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

Sep 22, 2020 - Technology

Why Puerto Rico is still struggling to get online

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Internet connectivity remains a weak link for the disaster-wracked U.S. territory Puerto Rico, and some experts fear a new tranche of Federal Communications Commission subsidies set aside just for the island might not help the people most in need of a broadband connection.

Why it matters: Puerto Rico is locked out of most federal funding available to U.S. states to help expand internet service. The island risks being left behind as carriers expand and upgrade high-speed internet networks elsewhere, even as infrastructure-damaging tropical storms come faster and harder and the pandemic makes broadband even more of a must-have.

Updated 14 mins ago - Science

In photos: Deadly wildfires devastate California's wine country

The Shady Fire ravages a home as it approaches Santa Rosa in Napa County, California, on Sept. 28. The blaze is part of the massive Glass Fire Complex, which has razed over 51,620 acres at 2% containment. Photo: Samuel Corum/Agence France-Presse/AFP via Getty Images

More than 1700 firefighters are battling 26 major blazes across California, including in the heart of the wine country, where one mega-blaze claimed the lives of three people and forced thousands of others to evacuate this week.

The big picture: More than 8,100 wildfires have burned across a record 39 million-plus acres, killing 29 people and razing almost 7,900 structures in California this year, per Cal Fire. Just like the deadly blazes of 2017, the wine country has become a wildfires epicenter. Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma, and Shasta counties.

Updated 56 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 33,880,896 — Total deaths: 1,012,964 — Total recoveries: 23,551,663Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 7,232,823 — Total deaths: 206,887 — Total recoveries: 2,840,688 — Total tests: 103,939,667Map.
  3. Education: School-aged children now make up 10% of all U.S COVID-19 cases.
  4. Health: Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine won't be ready until 2021
  5. Travel: CDC: 3,689 COVID-19 or coronavirus-like cases found on cruise ships in U.S. waters — Airlines begin mass layoffs while clinging to hope for federal aid
  6. Business: Real-time data show economy's rebound slowing but still going.
  7. Sports: Steelers-Titans NFL game delayed after coronavirus outbreak.

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