Ajit Pai expected to take over FCC with Trump’s inauguration
19 January 2017 | Alan Burkitt-Gray
Ajit Pai, the senior Republican on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is expected to become interim chairman tomorrow as Donald Trump starts his administration.
Pai, a lawyer who has been a member of the FCC since 2012, is also being tipped as the person Trump is likely to nominate as the permanent chairman, though he has a rival in fellow Republican Michael O’Rielly.
Tom Wheeler, President Barack Obama’s chairman of the FCC since 2013, will step down from the role with Trump’s inauguration tomorrow.
Pai, who is 44, met Trump earlier this week, though Trump’s transition team has given no details of the conversation. However Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer referred to Pai as “the current FCC chairman” when he spoke to reporters.
Pai is a Kansas-born lawyer who graduated in law from Harvard University and the University of Chicago law school. He spent three years as a trial attorney with the Department of Justice’s telecommunications task force, part of its antitrust division, and then became associate general counsel for Verizon.
He returned to the public sector in 2003 and joined the FCC in 2007, as deputy general counsel, associate general counsel and special advisor to the general counsel.
He believes in competition, and says that “the FCC should do everything it can to ensure that its rules reflect the realities of the current marketplace and basic principles of economics”. He adds: “The federal government must make it easier to for broadband providers to retire increasingly obsolete copper lines in favour of next-generation technologies like fibre. It must enable rural residents to have the same choice for stand-alone broadband typically found in cities.”
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