Maybe it's what you'd expect from Silicon Valley's representative in Congress, but Congresswoman Anna Eshoo really understands the intimate connection between public policy and our digital future. She brought this understanding and her valuable leadership to the table during the 2012 State of the Net West series.
At a technology town hall discussion last month in her hometown of Palo Alto, I heard Rep. Eschoo offer her expertise and field some hard-hitting questions on the mobile broadband revolution, spectrum and innovation, threats to the mobile ecosystem, and the future of video. I had the chance to chat with her for a few minutes and came away with a feeling (unusually, these days) of confidence that Washington lawmakers have the chops and know-how to steer us toward a bright and prosperous technological future and innovation economy.
I was flattered when she mentioned reading my op-ed in the San Jose Mercury News. But it is her grip of the tech policy issues and this critical convergence of Washington policymakers and Silicon Valley techies that earned my admiration and spurred my rapid fire live-tweeting during her tech town hall event.
The Congressional Internet Caucus founder jumped right in acknowledging the soaring number of mobile devices being brandished by the audience as "a reflection of our insatiable appetite for wireless broadband." She threw out some mind-boggling stats: last year U.S. mobile data traffic grew by almost 300 percent and is projected to increase another 16 times by 2016. Eshoo stressed that the federal government needs to move quickly to free up more spectrum for consumer use, the invisible airwaves that fuel mobile devices and transmit data to and from our smartphones and tablets, to meet consumer needs and continue to support advanced next generation broadband infrastructure. She also was keen to her hometown's benefits of a thriving tech industry, citing the 151,900 California jobs created by the app economy born in Silicon Valley.
And on the international front, Eshoo reaffirmed her opposition to greater international control over the Internet services and infrastructure. This is an issue about which CALinnovates cares deeply. It has the potential to undercut the freedom that has been central to the Internet's evolution, to the global economy and to Silicon Valley's prosperity. You can hear more about this issue at a panel discussion we're hosting featuring several tech heavy-hitters at Stanford University in Palo Alto on November 27.
Geographically, Washington, D.C. and Silicon Valley couldn't be much further apart, but distance should not be an obstacle to the important discussions that should be happening between technology leaders and policymakers. Discussions like Eshoo's tech town hall are just what are needed for convening brilliant minds in policy and tech to ensure tech innovation and investment flourish and policy keeps pace with the fast-paced, every-changing digital landscape.