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FCC Needs a Tech-Savvy Commissioner, AFCCE Says

Association urges White House to fill fifth seat with tech in mind

The AFCCE is urging the White House to nominate a fifth FCC commissioner — and to make it a person with a technical background.

The Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers is made up of engineers who serve clients with matters under the purview of the FCC. They provide comments, guidance and recommendations on rule interpretation, technical collaboration and FCC technical policy.

The group has sent a letter to the Biden administration and to Senators Maria Cantwell and Roger Wicker of the Commerce Committee, recommending that President Biden appoint a fifth FCC commissioner to help resolve anticipated deadlocks on pending matters. It also urges that the president to consider appointing a commissioner with technical, scientific or engineering background.

“At the FCC’s origin, commissioners were appointed based as much on their technical merit as other factors,” wrote AFCCE President John George.

“In recent decades, however, commissioners have relied upon the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology and the FCC’s staff engineers for technical advice, but those technical resources have suffered massive attrition over the past two decades with few positions backfilled. As the FCC itself has reduced its technological depth, the technology inherent in the industries regulated by the FCC — including broadcasting and multicast, personal wireless, and Wi-Fi — have become infinitely more complex.”

George wrote that having at least one FCC commissioner with a substantial technical background and a fundamental understanding of RF and communications technologies “would be in the greater public interest and would provide an additional measure of balance and robustness to the FCC’s overall decision-making process.”

The FCC currently has four members, two Democrats and two Republicans, and is led by acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

[Related: “Radio Technical Rules to Be Cleaned Up”]