Federal staffers were caught off guard Thursday by the abrupt departure of David Redl, the Trump appointee running the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the Commerce Department's telecom policy shop.

Why it matters: Officials are under intense pressure to make more airwaves available for the private sector to build 5G networks. Divvying up government airwaves amid the "race" to beat China has led to spats between agencies.

The intrigue: In an email to colleagues, Redl said it was with "a heavy heart" that he announced his resignation. Three sources familiar with the situation said his departure comes after disagreements about 5G policies.

  • Redl and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai were at odds over the auction of millimeter-wave spectrum due to NOAA and NASA concerns about possible interference with sensors used for weather data collection. (Politico reported details last month.)
  • Internally, there was friction between Redl and Earl Comstock, deputy chief of staff to Secretary Wilbur Ross, as well as tensions surrounding the administration's 5G announcement last month, two sources said. (NTIA declined to comment.)

What's next: Diane Rinaldo is now the acting NTIA administrator.

Go deeper: Read Axios' deep dive on the 5G future.

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Coronavirus surge punctures oil's recovery

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The growth of coronavirus cases is "casting a shadow" over oil's recovery despite the partial demand revival and supply cuts that have considerably tightened the market in recent months, the International Energy Agency said Friday.

Why it matters: IEA's monthly report confirms what analysts have seen coming for a long time: Failure to contain the virus is a huge threat to the market rebound that has seen prices grow, but remain at a perilous level for many companies.

2 hours ago - Sports

Big Ten's conference-only move could spur a regionalized college sports season

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Big Ten announced Thursday that it will move all fall sports to a conference-only schedule.

Why it matters: This will have a snowball effect on the rest of the country, and could force all Power 5 conferences to follow suit, resulting in a regionalized fall sports season.

The second jobs apocalypse

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

This week, United Airlines warned 36,000 U.S. employees their jobs were at risk, Walgreens cut more than 4,000 jobs, Wells Fargo announced it was preparing thousands of terminations this year, and Levi's axed 700 jobs due to falling sales.

Why it matters: We have entered round two of the jobs apocalypse. Those announcements followed similar ones from the Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and Choice hotels, which all have announced thousands of job cuts, and the bankruptcies of more major U.S. companies like 24 Hour Fitness, Brooks Brothers and Chuck E. Cheese in recent days.