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T-Mobile-Sprint Merger Will Bring Underserved Californians Into The 5G Future Faster
By Faith Bautista
Published May 16, 2019

Faith Bautista (Courtesy photo)

Earlier this year, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) held hearings to evaluate the proposed T-Mobile-Sprint merger, where I was one of dozens of Californians who came out to make our communities’ needs known. As someone who works every day to ensure diverse communities have fair and inclusive access to opportunities and services, I feel it’s important to underscore the potential benefitsthe merger will bring to these communities.

T-Mobile is a long-time champion of inclusion and is committed to continue promoting these values following the merger. With the support of my organization, the National Diversity Coalition, the New T-Mobile committed to bolster its already strong record on diversity. Among other initiatives, the company committed to fill at least one third of its board with minority members, increase workforce diversity in California, and boost its efforts to support California-based minority organizations.

The new company is committed to inclusive growth through job creation as well, as it will build one of five new U.S. customer experience centers in the Central Valley area. The center will create more than 1,000 new, high-paying jobs—with weekly compensation as much as 50 percent higher than the average at other call centers in the Central Valley—and contribute up to $120 million to California’s economy.

Post-merger, the New T-Mobile will invest nearly $40 billion in the development of a robust, nationwide 5G network and services, and underserved communities would be some of the biggest beneficiaries of these network improvements. Low-income and ethnically diverse consumers tend to rely more heavily on wireless service to access the internet, so the companies’ pledgeto deliver four-to-six times faster network speeds following the combination is hugely promising for these communities.

Even better, the new network will come with lower prices—economists predict a price drop of as much as 55 percent per gigabyte (GB)—because of the economic incentive created by expanded network capacity to increase demand. As New T-Mobile lowers prices, competitors will feel pressure to accelerate their own 5G deployments, establishing a virtuous cycle of favorable performance and pricing.

But it’s not only wireless service that will get cheaper, as the New T-Mobile plans to accelerate the availability of affordable fixed in-home broadband. By 2024, 93 percent of Californians will have access to speeds that would allow a student to download a three-gigabyte textbook in one minute—compared to 33 minutes using today’s LTE.

All New T-Mobile customers will benefit from the new network, including Sprint’s Lifeline participants. The companies have committed to continue Lifeline services post-merger, so those customers will experience the same expanded coverage as any other customer. This will also be the case for customers of the two companies’ leading prepaid brands, all of which will be retained.

Together, T-Mobile and Sprint will create a diverse and inclusive mobile wireless broadband leader with the resources to connect more people to more affordable next-generation broadband service far sooner than otherwise possible. That’s why I support and urge the CPUC to approve the transaction.

Faith Bautista is the President and CEO of the National Diversity Coalition, an organization of community organizers, faith-based leaders, nonprofit directors, and business owners advocating for the voiceless and working collectively for greater financial equality and empowerment for underserved groups. She also serves as President and CEO of National Asian American Coalition.

 

Categories: News (Business) | Opinion
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