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.
After more than five years helping to guide IIA as Co-Chairman, Larry Irving is moving on. His vision, energy, and ideas will definitely be missed, and we at IIA wish him nothing but the best as he starts his next chapter.
Read the IIA press release about Larry Irving’s departure.
Multichannel News has an interview IIA co-chairman Larry Irving about the federal broadband grants program. From the interview:
MCN: What specific advice would you give to NTIA as they prepare to give out all this money?
Lyndon Johnson said about appointments in government that for every one you make 99 enemies and one ingrate. NTIA is going to be facing a similar scenario in terms of the grants. One of the things NTIA has to be very cognizant of is that for every grant they give, it’s “thanks very much for the money, now go away.”
If you really care about a national broadband strategy, there is going to need to be continued review, oversight and responsibility at NTIA, which has to file quarterly reports on every grant that goes out there.
It is important that grant recipients not looking to NTIA as a funding source, but as a partner. We can’t do all the things with federal dollars that need to be done in this country.
What we learn from the grants will be really helpful in terms of a going-forward strategy for NTIA, the FCC and RUS.
Check out the full interview.
With the FCC calling for input on a national broadband plan, and the federal broadband stimulus still waiting to be distributed, Telephony Online asked IIA co-chairman Larry Irving for his thoughts on both. From the resulting article:
“There are two different things going on here, that are all of a piece,” Irving said in an interview this morning. “The stimulus is a timely, targeted and temporary effort to stimulate the American economy, and this administration has always realized that broadband is a part of that.”
At the same time, every agency of the federal government is exploring ways to “use technology to make the lives of the American people better, and part of that is the national broadband policy,” Irving said. “The FCC has a big job ahead of it.”
Check out the full interview.
IIA co-founder Larry Irving has penned an op-ed for Roll Call on the broadband portion of the federal economic stimulus. Here’s an excerpt:
Virtually every analyst agrees that rural Americans are the least likely to have available access to broadband. Geography and economics conspire against investment in broadband in America. It is simply not easy to recoup broadband investment in states where cattle outnumber people and homes are dispersed widely. Fiber optic and other broadband technologies are expensive to deploy in these areas, and broadband wireless technologies are just now becoming fully viable for deployment.
Just as this nation brought electricity, telephones and Internet service to rural America, we must make broadband networks ubiquitously available, as well. Appropriately, the lion’s share of this funding will address broadband in unserved areas through programs at the Departments of Commerce and Agriculture. In addition, funding will be available for improving broadband networks at libraries, community colleges, community technology centers and other locations where low-income families and the working poor are most likely to go for broadband access. According to Morgan Stanley, the national residential broadband penetration rate is currently about 56 percent of all households. For those 40 million plus households who don’t have broadband at home, and for those tens of millions of Americans without basic Internet access who disproportionately are poor, recent immigrants, senior citizens or other minorities, these community investments will make broadband more available and more accessible.
Check out the full op-ed. And for more articles from IIA’s founders, visit the op-ed section of the IIA press room.