In the past couple weeks we have seen incredible support for our merger with T-Mobile come from a large and broadly diverse number of high-tech companies that recognize the need for robust capacity to support further growth and innovation in mobile broadband. And the most recent positive statements regarding the benefits that this transaction will bring came today from TechNet – The Voice of the Innovation Economy.
The opposition is fond of throwing out unsubstantiated claims that our T-Mobile merger is going to somehow kill innovation and drive our society back in time (via DeLorean? Or maybe a hot tub?) to the age of two-pound brick phones again. My friend Gigi Sohn actually brought one of those with her to the Senate Judiciary Hearing last month. I’ve been shaking my head about this for weeks, baffled that this idea is perceived as credible by anyone. And I’m not just talking about those of us in the industry.
Your average consumer is regularly bombarded with an extraordinary selection in new devices, apps and services. Over the course of the past 15 years, this industry has been characterized by mind-blowing innovation, and continually new and improved services for lower prices. Is there really a legitimate fear that all of that innovation and wonder will simply end with this transaction? Of course not, but the rhetoric from our merger opponents on the “innovation issue” has continued. Well, they can finally stop beating that drum because this week, the innovators have spoken and they are telling policymakers a different story.
In its filing today with the FCC, TechNet highlights the need for increased capacity and bandwidth for its member companies: “Expanding the capability and capacity of broadband spectrum is of critical importance to TechNet’s member companies. Such increased broadband spectrum will allow our members to grow their business in the technologies, services, software and equipment that make apps, social networking, mobile banking and payments, long-distance learning, mobile commerce, energy management and countless other activities possible.” The filing also highlights how the merger will help to fulfill the goals of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan and result in positive job creation.
TechNet’s filing comes on the heels of a growing list of letters from the high-tech community that see the clear benefits our merger with T-Mobile will bring not just to consumers but to the overall health of the industry. Let’s break this down a bit…
Last week, Corning, the world’s largest manufacturer of optical fiber and cable, voiced its support. Noting that its decision to weigh in on the debate might not seem obvious, Corning emphasized that the demand for wireless drives the demand for fiber – fiber backhaul from cell towers that powers broadband, not legacy special access services. As a result, Corning said the merger will achieve spectrum efficiency, will increase investment in infrastructure, and will enable more Americans to access wireless broadband. By the way, as our CEO likes to say, that is exactly the kind of investment that creates jobs in our broadband world.
Citing its concern that the tremendous increase in network traffic will exceed the rate of network capacity growth, Juniper urged the FCC to look at our T-Mobile merger as a means to addressing near term capacity constraints for both consumers and businesses. As a leading provider of networking and security products, Juniper cited the critical need to maintain a robust network to meet the needs of consumers, businesses and the government.
In its support for the merger, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which represents more than 340 employers in the Silicon Valley, noted that access to mobile broadband will not only have a positive impact on healthcare through telemedicine but can also help control energy costs with wireless smart grid technologies.
And just this Monday, a diverse group of high tech companies, including Avaya, Brocade, Facebook, Microsoft, Oracle, Qualcomm, RIM and Yahoo, also cited the need to address the insatiable demand for wireless broadband. Urging the Commission to approve the merger, the group said that the transaction will not only help meet near-term wireless broadband needs but will ensure the United States remains competitive in the global marketplace as the world embraces mobile broadband and all the benefits that come with it.
But let’s not forget all the venture capital investors – the guys and gals who invest in the guys and gals in the garage. They also weighed in with strong support of the transaction. Sequoia Capital urged approval of the merger, citing the benefits to all the tech start-ups that it invests in. As did a group of venture capitalists, including Charles River Ventures, Technology Crossover Ventures, Matrix Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, Radar Partners and Lightspeed Ventures. The group noted that the merger will drive innovation as well as job growth and economic opportunity – all to the benefit of the entire industry and especially to small tech firms. And rounding out the VC support, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers highlighted our commitment to deploy high-speed wireless broadband to more than 97% of the population, enabling millions of people to access innovative technologies, services, apps and devices.
While our merger opponents and competitors are likely to continue to peddle the myth that innovators will be hurt by the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, the innovators themselves have arrived to tell the world a very different story.