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A Spectrum of Free-Market Success

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Ajit Pai, has announced he will be stepping down on January 20 with the change of administrations.

Plenty of conservative and\or Republican officials claim fealty to free market, limited-government principles, but then repeatedly fail to put those principles in action. Perhaps no federal official in recent memory has managed to demonstrate the superiority of property rights and free markets as well as Chairman Pai.

In his four years as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Pai’s free market, limited-government approach has driven a string of policy successes far too numerous for us to list in this TechByte. So we’ll highlight just a few, but we’ll discuss more of them on December 16 during our Zoom policy briefing with Chairman Pai.

Most important to us was his Restoring Internet Freedom order, which overturned the Obama administration’s short-lived but heavy-handed regulation of the internet under Title II.

Much as we and others predicted, investment in broadband infrastructure slowed as a result of the Obama-era regulation. When the FCC returned to its longstanding, bipartisan light-touch regulatory framework that has characterized the internet from the very beginning, investment once again surged.

And none of the sky-is-falling Chicken Little scaremongering from proponents of net neutrality regulation has happened. In fact, average broadband speeds have increased dramatically since the Restoring Internet Freedom order, and more people have access to broadband than ever before.

The FCC has further eliminated and modernized a long list of regulations under Pai that in many cases predated World War II. It’s somewhat of a shock to realize that all previous FCCs left these long-outdated regulations in place.

Pai has also instituted significant transparency reforms, releasing agenda items and the language of proposed orders well in advance, as opposed to the longstanding tradition of springing such items at the last minute, guaranteeing that only lobbyists had advance notice. And he created the Office of Economics and Analytics in order to ensure that FCC regulations and orders at least undergo economic scrutiny and cost-benefit analysis.

Under Chairman Pai, significant strides have been made in bridging the “digital divide,” one of which was the Connect America Fund Auction, which provided $1.5 billion for rural broadband in 45 states.

Huge swathes of spectrum were freed up by the FCC during Pai’s chairmanship, which makes possible the continued expansion of wireless access and innovation. And he also took the lead in protecting national security in the communications supply chain by prohibiting the purchase of equipment from Chinese companies like ZTE and Huawei with ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

Please join us in thanking Chairman Pai for his incredible demonstration of the superiority of free market policies in encouraging investment and innovation and join us on December 16 as we discuss these successes with Chairman Pai.