Other Opinions

Merger of T-Mobile, Sprint could bring high-speed service to Valley’s rural reaches

California’s Central Valley is a region of significant bounty and one of the most agriculturally productive regions in the world. As a predominantly rural area, it is also a place that represents the limits of broadband coverage in the United States.

Orange Cove Mayor Victor Lopez Fresno Bee file

Communities in the Central Valley are chronically underserved when it comes to high-speed broadband. This has an impact on farmers, who cannot use the latest “smart ag” technology because the current infrastructure cannot provide the coverage and throughput needed for the tech to work correctly. It also affects companies large and small in the region, who increasingly depend on the internet to perform routine business functions. Healthcare, education, and the delivery of emergency services — all of these now require Internet connectivity.

The need to extend high-speed broadband to rural communities in the Central Valley is clear. Getting it done has proved to be a challenge.

The merger of T-Mobile and Sprint could finally bring high-speed broadband to these communities. The new T-Mobile has committed to significant upgrades to its LTE network, followed by a world-class 5G network. The company is looking to bring mobile broadband speeds of 10 Mbps or greater to 45.9 million rural residents and to provide fixed, in-home broadband service with speeds of 25/3 Mbps to 52.2 million rural residents.

T-Mobile has also recently announced that pending the completion of the merger, it will open a new customer Experience center in the Central Valley. This will bring approximately 1,000 new jobs to the region, in a high-tech, state-of-the-art facility.

All of this would be transformative to residents of the Central Valley, and everyone from businesses to individual families would benefit from the increased economic activity that jobs and improved broadband will bring.

As elected officials, we see the effects of what a lack of broadband access means to our communities. We support the merger because we understand how important access to high-speed Internet is to those we represent.

Orange Cove Mayor Victor Lopez is also chairman of the Central Valley Latino Mayors and Elected Officials Coalition.