Jan 31, 2017

FCC moves to expand internet access

New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai used his first public meeting to announce a new advisory committee on broadband deployment. Here's what it will do:

  • Develop a stock set of broadband policies that cities can use ease the process for zoning and permitting to boost deployment of new networks.
  • Make broad recommendations on how to expand broadband access, including how to change and eliminate regulations

Who will be on it: "Representatives of consumers and community groups, the communications industry, and federal, state, local, and Tribal officials are encouraged to apply," the FCC said in a statement.

The bigger picture: Even though this move simply forms a committee, it's the latest indication that Pai is making expanding internet access a core part of his agenda. He met last week with groups active on the issue and voted to provide funding for broadband expansion in rural parts of New York. Broadband will probably be part of a debate over infrastructure spending this year.

Open question: What will happen to Lifeline? Pai was critical of a recent expansion of the program to subsidize phone and internet service for low-income people, saying it's fraught with waste, fraud and abuse. He said at a Tuesday press conference that the commission is reviewing the issue but hasn't made any decisions yet.

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JPMorgan Chase to pull support for some fossil fuels

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

JPMorgan Chase said Monday that it won’t directly finance new oil and gas development in the Arctic and will significantly curtail its financing of the extraction and burning of coal.

Why it matters: JPMorgan is the world’s largest funder of fossil-fuel companies, according to a report by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN). The announcement follows similar moves by other big banks and investment firms, including Goldman Sachs and BlackRock.

WHO won't call coronavirus a pandemic as cases spread

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The World Health Organization will not yet call the coronavirus a pandemic, claiming that needs across affected countries are too varied and the classification would increase fear, per a briefing Monday.

The big picture: As South Korea and Italy stepped up emergency measures in efforts to thwart the spread of the virus, WHO expressed concern about infections with no clear link to China. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,620 people and infected almost 80,000 others, with all but 27 deaths occurring in mainland China.

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