The World According To FCC Chair Ajit Pai

This week is “Tech Week” at The White House, with Administration officials conducting meetings with a broad group of tech leaders and investors to discuss the effect regulations have on emerging technologies, the challenge of crafting immigration policy for high-skilled workers, and other tech-related policy issues. In the spirit of “Tech Week,” we here at Delve have taken a look at some of the key efforts of the Trump Administration in this area of policy.

Evaluating Trump’s approach to tech policy requires understanding the personnel he has appointed to work on those issues. One of the most significant leaders in setting Trump’s tech agenda is Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai.

First appointed to one of the Republican FCC seats in May 2012, Pai spent most of the past couple years fighting President Obama’s FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, on several issues, only to get outvoted and ignored in partisan fashion. Pai is now promising a more fair and inclusive process to all sides because he believes, “The commission is much stronger when it speaks with a unified voice.”

More importantly, now that he is the Chairman, Pai has a checklist of policy initiatives he is working through:

  • Pai has already accomplished several things, including expanded investment in rural broadband infrastructure through approval of $170 million in federal grants and limiting the scope of the FCC’s authority on prison phone calls and other issues.
  • There are also important items on tap for Pai, including the creation of the Office of Economics and Data (OED) by the end of 2017 to help institutionalize an economics-based approach to the FCC’s decision making.
  • But on some of the biggest issues, Pai’s approach remains unknown, including how he will replace net neutrality regulations and deregulate broadband development.

Pai has argued the FCC, “should do everything it can to ensure that its rules reflect the realities of the current marketplace.” If he is successful in translating his philosophy into real policy, the tech world will take on a completely different look. As part of Delve’s ongoing analysis of the Trump Administration through The Administration Project (TAP), we prepared a brief note for our TAP subscribers that goes in depth on Chairman Pai’s agenda and how it will shape the tech industry. As a loyal TL;DR reader, we’re offering you access to the full note for free here.

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