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Chairman Ajit Pai Calls His Federal Communications Commission ‘The Most Aggressive in History’

Elijah Labby

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Photo of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai in May 2018 by the FCC

June 19, 2020 — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said that the current agency is “the most aggressive FCC in history in terms of spectrum.”

He cited 2017's 600 MegaHertz (MHz) auction, which earned the agency $19.8 billion, as well as three millimeter-wave auctions that netted around $10 billion.

He also mentioned the upcoming Citizens Broadband Radio Service auction, which will see the agency auction off radio frequencies in the vicinity of the 3.5 GigaHertz (GHz) spectrum and several unlicensed spectrum initiatives.

Critics have accused Pai’s FCC of being reckless with its hastened approval of new spectrum allocations, as well as its aggressive selloff practices.

In early May, representatives from every military branch criticized the agency’s decision to auction portions of the so-called C-Band — generally understood to be between 3.7 GHz and 4.2 GHz — to satellite telecommunications company Ligado, claiming the allocation would interfere with military GPS systems.

But Pai and representatives from the FCC dismissed the concerns, saying they were “baseless fear-mongering.”

Pai reiterated that sentiment on Thursday, pointing out that military agencies had the Ligado proposal, “and thus an opportunity to comment on it, for almost half a year before the FCC finally adopted it.”

He also pushed back on Department of Defense suggestions that stricter interference standards be implemented.

“Applied more broadly, use of this metric would undermine the commission’s ability to promote efficient use of spectrum and effectively prohibit wireless communications as they stand today in many bands,” Pai wrote.

“It would impede, if not implode, the commission’s ability to reallocate new spectrum to 5G and other next-generation services.”

Pai also spoke about the upcoming Rural Digital Opportunity Fund reverse auction scheduled to begin on October 29. That auction aims to close the rural digital divide by investing around $20 billion in telecom carriers across the country. He said that the auction was part of an ongoing effort to make sure that everyone across the country could access low-cost broadband.

Pai detailed several upcoming initiatives, but emphasized that “in the meantime, looking forward, what I want to do is to make sure that we close that digital divide.”

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