The California Public Utilities Commission recently held a series of public hearings and workshops to discuss the pending merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, up and down the state this past month. I understand that during the hearings, an overwhelming majority of citizens from all walks of life testified in support of the merger and believe the benefits are in the best interest for California.

As a former Sacramento City Unified School District Board President – and the father of two children – I know that giving my children the ability to use the Internet as a learning tool has been vital to their success and continued education, supplementing not only their studies but how they communicate with others as well. I heard also that many of those who spoke at the hearings discussed how better access to broadband Internet is necessary for their children to succeed in school and keep up with how we access information. Access to broadband is no longer a luxury, but a necessity, and making sure this is affordable and available to everyone is a priority for our state.

And, as a Sacramento City Councilmember, I can attest to the benefits broadband brings to our local businesses. Helping local businesses survive and compete in today’s global economy is a priority for California, especially in this tough economy. I also understand that at the hearings many small business owners spoke out in favor of the merger, and what it would mean for their businesses – improved access to clients, suppliers, employees and faster outreach to potential and existing customers. Businesses need reliable and fast service and the merger promises to meet these needs.

The combined synergies of AT&T and T-Mobile will make these things possible, with an increased infrastructure investment to both existing urban networks and rural communities, which improve competitiveness, stimulate additional investment, job creation and connectivity. It’s estimated by the Economic Policy Institute that up to 96,000 new jobs – including direct jobs, supplier jobs and induced jobs – nationwide will be created by the merger.

This is why California should not lag in making a decision to approve the merger. Arizona, Louisiana and West Virginia have already submitted decisions in favor of the transaction as well as 26 governors and 11 attorneys general. California should join this decision and help stimulate our present and future economy – our current businesses, and the students who will create the businesses of tomorrow.

We need the merger to happen now, not only to improve education and business, but our quality of life. I encourage the CPUC to act swiftly and to approve this transaction without conditions. We need mobile broadband, more than ever.