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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.

34 mins ago - World

Putin foe Navalny to be detained for 30 days after returning to Moscow

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Photo: Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days, following his arrest upon returning to Russia on Sunday for the first time since a failed assassination attempt last year.

Why it matters: The detention of Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has already set off a chorus of condemnations from leaders in Europe and the U.S.

Biden picks Warren allies to lead SEC, CFPB

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has selected FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Obama-era Wall Street regulator Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Why it matters: Both picks are progressive allies of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and viewed as likely to take aggressive steps to regulate big business.

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