AT&T, T-Mobile merger will increase wireless coverage in rural Texas


July 19, 2011 at 2:19 a.m.

The pending merger between AT&T and T-Mobile will increase wireless coverage throughout rural Texas, David Nichols, president of AT&T Texas, said Tuesday.

Nichols and other AT&T representatives visited Victoria as part of a Texas tour to discuss the merger's implications and what comes next in the process.

The move allows AT&T to offer 4G coverage over an additional 150,000 square miles in Texas, so that the company covers 97 percent of the state, Nichols said. That adds up to about 3 million additional people statewide.

"It's a big deal," he said.

AT&T filed paperwork for the merger on March 20, Nichols said, and the issue is under review of the Federal Communications Commission and the United States Department of Justice. The review period typically lasts about a year.

Once approved, AT&T can begin moving forward with its growth plan, he said, explaining Texas will see dramatic changes within the first nine months.

It could take up to seven years to switch all technology and materials over to 4G service, he added.

The merger can make a difference locally, said Randy Vivian, president and CEO of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, who attended the AT&T meeting.

A majority of students at the University of Houston-Victoria take at least one online course, he said, and increased wireless signal can offer real-time access to the library and more.

It also means those people working in the fields or in remote areas for the oil and gas industry have access to faster service and mobile applications that could help on the job.

"This is something that's going to be huge," Vivian said. "Especially in our local area."



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