Verizon, CenturyLink Gush Over Trump’s FCC Chair Pick

President Trump has appointed Ajit Pai, an opponent of net neutrality, as the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

A telecommunications lawyer, Pai has served on the FCC since May 2012. Former chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democrat, stepped down last Friday. Wheeler advocated net neutrality, as well as regulations to increase competition.

FCC's Ajit Pai“I look forward to working with the new administration, my colleagues at the commission, members of Congress, and the American public to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans,” Pai said.

Last month, Pai said he hoped the Commission would eliminate many regulations, propose fewer new actions and seek guidance from Congress before taking many actions. He said the Commission should take a “weed whacker” to unneeded rules.

Kathy Grillo, Verizon’s senior vice president of public policy and government affairs, said Pai has been a “strong advocate of smart, forward-looking policies in the communications space, a steadfast supporter of issues including broadband expansion, particularly in rural areas, and a proponent of innovation and new ideas that will benefit consumers and the nation as a whole.”{ad}

“We believe Chairman Pai truly knows and understands the issues facing our industry, and is a critical thinker who will look for ways to help communications and technology companies fuel growth in the American economy,” she said.

John F. Jones, CenturyLink’s senior vice president for public policy and government relations, said Pai will bring a “much-needed free market approach to his new role.”

“Hopefully this will result in the thoughtful elimination of outdated, unnecessary federal regulations that stifle investment and no longer reflect rapidly evolving consumer demands and the entry of innovative, new competitors,” he said.

Genny Morelli, president of the Independent Telephone & Telecommunications Alliance (ITTA), said over the course of his tenure at the commission, Pai has proven himself to be a “tireless and thoughtful advocate for expanding broadband access to rural America.”

Jonathan Spalter, USTelecom’s president and CEO, said Pai is an “exceptional choice” to head the FCC.

“We share Commissioner Pai’s vision for a ‘broadband first’ future based on a bold but pragmatic strategy to erase the many regulatory barriers impeding the expansion of our nation’s communications infrastructure, and the jobs and economic opportunity that depend on it,” he said. “I am excited to work with the new chairman – as well as with the new administration and Congress – to advance policies, partnerships and …


… programs that will bring broadband’s benefits to all our families, communities and businesses, and ensure our nation’s telecommunications innovators can invest and compete on a level regulatory playing field.”

But not everyone has such a glowing opinion of Pai.{ad}

“Ajit Pai has been on the wrong side of just about every major issue that has come before the FCC during his tenure,” wrote Craig Aaron, CEO of Free Press, which calls itself a “nonpartisan organization fighting to save the free and open Internet” — and a staunch net neutrality supporter. “He’s never met a mega-merger he didn’t like or a public safeguard he didn’t try to undermine. … Pai has been an effective obstructionist who has always been eager to push out what the new presidential administration might call alternative facts in defense of the corporate interests he used to represent in the private sector. If Trump really wanted an FCC chairman who’d stand up against the runaway media consolidation that he himself decried in the AT&T/Time Warner deal, Pai would have been his last choice — though corporate lobbyists across the capital are probably thrilled.”

There are currently two vacancies on the FCC. Republicans control the Commission two to one.

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