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Chairman Pai hints at FCC revolution

Ajit Pai

New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has offered a helping hand to telcos at the beginning of his regulatory tenure, but has cast some shadows over net neutrality.

According to Reuters, Pai has vowed to streamline the regulatory rule book but has remained unusually coy regarding his plans to tackle net neutrality. The Chairman has not stepped away from the net neutrality battle completely, though he has refused to put any time scales on plans to scrap the rules themselves.

This non-committal to the battle is somewhat of a different stance than what we’re used to, considering Pai seemingly made it a personal mission to make life hell for the Democrat Commissioners who were trying to pass net neutrality regulations in the first place. Is this a sign of Pai softening his stance on net neutrality or is it just more difficult than he previously assumed to remove the rules? We are leaning towards the latter.

What has become more transparent is a more hands off approach from the FCC.

“To remove unnecessary or counterproductive regulations from the books,” Pai said at his first open meeting this week. “We want to make sure that our regulations match the realities of the modern marketplace.”

It’s a useful statement for the Chairman to make as it means everything and nothing. There are no commitments whatsoever, but a broad brush stroke to slim down regulations which have limited the scope of telcos in the states to date. Pai consistently opposed rules on net neutrality, broadband privacy and media ownership limits when his predecessor Tom Wheeler was in play, but the politician is seemingly working on his skills of diplomacy.

The episode is typical of what we have come to expect from current American politics. It’s a show for the press and the general public, and with Pai the new lead, he’s now playing hard-to-get with the eagerly watching audience. Pai is clearly from different stock than Wheeler, and net neutrality is still on shaky grounds, but maybe Pai’s new playful flirting with the audience is a sign that undoing the Wheeler legacy at the FCC is a more difficult job than first thought.

You can read further analysis on this at Light Reading here.


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