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AT&T's first 5G mobile device is a hotspot allowing other devices to access the faster network. Photo: AT&T

The 5G era has arrived. AT&T is launching 5G mobile service in a dozen U.S. cities beginning this Friday, becoming the first carrier to do so.

Why it matters: The move allows AT&T to meet its promise to launch service in 2018 and will help usher in a new era of cellular technology promising faster speeds. Eventually, other advantages 5G offers, like minimal delay, will take cellular technology into new markets, including remote control of medical and industrial gear.

Yes, but: The service is only available via a mobile hotspot, with 5G-capable phones not due until next year.

Details: The faster mobile service will initially be available in Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; Houston; Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Fla.; Louisville, Ky.; Oklahoma City; New Orleans; Raleigh, N.C.; San Antonio; and Waco, Texas. In the first half of 2020, AT&T said it plans to add service in parts of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.

  • AT&T plans to make the mobile hotspot and data free for 90 days to "select businesses and consumers." Starting next year, the hotspot will cost a hefty $499 upfront and data service will cost $70 per month for 15GB of data.

“This is the first taste of the mobile 5G era,” AT&T chief technology officer Andre Fuetsch said in a statement. “Being first, you can expect us to evolve very quickly. It’s early on the 5G journey and we’re ready to learn fast and continually iterate in the months ahead.”

Big picture: All the major carriers plan 5G phone service in selected cities starting next year, though the initial markets will vary. Verizon also used 5G technology earlier this year to offer an alternative to home broadband.

Go Deeper: Special report: The next tech wave rides on 5G

Go deeper

Home confinees face imminent return to prison

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Thousands of prisoners who've been in home confinement for as long as a year because of the pandemic face returning to prison when it's over — unless President Biden rescinds a last-minute Trump Justice Department memo.

Why it matters: Most prisoners were told they would not have to come back as they were released early with ankle bracelets. Now, their lives are on hold while they wait to see whether or when they may be forced back behind bars. Advocates say about 4,500 people are affected.

The "essential" committee that still doesn't exist

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images

Nearly five months after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the creation of the bipartisan Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth, it's not been formed much less met.

Why it matters: Select committees are designed to address urgent matters, but the 117th Congress is now nearly one-quarter complete without this panel assembling. When she announced this committee, Pelosi described it as an "essential force" to "combat the crisis of income and wealth disparity in America."

Biden's ethics end-around for labor

President Biden surveys a water treatment plant during a visit to New Orleans today. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration is excusing top officials from ethics rules that would otherwise restrict their work with large labor unions that previously employed them, federal records show.

Why it matters: Labor's sizable personnel presence in the administration is driving policy, and the president's appointment of top union officials to senior posts gives those unions powerful voices in the federal bureaucracy — even at the cost of strictly adhering to his own stringent ethics standards.