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FCC chair promises return to ‘light-touch’ regulation

Ajit Pai

Ajit Pai

The FCC’s new chairman Ajit Pai has promised a return to a “light-touch approach to regulation”, claiming the FCC has made clear mistakes in the past two years.

Speaking at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Pai – who was appointed by Trump to lead the US media and telecoms regulator in late January – said that the US is in the process of returning to the style of regulation that produced “tremendous innovation and investment” throughout the internet ecosystem.

“Two years ago the United States deviated from our successful, light-touch regulatory approach. The FCC decided to apply 1930s utilities-style regulation to today’s broadband networks. Rules that were developed to tame a 20th century monopoly were imported into the 21st century to regulate the internet,” said Pai.

“This reversal wasn’t necessary to resolve any problem. We were not living in a digital dystopia. The policies of the Clinton administration, the Bush administration and the first term of the Obama administration had produced a free and open internet and strong incentives for private investment in broadband infrastructure.

“Two years later, it is evident that the FCC made a mistake. Our new approach injected tremendous uncertainty into the broadband market and uncertainty is the enemy of growth. After the FCC embraced utilites-style regulation, the United States experienced the first ever decline in broadband investment outside of a recession.”

Pai said that today the torch of the FCC has been passed to a new generation that is “dedicated to renewal, as well as change.”