Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has announced he will step down on January 20.
Chairman Pai has presided over the FCC for the last four years, enacting a number of controversial changes. Most notably, Pai oversaw the repeal of the Obama-era net neutrality rules, as well as pursued efforts to block states from implementing their own. At the same time, under Pai’s oversight, the FCC focused on closing the digital divide and paving the way for faster 5G adoption.
Given the incoming Biden/Harris administration’s stand on net neutrality, and tech in general, it is not surprising that Chairman Pai is planning to resign. In is statement announcing his departure Pai highlighted his accomplishments, both personal and professional:
It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve at the Federal Communications Commission, including as Chairman of the FCC over the past four years. I am grateful to President Trump for giving me the opportunity to lead the agency in 2017, to President Obama for appointing me as a Commissioner in 2012, and to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and the Senate for twice confirming me. To be the first Asian-American to chair the FCC has been a particular privilege. As I often say: only in America.
I also deeply appreciate the chance to have worked alongside the FCC’s talented staff. They are the agency’s best assets, and they have performed heroically, especially during the pandemic. It’s also been an honor to work with my fellow Commissioners to execute a strong and broad agenda. Together, 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.
Although it seems likely the incoming administration will reinstate net neutrality rules, it remains to be seen what other changes or rollbacks may be in store for current FCC policies.