Ajit Varadaraj Pai

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This article is about the FCC Commissioner. For the cricketer, see Ajit Manohar Pai.
Ajit Varadaraj Pai
Adjit V. Pai headshot.jpg
Member, Federal Communications Commission
President Barack Obama
In office
May 14, 2012 – June 30, 2016
Personal details
Born (1973-01-10) January 10, 1973 (age 41)
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Janine Van Lancker
  • Alexander Madhav Pai, August 26, 2011
  • Annabelle Malathi Pai, October 11, 2013
Parents Radha and Varadaraj Pai
Residence Arlington, Virginia
Alma mater
Profession lawyer

Ajit Pai is a Commissioner at the FCC. He was nominated for a Republican Party position on the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by President Barack Obama. He was confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate on May 7, 2012 and was sworn in on May 14, 2012 for a term that concludes on June 30, 2016.[1]

Newsroom Survey Controversy[edit]

Pai penned an op-ed that sparked the newsroom survey controversy of 2014.[4]

Policy positions[edit]

Pai’s stated goal is to create a regulatory environment in which competition and innovation will flourish. In testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology on July 10, 2012, he warned about the dangers of regulatory uncertainty and the need for the FCC to keep pace with the dynamic communications sector.[5] Pai also asserted that by reforming the way the Commission works, the agency can facilitate the provision of new and better services at lower prices for American consumers.[5]

Pai gave his first major speech since taking office on July 18, 2012 at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There, he discussed how the FCC can help promote economic growth and enhance job creation in the information and communications technology field[6] by adhering to three basic principles: (1) the FCC should be as nimble as the industry it oversees; (2) the FCC should prioritize the removal of regulatory barriers to infrastructure investment; and (3) the FCC should accelerate its efforts to allocate additional spectrum for mobile broadband.[7] Specifically, the Commissioner called for a reinvigoration of Section 7 of the Communications Act, which gives the Commission a one-year deadline to review proposals for new technologies and services. He introduced the idea of creating an IP Transition Task Force to expedite the country’s transition to all-IP networks and to ensure that new network infrastructure will not be subject to outdated, monopoly-era regulations. He urged the commission to settle the nine-year-old contributions reform proceeding for the Universal Service Fund by the end of the year. Finally, he advocated for completing the rules for the AWS-4 spectrum band by September 2012 and conducting the broadcast spectrum incentive auctions by June 30, 2014.[7]

Career accomplishments[edit]

Between 2007 and 2011, Pai held several positions in the FCC’s Office of General Counsel, serving most prominently as Deputy General Counsel. In this role, he had supervisory responsibility over several dozen lawyers in the Administrative Law Division and worked on a wide variety of regulatory and transactional matters involving the wireless, wireline, cable, Internet, media, and satellite industries.[1]

Pai’s career outside of the FCC has spanned the private and public sectors. With respect to the private sector, Pai worked in the Washington, D.C. office of Jenner & Block LLP, where he was a Partner in the Communications Practice until being sworn in as a Commissioner. Years earlier, he served as Associate General Counsel at Verizon Communications Inc., where he handled competition matters, regulatory issues, and counseling of business units on broadband initiatives.[1]

Pai also has served in all three branches of the federal government. After moving to Washington, DC in 1998, his first post was with the United States Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division as an Honors Program trial attorney on the Telecommunications Task Force. There, he worked on proposed mergers and acquisitions and on novel requests for regulatory relief following the enactment of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. He later returned to the Department of Justice to serve as Senior Counsel in the Office of Legal Policy. Pai has worked on Capitol Hill as well, first as Deputy Chief Counsel to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts, and later as Chief Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights. Immediately following law school, he clerked for the Honorable Martin L.C. Feldman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.[1]

In 2013, Pai was scheduled to appear as a featured speaker at the American Legislative Exchange Council Washington DC policy summit and at The LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Technology Partnership's fall policy forum.[8][9]


Pai debated as an undergraduate.[10] He earned a B.A. with honors from Harvard University in 1994 and a J.D. from the University of Chicago in 1997, where he was an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review and won the Thomas J. Mulroy Prize. In 2010, Pai was one of 55 individuals nationwide chosen for the 2011 Marshall Memorial Fellowship, a leadership development initiative of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.[1]

Personal life[edit]

The son of immigrants from India, Pai was born in Buffalo, New York and grew up in rural Parsons, Kansas. Both his parents were doctors in the county hospital there.[2][11] He played the violin as a child.[12] He now lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his children and wife, Janine - who teaches at George Washington University Medical School.[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Commissioner Ajit Pai". FCC.gov. Retrieved 2013-12-30. 
  2. ^ a b c "NOMINATIONS OF JESSICA ROSENWORCEL AND AJIT PAI TO THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION". Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. November 30, 2011. S. Hrg. 112-480. Retrieved 2013-12-30. 
  3. ^ Byers, Alex (October 18, 2013). "Congress gets back to what? — Ohlhausen on ‘Internet of things’ — What to know about Jeh Johnson — FCC reschedules Oct. meeting". Politico. Retrieved 2013-12-30. At least one good thing happened during the last two weeks — the birth of Annabelle Malathi Pai, the second child of FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai and his wife Janine Van Lancker. Annabelle was born Oct. 11. 
  4. ^ "The FCC Wades into the Newsroom". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 3, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b "Testimony of Commissioner Ajit Pai, Hearing on Oversight of the Federal Communications Commission". Retrieved July 10, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Unlocking Investment and Innovation in the Digital Age:The Path to a 21st-Century FCC". Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "New FCC member wants nimble agency". Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  8. ^ "2013 States & Nation Policy Summit - ALEC - American Legislative Exchange Council". Retrieved 2013-12-30. 
  9. ^ "LGBT Technology Partnership Names FCC Commissioner as Keynote". Entertainment Close-up. August 12, 2013. Gale Document Number: GALE|A339347778. Retrieved 2013-12-31.  Biography in Context. (subscription required)
  10. ^ "Our Distinguished Alumni". Harvard Speech & Parliamentary Debate Society. Retrieved 2013-12-30. 
  11. ^ "Provider Search Results". Labette Health. Retrieved 2013-12-30. Pai, Radha, M.D. Anesthesiology ... Pai, V.S., M.D. Urology 
  12. ^ Eggerton, John (September 10, 2012). "Minority report: in his first extensive interview as the FCC's new GOP commissioner, Ajit Pai explains why government should get out of the way of innovation" (fee, via Fairfax County Public Library). Broadcasting & Cable. pp. 16+. Gale Document Number: GALE|A310650911. Retrieved 2013-12-30.  Biography in Context. (subscription required)