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Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AT&T is announcing today that Charlotte, Raleigh and Oklahoma City will be among the dozen cities that will get 5G service this year.

Why it matters: There's a big marketing battle shaping up over the race to 5G with all four major carriers saying they will be first in one way or another. Eventually 5G will pave the way for connecting whole new types of devices, but the first use will be for faster internet service.

  • Verizon says it will be first with 5G, because it will offer fixed broadband this year.
  • AT&T says it will be first with mobile 5G, offering a 5G portable hotspot by December.
  • Sprint says it will be first with a nationwide 5G network drawing on its existing 2.5GHz spectrum it got via its Clearwire acquisition.
  • T-Mobile says it will be among the first with 5G smartphones early next year.

Go deeper

Report: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to retire

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire, NBC news first reported on Wednesday, giving President Biden his first — and maybe only — chance to put a stamp on the high court.

What’s next: Appointing a new Supreme Court justice will be one of the longest-lasting pieces of Biden’s legacy — and could give Democrats a jolt of energy ahead of next year's midterms.

Schools desperate for substitute teachers

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

School districts and officials nationwide are begging parents to step in, loosening requirements for substitute teachers and, in one case, asking the National Guard for help as last-ditch efforts to stay open amid the latest COVID-19 surge.

Why it matters: Substitute teachers have emerged as a vital part of schools' reopening efforts, but they are in short supply after years of being overlooked and undervalued.

The future of retail: more self-service

Zliide makes a tag that attaches to clothing for self-checkout in retail stores. Photo: Jennifer A. Kingson/Axios.

Self-checkout, self-service, autonomous stores, DIY: The retail world is prepping for a future with fewer human workers and more technology involved in selling us stuff.

Why it matters: While 72% of retail sales are still expected to take place in brick-and-mortar stores in 2024, merchants are busy installing interactive signage, smart price tags, and remote checkout systems that point to a very different customer experience.