AT&T merger with T-Mobile: PRO: State senator: Merger increases 4G access |

AT&T merger with T-Mobile: PRO: State senator: Merger increases 4G access

Sen. James Settelmeyer
Special to the Appeal

As a state senator and third-generation rancher, I resolve business and community issues in a straightforward and practical manner. This basic principal guides my private business interests and the decisions I make in the Legislature. Concepts that were handed down to me from my grandfather who worked hard as a rancher and ultimately purchased the land my family owns and operates in Douglas County today. He knew a good deal when he saw one, but more importantly, he knew exactly what he needed to grow his own Nevada business – resources and opportunity.

We all know fostering economic growth in Nevada is critical at this juncture. That is why I’m encouraged by the benefits that not only my business but the communities in Northern Nevada will receive from mobile broadband that would come from the AT&T and T-Mobile merger. It’s not dissimilar to what my grandfather saw in the late 1800’s – access to opportunity in rural areas.

AT&T has its eyes set on merging with T-Mobile, a German-owned subsidiary that’s for sale. By merging, AT&T plans to use the spectrum or airwaves owned by T-Mobile so it can extend its reach to more than 97 percent of Americans and 97 percent of Nevada’s population, including Douglas, Carson and Washoe counties.

The price to us? Nothing. It’s all through private investment. The value to us? Infrastructure that allows the same data speeds on a mobile device that urban cities like Sacramento and Houston already enjoy. It’s called 4G LTE and it will change the way we live and communicate. As I work on my ranch, I know that there are many times that I have experienced excruciatingly slow speeds as I access my bank account, check my stocks or even look up information about my cattle. If a private company wants to come in and invest broadband, why wouldn’t we all support that?

This merger and the opportunities it will bring come at a time when our economy struggles and we seek ways to balance state budgets, build our local economy and try and put our own people to work. We just had over 650 jobs brought back to Nevada from overseas by AT&T in the last four years. With this merger, another 5,000 will be brought back to the U.S. to continue to fuel our economy at a time where job growth has moved up less than 1 percent in the last 6 months.

I attended online law degree classes using broadband technology. I think back now about how much more convenient that could have been with improved access to mobile 4G LTE. And further, there are the many advantages that 4G LTE could bring to improve our schools and to online learning for all ages.

I once used a cellphone the size of a brick to make a call in the 1980s that had to be about a buck a minute. Yet prices have fallen 50 percent from 1999 to 2009 for a phone call on a device that now fits in the palm of my hand. Plus, I can access the Internet from that same device. Prices keep going down as technology evolves with newer and better ways of communicating. I would not have predicted even 10 years ago that I would be sending text messages or talking face-to-face on a video feed through my phone.

We can’t ignore the speedy evolution of technology and the amount of data that has grown by more than 8,000 percent in the last four years. Imagine Carson City expanding its roads to keep up with 8,000 percent growth in traffic. It’s simply phenomenal growth.

Nevada has everything to gain from this merger, and our less urban areas have everything to lose without it. I have joined other rural legislators in supporting this merger because it builds a high-speed wireless infrastructure in Nevada, and across the U.S.

It simply makes sense. We can’t afford turn our backs on opportunity.

• James Settelmeyer is a Republican state senator who represents Gardnerville and surrounding areas. He’s a third-generation rancher.