FCC chairman Ajit Pai will step down on January 20

Image credit: Reason TV (YouTube)

Ajit Pai, who is currently serving as the chairman for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States, today announced his intention to step down from the role on January 20, 2021. That's the day when the new president of the United States will be sworn in, and since FCC commissioners are appointed by the President, it's not unusual for appointees to step down at the end of a presidency term.

Pai served as chairman of the FCC since January 2017, but was a commissioner since 2012. His tenure as FCC sparked quite a bit of controversy, however. Soon after being appointed, Pai announced plans to repeal net neutrality rules, which had classified internet access as a public utility in 2015. Pai himself starred in a controversial video promoting the repeal. While arguments could be in made in favor of or against the decision, the FCC ultimately voted to repeal the Title II classification in late 2017. Internet access was classified as an information utility under Title I, making it harder for the government to regulate ISPs. Some efforts were made to revert the decision, but they proved unsuccessful.

Following the decision, Ajit Pai had to cancel an appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in 2018 due to a number of death threats, with an arrest later being made in relation to the case.

Ajit Pai's tenure will also be remembered for the approval of T-Mobile's acquisition of Sprint, which has led to the latter being absorbed into the T-Mobile brand. The merger itself was controversial, with Democratic FCC commissioners expressing fears of job cuts and reduced competition. To address competition concerns, the new T-Mobile sold Boost Mobile to Dish, but some layoffs did end up happening earlier this year.

It's currently unknown who will succeed Ajit Pai in the role of FCC chairman, but we shouldn't have to wait long to find out.

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