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Surf and turf wars in Silicon Valley

Chief among those topics was spectrum, specifically the best way to make more airwaves available for mobile broadband. By happenstance, the Pepperdine event coincided with the news that Instagram was launching new video capabilities, dubbed Instavine on social media as it was launched to compete with Twitter’s video platform, Vine. As this news lit up Twitter, I asked the panel how video from Instragram’s billion-plus users will affect wireless networks. “[It] will create a larger load,” AT&T’s Richard Clarke replied. “We’re swimming fast, but the current is moving far faster.”

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This demand for ever-increasing amounts of data (the “current” that Clarke spoke of) is driving carriers to pursue more wireless spectrum. The FCC plans to auction off 300 MHz of new spectrum to these wireless companies, but the panelists — including Harvard Business Review’s Larry Downes, Navigant Economics’s Hal Singer and Pepperdine’s James Prieger — were doubtful that the full 300 MHz will ever reach the auction podium.

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