SAN FRANCISCO — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, who oversaw the agency’s work to streamline space-related regulation, announced plans to leave his post Jan. 20, 2021.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve at the Federal Communications Commission, including as Chairman of the FCC over the past four years,” Pai said in a statement. “I am grateful to President Trump for giving me the opportunity to lead the agency in 2017, to President Obama for appointing me as a Commissioner in 2012, and to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and the Senate for twice confirming me.  To be the first Asian-American to chair the FCC has been a particular privilege.”

During Pai’s tenure, the FCC streamlined satellite licensing regulations for commercial space startups and established rules for the upcoming auction of 300 megahertz of satellite C-band spectrum for 5G cellular network operators, prompting 13 orders for new C-band satellites.

“It’s also been an honor to work with my fellow Commissioners to execute a strong and broad agenda,” Pai said in a statement. “Together, we’ve delivered for the American people over the past four years: closing the digital divide; promoting innovation and competition, from 5G on the ground to broadband from space; protecting consumers; and advancing public safety. ”

While Pai was chairman, the FCC also announced plans to award $20 billion in broadband subsidies under the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund and granted Ligado Networks permission to deploy a low-power broadband network opposed by commercial satellite operators, the U.S. Defense Department and the Commerce Department due to concern it would disrupt GPS signals.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...