FCC chairman Ajit Pai (pictured) pledged to boost technology innovation in areas of the US  traditionally left behind by the US regulator, as he outlined a battle plan to bridge the country’s digital divide.

In a speech made during a visit to Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute the FCC chief said he was committed to implementing policies which “help bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans”, a plan which includes spending “more time and attention than the FCC traditionally has on places where people feel left behind –  places that Washington too often looks past”.

To achieve this, he outlined four key principles he hopes will define his chairmanship: the importance of digital empowerment; the need for ubiquitous internet access; the power of competitive free markets; and his light touch regulatory approach.

He added while a “healthy respect” for a free market would be key to investment and innovation, it did not mean the government would have no role.

“The FCC must protect consumers and promote public safety,” he said. “It will be critical for the agency to be proactive in freeing up more wireless spectrum to allow consumers to benefit from the next generation of wireless services, known as 5G.”

Pai said the regulator was already pushing to implement reforms, and “has tools it can use to help close the digital divide”.

This, he said, can be achieved by modernised regulations, cutting the costs of broadband deployment, and a better approach to investment.

“I’ve instructed all of the commission’s bureaus to identify rules that are raising the costs of broadband build out. If the benefits of those rules don’t outweigh their costs, we’ll begin the process of repealing them,” he said.

He also pledged support for President Trump’s long term vision for a major infrastructure upgrade bill, but he said this should include broadband initiatives.

“In the digital age, I believe our wired and wireless broadband networks are core components of our nation’s infrastructure.”

In the wide ranging speech, Pai also opened up on the need to give entrepreneurs more licence to bring new technologies and services to market.

“Going forward, I want the FCC to facilitate, rather than frustrate, innovation,” added Pai.