Trump Elevates GOP Commissioner Ajit Pai, A Net Neutrality Critic, to FCC Chairman
In one of his first moves in office, President Donald Trump has appointed a senior FCC commissioner, Republican Ajit Pai, to head up the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Pai, who has served on the FCC under former President Barack Obama for more than three years, was one of two Republican commissioners on the FCC.
Pai is a well-known critic of net neutrality, the regulations that classify broadband providers as "common carriers" that are subject to regulation, as well as the rules that require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally. Pai has also been more supportive of communications industry consolidation than his Democratic FCC counterparts.
Tom Wheeler, the 31st Chairman of the FCC appointed by Obama, has resigned.
Pai, alongside fellow GOP Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, said in December that under the Trump administration, they planned to "revisit" the net neutrality rules "as soon as possible."
Before his appointment with the FCC, Pai has served on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee as chief counsel, senior counsel for the Department of Justice, and he worked for two years as a lawyer for telecom giant Verizon.
Politico first reported Trump's latest appointment on Friday afternoon.
In November, Politico reported that Trump would most likely appoint telecom consultant Jeffrey Eisenach to fill Wheeler's spot. Eisenach has been leading the Trump's FCC transition team since November. Similar to Pai, Eisenach is also a vocal critic of net neutrality, one of Wheeler's policies.
The FCC currently has a 2 to 1 GOP majority, and Trump can nominate two more commissioners to fill the remaining open seats.
CRN, in November, reported that solution providers believed that net neutrality regulations would be relaxed or dismantled under a Trump administration.