Digital opportunity is the end goal, says FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.¹ In the above interview, Pai states, “Broadband is not a Republican issue, it is not a Democratic issue; it is an American issue.” He explains that providing digital opportunity requires that Internet is available to all who want it or, as he put in a February 7th, 2017 Medium article:
“I am committed, both by belief and by law, to ensuring that the agency is focused on the 21st century version of our 20th century charge: ‘to make available, so far as possible, to all the people of the United States, without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex, a rapid, efficient, Nation-wide, and world-wide wire and radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges.’”
Understanding what it takes to make broadband readily available was a motivation for his recent driving tour through the upper Midwest, which featured visits to traditional industrial stalwart cities like Detroit and Youngstown, as well as small hamlets such as Zelienople, Pennslyvania. This listening tour could be viewed as complementary to the newly formed Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (PDF).²
These efforts also speak to the use of public-private partnerships to build out broadband to underserved areas. To that end, Pai talks about his Gigabit Opportunity Zone concept and the incentives it would provide operators. He points out that some of the incentives include removing regulatory friction that sometimes makes projects uneconomical or delay the implementation of broadband. The Gigabit Opportunity is part of his over-arching Digital Empowerment Agenda.
And in a fun way to end the interview, Pai talks about his prolific and diverse Twitter feed, which includes a running commentary of the lighter side of parenting and seeing the world through the eyes and ears of a 3 and 5-year old, respectively.
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¹Apologies to Chairman Pai and viewers of the video, as this author forgot to plug in the microphone, so the audio quality of the above video is sub-par.
² As published in a 2/15/17 LinkedIn post, this author applied to be part of the BDAC. This was not discussed with Chairman Pai either on or off-camera.