How 5G Home Internet Stacks Up To Wired Broadband

When it comes to internet access, the good news is that most Americans have a better-than-broadband option. The bad news is that they generally only have one or two choices, the costs are still high and the overall service is mediocre compared to what the fiber-optic service providers are offering. This current situation has residents looking elsewhere and to new and promising alternatives like 5G home internet.


Context

  • Wireless Broadband Providers
  • T-Mobile Home Internet and Verizon 5G Home Internet
  • Not Just Rural Areas
  • Verizon and T-Mobile Courting Reviewers
  • Verizon and T-Mobile Comparison
      • Availability
      • Hardware
      • Pricing
      • Performance
  • The Road Ahead


Wireless Broadband Providers

How 5G Home Internet Stacks Up To Wired Broadband

One of the latest trends in home internet access in the U.S. is the wireless provider. Cellular speeds are getting remarkably faster, and while 5G has not quite lived up to the hype yet as far as our phones go, there are a number of notable companies implementing it for home use in an impressive fashion. 

A core issue of 5G from the perspective of the mobile user is that it is taking time to build out the infrastructure and your moment-to-moment experience depends on where you are. When a company rolls out 5G home internet in an area, it just has to ensure that it is working for those neighborhoods.


T-Mobile Home Internet and Verizon 5G Home Internet

The two most notable 5G home internet plans are Verizon 5G Home Internet and T-Mobile Home Internet as these are the two options currently reaching the most potential customers in the U.S. In both cases, the internet service is provided through the air, and customers receive a modem-router combination unit that both creates a local Wi-Fi network and harnesses the power of local cellular bandwidth to provide access to the internet. 

It is worth noting that T-Mobile and Verizon are not the first internet service providers to offer home internet access via cellular, but this is the first time that internet service providers are offering a level of service that actually competes with the cable and DSL providers in those areas.


Not Just Rural Areas

Cellular-based home internet access has traditionally been limited to rural areas that lacked DSL options and cable where people are forced to use long-range omnidirectional antennas. But this is not the case with T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, and others currently. 

These companies are actually targeting dense urban areas where there is a significant potential consumer population, and among that population, you have many consumers who feel exploited and underappreciated by their current internet service providers and are eager to make a switch to something else.


Verizon and T-Mobile Courting Reviewers

T-Mobile and Verizon both know that 5G home internet, in general, has somewhat of a perception problem when it comes to consumers. Independent consumer research shows that why many Americans are dissatisfied with their current cable internet service providers, they are skeptical that 5G home internet would be good enough. 

One way that Verizon and T-Mobile have been working to change that perception is courting professional journalists in the tech space to review their services, and they do this by providing the equipment and service for free but in no way trying to shape or limit what they can say. There are now about a dozen or so of these reviews through which we can evaluate T-Mobile and Verizon.


Verizon and T-Mobile Comparison

Availability

While both companies are expanding their reach at an impressive rate, they are not available everywhere yet. In order to help customers, both companies have set up websites through which you can check availability in your area and even sign up for availability updates. 

As of this writing, Verizon was available in more than 900 cities and T-Mobile in more than 600 cities. Interestingly, Verizon actually sent out review equipment to journalists who lived in areas that were not yet officially supported, and those reviewers were actually quite pleased with the experience. 

That shows that Verizon is committed to offering the best internet service that it possibly can and also knows that bad consumer experiences could undermine the perception shift it is working hard to achieve.

Hardware

In both cases, the only requirement for your home is access to a standard electrical outlet. The Verizon modem router is a minimalistic white cube with a reset button, a WPS button, and two Ethernet ports. 

T-Mobile offers two design options: a light-colored cylinder and a dark-colored rectangular unit. It has additional connections that the Verizon unit does not and is also sleeker in that it has an integrated LCD screen that provides you information without the need to connect to a computer, tablet, or phone.

Pricing

T-Mobile is currently offering its service for $50 a month if you autopay and $55 a month if you do not. T-Mobile also includes some extras, including Paramount+ for a year and a YouTube TV discount. Verizon, on the other hand, offers two tiers. The basic tier costs $50 a month with autopay and $60 without. 

If you have a Verizon mobile plan, you can also get it for either $40 or $25 depending on the plan. The Plus plan costs $70 or $80 a month, and Verizon mobile users can get it as low as $50 or $35. In all cases, extras include six months of the Disney+ bundle and two months of Sling TV.

Performance

Here we get to the rub. Those who tested the T-Mobile service experienced between 200 and 250 Mbps. While not blazing, that is in line with what the average American gets from cable internet service providers.

Those testing Verizon experienced between 250 and 300 Mbps. Both companies have also stated that they expect to soon be able to offer speeds around 400 Mbps, and some of the Verizon testers did experience speeds above 300 Mbps at certain times.

One of these testers was one of the aforementioned users who lives in an area that is not officially supported by Verizon, so that does inspire some hope.


The Road Ahead

It is worth noting that download speeds can still be a bit volatile when it comes to 5G and especially compared to cable. This could cause issues at times when attending online classes, video conferencing, streaming your favorite TV shows or movies, or playing online games, for instance. That said, these services are otherwise impressive on the performance front, and they are fairly priced without data caps or hidden fees.

For users currently satisfied with their internet service providers, it is still worth keeping an eye on, and it may result in a competition that lowers your costs without you having to make a switch. If you are frustrated with your current internet service providers, these offerings are already good enough to warrant making a move in our opinion. Just don’t forget to check their customer reviews as well so you can choose a better internet provider. 

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