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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

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Biden's inflation danger

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President-elect Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal has economists and bullish market analysts revising their U.S. growth expectations higher, predicting a reflation of the economy in 2021 and possibly more booming returns for risk assets.

Yes, but: Others are warning that what's expected to be reflation could actually show up as inflation, a much less welcome phenomenon.

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CES was largely irrelevant this year

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Forced online by the pandemic and overshadowed by the attack on the Capitol, the 2021 edition of CES was mostly an afterthought as media's attention focused elsewhere.

Why it matters: The consumer electronics trade show is the cornerstone event for the Consumer Technology Association and Las Vegas has been the traditional early-January gathering place for the tech industry.

The FBI is tracing a digital trail to Capitol rioters

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Capitol rioters, eager to share proof of their efforts with other extremists online, have so far left a digital footprint of at least 140,000 images that is making it easier for federal law enforcement officials to capture and arrest them.

The big picture: Law enforcement's use of digital tracing isn't new, and has long been at the center of fierce battles over privacy and civil liberties. The Capitol siege is opening a fresh front in that debate.