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An AT&T Inc. cellular antenna stands in San Francisco. Photo: David Paul Morris / Getty

Some startups are trying to turn existing technologies into products that could reduce consumers' reliance on major internet service providers for broadband access, the WSJ reports.

Why it matters: Earlier this month, the FCC repealed net neutrality rules that required internet service providers like AT&T, Verizon, Charter and Comcast to treat all internet access equally. Without those rules, the telecom companies may be able to speed up some traffic from companies willing to pay extra to reach consumers faster. In many areas, consumers have few choices of broadband providers.

Here's what a few startups are doing to increase competition for the big internet service providers:

  • VPN: AnchorFree provides a service called Hotspot shield to hide their location from broadband providers. "In theory, that would make it harder for telecom companies such as AT&T Inc. or Verizon Communications Inc. to slow down a site or completely block users from viewing it," per the WSJ.
  • Mesh network: Startup goTenna makes a small antenna that can connect with devices such as phones, laptops and other antennas several miles away over radio frequencies. That allows the user to pull together connectivity from many different nodes to establish a web connection. In Portugal, startup Veniam installed sensors on vehicles to connect to Wi-Fi hotspots to create a mesh network to which city residents can connect.

But, but, but: Some of these projects need the cooperation of local officials and are not proven to be viable alternatives to a fixed or wireless broadband subscription. Also, incumbent internet service providers say they don't have plans to block or prioritize web traffic, even without the FCC's rules.

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.