Ajit Pai, the chair of the Federal Communications Commission, said Monday he plans to step down from his post as a commissioner on January 20 after eight years at the agency.
Pai was the first Asian-American to chair the FCC after President Donald Trump nominated him to lead the agency in 2017. He was appointed by former President Barack Obama and confirmed unanimously by the Senate in 2012 to serve as a commissioner.
Commissioners are appointed by the president to serve five year terms, except when filling an unexpired term, according to FCC.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve at the Federal Communications Commission, including as Chairman of the FCC over the past four years,” he said in a statement. He also credited FCC staff and fellow Commissioners to helping him execute his agenda.
“Together, we’ve delivered for the American people over the past four years: closing the digital divide; promoting innovation and competition, from 5G on the ground to broadband from space; protecting consumers; and advancing public safety,” Pai said.
Because of those actions, Pai argued the nation’s communications networks are “now faster, stronger, and more widely deployed than ever before.”
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During his tenure as chair, the commission has held five spectrum auctions as well as two rural broadband reverse auctions, including the recent Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.
Outside of rural broadband, Pai's tenure was also marked by events like the merger of telecom providers T-Mobile and Sprint as well as a fiery debate over net neutrality.
Control of the FCC will return to the Democrats when the Biden administration assumes office in late January, and the Senate will have to confirm a new chair appointed by Biden.
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