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Op-Ed: 5G Technology Vital for the Economy and for Emergency Communications

Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint will allow for rapid deployment of next generation of wireless technology, enabling major advances

Richard Mroz
Richard Mroz

For years, America has been at the forefront of technological innovation. From the earliest days of using dial-up connections to access the web to the formation of thousands of new applications and companies that exist solely because of the internet, our country has been a leader in tech. This remarkable growth has created a whole new sector of our economy.

In fact, the use of the internet and wireless services has become such an integral part of everyone’s daily lives that we take it for granted. The internet has become a near-constant presence in our homes and work.

In my work around the utility industry, I have seen how important this infrastructure has become to support our livelihood and why it is critically important we remain on the cutting edge of tech developments in wireless communications.

The combination of T-Mobile and Sprint through the pending merger puts us in a much-improved position to rapidly deploy the next generation of wireless. The spectrum holdings of each company are complementary and together will allow for an advanced wireless network that can cover the nation, providing access that is both broad and deep.

Apparent economic advantages

There are two important aspects of this merger. The first is the overall benefit to the economy that the merger will provide by encouraging the market to support 5G development. The second is how this merger supports critical communications services in times of crisis.

Looking at the broader economic impact first, it is easy to see how important a 5G network will be to our economy, especially compared to a 4G network. The increased speeds and latency upgrades to the 4G network spurred development of other business and technology advances in the logistics, transportation and entertainment industries such as with Amazon, Lyft, and Netflix.

5G will make the platform for economic and business advances and related customer services even better. And increased capacity means innovation from entirely new companies that may be small or startup businesses, many of which will likely start in the New York/New Jersey region with our diverse populations and dynamic business environment.

Easier communication during disasters

The merger also means improvements in support for critical communications services during emergencies. This is a topic with which I am deeply familiar having served as the Chairman of the Critical Infrastructure Committee for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and as president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU).

The aftermath of an emergency is chaotic, and the ability to communicate, organize, respond and recover from a disaster caused by weather events — or intentional acts — is critical to the life, health, and safety of citizens. We must have reliable and modern infrastructure to support emergency communications.

5G brings to emergency efforts both speed and capacity. Recognizing that every disaster is different in some ways, what remains constant is the need to coordinate response operations and leverage technology and be resilient in a crisis. The broad and deep nationwide 5G network planned by the merged company will provide even better support for first responders, public safety organizations and consumers.

The prospective benefits of this merger are significant. It will enhance an infrastructure to support economic opportunities and provide a critical backbone supporting emergency services, making it resilient from disruptions that might otherwise impact our daily way of life.

Richard Mroz is the former president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, served as the chairman of the NARUC Critical Infrastructure Committee, and was a member of the NARUC board of directors. He has a career of distinguished public service, having also served in senior leadership roles for former Governor Whitman. He is now an independent consultant working on behalf of T-Mobile.

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