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Now hear this! Merger benefits customers Christine Moore | Sat, Oct 29 2011 12:00 PM

This spring AT&T announced its bid to purchase T-Mobile USA, a merger that would directly benefit the San Diego regional area and California as a whole. Benefits include the job creation and economic stimulus that would stem from AT&T's $8 billion nationwide investment to integrate the networks and expand LTE - as well as improved voice and data service for both companies' customers right here in Southern San Diego County.

A recent Economic Policy Institute study found that AT&T's $8 billion national merger investment would create between 8,000 and 14,000 new direct and indirect jobs in California alone over the next seven years. This investment would go towards bringing mobile broadband coverage to more than 97 percent of all Americans - including one million more California residents-which means covering 98 percent of the residents of the state. Following the close of the merger, 5,000 call center jobs would also be brought back to the United States from overseas.

In addition to the economic benefits, the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile USA would also improve service in the San Diego area. For example, in South County, spectrum - all the radio waves that power our favorite gadgets are considered spectrum - added through the merger would enable faster speeds and greater bandwidth for customers and allow for greater LTE coverage. Also, the combined companies would have broader network infrastructure helping create a stronger network and expanding coverage geographically. A stronger network means improved voice quality, fewer dropped calls, faster data speeds and more LTE mobile broadband coverage throughout San Diego County.

Through this, the merger would benefit local small businesses. By enabling increased access to innovative business tools and applications at super-fast mobile broadband speeds, small businesses in Chula Vista and National City would be able to reach additional customers and work more efficiently - making them more competitive with larger companies that have significantly more resources.

And the benefits of the merger don't stop there. Faster, better service through 4G LTE technology would help public institutions like local hospitals, government agencies and schools transmit large amounts of files securely, safely and privately - while consumers would benefit from the chance to connect quickly to these institutions anywhere, anytime. The 4G LTE network also supports the high-tech industry, making possible a cycle of innovation and growth for device makers, application developers, cloud providers, content providers and customers.

Meanwhile, cell phone carrier competition would remain fierce in the South County area. History has shown that even as the wireless industry has consolidated over recent years, prices for plans have declined while features and functionalities have increased. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, during the last ten years several wireless companies have combined - resulting in wireless prices dropping 50 percent, an increase in U.S. network investment and a dramatic rise in U.S. consumers' usage of mobile broadband. And, the wireless industry will continue to become even more competitive as new 4G networks and new market entrants come into play.

In accordance with regulatory procedure, the AT&T / T-Mobile merger is currently under review by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Federal Communications Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission. To date, the deal has drawn support from hundreds of organizations across the nation including TechNet, Facebook, Microsoft, the California Chamber of Commerce, the South County Economic Development Council, The Urban League of San Diego County and many more. Additionally, over 27 Governors, over 100 members ofCongress and over 10 state Attorneys General have also voiced their support.

But given the wide array of benefits the merger would bring to our region, California and our economy overall, we can't stop there. We encourage readers to contact their federal and state elected officials and ask for expedited government review of the AT&T and T-Mobile USA merger - so the two companies can move forward in helping create jobs, stimulate our nation's economy and bring better mobile service to the San Diego County regional area.

Moore is director of external affairs, AT&T California.

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