Expect serious restructuring at the FCC under Trump.

It’s official. President Trump has named Ajit Pai the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.

Pai previously served at the agency as a commissioner under former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who announced in December that he would step down from his post once Donald Trump took office.

As chairman, Pai is expected to roll back the network neutrality rules that were passed in 2015, which prohibit internet providers, like Verizon, AT&T and Comcast*, from charging websites a fee to access internet users at faster speeds.

Last month, Pai said he wanted to “take a weed whacker” to current FCC regulations and noted that network neutrality’s “days are numbered.” Pai is known for being adamantly anti-regulation and pro-merger.

He voted against Charter’s attempt to buy Time Warner Cable last year on the grounds that the merger conditions set by the FCC imposed onerous regulations that needed to be left out.

The Trump administration signed off on a plan proposed by the president’s FCC transition team, according to a report in Broadcasting & Cable citing sources close to the agency. The plan would restructure the FCC to strip it of many of its key regulatory functions, including its consumer protection powers and its role in fostering competition.

Before coming to the FCC, where Pai has served as a commissioner since 2012, he worked at the Department of Justice and as general counsel for Verizon.

Pai does not need to be confirmed by the Senate, since he served on the FCC as a commissioner under President Obama, and he can begin acting as chairman immediately.

* Comcast’s NBCUniversal is a minority investor in Vox Media, which owns this site.


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