Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is in Mississippi today as the FCC continues to monitor and work to develop new broadband technologies across the country, specifically in rural America.
During his visit to the Coast, Pai will tour a U.S. Navy facility, a Gulfport radio station and a cable broadband facility in Pascagoula. The trip is focused on the expansion of the coast’s infrastructure to further the growth of broadband in Mississippi. Pai says that as these efforts continue, it will strengthen communities and the country.
“Internet infrastructure can help close the digital divide and build a stronger community. Whether it’s schools that are using it to educate their students or hospitals that are using it to help their patients, there are so many ways that broadband, especially in rural areas, can improve our country’s health and economy.”
Regulation has been a topic of conversation ever since Pai took over as chairman of the FCC. He says that as he continues to travel across the country, and as a product of rural Kansas, he believes that regulation is not the way to allow opportunities to flourish.
“The most important mission of the FCC is that everyone has access to the internet. These heavy-handed regulations make it even harder for private companies to build a business case for building this infrastructure in rural areas,” Pai said. “I’ve always said that the FCC has a role in extending funding, and modernizing the rules to promote more rural broadband, and these Washington-based regulations are not the way to do it.”
The FCC’s stance on net neutrality has also become a widely debated topic since the department decided to roll back the rules which seek to ensure that internet services providers cannot slow down certain services for customers. While it is a complex issue, Pai says that the decision comes down to how consumers want the internet to advance.
“A lot of people have more of an emotional reaction, but ultimately, it comes down to ‘do you want the government to regulate the internet like a slow-moving utility?’ or ‘do you want it be a more light touch approach where the internet can better, faster, and cheaper?’” Pai asked.
There is a long process of how the rules have to be approved and tweaked, but before he could get to his explanation, Pai’s phone cut out and he gave a simple explanation as to how to fix that issue.
“This is part of the reason why we need to build more infrastructure,” Pai laughed.