This morning, Irving Information Group President & CEO Larry Irving (who was also a founder and former Co-Chair of IIA) delivered the keynote for the New America Foundation‘s event in Washington, DC, “From Broadcast to Broadband: New Theories of the Public Interest in Wireless.” It was a lively discussion (and it carried over to Twitter as well; just do a search for the hashtag #bcast2bb).
Irving kicked things off by telling attendees that this year alone people will be buying 100 million tablets, and that 88 percent of people now have a mobile device. He then touched on what that means for society, especially for voices that have in the past struggled to be heard:
We have never had more diverse voices across all segments of media. The net removes the barriers to entry, for the most part. There is 72 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, and 20 to 30 of the top 50 stations on YouTube are minority generated or focused. And the audience is disproportionately young people.
But after laying out the positives of our new media landscape, Irving pivoted to the biggest challenge to the continued growth of mobile broadband:
One huge impediment is looming spectrum scarcity. Everything we’ve talked about has always been about scarcity. The laws of physics of building out infrastructure mean we are going to hit a crunch. There was a 230 percent increase in mobile data use last year. Smartphones use nine times more bandwidth than feature phones. And tablets use three times that of smartphones.
While Irving was encouraged by current efforts to free up more spectrum for wireless, he was discouraged by how slow the process has been (“A ten year span to get 500 MHz? We need to speed that up!”), and argued the problem of the spectrum crunch should receive attention from a higher national authority:
It’s going to require the White House — not through weak comment, but through actual action.
The New America Foundation’s event was streamed, so hopefully the archive will be up soon. In the meantime, you can learn more here.