Scheming for a new FCC begins today in the senate

10 November 2020 by Steve Blum
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Nathan Simington is due to interview for the job of republican FCC commissioner today. The federal senate’s commerce committee is scheduled to consider what are now lame duck appointments to federal agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission. Even if the republican majority on the committee blesses Simington, he won’t be approved by the full senate unless republican FCC chair Ajit Pai agrees to step down before the end of the year. And maybe not then.

As a practical matter, the FCC is made up of three commissioners from the party holding the white house, and two from the other major party.… More

FCC chair Pai makes the case for rural 5G and basic broadband infrastructure subsidies

23 October 2019 by Steve Blum
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Pai mwc la 2019 22oct2019

Ajit Pai was at his geeky best yesterday as he played the big room at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Los Angeles. The Federal Communications Commission chair focused on topics he knows well – spectrum, network security, infrastructure deployment, service access – and mostly steered clear of weaknesses that have rightly drawn down a deluge of criticism on him: local government operations, common carrier/net neutrality policy and a taste for industry cheerleading.… More

FCC chair Pai sounds smarter when he's not the smartest guy in the room

19 September 2017 by Steve Blum
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Once he left the big stage at the Mobile World Congress Americas in San Francisco last week, Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai walked a couple of blocks to an event put on by the Lincoln Network, a Silicon Valley political club with a libertarian outlook. It was a much smaller stage, but he seemed completely at home in a room full of smart people – some even smarter than him – who would rather let the market sort things out than to try to fine tune the Digital Age using the blunt, mindless tools of government.… More

U.S. mobile show reboots with international scope and brains. Mostly

13 September 2017 by Steve Blum
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Rebranding and a return to San Francisco has reversed CTIA’s slide into trade show oblivion. Now known as the Mobile World Congress Americas and run by GSMA, the outfit that puts on the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February, the show is drawing a more international crowd and a better class of speakers. Or at least speakers that are living up to MWC’s standards.

The first keynote yesterday featured Carlos Slim Domit, the chairman of America Movil, which is the largest mobile telecoms company in Latin America, and the fourth largest in the world.… More

FCC chair needs to upgrade his competitive thinking

23 March 2017 by Steve Blum
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For a smart guy, Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai can be awfully obtuse at times. Particularly where telecommunications competition is concerned.
On the one hand he extolls its virtues, saying to a Pittsburgh audience last week that “a competitive free market is crucial to unleashing private-sector ingenuity”. Just so. But in that same speech, he endorsed giving government subsidies to incumbent telephone companies, called for less regulation of those monopolies and ripped the idea that spending money on building competitive infrastructure or supporting new competitors has any value.… More

Give me the money, then I'll give it to AT&T says Pai

16 March 2017 by Steve Blum
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In his “first major policy address” as chair of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai urged congress to channel broadband infrastructure spending through him. Pai spoke at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh yesterday, and focused almost entirely on broadband, with particular emphasis on the mobile variety.

Broadband infrastructure is at the top of his policy agenda. If congress decides to fund it, Pai thinks that the FCC should run the program and channel the money through its existing, incumbent-centric subsidy programs

Any direct funding for broadband infrastructure appropriated by Congress as part of a larger infrastructure package should be administered through the FCC’s Universal Service Fund (USF) and targeted to areas that lack high-speed Internet access…

…our track record is frankly better than that of other agencies.


FCC is still the privacy police, even without common carrier rules

9 March 2017 by Steve Blum
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Ajit Pai steered away from discussing the plans, or at least the intent, he has to roll back the Federal Communications Commission’s classification of broadband as a common carrier service during his first congressional appearance as chairman yesterday. But he did indicate that the FCC might not be washing its hands of all responsibility for regulating what Internet service providers do with private customer information.

His appearance in front of the U.S. senate’s commerce, science, and transportation committee came two days after he met with Donald Trump and a day after the news broke that the president had re-appointed him to another five year term on the commission.… More

Love or hate his agenda, but Pai makes good on transparency pledge

7 March 2017 by Steve Blum
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Less than six weeks into his term as chairman, Ajit Pai is making significant, and welcome, reforms to the way the Federal Communications Commission does business. There’s plenty of room to take issue with the substance of some of the decisions that the new republican FCC majority has made, or plans to make, but the way it’s going about doing it is far more transparent than past practices were, including particularly those of recently departed chairman Tom Wheeler.… More

FCC dismantles itself along with common carrier broadband rules

27 February 2017 by Steve Blum
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The common carrier rules imposed on Internet service providers in 2015 are now being peeled back a slice at a time by a very different Federal Communications Commission. On Thursday, the FCC voted on party lines to exempt ISPs with 250,000 or fewer subscribers from consumer transparency rules, and on Friday chairman Ajit Pai said that consumer privacy rules would be either put on hold or scrapped by the end of this week. Both the privacy and the transparency rules are descended from the 2015 common carrier decision.… More

Net neutrality on a fast track to oblivion at FCC

6 February 2017 by Steve Blum
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No doubt about intentions.

In his short time as Federal Communications Commission chairman, Ajit Pai hasn’t actually said he’s going to scrap the 2015 decision to classify broadband as a common carrier service, and with it the network neutrality rules that depend on it. But in comments he made last week and in the substance of his big news dump on Friday, it’s clear that he’s moving quickly in that direction.

Among the actions announced late Friday afternoon was the cancellation of investigations into the zero rating practices of AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and T-Mobile.… More