FCC Head Ajit Pai: Killing Net Neutrality Will Set the Internet Free

Promises that "we're going to see an explosion in the kinds of connectivity and the depth of that connectivity" like never before.


Todd Krainin, Reason

In an exclusive interview today just hours after announcing his plan to repeal "Net Neutrality" rules governing the actions of Internet-service providers (ISPs) and mobile carriers, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai has an in-your-face prediction for his critics: "Over the coming years, we're going to see an explosion in the kinds of connectivity and the depth of that connectivity," he said this afternoon. "Ultimately that means that the human capital in the United States that's currently on the shelf—the people who don't have digital opportunity—will become participants in the digital economy."

Pai stressed that regulating the Internet under a Title II framework originally created in the 1930s had led to less investment in infrastructure and a slower rate of innovation. "Since the dawn of the commercial internet, ISPs have been investing as much as they can in networks in order to upgrade their facilities and to compete with each other," he says. "Outside of a recession we've never seen that sort of investment go down year over year. But we did in 2015, after these regulations were adopted." In a Wall Street Journal column published today, Pai says Title II was responsible for a nearly 6 percent decline in broadband network investment as ISPs saw compliance costs rise and the regulatory atmosphere become uncertain. In his interview with Reason, Pai stressed that the real losers under Net Neutrality were people living in rural areas and low-income Americans who were stuck on the bad end of "the digital divide."

Proponents of Net Neutrality maintain that rules that went into effect in 2015 are the only thing standing between rapacious businesses such as Comcast, Verizon (where Pai once worked), and Spectrum and an Internet choking on throttled traffic, expensive "fast lanes," and completely blocked sites that displease whatever corporate entity controls the last mile of fiber into your home or business. Pai says that is bunk and noted that today's proposed changes, which are expected to pass full FCC review in mid-December, return the Internet to the light-touch regulatory regime that governed it from the mid-1990s until 2015.

"It's telling that the first investigations that the prior FCC initiated under these so-called Net Neutrality rules were involving free data offerings," says Pai, pointing toward actions initiated by his predecessor against "zero-rating" services such as T-Mobile's Binge program, which didn't count data used to stream Netflix, Spotify, and a host of other services against a customer's monthly data allowance. "To me it's just absurd to say that the government should stand in the way of consumers who want to get, and companies that want to provide, free data."

The FCC is not completely evacuating its oversight role. ISPs, he says, will need to be completely transparent with customers about all practices related to prioritizing traffic, data caps, and more. Pai believes that market competition for customers will prove far more effective in developing better and cheaper services than regulators deciding what is best for the sector. "In wireless," he says, "there's very intense competition—you have four national carriers and any number of regional carriers competing to provide 4G LTE, and a number of different services. In those marketplaces where there's not as much competition as we'd like to see, to me at least, the solution isn't to preemptively regulate as if it were a monopoly, as if we're dealing with 'Ma Bell,' but to promote more competition."

Pai says that one of the major mistakes of Net Neutrality is its pre-emptive nature. Rather than allowing different practices to develop and then having regulators intervene when problems or harms to customer arise, Net Neutrality is prescriptive and thus likely to serve the interests of existing companies in maintaining a status quo that's good for them. In terms of enforcement of anti-competitive practices, Pai says the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is better equipped to deal with problems. "The FTC can take action even in the absence of finding harm, consumer harm," he notes, "so even if consumers aren't harmed, if [FTC regulators] deem a particular business practice, any business practice to be unfair or deceptive, they have authority under Section 5 to take action against it. So that's a pretty powerful tool that they've used even in the last couple of years against telecom providers and others in the internet economy whom they believe are not protecting consumers."

In a wide-ranging conversation (listen below as a Reason Podcast), I asked Pai to lay down specific benchmarks by which consumers might judge whether repealing Net Neutrality rules isn't a mistake. He pointed to factors such as the number of fixed and mobile connections, the average costs and speeds of internet plans, and the volume of capital investment as indicators by which his policy could be held accountable.

He also stressed that the increasing shift from traditional ISPs to mobile wireless will benefit from a looser regulatory framework, including the opening up of spectrum that is either under-utilized, off-limits, or otherwise gathering dust. "We're entering a new era of technology known of 5G and that's going to involve massive amounts of investment in networks and spectrum. And that's the kind of thing that will be a big breakthrough for consumers on the wireless side." Referencing Benedict Evans, a partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Pai believes that "mobile is eating the world": "All of these services are migrating to wireless, and particularly in the future, whether we're talking about low-bandwidth applications, like monitoring yogurt trucks that drive across the countryside, or high bandwidth applications like Virtual Reality, a lot of this is going to be taking place over wireless."

Audio production by Ian Keyser.

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This is a rush transcript—check all quotes against the audio for accuracy.

Nick Gillespie: Okay. Let's get right to it. The big fear that many net neutrality proponents have is that once you let internet service providers and wireless carriers do whatever they want, the internet is going to turn into something worse than cable TV with some content being pushed over others because the parent company owns it, Comcast and Universal, that type of thing. Other content is going to be choked off because they're not paying enough to get best service right to the end, or it's just going to be completely blocked. Why is that wrong?

Ajit Pai: It's wrong for two different reasons. First, it's not the experience we had before these regulations were imposed in 2015. We were not living in some digital dystopia before then when ISPs were blocking lawful content. Secondly, we require under this proposal to require ISPs to be transparent about their business practices. If they're blocking or throttling or doing any of that, they have to disclose it. Secondly, we empower the Federal Trade Commission to take aggressive action based on its consumer protection and competition authorities to take action against cases like that. If it's network operator preferencing its own content, that's something the FTC can look at. If it's other companies blocking other content.

Nick Gillespie: Would that be legal though, under these rules? And should it be legal?

Ajit Pai: No, exactly. We're requiring it to be transparent and additionally to the extent that a company is unlawfully throttling traffic, the FTC can look into that. In fact, the last couple of years the FTC has done that with respect to a few wireless carriers that were allegedly throttling traffic. They said, "This is not a lawful practice. We're going to sanction you for it."

Nick Gillespie: But, would it be an unlawful practice if you get rid of net neutrality? Because there might be, or if a carrier says, "You know what? Yeah, we are going to throttle traffic because we want to privilege certain other services," would that be lawful as long as it's transparent?

Ajit Pai: Again, they have to disclose it and secondly, to the extent if they're doing something anti-competitive, and it's very fact dependent, but the FTC has a longstanding set of principles that it uses to evaluate conduct like that and so it could well be competitive. It just depends on the facts.

Nick Gillespie: Okay. Or it could be that they're abrogating their own self declared terms of service. If they say, "Hey, we're not going to throttle anything," you find out they're throttling or privileging content, then they're in trouble because of their own promises.

Ajit Pai: Correct. But there are some ways that it can be pro-competitive. For example, if they say, We will allow you to stream all of these services exempt from your data limits," then that's the kind of thing that would be good for consumers. So, we don't want to prohibit different pro-competitive offerings like that.

Nick Gillespie: To get to that point, that's already happening under net neutrality, isn't it? Where certain, particularly wireless carriers privilege. You can stream on T-Mobile or something, a particular set of Netflix or music services that are not subject to your monthly cap.

Ajit Pai: That is what a lot of the companies have proposed, such as T-Mobile, and it's telling that the first investigations that the prior FCC initiated under these so called net neutrality rules were involving free data offerings. To me it's just absurd to say that the government should stand in the way of consumers who want to get and companies that want to provide free data. That's the kind of thing that is good for the marketplace and I don't think we should prevent that kind of service.

Nick Gillespie: Where is the competition in internet services? Another major complaint, and these are things that make a lot of sense on face value, most people don't really have two equally good options, much less three or four options to pick and choose from when it comes to an ISP. You're stuck with whatever cable company got the monopoly 30 or even 40 years ago, when local municipalities handed this stuff out. Is that wrong? A lot of what you're talking about is that market's which are based on competition drive innovation and they bring Joseph Schumpeter 101. They bring more and better services increasingly at cheaper and cheaper prices but where's the competition in internet services?

Ajit Pai: Two different points. Number one, it does depend upon the marketplace. For example, in wireless there's very intense competition. You have four national carriers and any number of regional carriers. You're competing to provide 4G LTE and a number of different services. In those marketplaces where there is not as much competition as we'd like to see, to me at least, the solution isn't to preemptively regulate as if it were a monopoly, as if we're dealing with Ma Bell but it's to promote more competition. Ironically enough, these Title two regulations, squeeze the smaller companies, the smaller internet service providers that want to enter the marketplace and gain a foothold against the big guys and they have told us, a number of them, once you see the order you'll see that they've written us and saying, it's very difficult for us to raise to capital. It's almost impossible for us to get a rate of return on our investment if these regulations are in place.

Ironically enough these heavy handed regulations disproportionately hurt the smaller companies. The big incumbents will always have fleets of lawyers and accountants to deal with these regulations. It's the smaller companies. And I've visited some of them. Even government owned ISPs in Iowa, for instance, that have told me that this their ability to build a business.

Nick Gillespie: In a Wall Street Journal piece that ran today, you talked about how the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, which represents small fixed ISPs essentially, or wireless companies rather, that generally operate in rural America, 80% of their members say they incurred additional expenses in complying with the Title two or the net neutrality rules, they had to later reduce network expansion to later reduce services and had because the rules cost money to comply with. You also pointed out and you touched on this, 19 municipal wifi services and one major company stopped rolling out an out of home wifi service. Net neutrality rules have had a cost. What was the major company that said that it wouldn't roll an out of home wifi service?

Ajit Pai: That was Charter.

Nick Gillespie: Okay.

Ajit Pai: It goes by Spectrum in a number of markets.

Nick Gillespie: Right. Then the other thing that you talked about was that in the Wall Street Journal piece, in the two years after the FCC's decision, after the 2015 decision, in the years after that, broadband network dropped by almost 6%, the first time a decline has happened outside of an recession. What does that mean?

Ajit Pai: Historically since the dawn of commercial internet, ISPs have been investing as much as they can into networks in order to upgrade their facilities and to compete with each other. What we saw, and so outside of a recession we've never seen that kind of investment go down year over year. But we did after 2015, once these regulations were adopted. One of things that our economic analysis finds in the order is that these Title two regulations lowered the willingness of companies to invest and that unfortunately has a very bad impact on consumers who are on the wrong side of what I call the digital divide. Rural consumers, low income urban consumers, these are the folks for whom it's very difficult as it is for a private company to build a business case for deploying infrastructure to them. They are going to be on the front lines if these heavy handed regulations persist. That's part of the reason why I proposed repealing them.

Nick Gillespie: What facts or developments over the next two years or the next five years, the next 10 years, down the road would convince you that the repeal of net neutrality was a bad mistake or a failure? Be specific. What are the benchmarks that we can hold you or the FCC to in the coming years?

Ajit Pai: Absolutely. My top line message when it comes to regulation is that the FCC should preemptively regulate only in cases where we have a market failure. If in the context of the internet we did see a market failure, we saw ISPs all over, of all sizes, behaving in uncompetitive ways, if we saw consumer being harmed, those are the kinds of things that we would want to take account of. We certainly don't want to see that and my prediction is that these rules will actually take us in the opposite direction from that. They'll promote more investment and competition.

Nick Gillespie: One benchmark would be is if we see persistent lower capital investment year over year. That would be a sign. And it might not because of repeal of net neutrality but that's a bad sign. Would it also be things like the slower speed of average connections, cost of plans, number of fixed and mobile connections, either flat lining or going down? Are those the other types of things that we should look for?

Ajit Pai: Those are some of the indicia that we would take into account. Similar to make sure that we don't see widespread blocking of lawful content. That's not something I think anybody wants to see. That's not the internet we've had and I don't expect that's the internet we will have.

Nick Gillespie: That is, and I'm thinking of, I'm hearing defenders of net neutrality whispering in my ear as I say this, there's the idea that before the, the first time when net neutrality was pushed by the FCC was in 2010 but then it was various court challenges et cetera in 2015 it becomes a reality where the internet is being regulated under Title two, these old telecommunications rules from the 30s. Can we rely on the experience of the internet from the early 90s or from the telecommunications act of 1996 until 2015? Is that the internet that we'll go back to?

Ajit Pai: I believe so. We will have a free and open internet as we had before 2015. Moreover we're going to see it become even better going forward and the reason is that with technological innovation we're entering, on the wireless side for example, a new era of technology known as 5G. That's going to require massive amounts of investment in networks and in spectrum and that's the kind of thing that will be a big breakthrough for consumers on the wireless side.

Nick Gillespie: Do you think, are we entering an era this is one of the criticisms of net neutrality is that it was essentially partly pushed by industries or companies that have a vested interest in things the way they are now. And that includes Netflix, it includes Google, it includes to a certain degree Amazon. That they wanted to stop the internet development as it is now and that they were all about fixed connections. Are we going to be, do you think it's likely that we're going to be entering an era of wireless where most things are based on wireless connectivity?

Ajit Pai: I think so. There is one particularly insightful person up in Silicon Valley who's talked about how, as he puts it, that mobile is eating the world. How all of these services are migrating to wireless and how particularly in future whether we are talking about low bandwidth applications like wireless monitoring yogurt trucks as they drive across the countryside or high bandwidth applications like virtual reality. A lot of this is going to be taking place over wireless.

Nick Gillespie: And mobile stuff. I'm sorry, I confuse the terminology. That the idea that …

Ajit Pai: Oh no, no, no, mobile's actually right.

Nick Gillespie: And that we're going to be, we're already, I can actually say this at Reason's traffic, more and more it's mobile devices as opposed to people looking at their computer at work or at home. What else has to happen for 5G? Are there other regulatory changes that have to happen for mobile wireless to go gigantic?

Ajit Pai: A lot of them. Number one, the FCC needs to make more spectrum available. It doesn't help if you have a bottleneck in terms of spectrum. We're aggressively moving to get as much as we can out into the commercial marketplace. Both for license, the cell carriers and the like. But also unlicensed, the next generation of wifi. The second thing is we also need to make it easier to deploy a lot of the infrastructure. The future of wireless networks are not going to be ones where you'll see a bunch of 100 foot cell towers, instead you'll see hundreds if not thousands of small cells, some of which you could even hold in your hand. You won't even notice them on the sides of buildings and the like. But to deploy those, we need to make sure that we don't impose the same onerous regulations that we do for a big cell tower. They shouldn't have to go through environmental and historic preservation review, for instance. We don't want to states and localities also imposing moratoria on these kinds of siting applications. Those are some of the things that have to happen.

Nick Gillespie: That was common early on, going back 20, 30, 40 years when cellphones were really becoming popular, a lot of places put limits on where cell towers could be located or how many. When you say you don't want them to have to go through historic review committees in small towns and stuff like that, is that based on the fact that these will be unobtrusive or what is the rationale for that?

Ajit Pai: Part of it is that they will be unobtrusive in a lot of cases. And part of it is also that we don't want to have a patchwork where it's not just the federal government but 50 state governments, any number of municipalities and 567 federally recognized tribes, each are trying to have a bite of the regulatory apple, so to speak. If we really want to claim leadership in the 5G future and compete against countries like China and Korea and Japan, which have a much more, they are very eager to take the lead on 5G, then we need to make sure that our regulatory framework is streamlined. Preserves the public interest but also incentivizes investment. That's not where we are right now.

Nick Gillespie: I see this as the next battleground in fair weather federalism? Because it sounds like you so you're going to have a Republican Congress, I assume. Or role making apparatus that is saying, "No, the federal government really should control all of this." And then you'll have Democrats who are normally adverse to states' rights saying, "No, no, it's gotta be devolved down." Do think that's a likely development?

Ajit Pai: That could always happen but to me at least, the internet is inherently at this point, broadband internet is inherently an interstates service and interstate services traditionally the touchstone for federal regulation. My hope is that we can put the politics aside and focus on exactly how these networks operate and if we do that then there's a strong case for federal government leadership here.

Nick Gillespie: Your plan will, according to a write up in Politico, and I think this is accurate, it quote, "will jettison rules that prohibit internet service providers from blocking or slowing web traffic or creating so called paid internet fast lanes." Question for you, do you think fast lanes will become a thing? What is the value of a internet fast lane?

Ajit Pai: The answer to the first is we're not sure. We've never seen them before and that's part of the reason why I thought the rule in particular was, that was adopted in 2015, was very premature banning something that's simply didn't exist. But secondly, going forward, we could see pro-competitive and anti-competitive cases for those kinds of prioritization arrangements. For example, if you want to prioritize traffic in your healthcare provider that needs to monitor patients remotely, that's the kind of traffic that should take precedence you might think, over cat videos and the like. Conversely we don't want to see cases in which companies are behaving anti-competitively in structuring those kinds of prioritization arrangements. You could make a case either way and that's part of the reason why the federal trade commission is the right agency to handle that because that's essentially an anti-trust question. That's something that have long experience in taking care of.

Nick Gillespie: Mentioning the FTC though, isn't it also much more limited than the FCC was under Title two? It really doesn't have the same scope of authority to regulate, it can't do as much, can it?

Ajit Pai: To the contrary it actually can do even more in a lot of cases. For example, they can take action even in the absence of a finding of harm, consumer harm. Even if consumers aren't harmed, if they deem a particular business practice, any business practice to be unfair or deceptive, they have authority under section five to take action against it. That's a pretty powerful tool that they've used, even in the last couple of years against telecom providers and others in the internet economy who they believe are not protecting consumers.

Nick Gillespie: Are you the first commission head to actually say no I want less power?

Ajit Pai: I have talked to some of my predecessors going all the way back to the Reagan years. This is one of the constant battles that you see over the years is that in any administration, whether it's a Republican administration where they are taking a free market position, their tact for that. Or a Democratic administration where they take a more regulatory view. This is a constant back and forth and so I see myself as the next in line in this long tradition not to break from that tradition.

Nick Gillespie: What do you make of the fact, and part of this is due John Oliver who called his army of internet trolls to bombard the FCC website with comments during the comment period about the proposed rollback, and that's good things. It's a amazing that we've had tens of million of people who are suddenly motivated to talk about arcane subject of telecommunication policy. There were over 20 million comments against ending net neutrality, from one account I read. How do you process that kind of pushback against what you're proposing?

Ajit Pai: There was mix of opinion in the comments and we had to take a look at all of the comments in the record that were substantive and significant and that were contributing in helping to answer some of the questions that we keyed up in our notice of proposed rule making. It wasn't easy but when you see the order, you'll find that we did try to sort through as many as we possibly could and incorporated as many as we possibly could into our decision making.

Nick Gillespie: Let me switch topics slightly. I want to ask you about a different area that has to do with free speech and free expression and the free internet. Currently in the Senate there is a bill going through called the Stop Enabling Sexual Traffickers Act or SESTA, there's a version of it in the House as well. In the name of cracking down on human trafficking, the legislation would, in the words of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is in favor of net neutrality but they're against this. They say that SESTA would eviscerate the immunity from liability for user generated comment. That internet intermediaries have under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and would also amend the federal criminal sex trafficking statue to sweep in companies who may not even be aware of what their users are doing.

Section 230 is one of those defining laws of the internet where it created a safe harbor for internet service providers and sites from content posted by users and whatnot. It's widely credited with helping the internet and world wide web especially, the web, become what we know it as. Are you worried that 230 is being undermined by SESTA and that 230 is absolutely essentially to flourishing internet?

Ajit Pai: Here I unfortunately have to give the unsatisfactory answer that I haven't read the legislation itself. I've read press accounts obviously about the debate and I've been following it from afar as it's gone through the relevant committees. I haven't had a chance to study it and think through what the implication would be. I know there were fixes, for instance, that were adopted late in the process, before it went out of the committee and I haven't had a chance to think do those ameliorate the concerns that you're talking about. At this point I've been focused on what we're doing over here at the FCC that I haven't had a chance to think about it.

Nick Gillespie: More broadly though, do you think that the safe harbor that's provided in general by 230 is a good and very important thing?

Ajit Pai: I do think, I do remember when I was in law school in the mid 90s there was a significant debate about this and we were debating at the time, I'm really dating myself now, should bulletin boards owners be liable for what their users post? It seems quaint now, but it's amazing how vibrant this debate still is because there is a sense that online platform thrives precisely because the owner of that platform isn't liable necessarily for everything that's posted on there. I can see the argument both ways and obviously this is an important issue in terms of sex trafficking that a lot of elected officials have their eyes on. Hopefully there's a way to thread the needle that satisfies everybody's concerns.

Nick Gillespie: Speaking like a Michigan alum, which you are, correct? You are tackling yourself, aren't you? You're not going to answer that question, definitively I get that.

Ajit Pai: I just not a Michigan alum so I didn't want to offend any Big Blue fans out there

Nick Gillespie: I'm sorry. Are you a Michigan resident then? Or you grew up in Michigan?

Ajit Pai: Grew up in Kansas. Undergrad Harvard Law School, University of Chicago.

Nick Gillespie: I apologize for besmirching you with any connection to Michigan other than having flown through it on a couple of occasions.

Ajit Pai: Especially in university 'cause my in-laws are all Ohio State fans. Thanksgiving would be a little difficult if they suddenly suspected some kind of Harbaugh connection.

Nick Gillespie: I can absolutely understand that. Going forward, what are you looking for on the near horizon besides 5G that most excites you about the internet and about telecommunications more broadly?

Ajit Pai: To me at least, it's our efforts to close the digital divide. And I understand that things like net neutrality will occupy 99% of the oxygen in the room but to me at least, that percentage is more properly devoted to what we are doing to build out access to people on the wrong side of that divide who don't have access to the internet today and to promote more competition using innovative technologies. We've talked about 5G but this FCC over the last 10 months has already approved the first ever satellite applications, sending satellites into low Earth orbit and beaming very high speed connectivity back to Earth. We're getting more spectrum out there for fixed wireless providers to use so they can compete without having to lay fiber. And for the smaller fiber providers we've taken a number of steps both in terms of wiser distribution of our federal subsidies and our regulatory reform to give them a fighting chance.

Whether it's in intercity Detroit or in rural Kansas, they are going to have a chance to compete. My hope is that over the next coming years we're going to see an explosion in the kinds of connectivity and the depth of that connectivity and ultimately that means that the human capital in the United States that is currently on the shelf, the people who don't have digital opportunity, will be able to be participants in the digital economy instead of just spectators.

Nick Gillespie: Where do get that new spectrum space from? Are you taking it back from broadcast or are you freeing up stuff that's just been collecting dust? Or squeezing out more efficiency?

Ajit Pai: It's a little bit of mix. Squeezing out efficiency is the name of the game in some cases where you have, for example, federal agencies using the spectrum and we're trying to see if there are creative ways for us to share that spectrum. Additionally there is some spectrum that's been fallow for a while and because of technological innovation we're able to now use it potentially for wireless service. There's also some spectrum that has been owned by incumbents that we've sold and then given share of the proceeds to those incumbents and then transferred it to other companies that want the spectrum. It's an all hands on deck approach when it comes to the airways.

Nick Gillespie: You were appointed chairman by Donald Trump, by President Donald Trump. You were on the commission before that as a Republican appointee. Do you feel that you're part of what former Trump advisor Steve Bannon said was an attempt to deconstruct the administrative state? If so, can you make a positive case for being a regulator essentially, a bureaucrat who is saying, "You should be seeing less and less of me as time goes on."

Ajit Pai: To me at least, having worked in this agency for the better part of the last decade, it was very clear to me when I came into office, there were a lot of rules on the books that simply weren't appropriate for 2017. In some cases they were holding back investment and innovation. In other cases they were on books simply as a matter of regulatory inertia. And so we had a chance to think very broadly about how do we want to promote more competition and investment across all of these industries from broadband to media? Over the last 10 months we've had the chance to do that and over time folks are going to see the results speak for themselves. We do want the regulations to be more market based and light touch to reflect the law a congress gave it to us not whatever policy vision we might dream up for ourselves. That's not just a free market deregulatory view, but it's view that's appropriate for the marketplace and for consumers in 2017.

Nick Gillespie: Final question, in your Wall Street Journal piece and elsewhere, and it's not just you, people were very upset, regulators were upset as well as, well I was upset, when Barack Obama really hammered the then chair of the FCC to pass net neutrality. It's not quite unprecedented and it's not quite wrong, but he really got on a soapbox and said, "You know, you guys really have to do this and you have to get it done." It seemed to have a direct effect. There's no question that Obama really squeezed what's supposed to be an independent commission. Would you push back if Donald Trump suddenly came to you and said, "You know what? Like I really need you to put net neutrality back or I want you to do something that you think would undermine the integrity of market based approaches and rule of law approaches to telecommunications policy."

Ajit Pai: I've said from day one since I became chair that this is an independent agency, that we will make our own decisions based on the facts as we find them and the law as we see and we'll call the shots accordingly. We're not going to let any political considerations from any quarter dictate or pressure us into making a decision that we truly believe is not in the public interest. I don't know about my other, the fellow commissioners, but speaking for myself, that's the one thing that gives our decisions credence in the eyes of the American people is that we're seen as the experts on communications issues, not as political actors that sway with the wind depending on who's weighing in.

Nick Gillespie: I certainly look forward to seeing what happens over the, not just the next couple of weeks, but the next couple of years. Thank you so much chairman Ajit Pai of the Federal Communication Commission for talking to The Reason podcast.

Ajit Pai: Thank you sir.