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An empty Santa Monica Pier. Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

Southern California broadband provider Wander is offering free high-speed internet to all families in Santa Monica with school-age children for the rest of the academic year.

Why it matters: School districts across the country are moving to virtual learning to keep students engaged during coronavirus-induced closures. But e-learning requires a reliable broadband connection, which many families do not have at home.

How it works: Wander is making the offer in partnership with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and the Santa Monica Education Foundation, the chief fundraising organ for schools in the area.

  • Wander provides fixed wireless internet service to about 20,000 households in the Santa Monica area. The company, which soon plans to expand to West Los Angeles, has installed the backbone of its network in around 200 buildings in the community.
  • Subscribers install a small receiver that brings the signal from those locations inside their homes.
  • The service is normally priced at $25 a month and offers download speeds of 50 mbps, which is enough to stream content, and 25 mbps upload speeds, which should be enough to video-conference, Wander CEO David Fields told Axios.

"Public-private partnerships during this challenging tie are really critical," Fields said. "With all the uncertainty of when schools will go back, we wanted to alleviate some of that stress and make it possible for everyone to work from home through the end of the school year."

The big picture: Fixed wireless internet providers are cropping up in a number of cities (Starry, for example, serves parts of Boston, Washington, D.C., and Denver) as affordable alternatives to national internet service providers. Some major ISPs offer their own fixed wireless service.

Reality check: This partnership serves a relatively small number of households in a fairly affluent community. The challenge is extending broadband service to harder-to-reach towns and neighborhoods that lack the telecom infrastructure to fire up wireless connectivity.

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Stanley McChrystal. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Stanley McChrystal, a top retired general and Biden adviser, tells Axios that "China's military capacity has risen much faster than people appreciate," and the U.S. is running out of time to counterbalance that in Asia and prevent a scenario such as it seizing Taiwan.

Why it matters: McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, recently briefed the president-elect as part of his cabinet of diplomatic and national security advisers. President-elect Joe Biden is considering which Trump- or Obama-era approaches to keep or discard, and what new strategies to pursue.

Progressives shift focus from Biden's Cabinet to his policy agenda

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Some progressives tell Axios they believe the window for influencing President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet selections has closed, and they’re shifting focus to policy — hoping to shape Biden's agenda even before he’s sworn in.

Why it matters: The left wing of the party often draws attention for its protests, petitions and tweets, but this deliberate move reflects a determination to move beyond some fights they won't win to engage with Biden strategically, and over the long term.

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Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.