FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, SV Angel’s Ron Conway, Andreessen-Horowitz’ Jeff Jordan, Twilio’s Jeff Lawson, Foursquare mobile VP Holger Leudorf and Lookout founder John Hering all gathered at Founder’s Den HQ this afternoon for the awesomely titled “Desperately Seeking Spectrum” panel, where discussion centered around freeing up broadband spectrum for the US mobile industry to use as it continues its formidable expansion.
Genachowski referred to predictions that mobile broadband traffic will increase 35 times over the next five years. Smart phones, which use 24 times as much broadband, are replacing feature phones, and tablets, which are becoming increasingly more prevalent as they continue to displace the PC market, use 122 times as much as smart phones.
“The app economy didn’t exist three years ago,” Genachowski said on why this spectrum hogging isn’t entirely a bad thing, ” And how many jobs are created per app? More than one. That’s hundreds of thousands of jobs [across all apps]. Facebook has created around 15,000 jobs. And when you really look at the jobs that have been created by companies that are building to the Facebook platform and the jobs that are created by the mobile economy, they’re not just engineering.”
Genachowski and the other panelists held that the techology industry — which is undeniably becoming more mobile-centric — is the primary catalyst for job growth in the US and an ample amount of broadband spectrum is crucial if we’d like to continue to be a (positive) disruptive force in the global economy. “As we build our products it’s critical that we’re reaching a point that we care about data,” said Foursquare’s Leudorf. “The tech community wants to be proactive on this issue,” Conway explained, “We don’t want to wait until it is a crisis.”
Genachowski’s interim solution is something called voluntary incentive auction, which is why he and Conway are garnering support for measures that will allow the FCC to incentivize old school broadcast companies that voluntarily give up some portion of their spectrum allotment to mobile. A law that would give the FCC the power to hold these auctions is currently making its way through Congress, recently passing through a Senate committee with a vote of 21-4.
“What we saw here today was a series of examples from entrepreneurs and innovators that are creating our economic futures. We know exactly what the biggest threat to them is, [that] the infrastructure they rely on is finite, spectrum is finite. Demand is going up, supply is flat,” Genachowski later told me in a duel interview with Conway. “If we don’t increase the supply of spectrum we’re going to throttle the growth, the opportunity and the job creation we can get from mobile innovation.”
Special thanks!: @abrams