Speculation about who would head the FCC under Trump was put to rest late Monday with confirmation of reports that President Donald Trump had tapped Senior Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai for the Chairman’s seat.
In a statement, Pai said he was “deeply grateful” to the president for the designation and said he looked “forward to working with the new Administration, my colleagues at the Commission, members of Congress, and the American public to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans.”
And it didn’t take long for the congratulations to come rolling in.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure both offered their felicitations on Twitter, while industry groups like the Competitive Carriers Association and Internet Innovation Alliance went the more traditional route of issuing statements.
“CCA fully supports the nomination of Commissioner Pai as the next Chairman of the FCC,” CCA CEO Steven Berry commented. “Commissioner Pai is an avowed believer in creating a regulatory environment that encourages investment and innovation, and strongly believes in policies that respect the technological changes of today’s marketplace. He has made his office open to CCA members, and with his roots in Kansas, certainly understands the importance of ensuring high-speed mobile broadband all across the country, including rural areas. I congratulate Commissioner Pai on his nomination and look forward to our continued work with the entire Commission on creating a more competitive ecosystem for the benefit of carriers and consumers alike.”
Similarly, IIA said in a statement Pai “brings invaluable experience and insight” to the position that is “sure to benefit American consumers and businesses through sound policymaking.”
But some were more cautiously optimistic in their responses to Pai’s appointment given that during his tenure as an FCC Commissioner under former President Obama, Pai frequently opposed measures pushed by then FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. In particular, Pai staked out positions fervently against net neutrality, reclassification under Title II, and interference with zero rating offers. In December, Pai somewhat famously said the FCC under the incoming administration needed to take a “weed whacker” to unnecessary regulations.
“High-speed Internet is essential to economic and social life in the 21st century,” the Communications Workers of American said in a statement. “We look to Chairman Pai to promote policies that encourage quality jobs and investment in broadband infrastructure to all Americans, protect an Open Internet, and preserve a diverse media that is so essential to our democracy.”
Gene Kimmelman, CEO of advocacy group Public knowledge urged Pai in a statement to preserve the FCC’s efforts to ensure an open internet.
“Commissioner Pai has a history of attacking consumer protections, from the Open Internet order to our right to privacy online. Even so, every Commissioner who has been elevated to Chairman discovers the job is very different from what he or she thought it would be,” Kimmelman commented. “With this in mind, we urge Chairman Pai to preserve consumer protections and to focus on driving down prices and expanding choices for all essential communications services while preserving the Commission’s recent pro-competitive and consumer protection rules and actions.”
With the departure of former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and former Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel last week, Pai is currently head of a three-member commission with a 2-1 Republican majority. Sitting with Pai on the commission are Republican Commissioner Michael O’Rielly and Democrat Mignon Clyburn – both of whom also offered their compliments and congratulations to Pai. Trump will be able to appoint two additional Commissioners to fill out the body, including one Republican and one Democrat.
Filed Under: Industry regulations