Opinion Columns & Blogs

Sprint, T-Mobile merger would benefit underserved parts of San Joaquin Valley

Over the last year, I have attended multiple California Public Utilities Commission hearings on the T-Mobile-Sprint transaction, where I have urged commissioners to consider the positive effects this merger will have on communities across California. The CPUC is in the middle of its deliberation on the merger, and as one of the leading business organizations in the state, we strongly believe the merger should be supported and approved by the CPUC because the combined company will deploy a world-leading 5G network that will benefit rural communities and provide increased access to telehealth services for all Californians.

The proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint is of significant interest to the 800,000 members of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, their customers and the roughly 40 million people who call California home. The deployment of a fast, 5G network is a cornerstone of the merger — one that would produce benefits for our membership, and all Californians, almost immediately.

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By deploying a robust, high-speed and high-capacity wireless network, the new T-Mobile will offer traditionally underserved communities the ability to access fixed broadband level speeds without the high monthly cost that usually is associated with in-home broadband. This aspect of the merger is of particular importance to Hispanic communities because of its potential to provide greater educational opportunities that will lead to better-paying jobs and help California businesses equip their employees for the demands of our rapidly changing economy.

Moreover, the deployment of 5G will create jobs across the state as the build out and installation phase begins. In addition to jobs directly associated with the build out, such as engineering, benefits will continue to be seen in communities as the need for services increases and the network is deployed. Recently T-Mobile announced the location for their new Customer Experience Center (CEC). Once the merger is approved, the company plans to locate its state-of-the-art facility in the Kingsburg area. This will create 1,000 new jobs for the central San Joaquin Valley, providing an extremely important, yet underserved region of our state, with much-needed employment opportunities and enhanced services.

Equally as important are the long-term benefits that will come from a technologically superior, world-leading, 5G network being built in the United States by the new T-Mobile. Around the globe, advances in technology are leading to the creation of hundreds of thousands of internet-enabled “smart” devices. These innovative components have revolutionized many industries including medicine, agriculture and education. As these devices continue to take an ever-increasing role in our lives, California’s businesses will need 5G networks to support this development, and, fittingly, the New T-Mobile will be ready to build the 5G network these devices need after merging with Sprint.

The merger will also help provide people in our communities with access to telehealth services. Although telehealth has long been a promise made by advances in wireless technology, it has fallen short due to latency and buffering issues. The deployment of 5G will finally get us to where we need to be to truly deliver effective telehealth services — services that are critical to both urban and rural populations that find it difficult to access both specialized and generic medical care in traditional settings.

From education to customer online reviews and research to purchasing, Hispanic consumers are accessing most of their information via mobile devices. Businesses need to be where their customers are, and, for most people, customers are online and mobile. Advancing to the next stage of wireless technology is critical for business, and this merger means getting to this next stage faster. A faster transition will provide the minority business community with the opportunity to grow and thrive in an environment that is increasingly dependent on the availability and reliability of wireless networks.

The California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce support the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint for the wide range of benefits it will provide to our communities and businesses, and we encourage the CPUC to support this, too. Forty million Californians are depending on the approval of the T-Mobile-Sprint merger and the benefits the New T-Mobile stands ready to deliver to all California communities.

Julian Cañete is president and CEO of the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and is based in Sacramento.