- - Monday, March 11, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Because America deployed 4th generation wireless technology first, American innovation exploded across the globe. Does anyone have an Ericsson or Nokia phone anymore? The entire app market might not have been an American creation without being the first to deploy 4G.

As a result of app creation, we have jobs today that were unforeseen years ago and are now a huge boost, especially to Americans who want to work for themselves. Connectivity has given people the ability to work remotely from anywhere in the world. Video or photo blogging is a career choice because of 4G and the devices that run on it.

Given how far we have come in this area, doom and gloom rhetoric shouldn’t stand in the way of job creation and innovation as America tries to win the race to 5G. Unfortunately, some are pushing back on what the future holds by inciting fear and rebuking the proposed merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, even though the companies have offered innovations in the past without government incentive to do so. The problem for the doubters is that if you look past the fear mongering surrounding the merger, it is clear that it would positively benefit the American economy.

The Communications Workers of America Union (CWA) recently released a statement, chock full of speculations, that details their theory of what might happen under the proposed merger. They claim that after they assessed the markets and gathered their own data, the only valid assumption is that when Sprint and T-Mobile become the “New T-Mobile” there will be fewer jobs, worse service and less price competition. Throughout the CWA statement, the word assume is used repeatedly.

CWA speculates that combining the two companies will result in a loss of 30,000 jobs, and claims that Sprint will eliminate its Kansas City headquarters. What they describe could not be further from the truth.

Sprint alone has roughly 28,000 employees. If it eliminated 28,000 employees, the New T-Mobile would not be able to sustain the combined infrastructure and expansion that the merger would require. Simply put, New T-Mobile can’t afford to lose so many vital employees.

People are assets. T-Mobile and Sprint not only expressed plans to share software, personnel and spectrum assets, but also told everyone how they are going to do it.

Merger opponents use fear, plain and simple, in an attempt to halt job creation and innovation. Wiping out the Sprint headquarters in Kansas City is a proven false assumption the plan for the New T-Mobile is actually to add 5,600 new customer care jobs in five locations by 2021, with the first location being in Overland Park.

Shared resources and knowledge mean employees get to apply skills in different ways, which leads to new skill development and advancement opportunities. Employees are eligible to receive benefits and opportunities such as significant management preparation experience, career development paths and college tuition reimbursement.

T-Mobile’s history shows that the company innovates without government instruction. It has lowered prices and offered innovative services. It was the first company to get rid of phone contracts and contract penalties without the government telling them to do it. T-Mobile brought back unlimited data plans. The company offers video and music streaming as part of its service, while keeping customer costs low. With John Legere at the helm of the New T-Mobile, the assumption should be that it will continue on this track.

So, when he says customer’s prices will stay where they are for the next three years for current and new plans, I’m inclined to believe it.

An action plan is not a concession. Stating how jobs will be created and competition increased should give regulators more certainty that the New T-Mobile’s plan isn’t a brush-off, but a reality.

T-Mobile and Sprint outlined plans to invest nearly $40 billion to bring their post-merger 5G network to 90 percent of the country between 2019 and 2021. That is three times as much as what T-Mobile could invest by itself. Without the merger, both companies would continue to upgrade their networks and serve their customers, but they are no longer candidates for the Two-Hour marathon to 5G. They will get there but not as quickly as their American or international competitors.

Although the New T-Mobile isn’t the only way America gets to 5G and better wireless coverage first, it certainly offers the best chance of success.

• Katie McAuliffe is executive director of digital liberty and federal affairs manager at Americans for Tax Reform.

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