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Ajit Pai. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai offered a path forward Wednesday for the cable industry to gain access to airwaves for WiFi in a long-running spectrum battle with automakers.

The big picture: Car companies and cable providers have been feuding over a swath of spectrum that was set aside 20 years ago for vehicle safety communications but never widely used for that purpose.

  • The cable industry and WiFi advocates want to use those airwaves for super-speedy WiFi as consumer demand increases amid connected devices.
  • The auto industry says the spectrum should be used for vehicle safety.

Driving the news: Pai's proposal, to be voted on at the commission's Dec. 12 meeting, would allocate the lower 45 megahertz of the band for unlicensed use such as WiFi, while setting aside up to 30 megahertz for vehicle safety technology.

  • "We are well past the point where American consumers should accept significant additional delays in putting this spectrum to work for them," Pai said at a Wednesday event hosted by Citizens Against Government Waste, New America's Open Technology Institute and WifiForward.
  • The technology that airwaves originally were designated for — Dedicated Short-Range Communications, or DSRC — has not been fully deployed across all vehicles, which is what needs to happen to allow cars to "talk" to each other.
  • Instead, a coalition of automakers (including Ford) and telecom companies is pushing a new technology for the band, which they call cellular-vehicle-to-everything. Pai said his proposal would allow that technology in the upper 20 megahertz, and seeks comment on whether to allocate the remaining 10 megahertz to that tech or the older DSRC.

Flashback: Pai announced the agency would consider repurposing the airwaves in a speech in May, but delayed the plans after pushback from Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

Go deeper

First look: Mayors press Biden on immigration

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A coalition of nearly 200 mayors and county executives is challenging Joe Biden and the incoming Congress to adopt a progressive immigration agenda that would give everyone a pathway to citizenship.

Why it matters: The group's goals, set out in a white paper released today, seem to fall slightly to the left of what the president-elect plans to propose on Inauguration Day — though not far — and come at a time of intense national polarization over immigration.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
4 mins ago - Health

Demand for coronavirus vaccines is outstripping supply

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Now that nearly half of the U.S. population could be eligible for coronavirus vaccines, America is facing the problem experts thought we’d have all along: demand for the vaccine is outstripping supply.

Why it matters: The Trump administration’s call for states to open up vaccine access to all Americans 65 and older and adults with pre-existing conditions may have helped massage out some bottlenecks in the distribution process, but it’s also led to a different kind of chaos.

Woman who allegedly stole laptop from Pelosi's office to sell to Russia is arrested

Photo: FBI

A woman accused of breaching the Capitol and planning to sell to Russia a laptop or hard drive she allegedly stole from Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was arrested in Pennsylvania's Middle District Monday, the Department of Justice said.

Driving the news: Riley June Williams, 22, is charged with illegally entering the Capitol as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct. She has not been charged over the laptop allegation and the case remains under investigation, per the DOJ.

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