Ajit Pai is the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. He was designated Chairman by
President Donald J. Trump in January 2017. He had previously served as Commissioner at the FCC, appointed by
then-President Barack Obama and confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate in May 2012.
Chairman Pai’s regulatory philosophy is informed by a few simple principles. Rules that reflect these
principles will result in more innovation, more investment, better products and services, lower prices, more
job creation, and faster economic growth.
Consumers benefit most from competition, not preemptive regulation. Free markets have delivered more
value to American consumers than highly regulated ones.
No regulatory system should indulge arbitrage; regulators should be skeptical of pleas to regulate
rivals, dispense favors, or otherwise afford special treatment.
Particularly given how rapidly the communications sector is changing, the FCC should do everything it
can to ensure that its rules reflect the realities of the current marketplace and basic principles of
As a creature of Congress, the FCC must respect the law as set forth by the legislature.
The FCC is at its best when it proceeds on the basis of consensus; good communications policy knows no
Broadband is critical in modern American life. Especially when it comes to innovation, the Internet has
leveled the playing field. It’s created a phenomenon that Chairman Pai calls the “democratization of
entrepreneurship.” With a good idea and a broadband connection, entrepreneurs anywhere can compete in ways
unthinkable a generation ago.
Yet too many Americans still don’t have broadband. They are left on the other side of the “digital
divide.” Chairman Pai has seen this for himself, from Barrow, Alaska to Fayetteville, West Virginia.
That’s why he has proposed a comprehensive plan to promote broadband deployment to all Americans. The
federal government must make it easier to for broadband providers to retire increasingly obsolete copper
lines in favor of next-generation technologies like fiber. It must enable rural residents to have the same
choice for stand-alone broadband typically found in cities. It must create a roadmap for state and local
governments so that companies that want to compete in the broadband market don’t have to jump through
unnecessary regulatory hoops in order to lay fiber to consumers. It must promote common-sense policies like
“Dig Once” and reform pole attachment rules to reduce the costs of building digital networks. It must
streamline the process for deploying wireless infrastructure, from big towers to small cells. It must free
up more licensed spectrum for use by wireless carriers and more unlicensed spectrum for things like Wi-Fi.
And it must preserve Internet freedom here and abroad, so that the online world can flourish free from
heavy-handed government intervention.
Chairman Pai has been an outspoken defender of First Amendment freedoms. When the FCC proposed to send
researchers into newsrooms to question why reporters cover some stories and not others, Chairman Pai sounded
the alarm. Soon after, the FCC canceled the study. Chairman Pai has also spoken out about threats to free
speech here and abroad and has warned against government efforts to regulate the marketplace of ideas.
Public safety is a top priority for Chairman Pai. He took action to ensure that consumers can reach
emergency services whenever they dial 911. He has also called on the FCC to help law enforcement combat the
rising threat posed by contraband cellphones in our jails and prisons. And he’s pushed for the advancement
of Next Generation 911, an Internet-based system which will help keep Americans safe.
Chairman Pai has fought to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse in federal programs. He was the first
commissioner to demand an end to corporate welfare in a recent major spectrum auction; the agency ultimately
agreed, saving taxpayers over $3 billion. He has been outspoken against the waste, fraud, and abuse in the
Lifeline program, leading an investigation into the issue. And he wants to make sure that every federal
program under the FCC’s purview gets the most bang for the buck.
Taking the Initiative and Getting Results
In addition to the accomplishments mentioned above, Chairman Pai was the first member of the FCC in over
two decades to call for revitalizing the AM radio band; the basic reforms he proposed were adopted in 2015.
He also urged the FCC to create a task force to study the “Internet Protocol Transition” and report on
obsolete rules that could be repealed; that task force was created. He proposed a way for the FCC to address
petitions filed by the public much more quickly; that “rocket docket” is now in place and has dramatically
sped up the agency’s decision-making. With respect to outside review and oversight, in at least half a dozen
high-profile cases in which he dissented, federal courts of appeals have upheld his position. And in other
such cases, one or both Houses of Congress has passed legislation consistent with his position.
Jenner & Block, LLP. Partner, 2011 – 2012
Federal Communications Commission. Deputy General Counsel, Associate General Counsel, and Special Advisor
to the General Counsel, 2007 – 2011
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Chief Counsel, Chairman Sam Brownback, Subcommittee on the Constitution,
Civil Rights, and Property Rights, 2005-2007
U.S. Department of Justice. Senior Counsel, Office of Legal Policy, 2004 – 2005
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Deputy Chief Counsel, Chairman Jeff Sessions, Subcommittee on
Administrative Oversight and the Court, 2003-2004
Verizon Communications Inc. Associate General Counsel, 2001 – 2003
U.S. Department of Justice. Trial Attorney (Attorney General’s Honors Program), Antitrust Division,
Telecommunications Task Force, 1998 – 2001
Hon. Martin L.C. Feldman, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Law Clerk, 1997 –
Chairman Pai graduated with honors from Harvard University in 1994 and from the University of Chicago Law
School in 1997, where he was an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review and won the Thomas R. Mulroy
Prize. In 2010, Pai was one of 55 individuals nationwide chosen for the 2011 Marshall Memorial Fellowship, a
leadership development initiative of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
The son of immigrants from India, Chairman Pai grew up in Parsons, Kansas. He now lives in Arlington,
Virginia, with his wife, Janine; son, Alexander; and daughter, Annabelle.