Fond Farewell to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

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Posted by Katie McAuliffe on Wednesday, January 20th, 2021, 1:52 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform would like to express our gratitude for the important work that Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai accomplished throughout his tenure. 

The following statement can be attributed to Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform:  

"During the Trump Administration, Ajit Pai’s nomination as Chairman of the FCC was second in importance only to Neil Gorsuch. Chairman Pai stood up to doomsayers prophesizing the destruction of the internet if the government didn't exert more control over the internet's infrastructure. Guess what — It didn’t happen. Even under the added stress of the pandemic, the internet not only worked, it thrived. Congratulations to Chairman Pai's many successes at the helm of the Commission, and I wish him well in his future endeavors."

The following statement can be attributed to Katie McAuliffe, Executive Director of Digital Liberty and Americans for Tax Reform’s Director of Federal Policy

"Chairman Pai led the most transparent and productive FCC in years. No longer are DC insiders the only ones to know beforehand what the Commission is doing. Under his direction, proposed orders and rulemakings had to be publicly available three weeks in-advance of an FCC vote. Before, items were not public until after the Commission voted on them. For daring to remove excessive regulations on the internet, Chairman Pai faced harassment and threats of violence against him and his family. But it was those actions nonetheless that kept the internet working, while connecting more Americans than ever to broadband, throughout this pandemic. I thank him for his service and look forward to what the future has in store for such a dedicated public servant."

The Pai FCC has a long list of accomplishments ranging from internal agency reforms to deregulatory policies that maximized benefits to all Americans. 

During the Pai FCC, the Commission doubled its productivity from previous ones. The average Commission meeting under Chairman Pai voted on 6 items while previous ones ranged 2 – 4. The Pai FCC did this while reaching record levels of bipartisanship as well.   

Chairman Pai remarked that when he was just a staffer at the FCC, he was told dozens of times that agenda items could not be made public before Commission meetings. As Chairman, he changed that policy in the first two weeks to increase transparency. The result was that the American people now have the same access to agency plans that only lobbyists or DC insiders had before. 

Chairman Pai also ensured the FCC would have access to sound economic analysis for agency decision making. During his tenure he advocated for the creation of the Office of Economics and Analytics at the FCC. This new office consolidated economists across the agency which increased independence and added to the professionalism of their work. 

In 2018, the Pai FCC passed the Restoring Internet Freedom (RIF) Order, which repealed short-lived Obama-era regulations on internet-service providers. Activists on the left scare mongered that this would bring “an end to the internet” or that the internet would populate one word at a time. These claims were absolutely baseless. In actuality, in the two after passage of RIF, we saw increases in broadband investment, increases in network speeds, and 10x times the number of cell sites deployed than in previous years. This occurred despite the COVID-19 pandemic where internet traffic dramatically increased. In places like Europe where they held onto their utility-style regulation, they saw decreases in speeds, and had to take preventative measures to prevent networks collapsing.  

The Pai FCC also took unprecedented steps to repurpose spectrum. Spectrum is a finite resource that is necessary for wireless communications. Repurposing spectrum is a must be done, but it can be immensely difficult. To quote the Chairman, “there is no more greenfield spectrum available. That means there are no easy solutions. Whenever you explore new uses for spectrum, you’re going to draw battles with incumbents or others worried about harmful interference.” In 2018 Chairman Pai promised to make more spectrum available for 5G over the next 3 years than what was already available. And he did it. The Pai FCC opened up almost 5,000 megahertz of spectrum for use by 5G technologies. 

Americans now rely on the internet more than ever to go to work, go to school, and receive healthcare. The Pai FCC laid the groundwork to reverse-auction billions in funding to develop rural broadband and telehealth programs; ensuring that American tax dollars will be put to their best use in bridging the digital divide.  

These accomplishments are just a handful of many that will improve the lives of American citizens and businesses in ways obvious, and no-so-obvious ways for a generation to come. We wish the Chairman the very best of luck on what the future has in store for him. 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

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