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Federal Communications Commission Chair Pai to step down in January

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced he intends to leave the regulatory agency on Jan. 20, 2021, when the President-Elect Joe Biden will move into the White House.

Pai, who since Hurricane María has been responsive to the problems Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands faced in the wake of the deadly storm, is following tradition of making his seat available for the new administration to fill.

President Barack Obama named Pai as an FCC Commissioner in 2012, and he was promoted to Chairman in 2017 by President Donald Trump. He is the first Asian-American to chair the agency that oversees telecom matters across the U.S. mainland and its territories.

“I deeply appreciate the chance to have worked alongside the FCC’s talented staff.  They are the agency’s best assets, and they have performed heroically, especially during the pandemic,” he said in a statement issued Monday.

During his tenure, Pai paid closed attention to the needs of Puerto Rico and the USVI, especially to providing better broadband access and restoring the networks that Hurricane María knocked out during its trek across the Caribbean in September 2017.

As this media outlet reported, Pai began working closely with local telecom authorities and industry executives immediately after the storm, to assess the damage and advance the first $77 million in emergency recovery funding. He was among the first White House cabinet members to visit the island, making the trip in November 2017.

He followed that up with a second visit in March 2018, to oversee the status of the recovery work. He returned in May 2018, and the following month, Pai unveiled the “Uniendo a Puerto Rico” and the “Connect USVI Fund” to make some $750 million available to telecom providers on the islands. That allocation was increased to $950 million over 10 years in September 2019, and the first round of funding was announced last month.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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