FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is bullish on wireless innovation happening in the U.S., but says there are reasons to be concerned about the ability to cater to growing demand for mobile applications. Genachowski stopped by TechCrunch Disrupt and shot a video with me backstage about mobile innovation and the growing need to re-allocate spectrum and make it available to wireless providers.
“What’s been happening in mobile over the last four years is pretty amazing. Four years ago, if we were having this conversation, you would have been asking me about Japan or South Korea, and how they’re doing all this cool stuff on their mobile platforms there,” Genachowski said. “But roll the clock forward to today and the U.S. is killing it on mobile innovation. If you think about mobile devices around the world, the percentage of those mobile devices with American-made operating systems has gone from about 10 percent to 80 percent.”
That’s due in large part to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems taking over during the last several years, as software has taken over innovation that used to be based in hardware. Creating attractive operating systems and app platforms means that there’s also a huge number of U.S.-based apps that are being used around the world. But with more attractive smartphones and apps also comes greater demand for mobile data. According to Genachowski, the U.S. has about 70 percent of 4G LTE subscribers, making America the global testbed for the high-speed mobile technology.
“Three years ago, when we were doing our national broadband plan, we said a number of different things, but one of them was, ‘Hey, there’s a spectrum crunch coming and we need to do something about it,’” Genachowski said. “At the time, people said, ‘There’s no spectrum crunch, and this is a crazy idea, it will never go anywhere” when talking about the FCC’s plans for a two-sided auction to re-allocate spectrum.
But as time has gone on, the launch of new devices like the iPhone 5 and rapidly growing demand for mobile data has made it conventional wisdom that there’s a spectrum crisis coming after all. To combat that, the FCC will be releasing the auction process that will happen “in the near future.”
The interview was filmed on Tuesday, September 11, and as the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, he also had a few things to say about public safety and what the FCC is pushing to improve emergency response times. Some examples include a reverse 911 system, which allows authorities to send alerts out on a geographically targeted basis when there’s and emergency. Also next-generation 911, which includes geo information when users call or text local emergency systems and can provide more accurate location data.
But don’t take my word for it — check out the video for yourself.