Ajit Pai was nominated to the Federal Communications Commission by President Barack Obama and on May 7, 2012 was confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate.
Commissioner Pai’s focus is on creating a regulatory environment in which competition and innovation will flourish, thus benefitting American consumers. He believes that it is vital for the FCC to adopt policies that will give private firms the strongest incentive to raise and invest capital; to develop new products and services; and to compete in established and new markets. Specifically, Commissioner Pai is working to remove uncertainty that can deter businesses and investors from taking risks, to revisit outdated regulations, and to set clear, modernized rules for the road. These steps will result in consumers enjoying better products at lower prices and the communications industry contributing to faster economic growth and more job creation.
Commissioner Pai also believes that the FCC must act with dispatch to reflect the pace of change in today’s marketplace. Faced with an industry as vibrant and dynamic as today’s communications sector, the Commission must be careful not to cling to twentieth century approaches in addressing the technological landscape of the twenty-first century. Thus, for example, it is a priority of Commissioner Pai to increase promptly the availability of spectrum for high-value uses.
Commissioner Pai’s regulatory approach has been shaped by his decade and a half of experience in communications, law, and policy.
Between 2007 and 2011, Commissioner Pai held several positions in the FCC’s Office of General Counsel, serving most prominently as Deputy General Counsel. In this role, he had supervisory responsibility over several dozen lawyers in the Administrative Law Division and worked on a wide variety of regulatory and transactional matters involving the wireless, wireline, cable, Internet, media, and satellite industries.
Commissioner Pai’s career outside of the FCC has spanned the private and public sectors. With respect to the private sector, Pai worked in the Washington, DC office of Jenner & Block LLP, where he was a Partner in the Communications Practice until being sworn in as a Commissioner. Years earlier, he served as Associate General Counsel at Verizon Communications Inc., where he handled competition matters, regulatory issues, and counseling of business units on broadband initiatives.
Commissioner Pai also has served in all three branches of the federal government. After moving to Washington, DC in 1998, his first post was with the United States Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division as an Honors Program trial attorney on the Telecommunications Task Force. There, he worked on proposed mergers and acquisitions and on novel requests for regulatory relief following the enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. He later returned to the Department of Justice to serve as Senior Counsel in the Office of Legal Policy. Pai has worked on Capitol Hill as well, first as Deputy Chief Counsel to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, and later as Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights. Immediately following law school, he clerked for the Honorable Martin L.C. Feldman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Commissioner Pai received a B.A. with honors from Harvard University in 1994 and a J.D. from the University of Chicago in 1997, where he was an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review and won the Thomas J. Mulroy Prize. In 2010, Pai was one of 55 individuals nationwide chosen for the 2011 Marshall Memorial Fellowship, a leadership development initiative of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
The son of immigrants from India, Commissioner Pai grew up in Parsons, Kansas. He now lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife, Janine, son, Alexander and daughter, Annabelle.