FCC ‘shouldn’t be hiding’ in Washington, commissioner says

One of the Federal Communications Commission’s own is criticizing the agency for staying in Washington instead of getting feedback from the rest of the country. 

Commissioner Ajit Pai on Tuesday hosted a forum to discuss possible new rules for Internet service providers in College Station, Texas, and said that more of his fellow commissioners should follow his lead.


“I was disappointed when the FCC decided to hold each one of its recent net neutrality roundtable discussions at our Washington headquarters,” he said at the start of the forum hosted by the George Bush School of Government and Public Service. “And that’s why I wish that my colleagues were here with me today."

“On this issue and other critical issues, the FCC shouldn’t be hiding in our nation’s capital,” he added.

Pai, a Republican, has previously opposed the notion that the FCC should write new net neutrality rules that seek to ban Internet service companies like Comcast from slowing or block access to a particular website. After losing in court over previous rules, the FCC should leave the matter up to Congress to decide, he said earlier in the year.

But he refrained from wading into policy on Tuesday, instead handing much of the discussion off to a number of local utility regulators, industry executives and economic advocates.

Though Pai was the only one of the FCC’s five commissioner to attend Tuesday'ss event, he read a statement from fellow Republican Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, who apologized for having already planned to go to a global telecommunications conference in Busan, South Korea.

Other commissioners have taken the discussion on the road in recent weeks.

Earlier this year, Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn — both Democrats — spoke at a hearing in Sacramento, Calif., hosted by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.).