Flooded by more than one million public comments on Open Internet issues, it’s understandable the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is devoting so much attention to the topic. But this debate over “net neutrality” is pushing aside the discussion of certain regulatory challenges that must be overcome, if mobile technology is to meet our growing consumer demand.

Consumer electronics companies are now leveraging technology to increase the connectivity of our daily lives, a recognition that more and more of us rely on the “anytime/anywhere” access to information that wireless services provide. The fuel for this innovative technology is spectrum – the radio frequencies through which data travel to our smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices – and we have only a limited supply. 

Opening spectrum resources and allowing our wireless broadband network to grow, both of which are under the FCC’s jurisdiction, are essential to ensuring this marketplace remains globally competitive and can meet consumers’ needs. But there are doubts the commission is accurately prioritizing its most pressing issues to ensure that spectrum supply meets innovators’ demands. 

The FCC has a major opportunity to enable the private sector to upgrade and expand high-speed broadband networks. Yet its current fixation on the debate about how to manage existing networks – the crux of the Open Internet discussion – only creates uncertainty for established and emerging innovators alike. 

Instead, the FCC should focus its resources on addressing immediate challenges, such as providing additional licensed and unlicensed spectrum opportunities to  benefit all consumers. Otherwise, the commission risks becoming mired in a protracted legal challenge about the imposition of old telecom regulations on some or all broadband and broadband-related services. 

The FCC is now paving the way for the world’s first-ever television broadcast spectrum incentive auctions, a process that will free valuable swaths of licensed and unlicensed spectrum. Ensuring the success of this auction and other spectrum-freeing priorities – and providing our innovation economy with the fuel it needs to thrive – is precisely where the FCC should focus its attention.

Additionally, the FCC needs to consider how its proposed Open Internet rules could undermine confidence in the TV broadcast incentive auctions. The very same industries that are facing regulation will likely be those creating innovative products and services for the newly available spectrum. If so, the commission may find itself caught in an infinite loop of regulatory uncertainty. 

As our country emerges from the recession, entrepreneurs in the tech industry are poised to drive the U.S. economy forward. Consumers want more innovative products and services – the communication and access enabled by mobile connectivity are integral parts of our everyday lives. 

If the FCC is serious about enacting policies that promote our competitive and pro-consumer marketplace, it needs to reset its agenda so efforts to increase available broadband and spectrum are the primary business of the day. This approach will naturally lead to Internet openness, as well as power both innovation and investment. Becoming unnecessarily entangled in a circular debate about net neutrality is not in the best interests of the economy or American consumers. 

Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies, and author of the New York Times best-selling booksNinja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World's Most Successful Businesses and The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream. His views are his own. Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro