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julius genachowskiFederal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski returned to the Consumer Electronics Show this year to discuss the growing importance of wireless spectrum to the US economy.

“We have to move, and we have to move faster than our global competitors,” Genachowski said in reference to the improving wireless network technology. He said that even though US carriers may have a head start on other countries in deploying 4G networks, that lead won’t last forever without continued innovation.

Thanks to massive growth in the popularity of mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets and other connected devices, we’re quickly using up our limited amount of wireless spectrum. Unleashing more spectrum and fixing America’s outdated spectrum policies are among Genachowski’s goals for the next year.

“Though we can’t see it, spectrum is becoming increasingly essential to the daily lives of almost every American. This invisible infrastructure is the backbone of a growing percentage of our economy and our lives,” Genachowski said. He added that the looming spectrum crunch “threatens American leadership in mobile and the benefits it can deliver to our economy and our lives.”

Last year at CES, Genachowski also discussed wireless spectrum and what it means for universal broadband in America — but we found him to be vague on actual goals. This time around, it’s clear that both Genachowski and the FCC have a plan.

In March, the agency announced its long-awaited National Broadband Plan, which details what needs to be done to expand broadband access to all Americans. The FCC also voted to open up empty broadcast TV spectrum to help bring about a next-generation wireless broadband technology it’s calling “Super WiFi.”

Genachowski also reiterated that the agency is working on voluntary incentives for broadcasters to auction off their wireless spectrum, something we first caught wind of early last year.

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