Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai discusses the potential for surveillance and espionage if equipment from Chinese telecommunications companies, including Huawei and ZTE, is used in U.S. communications networks.
CARUSO-CABRERA: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to today’s Council on Foreign Relations meeting with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. I am Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, CNBC contributor. I’m going to be presiding over today’s discussion. First, we’re going to hear from Chairman Pai. He’s the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. You already knew that. He was designated chairman by President Donald Trump in January 2017, and he had previously served as commissioner at the FCC, appointed by then-President Barack Obama, and confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate in May of 2012. You can read the rest of his bio in your packet, but welcome, Chairman Pai. Come on up. (Applause.)
PAI: Well, thank you so much, Michelle, for that kind introduction. Thanks to all of you for coming here. It’s such an honor to be her at the Council of Foreign Relations. In the speakers room alone looking at pictures on the wall of presidents, and prime ministers, even an emperor, you see pictures of the very first edition of Foreign Affairs, which hearkens back to my mind a high school student in rural Kansas in the 1980s who was desperately reading Foreign Affairs to learn about all of the issues around the world, since he was competing in foreign extemporaneous speech competitions. To finally be here is such an honor and a privilege. And I certainly hope I acquit myself of the opportunity.
Last week I was in Egypt as part of the U.S. delegation to the World Radio Communications Conference. Today, of course, I’m at the Council on Foreign Relations. And tonight I’m hoping to see my beloved home state Kansas Jayhawks play the evil empire of Duke in Madison Square Garden. I’m afraid my decision to be Mike Pompeo for Halloween has gone a little bit too far. But I think it’s fair to say that a CFR appearance by the chairman of the FCC is out of the ordinary. But these are extraordinary times. We are at a pivotal moment in the evolution of communications technology. Across America and around the world private companies have been rolling out the next generation of wireless connectivity, commonly known as 5G.
These networks will bring exponential increases in speed, and responsiveness, and capacity. They will enable new and improved services and applications that will grow our economy and improve our standard of living, from connected cars, to telemedicine, to precision agriculture, and beyond. Another way to think about our 5G future is that we are moving to a world in which everything will be connected. Ericsson projects that an additional thirteen billion devices will come online between now and 2024. Some people call this future the Internet of Things. Others call it the fourth industrial revolution. I simply call it transformative.
The United States is poised to seize these transformative opportunities. At the FCC, we are implementing a plan to facilitate America’s superiority in 5G technologies, which we call the 5G fast plan. And that plan is already helping ensure that our nation leads the way in the development and deployment of 5G technologies. We are freeing up more spectrum for the commercial marketplace, we are deploying small cells in the other wireless infrastructure components of the future, and we are modernizing our rules to encourage the deployment of optical fiber, which is critical for carrying that wireless traffic back into the core of the networks.
But for all of the opportunities that 5G will unlock, it will also create new challenges. Chief among these is the main subject of my remarks: network security. When 5G is embedded in almost every aspect of our society and economy, from businesses to homes, hospitals to transportation networks, manufacturing to the electrical grid, that means securing our networks will become much more important, and much more difficult. A recent CFR white paper explained well how 5G will change the cybersecurity landscape. It stated, and I quote, 5G networks will expand the number and scale of potential vulnerabilities, increase incentives for malicious actors to exploit those vulnerabilities, and make it difficult to detect malicious cyber activity.
Now, an important part of network security is the integrity of the communications supply chain—that is, the process by which products and services are manufactured, distributed, sold, and ultimately integrated into our communications networks. For years, U.S. government officials have expressed concern about the national security threats posed by curtain foreign communications equipment providers. The hidden backdoors, as they are called, to our networks in routers, and switches, and other network equipment, can allow hostile foreign powers to inject viruses and other malware to steal Americans’ private data, to spy on U.S. companies, and more.
The equipment at the heart of 5G networks currently comes from just a few global suppliers. And the largest right now is the Chinese company called Huawei. And this is a major concern. Huawei positions itself as a private company, but it has significant ties to the Chinese government—namely, the Chinese Communist Party—as well as China’s military. Moreover, China’s law requires all companies subject to its jurisdiction to comply with requests from China’s intelligence services. These requests, also per that same law, cannot be disclosed to any third parties, such as Huawei’s customers in China or abroad. And that means that China could compel Huawei to spy on foreign individuals and businesses and prevent Huawei from disclosing such surveillance requests.
Now, you don’t need to look hard to find evidence that the Chinese government is willing and able to use its growing influence over global commerce to advance its own interests. In the past month alone, Chinese officials pressured the National Basketball Association to stamp out criticism from anyone within the NBA of the country’s policies in Hong Kong. Gaming company Blizzard Entertainment, which is partially owned by the Chinese tech giant Tencent, suspended a professional gamer for speaking out in support of Hong Kong protesters. And Apple, which has extensive business operations in China, removed the Taiwanese flag emoji for iPhone users in Hong Kong and Macau.
These cases reflect a disturbing and growing pattern of behavior by the Chinese government. They also raise a broader concern about the security of the United States. If China is willing to use its leverage over basketball, e-gaming, and emojis, imagine what could happen if we let Chinese companies’ equipment into tomorrow’s 5G wireless networks. This would open the door to surveillance, espionage, and other harms—stakes much higher than sports and entertainment.
And for too many years some have dismissed this concern as hypothetical or as a smokescreen for protectionism. But if there is a silver lining to the episodes of the past month it is that millions of Americans have now come to understand that the threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party are comprehensive and call too real. Now, even before these latest developments, however, there was no shortage of red flags about Huawei. Earlier this year the Justice Department charged Huawei individuals with fraud and theft of trade secrets from T-Mobile. The indictment stated that Huawei offered bonuses to employees who succeeded in stealing confidential information from other companies. In announcing the charges, FBI Director Christopher Wray described Huawei’s transgressions as brazen and persistent.
Independent experts too have raised similar concerns. A report issued earlier this year by the cybersecurity firm Finite State found that a majority of the Huawei firmware images they analyzed had at least one potential backdoor. And earlier this year the United Kingdom’s Huawei’s cybersecurity evaluations center oversight board issued a damming assessment of the company. It found that a lack of basic engineering competence in cybersecurity hygiene makes Huawei equipment vulnerable to just about anyone, bringing significantly increased risk to U.K. operators.
Now, on top of all of this, the Chinese government subsidizes Huawei, enabling it to undercut its competitors on price even if the quality is lacking. Whether this violates World Trade Organization rules and other laws, I will leave to the trade lawyers. But this practice demonstrates China’s strategic determination to choose Huawei as a national champion, to make it a key component in its Belt and Road Initiative, and to crush foreign competitors by any means necessary. For our part, when it comes to 5G and America’s security we cannot afford to take a risk and hope for the best. The stakes are simply too high.
So what can we do to secure our networks? First, we need to make sure that the equipment going into 5G networks is from trusted vendors, that the companies entering this space won’t risk our national security, threaten our economic security, or undermine our values. Now, this type of upfront solution is just common sense. Making the right choices when deployment is just beginning is much easier than trying to correct mistakes once network construction is already underway.
And the good news is that we’re seeing a government-wide effort to carry this out. In 2018 Congress passed a law prohibiting federal agencies from purchasing telecommunications equipment or services that would pose a national security risk, including from Huawei. In May of this year, the president issued an executive order to prohibit the purchase and installation of telecommunications equipment in the United States deemed a security threat. The Department of Commerce was charged with developing regulations, and proposed rules are due to be released soon. And at the FCC, we are doing our part.
In two weeks, the FCC will vote on prohibiting those that receive money from our annual $8.5 billion universal service fund from using that money to purchase equipment or services from companies like Huawei that pose a threat to the security of our communications networks. But of course, it’s not enough to ensure that risky equipment won’t be installed into the networks of the future. That is why we’re also working to secure existing networks. America’s largest telecom providers have generally refrained from installing Chinese equipment, but others—and particularly some rural wireless carriers—currently have Chinese equipment in those networks.
And this poses an unacceptable risk. So at our November public meeting in a few weeks, the FCC will also vote on launching a process to remove and replace equipment from USF funded communications networks. My plan calls first for an assessment to find out exactly how much equipment from Huawei and other Chinese company, ZTE, is in these networks, followed by financial assistance to make carriers make the transition to more trusted vendors. We’ll seek public input on how big this so-called rip and replace program needs to be and how best to finance it. Our goal here is pretty simple: To close security gaps in a fiscally responsible way.
And the third thing we need to do is to continue to engage with our international partners. We need to remind our allies that decisions impacting 5G security need to be made with the long term in mind. Focusing too heavily on short-term considerations could lead to decisions that are pennywise but dollar foolish. The more that we can work together and make security decisions based on shared principles, the safer that our 5G networks will be. When I meet with my foreign counterparts, I stress the importance of 5G security. And I have done that personally and extensively over the past year, both as part of a cross-administration team and solely on behalf of the FCC I’ve visited and spoken with senior leadership in Bahrain, Germany, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United Emirates, among other places. And I’ve met with decisionmakers from many other countries such as Brazil, and Chile, and India, and Australia.
And this May, I was honored to be a part of the U.S. delegation at a 5G security forum in Prague, where more than 140 representatives from thirty-two countries came together to build a consensus approach for protecting next-generation networks. We developed a set of recommendations called the Prague Proposals, which you can see online. This security framework is based on the simple principles of competition, transparency, and the rule of law. Having spent the past week meeting with other government officials at the World Radio Communications Conference, I’m encouraged that these principles are gaining traction. There is growing awareness of the importance of integrity of the supply chain. Indeed, in the last twelve months we have seen allies like Japan, and Australia, and New Zealand take similar action to prevent equipment from unsafe vendors into their networks.
The fourth and final thing that I’ll highlight this morning is the need to leverage our nation’s leadership and software to mitigate security risks. If we can virtualize functions of the radio access network, we can not only reduce the cost of deploying these 5G networks, we can also reduce our reliance on foreign equipment manufacturers. I’m encouraged by the work that American companies are doing in this space, and I certainly hope to see significant breakthroughs soon. As I and my colleagues at sister agencies have made clear to our counterparts in foreign countries, America’s current leadership in 5G and our support of virtualized networks of the future demonstrate that the choice between 5G deployment and security is a false one, today and going forward. A country need not choose between the two. And the United States certainly will not do so.
In closing, ultimately the Chinese government’s increasingly brazen actions to leverage its commercial influence and stifle free expression should be a wake-up call for the United States. They remind us that action is needed now to secure America’s 5G networks. The FCC and our federal partners are doing just that. We are on track for a strong and secure 5G future. Thank you very much for your attention, and I look forward to an interesting conversation to come. (Applause.)
CARUSO-CABRERA: Thank you for those remarks to set the stage for us here at the Council on Foreign Relations. Reminder: This is an on-the-record discussion.
CARUSO-CABRERA: First question: The concern about backdoors with Huawei equipment and Chinese equipment. Is it that the other competitors out there from whom the U.S. companies could purchase—Ericsson and Nokia in particular—is it that they don’t have backdoors, or is it that yes, they have backdoors but at least they’re from a country that has similar values in terms of human rights, protection of intellectual property, et cetera? Which is it of those?
PAI: That’s a great question. And I think the answer is a little bit of both. If you look at some of the independent experts that examine equipment and service, software in particular, that come from these vendors, they will consistently find that equipment from Huawei and other Chinese vendors tends to be more insecure, that there are more opportunities to insert malicious lines of code, and the like. And secondly, I do think it is the case, by any reasonable observers anyway, that those countries have more of a framework of the rule of law than does China. There is no veritable national intelligence law in Sweden and Finland, for example, as you would find in China. There is no judicial—there is a judicial framework for handling requests like that, there might not be in China. So I think it’s probably a little bit of both—that the vendors are untrustworthy and that the rule of law is not as strong in China as it is elsewhere.
CARUSO-CABRERA: Cisco does produce some of the networking equipment required, but not enough really. I mean, it’s Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia. Any chance out on the horizon, do you see anywhere that a U.S. company will actually fill the gap at some point?
PAI: The economics of the traditional network equipment industry are challenging, of course. There used to be many more suppliers. And thanks in part to Chinese subsidies, I think Huawei’s gained a leading market share. And there are arguably network effects that come from that. But one of the reasons why I think it’s important for us to think about the virtualization of these networks, essentially software driven networks, which is what 5G will be, is that that enables American companies, smaller companies in particular, to innovate. If we can virtualize the radio access network and some of the other core parts of the network, that essentially allows us to rely on the equipment manufacturers that are—that are new, that we can rethink the way that these networks are architected and then move forward accordingly.
CARUSO-CABRERA: One of the—I don’t know if it’s persistent—but there have been repeated reports that there’s an arm of the administration that would like to nationalize the 5G network, take it over. And it’s been beaten back. Larry Kudlow, for example, came out and expressly said no, no, no. But my reporting indicates that the reason that keeps coming up is because our telecom equipment providers are very indebted in this country. And there’s worry that they don’t have the money to do a 5G rollout. In this race with the Chinese, that we will be behind because of it. Do you have those concerns?
PAI: Well, first and foremost, I would strongly oppose any plan to nationalize 5G networks. I think the legacy of 4G LTE development here in the United States shows that the private market, not the government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment in wireless networks. And that concern would be amplified when it comes to 5G, where things are even more dynamic, where the spectrum assets and infrastructure necessary, if anything, would be even stronger. And so I think the case for nationalization is relatively weak.
To the extent that people have other concerns about the speed, I think it’s critical for all of the levels of the government, but especially the FCC, to put those building blocks in place, which we’re doing through the 5G fast plan, then let private companies innovate around some of those building blocks. And we’re seeing that now. I mean, nontraditional players, for example, are entering into our spectrum auctions. And it’s not inconceivable in the future you’ll see players that may not currently be in the wireless sector enter that space. So we’re seeing fixed wireless providers like Starry, we’re seeing nibbling from cable companies, we’re seeing interest from Google, and Amazon, and Facebook, and some of the spectrum that we’re putting on—into the commercial marketplace. And so I think 5G is going to come from a variety of places, because there are so many different use cases. And so there too I think there’s an option.
The other piece of it I will mention, although it’s not traditionally thought of as 5G, but the innovation that we’re seeing from American companies in space is really going to drive a lot of our economic growth. And you’re seeing companies like SpaceX, and One Web, and even smaller ones like Swarm now start to think about low-Earth orbit satellites that would provide internet access—whether it’s industrial IoT or residential broadband service—in a way that would be essentially competitive with some of the traditional players.
CARUSO-CABRERA: Yeah, with the efforts of Elon Musk and other folks in the private space industry, there’s many, many more satellites in the air, which provide a lot more opportunity for distribution, et cetera. Is that your point?
PAI: Absolutely. You have reusable rockets that really decrease the cost element for launch. The form factor for these satellites is just incredibly small compared to what it was at the dawn of the satellite age. And so there too, I think, we’re seeing a lot of American innovation that our country should be proud of.
CARUSO-CABRERA: There’s one school of thought, small, I think the audience would be most familiar with it if they’re read Holman Jenkins a couple times in the Wall Street Journal, where they’ve argued: It’s a mistake to prohibit Huawei. Instead, force them to follow our rules. Follow the U.K. and have an equipment analysis process done by the intelligence service. You know, if they list on the U.S. stock exchange they’ll be forced to follow all kinds of rules that they wouldn’t otherwise. And that would be a better way to almost kind of force regulation on them. Thoughts?
PAI: I mean, I do think that the Prague Proposals that I mentioned earlier do encompass a more risk-based framework, as opposed to singling out a particular company. But the problem in this particular case is, number one, that the company itself is essentially beholden under the rules of the country where it is cited to comply with these requests from the intelligence services. And in addition to that, there are any number of cases—I mentioned the indictment involving T-Mobile. That’s certainly not the only problematic case that we’ve seen in which the company is simply not comporting with some of those principles that we talked about.
CARUSO-CABRERA: If you haven’t read that indictment I highly recommend it. It’s very, very interesting. They had a spy literally go into the headquarters out in—I think it was Seattle? Somewhere on the West coast. They had a robot. They called it Tappy. And Tappy was really good at being really fast at testing phones. And so they would figure out, you know, this phone will die. This phone will die too quickly. We don’t want to sell it. And the Chinese phones were failing a lot. So the Chinese, at least according to the indictment, the allegation is that they sent an employment who literally took the arm out, and put it in the briefcase, and took it home, took pictures, and then brought it back the next day and said, oh, sorry, this, you know, happened by mistake. It was incredibly brazen, if it’s proven to be true in the court case.
PAI: And this exhibits a larger concern I have, which is that this is not isolated behavior to one company, or even one industry. I mean, look at—I don’t know if any of you saw the New York Times story yesterday by Gina Kolata about Chinese researchers taking information in the health care system and feeding that back into—I mean, this is a comprehensive problem that we’ve seen across industries. And I have to think that at some level we just need to have a whole conversation about some of the holistic problems we’re seeing. There’s a blanket refusal to abide by some of these norms of trade, and free dealing, and the like.
CARUSO-CABRERA: You mentioned some countries that have agreed with the United States when it comes to not deploying Chinese equipment for their 5G networks. But they tend to be wealthier countries. How’s the diplomacy going with poorer countries that would like to have 5G, and if the Chinese equipment is cheaper, so be it. They don’t seem to care. Are you making any headway there?
PAI: We are. I’ve mentioned some of the countries that I’ve visited. And I can say that many of them, while still developing, nonetheless understand that the choice between 5G deployment and security need not be one that they have to make. And so we’ve pointed out, for example, through my travels in the Middle East that we have shared security interests. And that’s one reason why we need to understand the risk profile of the vendors that go into our networks.
And they understand as well that even though they may get a good deal—for example, one of the—many of the officials from Bahrain and elsewhere told me that typically what the Chinese vendors will do will come in and say: OK, we know you’re getting a certain bid from Ericsson, with a certain percentage of interest, and whatnot. We’ll give you a thirty-year interest free loan, and we’ll even staff, you know, your offices of 150-200 people that will do nothing ese but serve your carriers. And they understand that the only problem with free is it eventually costs too much. And when you’re talking about these networks that need to be updated with software over time, there are too many—there’s too much of an attack surface to insert malware. And in addition, once you’re locked in, it’s very, very difficult to break free of that particular vendor. And so—
CARUSO-CABRERA: Are you saying the Chinese knew about—knew all the details about the other bid? Or they just knew generally about bid? Or whatever the bid is we’ll undercut it?
PAI: Oh, just generally speaking. Generally speaking because they’re subsidized by the Chinese government they can come in at 50 percent cheaper. Just a significant amount cheaper. And so I think the countries that I’ve spoken to, at least, understand that even though it might be cheaper the equipment might not be as trustworthy, it might not be as high quality. And eventually, the deal won’t be as inexpensive as it purports to be.
CARUSO-CABRERA: If we can move onto another topic?
PAI: Oh, sure. We do other things. (Laughter.)
CARUSO-CABRERA: Yeah. Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook and over at Twitter, they’ve come down very different positions on political ads. Twitter says they’re not going to carry them at all, and Zuckerberg has said that they’re going to follow the rules, the regulations that the broadcasters follow, which is they’re not going to decide whether or not an ad from somebody running for office is correct, incorrect. Thoughts on that, and the decision that has been made by Mark Zuckerberg?
PAI: No particular thoughts, to the extent that the FCC doesn’t regulate those companies. We certainly don’t regulate the content decisions that they make. I would simply observe that it’s fascinating, though, to see—just as a citizen, not so much as a regulator—that these discussions about free speech that we’ve had for many, many years are now taking on a new dimension in the online world. And it’s very unclear where things are going to go. I think many people at the dawn of the commercial internet certainly embraced the notion of the marketplace of ideas transformed to the digital world, just let all voices be heard. And now you’re seeing a lot more—a lot more of a two-sided conversation, I think, where people see the upside, of course, to having these digital platforms giving everyone a voice, but also see some of the potential downside. And where Congress ends up or where any relevant regulator at the Federal Election Commission or whoever ends up is quite unclear at this point.
CARUSO-CABRERA: I wonder if him endorsing broadcast regulations—because those broadcasters are regulated by you when it comes to political ads, right? If he endorses that model, does that bring on the possibility of people saying, oh, OK, well, we are going to regulate you like a broadcaster, which would have all kinds of implications for them?
PAI: Legally, it certainly doesn’t. I mean, if Congress changes the law, of course, then there is a different conversation to have. And that’s one of the things you see members of both parties in both houses of Congress now talking about is, across all of these different points of—you know, whether it’s election ads or whatnot—people are starting to have conversations about how to think about these digital platforms that were unthinkable just five years ago, ten years ago.
CARUSO-CABRERA: But I’m going to do that hypothetical thing. So you’re chair of the FCC. You do not regulate Facebook, and so therefore you have nothing—that’s up to Congress. If you were a member of Congress—(laughter)—what do you think would be a good policy prescription, if any, or nothing?
PAI: Well, what I can say definitively is that I am not now, and I have no plans to be, a candidate for elected office. (Laughter.) And so I would have to—you know, in the grand-tradition of would-be politicians, dodge that question, respectfully.
CARUSO-CABRERA: (Laughs.) One final question, then we’re going to go to the audience. So you approved the Sprint-T-Mobile merger. So that will be now three competitors, and then the hope is—or, the belief is that Dish, having acquired some of the assets, will roll out service and therefore be the fourth wireless provider in the country to help keep costs lower. Are you convinced you’re going to have the money to do that? And are you convinced that the attorneys general are going to fail—the ones that are suing to stop the merger? Is that going to hurt that deal at all, or do you think it’s going to make it through the court system?
PAI: With respect to the second question it’s an unknowable. Litigation, of course, is always—it creates uncertainty. And so we don’t know how the judge in that case is going to rule. But I certainly do think—I certainly do hope that the state AGs do not prevail in that case because I do believe that the consummation of this merger, along with the divestiture to Dish that you mentioned, would be tremendously beneficial for the public interest. I mean, if you look at some of the conditions that are on the table, 99 percent deployment of 5G service is defined at fifty megabit per second service or greater to the American public within six years. That is a huge benefit.
Look at some of Sprint’s 2.5 gigahertz assets that are current underutilized, if not unused. Putting those to work—mid-band spectrum for 5G—within the next three to six years is going to be a tremendous benefit. Again, the divestiture which would create a fourth competitor. That preserves the competitive framework and, along with the price commitment that the emerging parties had made, would ensure that wireless services remain affordable. So in the long run, I think the—you know, putting aside the politics of litigation and whatnot—I do think this is an important deal for the public interest, and I hope that it approved.
OK, so at this time I’d like to invite members to join our conversation with questions. A reminder that this meeting is on the record. Wait for the microphone, speak directly into it, please stand, state your name and affiliation, one question to keep it concise, and any speeches, you know me, I’ll cut you off. (Laughter.) Right here in the front row.
PAI: And it goes for me too. (Laughter.)
Q: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for coming today. Really appreciate it.
As many of—
CARUSO-CABRERA: Your name?
Q: Oh, sorry. Jove Oliver with Oliver Global.
PAI: Already violated the rules!
CARUSO-CABRERA: Yeah, already!
Q: I’m out. Kick me out.
PAI: There’s always one.
Q: As many of the companies that sort of own the so-called pipes of the internet increasingly get into the media content business, and with the sort of relaxation of the net neutrality regulations, how concerned are you that some of those bigger conglomerates might, you know, throttle some of their competitors with those—with the current net neutrality regulations? And if you’re not concerned, why not? And then just any comment on the state-by-state sort of patchwork approach that looks like will proceed on net neutrality. Thank you.
PAI: OK, so a lot of threads in there. First and foremost, I would say that we made the right decision. And I think the proof is in the pudding now. It’s almost two years since we made the decision to relax the utility-style regulations imposed by the prior administration. And when we made the decision, I tallied a lot of the predictions that would be made. This is the end of the internet as we know it. You’re going to have to pay $5 per tweet. The internet is going to work for one word at a time.
Fast forward. Now, two years later, according to Ookla—not according to us—average speeds in the United States for fixed broadband are up over 57 percent over two years. Infrastructure investment was up $3 billion in 2018, the second consecutive annual increase. The internet is freer and more open than ever. The best metric of that, of course, would be venture capital funding to startups, which set a record in 2018, which one would not expect if we were talking about startups that were at the mercy of some of these broadband providers. And more generally, I think that other countries are now seeing that because we have an internet economy that does have that incentive to deploy internet infrastructure as well as a free market for startups to innovate, we are continuing to lead the world in terms of technology.
So to the extent that there is concern about any competitive behavior I will say today what I’ve said consistently since this issue first flared up, and since I became a recovering antitrust lawyer, which is this is squarely a question of an antitrust. To the extent that a country is vertically integrated and discriminating against an unaffiliated competitor, that is a question for the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice to evaluate. If it’s a question about an unfair deceptive trade practice, that is squarely something for the Federal Trade Commission to evaluate under section five of the FTC Act. If it’s a question about broadband privacy, here too the FTC and state and local—or, state authorities have comprehensive jurisdiction over the internet economy to decide whether or not a particular privacy practice violates consumer interest.
So thus far, at least, as I said, the early evidence is that things are good. And to the extent they’re not, we are going to make sure that both the FCC through our transparency rule and the FTC and DOJ through their administration of competition law stand at the vanguard in terms of protecting the public interest.
CARUSO-CABRERA: And the other question he had was about the patchwork effect that some states have said—
PAI: Oh, yes. Right, right, yeah.
CARUSO-CABRERA: Just so the audience understands. So the FCC has said, OK, net neutrality. But some states with certain leanings have said, OK, you’re not going to do it, then we’re going to do it. On the one hand a Republican administration would say, well, you know, states’ rights, and, you know, let’s have fifty experiments. And then on the other hand then you have the issues about different regulation in different states.
PAI: Yes, I do admire the newly developed affinity for the Tenth Amendment by some of these states. But no, I think the D.C. circuit decision made very clear that conflict preemption still exists. And to the extent that a state makes a determination that is conflict with a federal policy, then that policy could be preempted. And that’s a determination we’ll have to make on a case-by-case basis. But more generally, I think it’s—this goes to a larger conversation that goes well-beyond net neutrality. It goes to, I would argue, the entire concept of the internet. If you send me an email, if you tweet at me, if you post something on Instagram that I see, even though we’re in the same room the chances are that that communication traverses a state boundary. Anything associated with the internet, I would argue, is inherently an interstate service.
And so we are quickly reaching a time when it doesn’t make sense as a country for—if only for purposes of national competitiveness and allowing entrepreneurs to have regulatory certainty and the like—to have federal, state, local, and in some cases even tribal regulatory review. All of these different levels of government cannot have a bite at the regulatory apple. Or, they can, but we can’t expect then to be a country that incentivizes investment in innovation, whether in networks or in services. And so that’s one of the things I think is very important. And you’re seeing it now on the privacy side, where Google, Facebook, others are resisting California’s privacy law. And those companies are now coming to Washington and saying: Well, we need a federal privacy law to preempt all of these state determinations. So I think it’s just evocative of a broader concern that many companies have, that we need to know what the rules of the road are.
CARUSO-CABRERA: Right here.
Q: I’m Ricardo Tavares from Techpolis, a California-based technology policy consulting company.
So 4G was the first single wireless standard. All previous generations have several different regional and competing standards in the same country sometimes. But the current—do you see the current U.S.-China competition in technology driving us to a future that we’re going to have more than one wireless standard, even through very dramatic tweaking of 5G—the process of standardization is still going on—and also, for future generations?
CARUSO-CABRERA: You mean in the United States or all over the world?
Q: Over the world, because we have the single global standard for the first time with 4G.
PAI: That’s a good question. Thus far, at least, I hope that there will be a single technical standard or set of standards anyway. We see it in IEEE, 3GPP and other technical standard-setting bodies that everyone in the world’s participating, including the Chinese. And at the end of the day, I think we don’t want to see that segmentation of technology where what kind of services or applications you happen to get depend on the accident of where you happen to be at that moment in time. So I still hold out hope that we’ll see a consistent set of standards that will allow everyone around the world to innovation and allow everybody to gain the network effects—the beneficial network effects of harmonization and standardization.
CARUSO-CABRERA: Right there, and then you.
Q: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’m David Braunschvig.
To follow up on standard setting, this time with respect to naming domains, the United States being at the inception of the commercial internet controlled this—had the prerogative to control it. Under pressure from other countries, this control may be ceded to an international multilateral organization—ICANN being ceded to it. What is your view on the risks and opportunities of that trend? Do you see a little bit patterned after the United Nations shortly after World War II to have something like a Security Council of the new globalized ICANN, where the U.S. could at least have a veto power?
PAI: That’s a good question. The previous administration, as you probably know, already made the decision to relinquish the contract. The Department of Commerce decided not to renew that contract. And so now the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN as you pointed out, is essentially the administrator for some of those domain name services. And so thus far I’m not aware of any particular concerns that have manifested themselves. But if that changes, I would certainly welcome wisdom from whatever quarter to educate us about it. We don’t have a role here as well. This is, as I said, is a Department of Commerce—or, was a Department of Commerce function. But I think the governance of the internet is something that’s so important that it is important for all federal regulators like me to be aware of how it’s developing.
CARUSO-CABRERA: There’s a lady right behind this pole here.
Q: Hi. Danah boyd, Microsoft research.
I’m curious for you to go deeper into the supply chain, right? I understand the Huawei battles and what’s going on in Europe in terms of the manufacturing of different network tools, but when we’re talking about a lot of semiconductors and a lot of chip manufacturers, there’s a much narrower world of competition. And a huge chunk of it is currently happening in Taiwan semiconductors, where the geopolitics are different than both China and Western Europe. So how do you think about those areas where there actually is no competition really at play right now, and where the geopolitics could put us in a very awkward place?
PAI: That’s a really good question. So thus far, we have focused mainly on some of the more macro-level equipment vendors that are supplying equipment. Of course, those macro vendors don’t operate in a vacuum. They, themselves, rely on semiconductor and other software companies to—essentially integrating all those parts. And there, there are some positives, which is that American companies have an important role in supplying equipment to Chinese vendors, among others. But there is a risk which, as you point out, there may be bottlenecks, so to speak, in terms of the supply chain. That’s one of the things from and competition and an interest perspective I do have significant concerns about. I mean, any anti-competitive market is one in which you will not see consumer benefit on the micro level or national interest on a macro level being vindicated.
So as to the geopolitical concerns too, that’s another—that’s beyond my pay grade but, of course, it is something that we do think about quite a bit, is where are these vendors located, what effects—or, what influence could the host government have on some of those network vendors? It’s a constant concern. And I think especially as time has gone one we’ve seen a lot of these supply chains change dramatically. And I mentioned on the macro level it used to be, when I first started working in this industry about twenty years ago, that you’d see a whole bunch of equipment vendors. Now they’ve shrunk essentially down to, you know, three to five. And that is a trend that is concerning. That’s part of the reason why we’re putting so much of an emphasis on looking at what’s around the corner. Virtualization of the RAN is one of them, but there are many others too. But we’re trying to encourage that as a way of escaping the bottlenecks that you mentioned.
CARUSO-CABRERA: Virtualization of the RAN sounds like a sci-fi novel. (Laughs.)
PAI: Whenever I describe it—my wife’s a doctor, so whenever I describe what I do at home her eyes glaze of. I’m like, well, what did you do? I saved a life. Like, all right, you got me. (Laughter.)
CARUSO-CABRERA: There’s a lady back here.
Q: Hi. Lydia Moynihan, Fox Business.
When will the FCC release the order approving T-Mobile-Sprint? And will there be language in that order that bolsters T-Mobile’s case against the state AGs?
PAI: So as to the second I can quite easily tell you stay tuned. You’ll see for yourself when the order’s released, which begs the first question. So we’re still going through the internal processes. Commissioners have to issue statements and the like. And so we’re in the process of doing some of that, the legwork that typically comes with those types of orders, so I can’t give you a definitive timeframe on that.
CARUSO-CABRERA: Question here.
Q: OK. Rus Brandom, policy editor at the Verge.
I was surprised and encouraged to hear you speak so enthusiastically about antitrust action from the FTC and the DOJ. I think part of what you’re referencing is there’s sort of a growing desire from—for antitrust action against edge providers—your Google, your Facebook—as part of what we need to maintain the open internet that, you know, often folks talk about in terms of the FCC. Is that something—obviously, you know, it’s on the FTC and DOJ not you folks—but is that something you increasingly see as necessary?
PAI: You shouldn’t be surprised. I started off my career as an antitrust lawyer at the Department of Justice, but my teeth in the wake of the 1996 Telecom Act on everything from box entry into the long-distance market to the WorldCom-Sprint merger. I mean, antitrust is what have me my raison d'être to start—and the start of my legal career. And I think now those same tools of antitrust remain more relevant than ever. And I think part of the reason why you’re seeing such a discussion about these tech platforms through the prism of antitrust is that that is how many people see these marketplaces. If they perceive that a particular player has market power, well, it’s not just up to, you know, state—people to complain about it. It’s up to the antitrust regulation to ensure that there’s competitive market.
So now you’re seeing everyone from presidential candidates to even the Department of Justice itself and the FTC trying to have a conversation. OK, what is the market structure? What is the market power? What are the potential anti-competitive effects? What are the potential remedies and the like? And to me, at least, that’s an important conversation to have. I certainly don’t have jurisdiction to make a determination, of course, since I head a sister agency. But I do think that it flags something—or, it highlights something that I flagged in a speech I gave in November of 2017, which remains more relevant than ever, that when it comes to an open internet there is an important conversation to be had about some of the Silicon Valley tech giants. And at the time it was thought avant-garde. I can’t believe the FCC chairman is saying that.
But the entire internet economy we want to be competitive. We want everyone to be transparent, and open, and pro-competitive. And that’s now the conversations that we are seeing were, again, virtually unthinkable just two years ago. And we’ll see where it goes.
CARUSO-CABRERA: And since you brought up presidential candidates—
PAI: I’m not running, again. I have no plans. I’m not running. (Laughter.)
CARUSO-CABRERA: Elizabeth Warren says you suffer from the dreaded bureaucratic disease called regulatory capture.
PAI: (Laughs.) Yeah, right.
CARUSO-CABRERA: Do you?
PAI: (Laughs.) It’s utter nonsense. I mean, look at the decisions we’ve made. I mean, they’ve consistently embraced my philosophy of technological neutrality. I mean, when you talk about promoting more broadband deployment, relaxing our rules to encourage companies to invest in fiber instead of copper, encouraging next-generation innovators like fixed wireless companies, and space innovators, and the like. We’re simply looking to provide a marketplace in which every company, every technology has a full and fair chance to compete.
CARUSO-CABRERA: But she says you haven’t done enough for the poor and living in rural areas to get broadband.
PAI: You know, that would be news to the folks in the New Orleans public housing project I visited last year who, thanks to our policies, are getting broadband and fiber for the first time. That would be news to Cullen Quill, a farmer I met in rural Mandan, North Dakota just two months ago who that very day, thanks to our policies, was getting gigabyte fiber. And to look into his eyes and to ask him what it meant to get internet or the first time. And he thought about it. And he said, you know what? Now we don’t have to drive thirty minutes west so my kids can sit outside of McDonald’s and upload their homework using McDonald’s wi-fi connection. To me, that means a lot more than whatever some politician might criticize us for.
CARUSO-CABRERA: I want some gigabyte service. It’s just thirty blocks south of here, if you can manage that. (Laughter.)
Go ahead. (Laughs.)
PAI: No, I really mean that, by the way. I mean, if you—now—
CARUSO-CABRERA: So do I. (Laughter.)
PAI: Yeah. No, but I’ve been to all 48 states and the territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. And I’m telling you, there are so many challenges in our country, but when you see the benefits of closing that digital divide. I mean, I’ve been in tribal schools in the Jemez Pueblo. I’ve been to the Gulf of Mississippi. I mean, these are poor communities that are getting broadband for the first time. And I truly believe—I mean, we’ve talked a lot about 5G and security—but our top priority at the FCC is closing that digital divide. And I firmly believe that regardless of who you are, what you look like, or where you happen to live you should have access to what I call digital opportunity. It’s going to be such a gamechanger for our country. And just as a matter of digital equity, it’s something I believe in in my core, having grown up in a relatively poor, rural part of the country.
Sorry to get on my soapbox there.
Q: Thanks. Mary Brooks (sp), ARC Media.
Can you speak a little bit more about this concern that the world is moving to two internets, that the push against Huawei is the start of a difference between a Western internet and an authoritarian internet? And can you talk about whether or not you think that’s actually likely, what it would look like, and what the consequences would be?
PAI: Well, I don’t think the push is the impetus for it. If anything, it is an effect of some of what we’ve seen is that obviously the Chinese have made a very strategic determination to pick network champions not just in terms of network operators and vendors, but also the internet companies themselves. If you look at some of the companies like Tencent and Baidu, and the like. I mean, they’re essentially shutting out a lot of foreign competitors. There’s a reason why Silicon Valley companies have not established strong beachheads in China. It’s because it’s very difficult to do business there. The company erects all kinds of artificial—or, very real barriers that I don’t think a free market type economy would erect.
And over time, I do worry that that has the end result in creating essentially two different internets. And that is something that I think would be unfortunate for consumers and potentially dangerous in the long run. I mean, we don’t want the internet to become Balkanized. That was the entire point of the internet in the beginning is that everyone had access to the exact same information as long as you had a digital connection to the outside. And if your ability to understand what happened in a particular time depends on what happened—whether the search engine complies with the request of the Chinese Communist Party, that’s not a good place to be. And so that’s something I do worry about in the long run quite a bit.
CARUSO-CABRERA: Back there, the gentleman.
Q: Sander Gerber, Hudson Bay Capital. Thanks for joining us.
I’m not sure, what is the current assessment of the Europeans with respect to the threat of Huawei 5G? I thought that the Europeans didn’t share our intelligence assessment for a period of time. And where are they now?
PAI: What I can say is that in my conversations with counterparts, both in member states of the EU as well as some EU officials and European Union officials, is that I think they do understand the security risk that particular vendors might pose. They might not agree necessarily with the remedy that we are prescribing in terms of making sure that our networks are secure going forward, as well as taking steps to replace the equipment that is already in our networks. But I think there is an ongoing conversation there to be had. But by and large, I think that the assessment has—in my experience, at least—been the consensus assessment. This has not been an area where we’ve been disputing what the facts are on the ground.
Q: Thank you so much for coming in. I’m Pierre Henry. I’m from Trine Acquisition Corp.
My question is, with 5G there’s a lot of discussion about equipping terrestrial operators with what they need spectrum-wise to get us there. And C band a lot of what’s up in space—as you mentioned, the geostationary satellite operators—that’s very important for the discussion. And I just wanted to know your color and your view on what would be an equitable reallocation of that C band, and what would be included under what formula?
PAI: I know there was going to be—
CARUSO-CABRERA: Define C band for us.
PAI: Oh, yes. So for those of you who are blissfully unaware, which is hopefully most of you, the C band is the band—includes the five hundred megahertz of spectrum between 3.7 gigahertz and 4.2 gigahertz.
CARUSO-CABRERA: That clears it up. (Laughter.)
PAI: Yeah. (Laughs.) What did Gandalf say in Lord of the Rings? You know, all that is left for us to choose is what to do with the time we are given. And here we are, right?
CARUSO-CABRERA: I’m teasing. Go ahead. Keep going.
PAI: But so essentially this spectrum, in a nutshell, is used by satellite companies to deliver video programming for broadcasters, for cable news networks, for other programmers and the like. And so there’s been a question about how much of that spectrum could be or should be repurposed for 5G services, because it’s in the so-called mid-band, which is highly prized because of its mix of coverage and capacity.
So I’ll say here, I won’t be making any news, it won’t shock you to know, but I still stick with the four principles that I outlined, you know, when I testified before the Senate two weeks ago. It’s that whatever the decision on the C band is going to be, it will respect those four principles of freeing up a substantial amount of spectrum for 5G, doing so as quickly as possible, making sure that the federal government gets some of the revenue from that decision, and then, fourth, ensuring that the services that are currently provided using that C band—namely, the delivery of video programming—will continue to be delivered into the future. So we’re still evaluating the different options on the table, haven’t made a decision. But I can assure that those four factors are going to be respected.
CARUSO-CABRERA: If you haven’t looked at the—there’s a spectrum map you can—the FCC publishes. It’s on the internet, where else? And it’s an incredible—
PAI: Which again, still exists. (Laughs.)
CARUSO-CABRERA: (Laughs.) Which is really interesting to look at. Like, all these little different colored spaces. I think of it as a map of the sky. The government still controls all of that. People understand this intuitively from the Titanic, right? (Laughter.) This all came from—right? No, this is—the whole issue of spectrum started with the Titanic, right? And then—
PAI: Yeah, sorry, I thought you were making a movie reference. And so I was thinking, oh no, to talk Leo in this forum is going to just be very surreal.
CARUSO-CABRERA: (Laughs.) But that’s why this discussion exists. And so for a long time, spectrum was allocated by the government. The broadcasters got it for free. And that’s why they have certain things that they have to do for having received this for free. Then there was privately the privatization to some extent, auctioning rather, so the government could make some money. Where are we in the process? Now, can you trade spectrum? Or do have to give it back to the government for it to be reauctioned? Or can I keep it and then somebody else wants it from me I can sell it to them?
PAI: Good questions, all. So it really depends. So the federal government has a fair amount of spectrum currently. That federal government is administered not by the FCC but by the Department of Commerce, which has an office, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which essentially speaks on behalf of the entire administration on federally held spectrum. The FCC is an independent agency. We don’t have the ability to compel the NTIA to do anything. So if we want to take federal spectrum, either have it shared with the commercial sector or reallocated to the commercial sector altogether, then the NTIA, the FCC, and any other affected federal agencies have to have a conversation. And that’s part of what we’ve been doing over the last two and a half years across a number of different bands is figuring out to do that.
On the commercial side, though, you’re correct that 1959, sixty years ago, Ronald Coase wrote a seminal paper where he called for competitive bidding for auctions of spectrum. We started—Congress gave us that authority in 1993. We’ve now held over a hundred auctions.
CARUSO-CABRERA: Just thirty years later. (Laughs.)
PAI: Yeah. So we’ve raised now something like $110-120 billion for the U.S. Treasury. And now that auction mechanism is one that is widely agreed to be the most efficient way of allocating a scarce resource. And so on the commercial side at last, we encouraged auctions. So we think it’s the fairest way to do it. And to the extent there’s a secondary market transaction—which is somebody has spectrum, wants to sell it to somebody else—that’s one of the things we’ve encouraged as well, to speed up—to make sure that spectrum arrives at its highest-valued use, as the economists might say.
CARUSO-CABRERA: I saw back here.
Q: Thank you for being here today.
I was a little bit confused—
CARUSO-CABRERA: You name? Your name and title.
Q: David Shuman, Northwoods Capital.
I was a little bit confused by your question about our allies’ view of our position, in like of Angela Merkel’s announcement that Germany is going to allow Huawei equipment into their networks, that their carriers are already doing it. The U.K. seems to be following a similar path. And Macron is currently in China, and I’m sure is being pressured to do the same. So I guess my question is, you know, how was the U.S. caught so flat-footed on this? And if we don’t succeed in turning this around, who will own that failure? And if we are successful, who will own the success? (Laughter.)
PAI: That is what we call in the business a loaded question, my friend. Well, three loaded questions, and it turns out. So again, I can only speak to the conversations that I have had with some of my counterparts in Europe, both in the public and private sector. And, again, what will say is there is an appreciation for the unique risk profile that some of the vendors that we’ve been talking about present. And then it’s a question for the policymakers to decide, well, what remedy if any should we apply to that security assessment? And I can’t say what happens at other levels of government among the decisionmakers. I’ll simply say again that we’ve had very positive conversations. And I don’t think we are at the end of the story. We’re certainly in the middle of the story at this point. And so things are changing even in Germany, as you might have seen, with recent reports. And so I remain confident that we’ll be able to reach a shared understanding of not just the assessment but what to do about the assessment in the time to come.
CARUSO-CABRERA: Can you give us a hint about why it is that they would resist the idea, why they would be comfortable with a company that could spy on them?
PAI: I wouldn’t want to characterize some of their views. I would probably leave it to them to describe publicly whatever they—or, however they want to characterize their position.
CARUSO-CABRERA: Right here.
Q: Thank you. Good morning. Roy Keblaugh (ph).
I have a very simple question. The likes of Facebook and Google have taken a lot of share in the local media market. Would you be in favor of more deregulation of local media, local radio, and et cetera, to encourage consolidation, maybe foreign investment, for the sector to defend itself?
PAI: A simply question but a complex one. So what I’ll say is this: I do think that the marketplace is more competitive than ever. And if you just think about the market for advertising, from a local broadcast perspective I consistently hear when I meet with broadcasters, not just from big cities. I met recently with Louisiana broadcasters who told me that for the first time they are seeing a significant amount of share from the car dealers they used to rely on as advertisers now going to Google and Facebook. Even though there’s no Google sales team calling them up. There’s no Facebook sales—ad sales team calling them up. It’s just a fact that the digital advertising has migrated to those two companies in particular.
And so from my perspective, at least, I think it’s important to have an intellectually honest assessment of what the denominator is when it comes to competition. By which I mean, that we need to understand now just who these companies are competing with, and make sure that all companies that are competing in the same market are regulated similarly, but also that we need to understand that some of the revenue, when it comes to digital advertising and the like, to have an intellectually honest assessment of where some of those ad dollars are flowing. And once you do that, I think it becomes obvious that the rules we have on the books are woefully outdated. I mean, it doesn’t make any sense anymore that when you’re talking about what many have argued is a digital ad duopoly of two companies in Silicon Valley, that the FCC still considers the 1975 prohibition on the joint ownership of a newspaper and a broadcast radio station in Tama, Iowa being some sort of unique anti-competitive threat.
I mean, I think we’re—most reasonable people would agree that the marketplace for media has changed dramatically in the last forty-four years. And so how we move forward I’m not quite sure yet, but what I will say is that it’s important for us to modernize our regulations to give everyone a full and fair chance to compete. Not to give a leg-up to anyone. Not to bestow regulatory largess on anyone. Just simply to recognize that the marketplace has changed. And we’ve been doing that over the last two years, as you might have seen. And when I came into office we were still requiring every broadcaster in the United States to maintain a paper copy of our rules—I mean, a huge set of books—in their broadcast stations in case someone wanted to come by and read them. I mean, it’s just nonsensical some of these regulations.
And that’s just obviously a very clear example. There are more subtle ones, like this one. But I think at the end of the day the bedrock proposition—or, one of the bedrock propositions across the—my administration of the FCC has been: Let’s modernize our rules to reflect the marketplace that we’re in. The most powerful force in government is often inertia. That rules are on the books, in many cases, simply because they’ve always been on the books. And so I want to take a fresh look at some of these rules and make sure that we’re updating them, because otherwise we’ll be diverting investment, or disincentivizing innovation, or hamstringing would-be competitors. And that’s not a good thing for the consumer, at the end of the day.
Q: (Off mic.)
PAI: You’ve been great, everybody. All right, so. (Laughter.) No—
CARUSO-CABRERA: The question was foreign—what about foreign ownership, which is prohibited for all radio stations and TV stations in the United States, correct? Yeah.
PAI: Yeah, we’ve done some modernization there. I can’t forecast if we’re going to do any further.
CARUSO-CABRERA: Final question: One website describes you—that covers you a lot—that you’re the greatest fan of AM radio in the country. Is that true? Are you a huge fan of AM radio?
PAI: Wow. I am. I grew up, as I mentioned, in Parsons, Kansas. And my outlet—I mean, it’s so hard for people to remember nowadays, especially people under the age of 35—but in the ’70s and ’80s as a kid in a small town, there were very few outlets to the outside world. Three broadcast channels, the Parson Sun. And for me, KLKC 1530 AM. And I still remember my freshman year my high school basketball team made it to the state championship up in Topeka, I think it was. And my mom refused to let me go. And I was gnashing my teeth in my bedroom. And I tuned into KLKC to hear how Cortez White (sp) stole the ball at the last minute to seal the win for us. And just those memories of AM radio really—I have warm, nostalgic feelings for, but it’s not just nostalgia. When I travel around the country, I’ve been to KZPA Radio in Fort Yukon, Alaska. I’ve been to WAGG in Birmingham, Alabama—an African American gospel station.
Even though they might not be the dominant players in the landscape, to some of these communities they quite literally are the lifeblood. And these are the folk who are going to cover the Friday night football game. These are the folks who are going to cover the Sunday morning church service. These are the glue of these communities. And I want AM broadcasters, just like any other media outlet, to have a chance to thrive in the twenty-first century. It’s more competitive than ever, but, look, AM radio’s seen all of the challenges we just talked about. They’ve seen FM radio. They’ve seen TV. They’ve seen cable. Now they’re seeing satellite radio, and Pandora, and Spotify. And they still, I think, have a value proposition that’s pretty unique. So let’s see where it goes. There are obviously big challenges but, you know, who knows, KLKC and others like it might have a future.
CARUSO-CABRERA: As a fan of WRKF in Boston, congratulations. Thank you very much for doing this.
PAI: (Laughs.) Really appreciate it. (Applause.)