In this day of instant communication a panic attack rushes over us if we realize we’ve left our homes and forgotten to take our cell phones with us, so dependent have we become on them. We enjoy our mobility and portable communication devices double our pleasure at being able to stay in touch while we’re on the road.
According to one estimate, up to one-third of Oklahomans have forsaken landlines altogether. The only way anyone can reach this group while they’re away or at home is via a cell phone.
There is nothing wrong with this except that cell phones are not the only devices taking up the bandwidth required to ensure calls don’t get dropped before conversations are concluded. Many people are also downloading songs and videos to mobile phones, texting pictures to each other, and using smart phones to do research and shop online.
These are wonderful conveniences but they all rely on bandwidth, or spectrum, as the industry calls it and Oklahoma is running out of it. A good analogy is to compare it to a highway where a traffic jam is building up and more lanes are needed to keep vehicles moving quickly and without interference.
The Federal Communication Commission is currently reviewing a merger with AT&T and T-Mobile USA that would provide these additional figurative highway lanes. If approved, AT&T officials say they plan to expand access to high-speed mobile broadband service to over 97 percent of the country. This is important to Oklahoma as well because company officials say the last four years have seen an 8,000 percent increase in data usage. The company is running out of spectrum quickly with plans to launch its high-speed 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) mobile broadband service in the near future. Doing so requires additional spectrum that T-Mobile can provide.
T-Mobile’s customers will gain the benefit of a nationwide high-speed wireless broadband network and access to AT&T devices.
We encourage the FCC to approve the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile. We believe it is in the best interest of our country, state and our economy.
— Loné Beasley