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FCC chairman Pai eases up on criticisms to Hurricane Michael response

Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai praised Florida's first responders and telecommunications companies Friday -- a positive change in tone from earlier this week
Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai praised Florida's first responders and telecommunications companies Friday / Samantha J. Gross Herald/Times Staff
Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai praised Florida's first responders and telecommunications companies Friday / Samantha J. Gross Herald/Times Staff
Published Oct. 20, 2018

Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai praised Florida's first responders and telecommunications companies Friday — a positive change in tone from earlier this week.

The chairman was in Tallahassee Friday afternoon, meeting with state officials at the emergency operation center discussing the response to Hurricane Michael.

The Category 4 storm ripped through the Panhandle last Wednesday, flattening towns and leaving at least 27 dead in the state. Over 100,000 people still don't have power, and many still don't have access to clean water.

In a statement Tuesday, the chairman took a different tone. He demanded the nation's wireless carriers compensate Florida customers with free cellular and data service, and slammed the companies for failing to quickly restore service to the Florida Panhandle.

Pai said that the companies' failure was "completely unacceptable" and said he plans to launch an investigation.

He told reporters Friday that he was happy to see telecom companies react to his statement and contribute resources to local relief efforts.

"I was very happy to see that there has been some progress in response to the statement I put out earlier this week," he said. "I was very pleased to hear that some of the carriers are waving some of those bills. Others are waving charges."