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FCC Chairman Pai Plans to Depart Commission at the End of Trump’s Term

By Rachel Jewett | November 30, 2020

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will step down from his position leading the commission when President-elect Joe Biden takes office, Pai announced in a statement Monday. Pai will step down on Inauguration Day — Jan. 20, 2021. Pai was appointed to a Republican position on the FCC by former President Barack Obama in 2012, and President Donald Trump appointed him chairman in January 2017. 

In his statement, Pai highlighted his work from commencing five spectrum auctions, two rural broadband reverse auctions, and designating 988 a national suicide hotline. Under Pai, the FCC also voted to roll back net neutrality regulations, and approved the Sprint and T-Mobile merger

“It’s also been an honor to work with my fellow commissioners to execute a strong and broad agenda,” Pai wrote in his statement. “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.” 

The FCC under Pai has taken an active role in regards to space and satellite regulations. Under Pai’s leadership, the commission voted to repurpose C-band spectrum, requiring satellite operators to clear the spectrum with incentive payments. The FCC also approved plans for various megaconstellations like SpaceX’s Starlink and Amazon Kuiper, approved Ligado’s plans for an L-band network, and voted to streamline satellite licensing regulations

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr praised Pai’s service in a statement: “Ajit took the helm of the FCC in 2017 at a time when U.S. leadership in 5G was in doubt, and his regulatory reforms enabled the private sector to build new, high-speed Internet connections at an unprecedented pace. With Internet speeds more than doubling under his leadership, America is now home to the strongest 5G platform in the world.”