AT&T, Frontier, CenturyLink hail Pai’s second 5-year term confirmation as fostering fiber, broadband investments

FCC Ajit Pai
FCC Chairman Pai’s unsurprising ascent to a second term has been met with open arms by telcos AT&T, CenturyLink and Frontier who favor a light-touch regulatory regime.

FCC Chairman Pai’s unsurprising ascent to a second term has been met with open arms by telcos AT&T, CenturyLink and Frontier, which favor a light-touch regulatory regime.

In Pai, these telcos see an FCC leader that will encourage service providers to make new investments without restrictions.

A key focus for Pai as FCC chairman will be in overturning net neutrality and special access—two issues championed during his predecessor Tom Wheeler’s regime.

As one of the lone dissenters in the 2015 net neutrality rules passed by the FCC, has vowed to create what he said is a regulatory regime that would reclassify broadband as a Title I information service.

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AT&T, which has been a staunch opponent to Title II and special access reforms, said in a statement that Pai’s nomination for a second term will give it and other providers more freedom to enhance and expand their networks.

“Chairman Pai has shown tremendous leadership during his short tenure as head of the FCC,” said Joan Marsh, EVP of regulatory and state external affairs for AT&T, in a blog post. “His commitment to conducting fact-based and transparent Commission proceedings has resulted in the adoption of sound policies that will encourage investment in our nation’s wireless and broadband infrastructure and benefit the American people.”

CenturyLink and Frontier agreed with AT&T about having pro-investment policies but added that Pai is enabling them to better serve rural areas via the CAF-II program.

“We applaud Chairman Pai for his strong sustained leadership on broadband deployment for all Americans in all parts of the country and for his work preserving an open Internet,” said David Bartlett, VP of federal government affairs for CenturyLink, in a statement. “We look forward to working with him to develop innovative ways to spur investment in robust fiber networks. These networks are the backbone for everything happening on the internet today and are crucial to America’s prosperity and security.”

Mark Nielsen, EVP and general counsel for Frontier Communications, echoed a similar tone.

"Frontier Communications congratulates Chairman Pai on his Senate confirmation and new term leading the FCC,” Nielsen said. “We also thank the Chairman for his keen understanding of the public benefits and special challenges of the wireline industry."

Since taking the FCC Chairman role in January, Pai said the Commission has been focused on bridging the digital divide, promoting innovation, protecting consumers and public safety and making the FCC more open and transparent. He said that he looked forward to continuing in this manner in the future.

Pai was confirmed yesterday for another five-year term following a confirmation vote by the U.S. Senate.

While telcos are favorable of Pai’s leadership, Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) remains a staunch critic of his actions related to net neutrality and special access reforms.

“The FCC is tasked with the critical role of protecting consumers and promoting innovation in the telecommunications and technological fields that are becoming more and more integral to our day to day lives,” Schumer said in a statement. “However, over his time at the FCC and particularly in his tenure as Chairman so far, Mr. Pai has established a clear record of favoring big corporations at the expense of consumers, innovators and small businesses.”