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AT&T’s ‘5G Evolution’ Speed Boost Is Not Really 5G

Samsung's new Galaxy S8 and S8+ will get access to faster speeds on AT&T's network in more than 20 cities by the end of the year, the carrier announced on Tuesday.

The speed boost is made possible by something that AT&T is referring to as "5G Evolution"—it's not a true 5G network (that's still years away), but thanks to improvements in the way it manages its existing cell network, AT&T is able to promise speeds up to twice as fast as users currently experience.

The faster speeds are now available to subscribers with the Galaxy S8 and S8+ in parts of Austin. By the end of the year, the service will expand to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Nashville, and San Francisco, among other cities. It will also eventually be compatible with other devices beyond Samsung's flagships, although AT&T didn't say which ones.

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Assuming you live in one of the aforementioned cities and use a compatible device, you could see improvements like reduced lag while playing internet-connected mobile games and less buffering for streaming video.

Back in February, AT&T offered a glimpse of the software improvements that makes the speed boost possible. Known as software-defined networking, the open-source code enables engineers to treat the AT&T network as if it were a giant data center, remotely changing server configurations to optimize data flows without having to send technicians out into the field with trucks and ladders. Thirty-four percent of the network can be managed this way today, AT&T executives said, and they plan to have it manage 75 percent by 2020.

Like other carriers, AT&T is also working on building and testing a true 5G network. In addition to improving internet speed for smartphones, the 5G standard could also be used to replace DSL connections for in-home internet.

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The Huawei P20 is not coming to the U.S.

Meet the Huawei P20. It’s a pretty nice phone. I played around with it, and I can confirm that it is, indeed, a solid flagship with some suitably over-the-top features — what’s that you say? Three rear-facing cameras?! But all of this is kind of a moot point if you live here in the States. Sure, Huawei’s been having a lot of issues trying to sell its phones in America. In fact, just as I was playing around with the P20, news was breaking that Best Buy was planning to stop selling the company’s phones — it was a bit like finding out your starting pitcher needs Tommy John surgery before opening day. Only with, you know, lots more international espionage and such. Rather than deal with the rigmarole of getting shot down by carriers and retailers this time out, the company is simply making it clear right off the bat that the new flagship just won’t be available here — not through any sort of official channels. And honestly, it’s probably best for Huawei to just focus on those countries that have long stocked its phones — from the look of the FCC reports earlier this week, this situation is going to get worse long before it gets any better. For the rest of the world, there’s plenty to like here. The P20 looks like a cross between the iPhone X and HTC’s latest shiny metal phones. It’s got a 5.8-inch display (6.1 on the P20 Pro) and some crazy camera specs, including three rear lenses, including an eight-megapixel telephoto and 40-megapixel (!) RGP, coupled with a built-in color temperature sensor. There’s still a front-mounted fingerprint sensor and some strange choices, like a 2D face unlock function that makes do with the lack of depth sensing. No pricing or availability at press time, except here in the States, where the latter is just a picture of a big red circle with a line through it.

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