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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Federal Communications Commission voted Wednesday to divvy up a swath of auto safety airwaves so a portion can be used for WiFi, over the objections of the Department of Transportation.

Why it matters: The FCC argues the change will lead to better WiFi services for Americans while still preserving some airwaves for auto safety communications, but the DOT has warned the change puts safety at risk.

Details: The FCC's plan repurposes 45 MHz of spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band for WiFi, while leaving 30 MHz for auto safety communications.

  • The agency originally dedicated the full 75 MHz 20 years ago for a technology known as Dedicated Short Range Communications, but that form of vehicle-to-vehicle communications has not been widely used.
  • Instead, the FCC says the remaining spectrum designated for auto safety will support a new technology, cellular-vehicle-to-everything communications, which is backed by Ford and other auto companies.

Yes, but: The DOT has argued the transportation industry needs the entire 75 MHz for safety and the FCC risks innovation in the band by divvying it up.

What's next: Some WiFi equipment in homes and businesses may be able to take advantage of the new spectrum with software upgrades.

Go deeper: Government agencies collide over airwaves for road safety tech

Go deeper

Local news trade groups bid Ajit Pai farewell

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Local news groups will miss Ajit Pai when he leaves his post as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on January 20.

Why it matters: Despite the fact that the Trump administration broadly was seen as having a hostile view towards the press, Pai was considered by several trade groups as a loyal supporter of local news.

Big Tech's reputation takes a pandemic plunge

Expand chart
Data: Harris Poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Americans have fallen further out of love with Big Tech, the latest Axios/Harris 100 brand reputation poll shows.

Why it matters: Even though Americans were hyper-connected to their devices throughout the pandemic, their relationship with many of the world's biggest tech firms has continued on a downward trend, suggesting that people see their products as necessary evils.

There's an ETF for everything, except bitcoin

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Happiness. Weed. Robots. Water. Whatever the theme, there's probably an ETF promoting a basket of stocks related to it.

Why it matters: Thematic ETFs are an investment mania side effect. There's newfound retail investor interest in narrow exposure to hot corners of the stock market. More are launching to meet the moment.