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5G Home Internet Is a Good Alternative To Wired Broadband

Home Internet service in the United States can often feel like a scam. You’re lucky if you have more than one or two Internet service provider choices. Installation can be a headache. Performance is sometimes mediocre, yet you might still pay a lot. Data overages and other gotchas could jack up your bill even further.

These ISPs tend to be of the wired variety. They include Xfinity, the Comcast-owned home broadband provider that works primarily via coaxial cable connections, and CenturyLink, which offers Internet access via a blend of old-style copper-cable DSL and fiber-optic connections. I use Xfinity here in St. Paul, Minnesota, and my service has been reliable for the most part, but I fret about the bang for my buck—am I paying too much for the Internet speeds I’m getting?

Helpfully, new broadband providers have lately emerged to offer additional high-speed Internet options—and these services are wireless. As cellular data has become faster with 5G (see “The iPhone Gets 5G, but What’s It Like in Real-World Use?,” 19 November 2020), cellular carriers have adapted it for affordable, convenient home Internet service, with performance often rivaling or exceeding that of wired Internet providers.

I’ve been testing two wireless home Internet services: T-Mobile Home Internet (see “T-Mobile Offers Unlimited 5G Home Broadband Service,” 14 April 2021) and Verizon 5G Home Internet.

Both carriers deliver a 5G connection through the air, as they do to newer iPhones and cellular iPads, making the services easy to deploy. Customers receive a router that creates a local Wi-Fi network and harnesses cellular bandwidth for the backhaul link to the Internet, thereby enabling your Zoom calling and Netflix binging.

Cellular wireless services like this have been around for a while, albeit with slower connections and largely in areas where good wired broadband is hard to get. But in the 5G age, cellular Internet has started to make inroads as an urban alternative to traditional ISPs.

T-Mobile has been aggressively expanding its Home Internet footprint since it rolled out the service in April 2021. More recently, as Verizon has tapped into new spectrum that enabled high-speed connections in more areas (see “AT&T and Verizon Debut Faster, More Widely Available 5G Service,” 22 January 2022), its 5G Home Internet has grown from a niche offering to one that now rivals T-Mobile’s reach.

T-Mobile and Verizon loaned me equipment, so I was able to test their services under real-life conditions. I initially deployed them only for my Internet connection for my day job, not for my family’s Wi-Fi. I work entirely from home, so a dependable and speedy connection is necessary. In the second phase of my testing, I made the Wi-Fi available throughout the home (with some help from my Eero mesh networking equipment) for my wife and son’s communal use.

I was struck by how similar the services are and, therefore, how difficult it is to recommend one over the other. They’re both pretty good, as I’ll explain.

Signing Up

Before you get too excited about these services, you have to determine if they’re available where you live. Enter your address on the T-Mobile and Verizon sites to find out. (My St. Paul address qualifies for T-Mobile service, but not Verizon service; Verizon sent me hardware anyway, and it has worked well.)

Last I checked with T-Mobile, its Home Internet service was available to more than 30 million homes in 600 US cities and towns. The service has most recently expanded into Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina.

Verizon said in January 2022 that its 5G Home Internet was available in 900 US cities following the debut of its C-band spectrum, a major leap from last year when it was available only in small portions of several dozen (including Minneapolis and St. Paul). About 20 million homes are eligible for this service.

Once your address is approved and you’ve signed up, the carriers ship the necessary hardware to you. Between the popularity of the services and pandemic supply chain constraints, you might have to wait a bit for your equipment.

T-Mobile costs $50 per month (if you use autopay, $55 if you don’t) with unlimited data and no contract, fees, or equipment charges. A couple of goodies are included, including a free year of the Paramount+ streaming-video service and a discount on YouTube TV streaming.

Verizon’s pricing structure is a bit more complex, but the difference between the two plans boils down to how long your price guarantee lasts and a few perks:

  • 5G Home: $50 per month with autopay, $60 without; $25 per month if you have a Verizon 5G Do More, Play More, or Get More mobile plan; $40 per month if combined with certain other Verizon mobile plans; 2-year price guarantee
  • 5G Home Plus: $70 per month with autopay, $80 per month without; $35 per month if you have a Verizon 5G Do More, Play More, or Get More mobile plan; $50 if combined with certain other Verizon mobile plans; 3-year price guarantee

As with T-Mobile, Verizon provides unlimited data with no contract, fees, or equipment charges. Extra goodies include a free 6 months of a Disney+/Hulu/ESPN+ streaming bundle for 5G Home users and 12 months for 5G Home Plus users. Everyone gets a free streaming device for connecting to their TVs, plus 2 free months of the Sling TV streaming service.

Hardware

The T-Mobile and Verizon routers couldn’t be simpler. Their only required physical connection is to an electrical outlet, which provides flexibility for in-home positioning.

The Verizon router is the more minimalist of the two—it’s a white cube with no physical controls other than reset and Wi-Fi Protected Setup buttons. When you plug it into power, the router connects to the Verizon network and installs firmware updates. It has two Ethernet ports suitable for plugging in a computer or other gear, along with a USB-C port not intended for customer use (it’s hidden under a silicone flap). A light on the front alternates red and white when the router is starting up, blinks white when updating firmware, shines a solid red if it can’t get a signal, and turns solid white when the Wi-Fi is ready to use.

Verizon's 5G cube router

(A disclaimer: the router Verizon sent me does not function exactly like those sent out to subscribers, lacking some features. As a result, I couldn’t test all the capabilities I describe in this article.)

T-Mobile’s router is available either as a light-gray cylinder or a dark-gray rectangular monolith. The company sent me the cylinder, an older model, which has an on/off switch, a couple of ports (RJ-11 and USB-C) that T-Mobile says don’t serve any user function right now, and a circular LCD screen on top that displays alerts (such as firmware updates in progress) and how many service bars you have. An internal battery keeps the router’s screen on if you unplug it from the wall, but the Wi-Fi network stops working. The router has two Ethernet ports for plugging in hardware.

T-Mobile says the newer model (shown below) is functionally equivalent to the older one and that the two are being offered to users interchangeably. The rectangular router also has two Ethernet ports and an LCD screen.

T-Mobile's 5G modem

Setup

Getting started with either service is a cinch. Find a spot for your router, plug it into power, and then log in to its Wi-Fi network using your iPhone, iPad, or Mac with an SSID and password conveniently emblazoned on the underside of the router.

If your Internet connection seems slow or unreliable, you may need to experiment with placement of the device so it can better communicate with the cellular towers nearest to your home. Putting the router near a window is a good idea.

T-Mobile's 5G mobile app

Here’s where the T-Mobile and Verizon apps come in handy. You don’t need them for setup (and they might make the process more confusing), but they can coach you through positioning your router for optimal signal strength.

T-Mobile’s app displays a map of my block along with a magenta animation suggesting that I put its router on the west side of my house, by a window, and preferably on a top floor (my office is in the attic with a western window, so I’m golden).

Verizon’s app has a compass-like animation similar to the one the one used with Apple’s AirTag Precision Finding, including a spinning arrow that points you in the direction of the best 5G signal. I couldn’t test this feature because my loaner hardware lacked an associated user account, so I couldn’t log in to the app.

The routers have Web portals for fine control of hardware settings; to log in, type in your device’s IP address and admin password, both of which are also printed on the bottom. (As with other features, I couldn’t log in to Verizon’s Web portal with the password provided.) You can also configure and control the routers to a great degree via the apps.

T-Mobile's Web portal

Performance

I experienced decent Internet download speeds, though they weren’t always as good as I’d hoped. I need to provide a bit of background for context.

T-Mobile has offered speedy 5G mobile service for a couple of years via “mid-band” spectrum acquired in its 2018 merger with Sprint. During iPhone tests in late 2020, I experienced downloads as high as 400 megabits per second as I crisscrossed downtown St. Paul but saw more modest results, around 100 Mbps, at home (see “The iPhone Gets 5G, but What’s It Like in Real-World Use?,” 19 November 2020). At the time, T-Mobile was alone in offering such high wireless speeds over sizable—but mainly urban—geographical areas.

AT&T and Verizon caught up this year with the deployment of C-band spectrum that gave them download performance roughly equivalent to T-Mobile’s spectrum, along with a larger footprint. Using an Android phone on loan from Verizon, I never cracked 400 Mbps, but I consistently notched around 350 Mbps within my house.

With my Xfinity broadband, by comparison, my downloads hover consistently around 100 Mbps, which is what I’m promised. Comcast charges me $83 per month—which includes $25 for unlimited data so I don’t run afoul of the service’s infamous data overages.

So how did my T-Mobile and Verizon home Internet gear perform?

T-Mobile regularly hit 200 Mbps and sometimes peaked at 250 Mbps, which disappointed me a bit after those spectacular 400 Mbps downloads during my earlier T-Mobile testing. Still, it’s much better than what I get from Xfinity, and for much less money. It is definitely better than the 35–115 Mbps T-Mobile promises on its website.

Verizon regularly exceeded 250 Mbps and occasionally topped 300 Mbps in my testing. Again, remember that my address does not even officially qualify for Verizon’s service, so these are great results.

Verizon is capable of much higher speeds, in the neighborhood of 1–2 gigabits per second, but only in the nooks and crannies of certain cities where it provides “high band” or “millimeter wave” service. The company lumps its C-band and mmWave service into one category it calls Ultra-Wideband, which can be confusing.

With the speeds I experienced, either service would be a good fit in my professional life. My work as a newspaper Web editor largely involves constant monitoring of the news via audio and video Internet streams. Neither T-Mobile nor Verizon let me down, for the most part. (As with any other ISP I have ever used, I experienced a few momentary outages and other glitches that I consider par for the course.)

However, it’s important to note that download speeds via cellular connections can be unpredictable. If you’ve regularly performed speed tests on your iPhone, you’ve surely noticed that the numbers can be all over the place. I also saw variable performance with the T-Mobile and Verizon routers at times, perhaps because their networks were overwhelmed then. I found this annoying—especially if I needed to download a huge file or play a high-resolution video without buffering or degradation—since my Xfinity performance is more predictable. That said, wired ISPs aren’t entirely free of performance problems either.

Keep in mind that T-Mobile Home Internet also uses its older 4G LTE network alongside 5G to extend its service over wider areas, so your speeds might vary depending on where you are. Those in a 4G area might see only 12 Mbps or less.

My biggest beef with Xfinity is its excruciatingly slow uploads—often under 10 Mbps. T-Mobile and Verizon uploads are speedier, usually greater than 10 Mbps and sometimes peaking at 30–40 Mbps. This was a relief since uploading high-resolution wire-service photos to my employer’s WordPress server is a major part of my job. I also upload lots of personal pictures to Google Photos, which has been an ongoing nightmare with Xfinity.

Fiber-optic connections via CenturyLink in my city are symmetrical—uploads are as fast as downloads. That’s great, but signing up for the service would involve stringing another data cable to the house and punching another hole in a wall. My wife has balked at this, which is why the wireless services seem so enticing, their slower upload speeds notwithstanding.

Networking

The T-Mobile and Verizon routers did a reasonably good job of bathing my residence in bandwidth, but wireless networking with any one device in a multistory home has limits. Mesh network systems with two or more Wi-Fi modules better distribute a Wi-Fi signal within a building.

I use Amazon’s Eero equipment (see “Eero Provides Good Wi-Fi Coverage in a Handsome Package,” 25 June 2016, and “Amazon Buys Mesh-Networking Company Eero,” 12 February 2019). For good Wi-Fi coverage in my three-story residence, I plug one Eero module into my Xfinity router via one of its Ethernet ports so that it can pass along its signal to the other modules scattered throughout the house.

Because the T-Mobile and Verizon routers have Ethernet ports, I tried swapping them in for the Xfinity router. This worked as expected, and my wife and son weren’t even aware that their precious Wi-Fi signal was coming from a different source.

It’s Not Mobile

When I first heard about cellular-based home Internet, the first thing that popped into my head was: “Hey, cool, that means I could use the service from more than one location.”

Turns out that’s a big no-no. Unlike phones, which obviously can be used anywhere there’s a signal, T-Mobile’s Home Internet and Verizon’s 5G Home Internet are assigned to the users’ postal addresses and are intended to be used only there. Nothing technically prevents users from unplugging their routers and taking them somewhere else, and the hardware will continue working if it has a signal, but doing so violates the terms of service, and users risk having their service canceled.

Such a rule “helps us assure that the place of use meets our network standards to provide you and others with a high quality of service,” T-Mobile says in a Web FAQ. (I think the company means “ensure” instead of “assure.”) Verizon suggests, “Just contact us and ask so we can let you know” if the equipment would work properly at a different location.

The Upshot

I tested T-Mobile’s Home Internet and Verizon’s 5G Home Internet with one question in mind: Could either replace my Xfinity service? The answer is a tentative yes, and if it’s yes for me, it could be a yes for you too.

I’m more confident about T-Mobile Home Internet, which I’ve used nonstop for several months and found to be quite reliable.

I’ve had less than two weeks with the Verizon gear, so I hesitate to render a definitive judgment, especially since I had non-standard hardware at a non-qualifying address with some missing features. Still, I was wowed by Verizon’s speeds, which were somewhat faster than T-Mobile’s, and often triple what Xfinity gives me.

As for the cost, both T-Mobile and Verizon services are noticeably less expensive than my Xfinity service. Neither has any data caps, hidden fees, or contracts.

I’m not ready to switch because my wife is more cautious than I am and takes her time making such decisions, but I see us making the move eventually.

Regardless of my marital negotiations, home Internet service from cellular providers seems to be hitting the big time, so if you’re not happy with your current wired broadband service, see if 5G Internet is an option for your address.

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Comments About 5G Home Internet Is a Good Alternative To Wired Broadband

Notable Replies

  1. Good article. I don’t know if the 5G home internet will ever become available where I live, but I still found the article very helpful. Thank you!

  2. thanks for the solid rundown; we’re 1-2 blocks from multiple 5G towers in Denver, some of which we know to be Verizon’s, yet neither Verizon nor T-mobile 5G internet is available to us; its primary value would probably be as backup to the CenturyLink gigabit fiber we currently enjoy

    though CL’s fiber is pretty darned reliable, our own budget AT&T cellular phone service (LTE, but minimally capable of a running 3-5 party mediation sessions on Zoom) is already our low-speed fallback via hotspot capabilities; so this 5G home service, for how little we seem to need it, would probably have to be significantly less expensive to keep around “just in case”

  3. Thanks for mentioning upload speeds; Comcast’s are so bad that they won’t tell you what they are until you give them your credit card number. But a potential deal-breaker is latency; what kind of ping times did you get?

  4. I just received my monthly report from Fing on my Comcast performance in the SF Bay Area. Speed tests are performed four times a day around 4am, 9am, 2pm & 10pm. Almost all latent times are between 10 and 12 with a hand full of 9’s and 15’s as highs and lows. There was one outlier of 54 on Mar 1 at 2:37. Average upload speed was 40.4Mbps.

  5. My biggest question is video streaming. Is this fast enough to watch ice hockey on Fubo or movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime?

  6. Absolutely. My wife streams YouTube TV, Netflix and the like nonstop and hasn’t had any issues. In fact, she had no idea I had switched her from our Xfinity wired broadband to the 5G during my testing.

  7. I’ve been telling people in my town’s Facebook group about T-Mobile’s 5G home service. Our cable company charges $120 per month for 200Mbps service (which normally gives you about 70Mbps). T-Mobile is only $50 and faster. Everyone who’s switched is delighted.

    Unfortunately, my house is a desert island of no high speed T-Mobile service surrounded by a sea of high speed service. It’s a dead zone.

    It’s been that way for years, but never bothered me. I use my cable’s WiFi service and most calls go out fine on WiFi. However, I want to switch to T-Mobile’s service, so I called and reported that I’m in a dead zone. The tech offered to send me a minitower that would improve my service. All I have to do is plug it into my cable’s WiFi. Of course, that defeats the whole purpose.

    I’m hoping that they can adjust the antennas in their tower to give my area better coverage.

  8. In Sydney (Australia) my relative just moved into an apartment. Neighbours told her the wired internet in the building was woeful.
    I noticed I could see the local telephone/cellphone tower from her balcony so I suggested she looks at 5G internet. She signed up to Telstra and has a good 5G service, even at peak times.

  9. Thank you very much for this article, Julio!

  10. Some questions:

    Are all iDevices and Macintosh computers required to have 5G built in?

    What if your postal address is a USPS Post Office box? Are you limited to the geographic block around the Post Office building?

  11. I’m in Australia too in Brisbane. We have Fibre to the home and so should have brilliant internet over that but it is choked by Telstra who have a hold on this area. So we use Optus 5G service - we get over 120 down and over 30 up. It’s fantastic most of the time but occasionally it just stops for a short while, up to 15 minutes - the modem shows that it;'s still connected to 5G but there is no service - even OOKLA fails to connect at that time. These outages usually concedes with the peaks of the kids coming home from school etc so it will be due to an overload of connections at our local base station - Optus have advised they are upgrading the tower but who knows when! Rather annoying when you are in the middle of something! Mostly it just restarts without intervention but sometimes we have to reset the modem. So, beware that as poularity of theses services increase you will see a degradation in performance.

  12. We’ve been on T-Mobile 5G Home Internet since last December. The signal inside the house wasn’t great, we have a metal roof and are surrounded by trees, so we installed an external antenna array from WaveForm.com. That was quite an undertaking.

    Now we have internet service that’s reliable enough. We’re getting 50-130Mbps down and 10-30 up, much better than the 11/1 we were getting from CenturyLink.

  13. Julio did some nice work to find out what’s available.

    What I find interesting is that 5G Home Internet appears to deliver this bandwidth service without the use of the high frequency 28GHz (or millimeter wave) band that was set aside for high bandwidth. I listened into a technical seminar on 5G and 6G networks last month where the expert speaker said that the costs and difficulties (particularly limited transmission range) turn out to be “economically prohibitive.” I asked if that would limit bandwidth, and the speaker replied “It definitely is going to limit the bandwidth.”

    One common problem with new wireless networks is that carriers may not maintain the high bandwidth per customer once more people sign up and the total bandwidth is divided among more users. I recall this happening with the startup of 4G. the bandwidth is great until people start using them heavily. When more people sign on, the service starts to slow, as

    5G service may not slip the same way, but it’s important to check what service you’re getting.

  14. The higher the frequency the shorter the distance from the base station so these services will never be a solution where the towers are sparse, hence the requirement to check the site is suitable before supplying the gear. One would also hope that they would be limiting the number of these units around each tower … but I think that’s not realist from my own experience.

  15. Native 5G capability (unavailable on Macs, and available only on later-model iOS devices) is irrelevant since the 5G modem translates its signal into Wi-Fi for any laptop, phone or tablet to use.

  16. You raise an interesting question with the P.O. box. I imagine you can provide the 5G Internet provider with your home address, even if that isn’t your official mailing address, but you should double-check on that.

  17. Verizon’s 5G Internet service was originally an mmWave-only play. It recently expanded with the available of C-band service.

  18. The biggest drawback to these cellular home internet services is the fact that they generally don’t allow you to make inbound connections to devices at your home, at least not via IPv4 because of the multiple layers of NAT that are present in mobile networks. When I last looked at this last year, there was some talk about inbound IPv6 being a faint possibility maybe in the future but likely not anytime soon. If anyone knows differently I’d love to hear about it. Of course, neither T-Mobile nor Verizon are offering their service at my address anyway right now, so I’m stuck with an ancient DSL connection because I refuse to give Comcast any money, and AT&T refused to ever install a U-Verse or direct fiber service on my street (despite other people in my town just a few streets over getting those services).

  19. I live near Phoenix. Verizon is not available here; T-Mobile is. But it’s promised performance levels (35-100 megabit downloads; as slow as 8 megabits uploads) are not quite there for us. If and when I could get something of the sort that the author of this article receives, I’d consider it.

    As of now, I’m stuck with Cox. CenturyLink is a flat 40 megabits (which translates to just above 30 based on their screwy estimate scheme).

    Having unlimited data would allow us to consider a streaming TV service, but the ones I checked don’t offer all the locals we want.

    Peace,
    Gene

  20. Is it possible to disable the Wi-Fi radio on the router that they provide and just use your own mesh network for your home Wi-Fi?

  21. I was really glad I read this article. I’m rural and no wired high speed internet is available at all. DSL tops out at 9-12mbps. Starlink not available yet. Terrestrial dish tops at 25mbps. Currently we are using T-Mobile service through the Simnet Wireless WISP. Speeds are 35/35mbps which frankly is a amazing compared to other options. But now finding out, via this article, that Verizon is offering 5G internet, at 1/2 the price of my WISP, is just too good to pass up trying, especially with no contract.

    My concerns are:

    1. integrating a new source into my home setup (really good router, multiple access points) due to needing to place their cube probably in a window, which is far from the inside network closet;
    2. possibly needing to invest in a directional 5G antenna as my Vz iPhone 13 Pro typically is at 1 bar.

    But I’m feeling hopeful!

  22. I’ve been assuming that cellular or 5G internet is likely going to become the dominant service for home internet given the infrastructure savings and the increased competition it allows. I did not know about the specific bandwidth limitation or the lack of IPv6 although I knew it was still inferior, albeit probably good enough for most people given the cost savings. I still get the feeling that it’s going to be profitable enough for the necessary cellular towers to be built to make it the dominant delivery method of home internet. It’s more than just a little less expensive. Its presence should lower consumer costs if nothing else.

  23. I’ve been using T-Mobile Home Internet (older cylinder base) near Orlando since last November with 10x faster service than my previous Spectrum cable service. I always get 450-600 Mbps down, 40-60 Mbps up and pings from 20-50 ms, occasionally faster. I frequently measure my speed with SpeedTest and SpeedSmart apps on my iPhone that’s connected to the T-Mobile WiFi without additional antennas or extenders but reception is fine throughout my entire small home.

  24. I’m fortunate enough to live in a neighborhood with Verizon FiOS fiber optic cable. About a year ago, I decided to drop the cable TV part of the plan and upgrade to their almost Gbit (980 Mbps down, 860 Mbps up) service. Leaving my last-gen AirPort Extreme in place, I get ~ 550 Mbps down/250 Mbps up on my WiFi-5 capable devices. My desktop, the last of the Intel 27-inch Retina 5K iMacs, I purchased with the 10 Gbps option, and connect to the Verizon router via a 10 Gbps switch and Cat 6E cables (overkill at this point, but it leaves room for expansion to other wired nodes).

    I’ve been a Verizon Wireless customer long enough to be unimpressed by their “offers” of a few months of a package of streaming services I don’t use. From the Plus package you describe, Hulu and ESPN are of no interest to me, and a monthly Disney subscription is still inexpensive enough that I can make it part of my cord-cutting budget when there’s content of interest. (For what it’s worth, the extras with their wireless phone service are ususally limited to a pre-paid credit card…. that can only be used on Verizon hardware purchases. Somewhat underwhelming, and after the first time, when I learned the usage limitations, one on which I refused to take them up.) I’d caution against buying into any of their “Plus”-like plans that only offer a short-term free access to streaming services, because they’re going to keep charging you those extra $20 a month for three years regardless of whether or not you lose interest in those services. And I don’t need the Sling; I have an Apple TV 4K.

    Why did I want ~ Gbit service? With five Apple devices, each requiring 1.7 - 6 Gbyte OS upgrades or security patch updates, I really don’t like waiting around for the downloads. Ditto for other high-volume content.

  25. Thanks for the great article.

    Fiber-optic connections via CenturyLink in my city are symmetrical—uploads are as fast as downloads. That’s great, but signing up for the service would involve stringing another data cable to the house and punching another hole in a wall.

    I don’t know CenturyLink, but fiber is amazing in my experience. And symmetrical is only icing on the cake. Depending on the pricing, it may well be worth double checking whether you’d really have another hole drilled in the wall. In my experience getting fiber, they placed the fiber “modem” on the outside of the house and simply used the existing ethernet cable running into the house to provide internet inside. (A lot of phone wires run inside homes are actually just ethernet cable, where only 2 or 4 of the wires are being utilized. So they just used the “phone” line.)

  26. I tried T-Mobile’s Internet service in Golden Valley, MN last year. I liked it, but I couldn’t connect to my company’s VPN. T-Mobile Support told me that was a known issue with some VPNs. So I had to switch back to Xfinity.

    That was about a year ago; does anyone have any insight into whether this has been worked out?

  27. Where I live up in the mountains, both AT&T and T-Mobile signals are very weak. I don’t know if they will ever provide stronger signals. Most people have Verizon and it works relatively well although I doubt if they will ever expand the 5G service into our area. Luckily, I happen to live within the coverage area of Vyve Broadband. I get the 1 Gig Wi-Fi although it never reaches the maximum speed. But who am I to complain? Some who are less fortunate have to rely on the slow DSL or satellite dish such as HughesNet.

  28. Thanks for this article. I am using T-mobile’s 5G Gateway router/modem 5 days now. The T-mobile store at the mall offered a 14-day free trial, so I figured I couldn’t lose. The first couple of days, my broadband speeds were over 400Mbps on my iPhone and AppleTV 4K. My iPad and desktop Mac Pro were getting over 200Mbps and my Amazon FireStick in my bedroom was getting about 50Mbps. After that, I couldn’t get over 100Mbps on any of my devices until I read your article.

    I decided to move the router to a higher spot where it got 4 bars instead of 3 as before. I couldn’t plug in my Ethernet cable there because the cable is wired through the wall and not long enough to reach the higher spot. So, I put the router back where it was, but the 4 bars still remained. I did some speed tests and suddenly the 426Mbps was back on some of my devices. My computer was getting 326Mbps–better than I ever saw before.

    Even when my speed tests weren’t getting great numbers, I had no problems downloading large files while using Skype for video chatting. All of my streaming devices were working just fine.

    I am pretty sure I will be sticking with T-mobile’s G5 service, especially since it is $25 less per month than Spectrum’s internet.

    I have 21 devices using WiFi and all are working just fine. The only thing I have found that may be an issue—since switching to G5 from wired internet, I cannot use AirPlay from my computer to my AppleTV 4K on my home theater. It sends the audio to my TV but no video. I see my computer desktop picture only. That was never a problem before switching to G5, so I suspect there is some incompatibility there.

  29. This all depends on your location. I have access to 500Mbit or 1GBit fibre (not through my monopoly cable TV provider, which like Comcast is a total ripoff) at a reasonable cost. 1Gbit fibre in my neighborhood is <$70/month with no throttling and symmetric upload/download speeds, I will hard pass on 5G home internet.

  30. @julio will have to chime in about actually disabling the Wi-Fi on the router, but he explicitly tested using his Eero mesh network with the cellular routers and it worked fine.

  31. It’s a good question. This is what I do with my Comcast cable modem since I rely on my Eero mesh gear. I poked around the T-Mobile router’s web admin interface but could not figure this out, so I asked my T-Mobile press contact. Even more unclear on whether it’s a Verizon option since the loaner hardware I was sent didn’t have an option to log in to the admin interface (as regular users are able to do). I’ll follow up if any useful info comes my way.

  32. Not sure if that would have been an option in my case, curious to find out.

  33. Symmetrical gigabit fiber rules, agreed. It’s an option where I live, so it’s something I’d perhaps pursue in the future if my wife agrees to the installation hassles. 5G access is simpler in this regard, and keeping my wife from getting annoyed is always my priority :slight_smile:

  34. I’m trying out T-Mobile Home Internet. I only have 2 bars no matter where I put it in my home. At late night I get 100-250 down ad 10-40 up. During the day it sucks. Maybe 5 down and 1 up sometimes more, sometimes less.
    Their coverage map says I ought to have 5 bars here but I don’t and I can’t convince T-Mobile of that.
    I’ll probably cancel the service. COX just upped my download from 150 to 250 for no cost and it has always run smooth.

  35. Hi, thanks for the detailed article. I have watched Tmobile’s ads for a year and have thought about switching.

    I have one question. My home service has a DHCP address, not a static, but it goes years without changing. I am able to use home equipment to store my office backups reliably; essentially, I have my own cloud service.

    Does Tmobile provide an IP address, or are there other ways of routing now. If DHCP, do you know how stable it is?

    Thanks, Rick

  36. Back before the turn of the century, a friend and I came up with a business plan to use WiFi mesh networks to connect a neighborhood.

    The idea was to have one point where you have a high speed fiber access, then use WiFi routers from roof top to roof top. If you got enough people with WiFi, you could have a pretty sold mesh network.

    From the antenna on the roof, we’d connect to a normal local WiFi router for a home network. Tests showed we were getting 15 to 20Mbps speeds.

    The project never took off because of the fear of competition with WiMAX (remember WiMAX?) and the fact that cable operators could create their own WiFi citywide networks that would purposely interfere with ours.

    Imagine once 5G takes off and breaks a certain density threshold. You could place a small 5G mmWave mesh router on a roof that would connect to other local 5G mesh routers. A feed from the roof router to a home WiFi router would allow a home network.

    You would need maybe three of these routers per block to have a 5G network that could reach down the street. More customers than that on a street would make the network more robust. By keeping the 5G mmWave routers on the roofs, you eliminate issues with walls and provide excellent line-of-sight from one router to another.

    The cost of these 5G mmWave roof top routers could be as low as $75 apiece.

    It’s not viable now, but could be something we might start to see in about a decade.

  37. John: T-Mobile wants to know where you live to better address your concern?

  38. “5G Home Internet Is a Good Alternative To Wired Broadband”

    Well … that sort of depends on your home broadband. We have ~700Mbps down and ~170Mbps up. :stuck_out_tongue::sunglasses::hugs::blush:

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