Why Not a Wireless Advisor with Some Radio Technology Experience?
It has been a long time since we had a "wireless advisor" (FCC commissioner's personal assistant who deals with wireless issues) who had academic background or hands on experience in radio technology. Frankly, Ben Perez, is that last one who comes to mind and that was more than a decade ago. We have had some wireless advisors who had no explicit background, but had a true instinct for the technical issues. Elliot Maxwell, Dave Siddall, and Ken Robinson come to mind.
In recent years, the working arrangements of the "8th floor" have been structured to almost discourage getting someone with technical background since the various "advisors meetings" are key to the working of the 8th floor and they are arranged by industry, not by technical and legal issues. But this is not established by law or regulation, just a relatively recent habit.
Let's look at another agency where there was an original approach.
Maybe it really does pay to advertise! NRC Commissioner Jaczko chose to advertise last summer in Science magazine for an assistant/advisor with a technical background. Are there people out there with a wireless industry technical background who had the policy skills and interests to work on the 8th floor? I think so. But who can be sure one way or other unless you try more aggressively to find them.
The Commission is probably breathing a sigh of relief that it "solved" the Nextel/public safety interference issue. I think it should be asking itself why this problem occurred in the first place and what it says about decisionmaking at FCC. (And while it is at it, it might consider that a technically different [but similar in policy nature] problem happened in the 1980s with interference from TV channels 14 and 69 to land mobile systems.)
So, Commissioners, next time you expect a vacancy in your "wireless advisor" position or if you are willing to restructure your staff when there is a vacany, why not advertise like Commissioner Jaczko? I would suggest IEEE Spectrum in this case over Science, but maybe try both since Science attracts a lot of people with technical policy interest.