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Aiming to convince cities to move faster on 5G, Verizon is enlisting its consumers to do some work on its behalf.

What's new: The company launched a website on Monday where consumers and businesses can petition their local governments to support the deployment of new networking gear, known as small cells, needed to deliver the next generation of cellular technology,

The purpose is two-fold: Getting customers to engage with public officials in favor of 5G, and spotting groundswells of interest as an indicator of demand.

  • Translated: Verizon is leveraging its customers for local lobbying — although Verizon says it's fully transparent that it's behind the effort — while also mapping out its footprint.
  • "We want to build networks and services on those networks, and to do that we need constituents who want those services," a Verizon spokesperson tells Axios.

Why it matters: A major hurdle for telecom companies wanting to roll out 5G is getting each municipal government to approve all the permitting requests to install hundreds of thousands of small-cell antennas all over town.

Verizon is also taking a page out of the playbook used by tech companies when expanding to new areas.

  • For example, Google and Amazon asked cities to pitch them on bringing high-speed fiber internet service and HQ2, respectively, to their areas.
  • Yes, but: Google Fiber was selling the promise of fast fiber, which at the time (2011) was rare and enticing. Amazon HQ was selling jobs, jobs, jobs. Verizon, on the other hand, is selling a technology whose applications don't yet exist.

Our thought bubble: Motivating the masses to shout loudly that they want 5G faster could be tough. Despite the industry hype around 5G, many consumers still have no idea what it is or why they should care. For many, their current 4G LTE service allows them to stream movies and browse the web just fine.

Go deeper: Trump team considers nationalizing 5G network

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Pelosi, Schumer demand postmaster general reverse USPS cuts ahead of election

Schumer and Pelosi. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Thursday calling for the recent Trump appointee to reverse operational changes to the U.S. Postal Service that "threaten the timely delivery of mail" ahead of the 2020 election.

Why it matters: U.S. mail and election infrastructure are facing a test like no other this November, with a record-breaking number of mail-in ballots expected as Americans attempt to vote in the midst of a pandemic.

CRISPR co-discoverer on the gene editor's pandemic push

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Brian Ach/Getty Images for Wired and BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating the development of CRISPR-based tests for detecting disease — and highlighting how gene-editing tools might one day fight pandemics, one of its discoverers, Jennifer Doudna, tells Axios.

Why it matters: Testing shortages and backlogs underscore a need for improved mass testing for COVID-19. Diagnostic tests based on CRISPR — which Doudna and colleagues identified in 2012, ushering in the "CRISPR revolution" in genome editing — are being developed for dengue, Zika and other diseases, but a global pandemic is a proving ground for these tools that hold promise for speed and lower costs.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 18,912,947 — Total deaths: 710,318— Total recoveries — 11,403,473Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 4,867,916 — Total deaths: 159,841 — Total recoveries: 1,577,851 — Total tests: 58,920,975Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi rips GOP over stimulus negotiations: "Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn" — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive.
  4. Public health: Majority of Americans say states reopened too quicklyFauci says task force will examine aerosolized spread.
  5. Business: The health care sector imploded in Q2More farmers are declaring bankruptcyJuly's jobs report could be an inflection point for the recovery.
  6. Sports: Where college football's biggest conferences stand on playing.