Bethany Patterson

Why the T-Mobile–Sprint Merger is Good for America

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Posted by Bethany Patterson on Tuesday, May 21st, 2019, 9:44 AM PERMALINK

Yesterday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai publicly announced his support for the merger between telecommunications companies T-Mobile and Sprint.

While Chairman Pai’s blessing isn’t an official approval of the merger, it’s one big step forward to realizing the benefits a combined T-Mobile and Sprint—which, if approved, would create a new company, the New T-Mobile—would bring.

The merger will also be instrumental to helping the United States maintain its position as the global leader in innovation and technology.

In particular, the New T-Mobile would help America win the global 5G race. According to a recent CTIA report, while the United States assigns the most low- and high-band spectrum for wireless, there is room for major improvement regarding mid-band assignment. Both T-Mobile and Sprint have committed to a significant build-out of their mid-band spectrum holdings.

A merger between the two companies would also lead to a more connected America. According to Chairman Pai’s statement, their combined network would cover at least two-thirds of the nation’s rural population with high-speed 5G. In fact, within three years, 85 percent of rural Americans will have access to reliable wireless service. T-Mobile and Sprint have also said they will create an in-home broadband product, which would also serve rural areas.

This will help Americans in typically underserved areas stay connected online. In other words, this will help school kids do their homework, businesses expand and families keep in touch with relatives across the country.

Detractors point out that a merger could lead to decreased competition or job losses. To address the first point, a T-Mobile–Sprint merger would actually lead to more competition. The New T-Mobile will have approximately 126 million subscribers, allowing it to compete better with Verizon and AT&T, which have 150 million and 142 million subscribers, respectively.

Speculations that the combination will result in a loss of 28,000 jobs are flat out wrong. Currently, Sprint has 30,000 employees. If the New T-Mobile eliminates 28,000 jobs, the company would not be able to maintain its expanded operations. Rather, the new company will likely create 5,600 new customer care jobs.

Don’t listen to the naysayers, and think of the future. Not only will 5G connect more Americans to the internet, it will boost the United States’ global competitiveness and improve our standard of living.

The FCC should formally approve the T-Mobile–Sprint merger—it would be a boon for the economy and America as a whole.

Photo Credit: Mike Mozart

Getting the National Spectrum Strategy Right

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Posted by Bethany Patterson on Wednesday, May 8th, 2019, 1:55 PM PERMALINK

It is without a doubt that the deployment of 5G will have a major impact on the country.

Not only is 5G faster (potentially even 100 times faster) than traditional 4G service, it will also bolster the United States’ global competitiveness and improve the standard of living. Almost all aspects of Americans’ lives—from medicine to transportation to manufacturing—will be impacted by the deployment of 5G.

The United States is a global leader in 5G. According to a recent CTIA report, the nation is tied for first with China in terms of 5G readiness, moving up two spots from last year’s ranking. America also leads the world with the most commercial 5G deployments of any nation; by the end of the year it will have 92 deployments, while South Korea (another major player in the race for 5G) will only have 48.

While the United States assigns the most low- and high-band spectrum for wireless, there is room for major improvement regarding mid-band spectrum assignment. For example, America currently has no mid-band spectrum available, while South Korea and China have 280 and 300 megahertz available, respectively.

In October 2018, President Trump signed a memo directing the development of a national spectrum strategy. Recognizing that 5G is crucial for the nation’s future success and feeling threatened by other countries (namely, China), some have pushed that the strategy follow a wholesale—essentially nationalized—approach to 5G. This is not the route America should take.

It is crucial that the United States adopt a strategy centered on free market principles—the same values that made the 4G rollout so successful. These free-market policies, such as exclusive use licenses and flexible use rights, will keep America the global leader in spectrum.

National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow spoke on this issue at CTIA’s 5G Summit in April, affirming that the private sector is ahead of government and always will be. Competition is the way to get to 5G, and China is not beating the United States. In his view, any assertion otherwise is "nonsense." 

The national spectrum strategy should maintain the United States’ position as a leader in spectrum while sparking innovation and economic growth. As such, this strategy should prioritize more auctions of low-, mid-, and high-band spectrum, which will boost businesses’—and subsequently consumers’—wireless access. It should also focus on ensuring that equipment can operate in multiple countries and the necessary infrastructure can be built. In addition, the government should modernize and streamline its policies and procedures to enable further growth and development.

Fortunately, the federal government has been making great strides towards 5G. The FCC has released its 5G FAST Plan, which strives to encourage private sector investment, update its policies, and make spectrum more widely available. In fact, the FCC has announced its largest spectrum auction ever will occur later this year. The Trump Administration has also prioritized 5G by encouraging private investment through its tax cuts and deregulation, in addition to releasing an official presidential memorandum.

Overall, 5G is the way of the future, and it’s imperative that the federal government create the best strategy to remain dominant during this digital revolution.  

Photo Credit: Christiaan Colen