Wednesday, June 8, 2011

AT&T Acquisition of T-Mobile will Enhance Wireless Broadband in Owensboro

One of the main topics of discussion this past year was AT&T’s 3G wireless broadband service--or, rather, the lack of AT&T 3G service in Owensboro while many of our neighboring cities already had access to this technology. Our interest at the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation was driven by the needs of our businesses and the impact lack of service was having on economic development.

AT&T’s response to us, and the community, was that deploying a mobile broadband network was complex and involved many factors, with the major factor being spectrum. There was not enough spectrum (airwaves) available in Owensboro to offer 3G service. Finally, in December this issue was resolved with the announcement that Owensboro now had AT&T 3G service. At the risk of not sounding grateful, members of the EDC were already asking about AT&T’s plan for 4G service.

The importance of a high-speed mobile broadband network that serves every town, large or small, cannot be overstated. It’s not just a matter of how fast your pictures or videos load. Mobile broadband will be a key driver of productivity in almost every business and will change the way we deliver health care and education. And, what is of immense importance to Owensboro and west Kentucky is that it will allow smaller towns to compete on an equal basis with larger cities. Owensboro needs the latest wireless broadband technology available to be competitive, grow our town and attract people to our community--particularly young graduates wanting to come home.

You may have read about AT&T’s offer to acquire T-Mobile. There are many reasons given why this merger is a perfect fit for the two companies. Primarily, they use the same technology and their networks complement each other. But what makes the T-Mobile merger so important to Owensboro is that AT&T will gain the spectrum needed to enhance our existing 3G service and to deploy 4G to 97 percent of the households in America. Without this additional spectrum, AT&T’s current plan is to serve 80 percent of its households. Owensboro and all other small and rural towns simply cannot afford to be part of that 20 percent that has to wait.

We urge the FCC to approve the AT&T/T-Mobile merger agreement. The Greater Owensboro region deserves the best possible resources to help our local businesses grow and thrive. The GO-EDC has seen the benefits mobile broadband can bring and we believe the merger is a big step forward in boosting workplace productivity, investment, and most importantly, employment.

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