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Ajit Pai. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A federal appeals court upheld the Federal Communications Commission's rules that limit municipalities' ability to negotiate with telecom companies such as AT&T and Verizon that are seeking to deploy thousands of 5G antennas on city streets and neighborhoods.

Why it matters: The ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is a blow to dozens of cities that sued the agency, claiming the FCC's 2018 rules takes away their leverage and autonomy in deciding how the telecom industry can install "small-cell" antennas to build 5G networks.

The other side: The FCC maintains that its rules — which prohibit excessive fees and permitting delays by municipal governments — will speed up the deployment of 5G networks throughout the country by removing burdensome barriers to telecom providers.

"The wind is at our backs: With the FCC's infrastructure policies now ratified by the court, along with pathbreaking spectrum auctions concluded, ongoing and to come, America is well-positioned to extend its global lead in 5G and American consumers will benefit from the next generation of wireless technologies and services."
— FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a statement

The big picture: How quickly telecom providers can deploy the 5G antennas throughout cities is a critical factor in reaching more ubiquitous 5G coverage throughout the country.

  • Because of the technical limitations of 5G airwaves, 5G networks require hundreds of thousands of small-cell antennas to carry wireless signals from across cities and towns.
  • Some major cities, however — including San Jose, Los Angeles and Portland — have argued that they should have more say over how those small-cell antennas are installed on public right-of-ways and city property.

Go deeper: The battle over 5G deployment in America's cities

Go deeper

The fight over Trump's FCC pick

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

President Trump is pushing the Senate to confirm his hand-picked nominee for a seat on the Federal Communications Commission, but people familiar with the state of play on Capitol Hill don't expect him to get his wish.

Why it matters: The FCC oversees broadband internet rules, media ownership regulation and other policies that hold special importance to the president. A Trump-aligned commissioner could likely agitate for greater agency involvement in how online platforms moderate speech and otherwise extend Trump's influence into the Biden administration.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
57 mins ago - Energy & Environment

The road to COP26 gets slightly easier

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The bad diplomatic vibes heading into the critical United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, might be improving slightly.

Catch up fast: Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday pledged to end overseas finance for building new coal-fired power plants and boost support for clean energy in developing nations.

Narrowing the employee divide

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Companies are narrowing the blue- and white-collar experience as they're forced to adapt to a worker-led market.

Driving the news: Basic office tools and concepts like corporate communications and schedule flexibility are migrating to frontline operations through investments in technology.

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