FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is stepping down from his role after eight years at the US telecoms regulator.
Pai was appointed to the FCC as commissioner in 2012 by President Obama and was promoted to chairman in 2017 by President Trump. Pai has now served notice that he will be stepping down when President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated on January 20th.
“It has been the honour of a lifetime to serve at the Federal Communications Commission, including as Chairman of the FCC over the past four years,” Pai said in a statement.
“To be the first Asian-American to chair the FCC has been a particular privilege. As I often say: only in America.”
Pai served as chairman of the FCC as the transition from 4G to 5G began, heated debates took place over net neutrality, and stricter rules were enforced against Chinese vendors like Huawei and ZTE.
“We’ve delivered for the American people over the past four years: closing the digital divide; promoting innovation and competition, from 5G on the ground to broadband from space; protecting consumers; and advancing public safety.
And this FCC has not shied away from making tough choices. As a result, our nation’s communications networks are now faster, stronger, and more widely deployed than ever before.”
The decision to rollback net neutrality rules will likely define Pai’s legacy, for better or worse.
Net neutrality rules – implemented under President Obama – legislated that operators must treat all internet communications equally, and not discriminate or charge differently based on user, content, website, platform, application, type of equipment, source address, destination address, or method of communication.
Following the repealing of net neutrality rules, researchers from the University of Massachusetts and Northeastern University published their findings of how operators have taken advantage of less regulation under Trump’s administration to limit data speeds for consumers.
Of course, some of Pai’s decisions have been more universally welcomed. One of the reforms Pai emphasises in his statement is putting in place increased transparency measures.
“I’m also proud of the reforms we have instituted to make the agency more accountable to the American people.
In particular, for the first time ever, we’ve made public drafts of the proposals and orders slated for a vote three weeks before the agency’s monthly meetings, making this the most transparent FCC in history.”
Pai’s FCC also established the national suicide prevention hotline number, 988. While most issues are incredibly divisive, that’s at least something I’m sure everyone can agree is welcome.
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