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AT&T and T-Mobile merger to bring jobs, expand broadband access for Arizonans

America and Arizona are living in a new economic reality that has been shrouded in negativity. Yet dig a little beneath the headlines, and there is something incredibly innovative happening in the world of wireless communications that can transform our society.

Entrepreneurs get it. Young consumers get it. The forward momentum created by a new understanding on how to find value from limited resources is creating an exciting time for bold, new opportunities, especially for a young state like Arizona.

The unanimous vote of support for the merger between telecommunications providers AT&T and T-Mobile by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) in June demonstrates the value of regulatory oversight that appreciates a truly unique business opportunity. It is one that will specifically aid Arizona’s urban and rural communities, and businesses, both large and small.

The ACC’s strong support offers a powerful endorsement as regulators at the Federal Communications Commission receive this type of input from states around the country on the AT&T business plan.

This merger will deliver for Arizona in a speedy fashion:

An additional 1 million residents will have access to super-fast 4G service across the state.

An additional 38,000 square miles of local coverage will crisscross the Grand Canyon State.

As we watched the Arizona legislative budget approval process the past few sessions, the overwhelming realization that comes to mind is that the focus has returned to value — and not just cost — as the new criteria for decision making. From students involved with accessing online homework and class assignments, to tele-medicine in outlying areas, to small business startups, the world of American commerce begins with access to quality communications technology. Its availability will determine the pace and scope of our state economic recovery as well as our nation’s.

Here in Arizona, we may be a long way from Wall Street and Silicon Valley, but our residents should not have to expect less when it comes to the indispensable tool of broadband access and high-speed Internet. Small businesses in particular will benefit from better communications technology, enabling them to expand and create jobs.

I believe that this $39 billion business investment across America, particularly in these economic strapped times when infrastructure dollars are so limited, represents the fastest and most credible hope for improved cellular and broadband communications to our residents. It also means more opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners to follow their dreams.

Arizona’s ability to have comprehensive broadband coverage and high-speed Internet access is a policy priority that we can all agree upon and one that will continue to demonstrate true value for our investment.

— Sen. Rich Crandall is a Republican who represents east Mesa District 19.

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