America is racing the rest of the world to deploy Fifth Generation (5G) wireless technology first, and government shouldn’t get in the way of companies’ abilities to work together and innovate to produce the best possible mobile broadband networks for Americans.
Just like smart phones connecting people across the world drove the Fourth Generation of Wireless technologies, new products and industries are driving companies forward in the race to deploy Fifth Generation Wireless networks. With 5G there are gains from innovation as simple as faster speeds and more capacity for in-home entertainment, to life-changing services like telemedicine and connected cars.
Going beyond in-home broadband and business customers, we cannot realize the Internet of Things, IoT without the infrastructure and technology that 5G provides. The IoT includes devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software, and sensors, etc., plus the connections that allow them to communicate. These new Internet “users” will require the high-speed mobile connections with low latency that only 5G technology can deliver.
Deployment of 5G networks across America will happen; it is only a matter of when. In order to stay competitive and provide the best services, one way to get there is through the combination of T-Mobile and Sprint into the New T-Mobile.
On their own, both T-Mobile and Sprint have committed to building a better 5G network. But together, they will have more infrastructure already in place to work with, more capital to invest, more spectrum to build out, and more subscribers to serve. The New T-Mobile plans to invest almost $40 billion between 2019 and 2021 to construct its post-merger 5G network; this is three times as much as what T-Mobile could invest alone.
Combining the two companies’ spectrum assets, tower locations and investment in network upgrades will allow the New T-Mobile to have the breadth and depth necessary to deploy 5G and compete with the other major players in the U.S. broadband market. It will be able to bring 5G services to 90 percent of the country by 2024 and to offer triple the 5G capacity of what T-Mobile and Sprint could provide separately. However, if the two companies must deploy two separate networks, without this merger, the speed and cost to achieve the same services would cost an additional $43 billion and seriously hamper the 2024 coverage goal.
The New T-Mobile will also emphasize increasing services in rural America by offering improved broadband coverage, signal quality and increased network capacity. More coverage, in turn, means more jobs resulting from customer service, building the network and industries using the network. The new company plans to enhance its customer service in rural towns through 600 or more new stores and up to five call centers.
Additionally, 5G coverage will also enable smart agriculture, a valuable example of the IoT at work in the real world. Smart agriculture devices use sensors in the ground, in crops, on livestock and on farm machinery to communicate with workers, drones, weather satellites, etc. to help farmers know when and how much to water, fertilize or apply pesticides — good for cost savings and good for the environment. Smart farming will not only help these businesses plan better for market conditions and hedge against nature’s forces but will also drive continued deployment in rural helping close the digital divide.
To get to a future where the mobile network lets us travel hands-free behind the wheel, connects our refrigerators with grocery stores to order more milk and allows farmers to reduce pesticide use, it’s going to cost the mobile-phone companies, chipmakers, device manufacturers and software developers about $200 billion a year in research and capital spending for the next five to 10 years. Most of that will come from private investors, and they need the confidence to invest so that we can compete with other countries, like China, in the race to 5G.
T-Mobile and Sprint have built the foundations to help America stay competitive in its technology reliance. Together, New T-Mobile will ensure its investments in infrastructure, create jobs, increase connectivity and produce faster network speeds, benefiting all of its customers, and it should be allowed to proceed without government intervention.
• Katie McAuliffe is executive director of Digital Liberty and federal affairs manager at Americans for Tax Reform.
Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.