AT&T is working to do its part to keep Memphis moving forward as a key economic driver in the Mid-South. The Memphis business community has worked on many issues to keep the city growing and to make it a place where people want to live and invest. We think AT&T's proposed merger with T-Mobile USA will help maintain the positive momentum for the Memphis business community.
The merger will bring to Memphis better service and faster and updated 4G "LTE" technology. It will result in mobile broadband availability for 97 percent of Americans.
Governor Bill Haslam recently said, "If the state is going to do well, then Memphis has to do well. ... Every city needs an identity, whether it's Winchester, with 4,000 people or Memphis, the largest city we have."
The governor is exactly right. At AT&T, we believe mobile broadband technology is an important step for economic prosperity, not just in Memphis, but all across the state.
Having greater access to broadband technology in your home, office or on-the-go is a key to economic development and growth. We've seen this growing demand in our own network: Data traffic on the AT&T network increased by 8,000 percent over the past four years. By 2015, we expect such traffic to increase eight to 10 times the volume experienced in 2010.
This dramatic increase in data usage has created what is called a "spectrum crunch" for AT&T. Smartphones, such as the iPhone, generate 24 times the mobile data traffic of a conventional wireless phone. And the explosively popular iPad and other tablet devices are expected to generate traffic even greater than smartphones.
As we see it, the proposed combination of AT&T and T-Mobile USA is the fastest, surest, and most efficient solution to the spectrum and capacity challenges faced by both companies.
You might ask, what is 4G LTE? The initials stand for "Long-Term Evolution." LTE is the premier next-generation wireless broadband technology and is a globally recognized wireless standard for new wireless networks, devices, and services. It will mean faster downloads and improved service, which will make a real difference as businesses become more and more mobile.
We are looking at new technological advancements that will enable that increased mobilization. When fully implemented, questions of geography will no longer matter as much in business, as will imagination, innovation, and adaptability. Super-fast mobile broadband services will spur demand for new innovative applications and services — from remote medical monitoring to mobile transactions to smart household appliances — using everything from personal computers to smartphones to tablets.
This is an exciting development for Memphis and the entire state of Tennessee. Local businesses have been looking for ways to increase economic and investment potential for years. They have ambitious plans for accelerating economic growth and prosperity for Memphis and Shelby County. At AT&T, we believe faster mobile technology is an important way to generate economic growth for our area. Some critics have asserted that the proposed merger will threaten competition and lead to higher prices. The facts just don't support this conclusion. The Federal Commnications Commission's 15th Annual Wireless Competition Report concluded that nearly 90 percent of the U.S. population can still choose from five or more facilities-based wireless providers.
According to the 2010 report of the U.S. General Accounting Office, wireless prices declined 50 percent from 1999 to 2009, a period when several carriers combined, including Sprint and Nextel. The U.S. wireless marketplace is the most competitive in the world, and it will remain so after the merger.
The ATT merger with T-Mobile will be a win for Memphis, and a win for Tennessee. By committing to extend its LTE build to approximately 55 million additional people, and to expand network capacity and output to customers, AT&T will improve service, ensure continued competitive pricing and innovation, attract investment, create jobs, and enhance America's economy.
Chuck Thomas III is the regional director of external and legislative affairs for AT&T in the Memphis area.
Exactly seven years ago this week, I wrote a column decrying a proposal by city engineers to turn the Overton Park Greensward into an 18-foot-deep "detention basin" designed to stop flooding in Midtown. The engineers claimed we'd hardly notice the football-field-sized bowl. "Except," I wrote then, "when it rains hard, at which time, users of Overton Park would probably notice a large, 18-foot-deep lake in the Greensward. Or afterward, a large, muddy, trash-filled depression."