of existing spectrum and network assets.
This combination also helps us address another critical issue. Many people and many communities today don’t have access to the full capabilities of the mobile Internet economy including small towns and rural areas of Georgia. With this merger, AT&T can and has committed to provide cutting-edge LTE mobile Internet service to nearly 55 million more Americans than previously planned. This will bring many benefits in education, health care and economic development.
LTE will give businesses located in rural Georgia many of the same powerful tools enjoyed by those located in major cities. And, rural consumers will particularly benefit from real-time access to a wide range of resources that would not otherwise be as readily available. This will help revolutionize telemedicine, allowing doctors to have real-time interactions with patients remotely and providing much more robust, accurate and immediate assessments of information from monitoring devices and data-intensive tools like MRIs. It also will make distance learning initiatives much more effective.
The U.S. wireless marketplace is the most competitive in the world, and it will remain so following this transaction. Over the past decade, U.S. wireless prices have steadily and dramatically come down, and the combination of AT&T and T-Mobile will allow that trend to continue. The combination will not derail the powerful forces of competition in one of the nation’s most competitive industries.
Certain critics may attempt to create a myth that the transaction threatens competition in the wireless industry, but the truth is the vast majority of Georgia consumers have a choice of at least five facilities-based wireless providers. Those local competitors often include Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T, but there are many other strong competitors in the marketplace. Providers like MetroPCS, Cricket and Southern LINC have been competing aggressively and expanding their service areas in Georgia. Incumbent cable television and telephone companies such as Cox Communications are also offering wireless service to their large customer bases.
To summarize, AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile will deliver the network quality and the new services that customers are demanding. It will bring more Georgia families and towns into our high-tech future. And, it will enhance competition and innovation.
Sylvia Russell is the president of AT&T Georgia.