FCC's Pai Talks Wireless at White House Meeting

FCC chairman Ajit Pai says he did not discuss his proposal to roll back Title II classification of ISPs at a meeting at the White House Thursday but did talk about the building blocks of a wireless future—spectrum and infrastructure.

Asked about the meeting by a reporter following the FCC's public meeting—particularly given Pai's criticism of what he thought as too close ties between the White House and Tom Wheeler on that issue—the chairman said they had an "excellent conversation" with tech and telecom leaders and his input was sought on the rollout of 5G and the Internet of Things.

He called it a "very fruitful" conversation about spectrum and infrastructure and the like and that he looked forward to working with all interested parties.

As to FCC independence, he said the FCC was still an independent agency, but there were ways to collaborate with others in the Administration, before launching into a string of nautical references to make his point. He said he wanted to make sure "we are steering in the right direction," calling them "all sailors in the same boat" and saying that it was an "all hands on deck effort" to make sure wireless innovators have the necessary tools. 

Recode reported that Pai was joined at the meeting by AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure and Verizon president John Stratton.

"John Stratton had a very productive and forward-looking discussion today with the administration on policy initiatives and new opportunities in next-generation networks that will benefit our customers, the industry and our entire nation," said a Verizon spokesperson following the meeting. "We look forward to continuing these discussions as we collectively work on ways to enhance broadband infrastructure and unleash the full potential of 5G networks and the innovation that will follow.

"Verizon is proud to be leading the industry in developing and deploying 5G technologies.  This deployment of next generation broadband networks will enable a multitude of 5G applications -- in IoT and Smart Cities -- and will help maintain America’s position as the global powerhouse of wireless communications.    

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.