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Is 5G Home Internet Good for Streaming and Gaming?

Is 5G Internet Good?

5G home internet is the next step in wireless internet at home. Unlike previous iterations, such as 4G LTE or 3G HSPA, 5G is a newer technology that’s both faster and more reliable. It is also super affordable and easily accessible to home and business users. Is it time to switch over from the conventional high-speed internet offering cable and telephone line avails to us? How good is 5G internet today? Which 5G internet provider is best for you? These are the questions we will answer in this article.

Last year, we switched to 5G Home Internet with about 11-12 months of experience using it thus far. With a year’s worth of understanding and experience with the service, we discovered the good and the bad behind 5G Home Internet. We hope this will help you switch from your conventional home internet service.

Our experience and plan with T-Mobile’s 5G Home Internet include:

  1. Unlimited data transfer means no additional fees or usage limits.  
  2. No speed caps denote no limits in speed apart from your gateway’s physical distance from your nearest cell tower.
  3. High-speed bandwidth ranges from 50-450 Mbps download and 10-25 Mbps upload, with others experiencing higher and lower variance depending on their location and distance from their nearest 5G tower.
  4. Business account/line with up to 8 gateways per business account with an EIN, but the experience is the same with personal home internet accounts.
  5. 24/7 Customer Service Line allows troubleshooting when needed, especially since this technology is still new.

5G Home Internet: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly…and Gaming?

signal tower
Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels.com

The Good

We’ve been using T-Mobile’s 5G Home Internet Service for almost a year at our home office, switching over from our previous cable internet service provider.

One of the reasons why we switched over was that our cable service decided to apply an additional charge for unlimited bandwidth, limiting it to 1 Terabyte per month. Since the line we use fuels our needs for downloading and uploading large amounts of data (such as 3D files, videos, and photos), it’s easy to hit this limit every month. In addition to streaming movies from Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, and other services, our home office also uploads video streams from both Ring cameras and doorbells TP-Link Kasa cameras. This type of usage equates to utilizing over 2 Terabytes of data transfers per month for just the one home office alone. The unlimited bandwidth saves at least $50 per month. That means a household and office can use the savings towards additional streaming services and other subscription services such as Adobe’s Creative Cloud (already hefty at $60 per month for all of their programs). 

The second reason we switched over was the speed. In our experience, being about half a mile away from the cellular tower, the distance provides us about 300-450 Mbps down and 10-25mpbs up speeds. The 5G service was 4x faster than our previous cable provider and 2x faster during uploads. Rates will vary with each application and location. Some of the factors which affect speeds include the modernization of the cellular tower one is connecting to, and the distance from the said tower will determine the rates each user will receive. Lastly, the other bottleneck that devices will encounter is whether or not they are using the latest Wi-Fi technology on both their connected routers and the personal devices they are using.

The third and last reason we switched from cable internet to 5G Home Internet is to remove ourselves from cable providers’ monopolistic actions and treatment of their customers. Over a decade ago, there were no additional costs associated with unlimited bandwidth when using cable internet, but recently, they have been adding extra charges for higher speeds and data caps which construes a money-grab from customers with no additional benefits. Keeping the cost at a fixed $50 per month with 5G Home Internet, with no additional fees for usage or speeds, makes it more affordable and frees the customer from the possibility of higher costs in the future.

The Bad

Unfortunately, as with new services and technological offerings, some caveats exist. We hope this part of the article will help you determine if the bad is worth the risk.

The number of users using the same cellular tower you are using is one of the things that the sales rep will tell you when you inquire about the bad parts of 5G Home Internet. In our experience, we discovered that at least two other households in our neighborhood use the same service and are utilizing the same tower. Inquiring with our neighbors, they used up to 2 Terabytes of bandwidth per month, mainly due to video streaming services and Wi-Fi connected security cameras. Their usage is equivalent to our use case. None of us experienced slow speeds, even while using the same tower. That is in addition to undisclosed users and neighbors that may also be using the same tower. What we can take from this is that even with high-speed cable internet, the number of users on the same network will likely produce slower speeds and experiences. However, with the additional competition of 5G home internet, we believe that this allows for displacement of users across multiple services, thus permitting the maintenance and consistency of high speeds. However, this experience may change as more people decide to switch to using 5G home internet, but as of now, this problem is negligent.

Another problem that arises is the constant modernization of 5G towers. It is good that the current offering of 5G towers that provide high-speed internet is continually being updated and upgraded. However, the bad thing about that is that it means slower speeds during upgrades. In May 2022, we experienced such slow speeds that it induced at least three phone calls to T-Mobile’s Home Internet customer service center, informing us that the current modernization project they are deploying will last a month. That means slower than 5G speeds for at least three weeks! Upon speaking to their customer service and tech representatives, they were kind enough to apply a $50 credit to our account to cover the costs of the month’s fees as we will likely receive a less than ideal service. Experiences such as this put the company’s customer service to the test, and at least in our experience, T-Mobile passes it with flying colors. If you require consistent speed and up-times, then it is likely that you should stick with your current internet provider that is already supplying the needed consistency. On the other hand, it might be worth having two service providers experiment with and try due to the price. T-Mobile even provides a 15-day trial window and pays early termination fees if you wish to switch over.

Lastly, where you install and the direction in which you point your 5G gateway matter. This means that you will need to experiment with different locations in your home to determine where your gateway will function best. Differences in device location in your home and direction point to a negative experience because it adds additional steps to acquiring exceptional internet, which may or may not be in your control. It means that each user will have an inconsistent experience depending on their ability to install and configure their gateways. 

The Ugly

man wearing black headset
Photo by Ola Dapo on Pexels.com

Another ugly thing to observe with 5G Home Internet service is the growing competition amongst current and upcoming internet service providers (ISPs). Each ISP has to provide consistent and fast internet service while providing excellent customer service while keeping prices competitive. That’s good for you, the consumer!

You probably learned to accept that there were only one, two, or three ISPs in your area if you’re like us. Usually, the internet is through your local cable provider, your telephone’s landline provider, or satellite services. Also, depending on your location, you may or may not even have these services available to you, which means you only have one service obtainable to you, and its price is exorbitant compared to the service you are receiving.

The good news is that the old days of having no competition are nearly gone with the plethora of 5G Home Internet Service providers (including T-Mobile and Verizon), which provide services for as little as $50 per month. Starlink is also another option for customers located in remote areas needing high-speed internet but at much higher costs, with hardware costing upwards of $599, shipping at $50, associated taxes at around $40, and the service fee at $110.00 per month.

With ugly competition between companies, the winners are their customers affording attractive prices. With 5G offerings, the only device customers need is the gateway associated with the service, which is provided for free by the ISP. Satellite services such as Starlink are much more expensive in terms of equipment costs and monthly rates, but if you’re in a remote location in need of such services, you’re likely to find this option as a necessity and is better than having no service. Lastly, one of the competitive advantages of older style services, including landlines and cable providers, are super-high bandwidths, including gigabit speeds, which costs more than 5G services.

We believe that 5G internet service providers can make high-speed internet more affordable and accessible.

It is a nice change from the more expensive up-keep and costs of cable and DSL providers, increasing their prices over time with no added benefits. With new product offerings and deals by companies offering either $50 flat fees for high-speed internet for life while offering 15-day no risk trials (T-Mobile) or locking in prices for at least three years (Verizon), it makes it an economical choice, and while delivering less risk for new users to try and switch over from their original ISPs. If you’re ready to switch to 5G, check out the competitive deals companies offer below.

Competitive Deals Between 5G Internet Service Providers

Image from T-Mobile.com

T-Mobile

Full disclaimer: This is the service we use in our home office. We do not have any affiliation with T-Mobile. We do not receive incentives for talking about their service on our website. With that said, they are offering several incentives to join.

One is their ‘Worry-Free Test Drive”, which allows you to try their 5G Home Internet for 15-days at no cost to you. that means you’re not going to be charged for these first 15 days, thus minimizing the risk for trying out their service,

If you decide to switch over from your previous ISP, they also offer “Zero Cost To Switch,” which means they will cover and pay up to $500 in termination fees via a virtual prepaid card. 

They also offer a “price lock,” which denotes that the price you sign up for is what you will get.

Entertainment features and incentives include a one-year free subscription to Paramount+ and 50% off YouTube TV for the first year.

Image from Verizon.com

Verizon

Talking with customers who use Verizon’s 5G Home Internet, they may offer even faster speeds than T-Mobile due to their 5G Ultra Wideband technology. However, this coverage is limited and only available in certain areas.

They offer plans with different pricing ranging from $25 to $80, depending on combining their 5G ISP service with their cell phone plans. They also provide 30 days for returns and refunds, which means you will be initially charged for the service but can be refunded the costs if the plan is canceled within 30 days.

This 5G ISP also offers up to $500 credit towards early termination fees if you incur them when you switch over. You must do this within 90 days after you install the 5G gateway, and the value of the documented termination fees you paid will be given back to you in the form of a credit to your future billing cycle.

Their prices have a two or three-year guarantee, which means no fully grandfathered plans. On the other hand, they don’t force you into any type or form of annual contract. But do note that they may increase or lower their prices over time, so keep the price lock term limits in mind.

Verizon also offers entertainment perks, including The Disney Bundle for free for the first six months, including Disney+, Hulu with ads, and ESPN+ through Hulu.

Image from Starwalk.space

Please note that Starlink does not use 5G technology to provide their services but rather uses direct-link to satellites to broadcast and receive data transmission. We wanted to include this service in this article to understand the latest satellite internet provider while comparing features.

To receive Starlink services, you will need to pay an up-front $599 for their Starlink Kit. This includes an outdoor dish antenna, power supply, wireless router, and base stand. Their monthly service fee is $99. These costs amount to accessing high-speed internet in almost any location due to access to tens of thousands of satellites currently revolving around the globe. These satellites then communicate with fiber-optic internet on the ground.

The up-front costs are high with Starlink and usually require a pre-order to reserve the service and equipment. However, according to Starlink, 100% of the equipment and services fees are refundable within 30 days of receipt.

There exist no actual price lock features with Starlink. In fact, in March of 2022, they announced that price increases followed, citing inflation as the reason. On the other hand, Starlink has no annual contracts, so if you decide to no longer use their service six months later, you have to cancel the service and keep or re-sell the Starlink Kit you purchased to recoup the costs.

Unlike other wireless ISPs, Starlink does not offer additional entertainment features like discounted streaming subscriptions. However, one of this service’s best features is having internet access almost globally, so long as you have a clear line of sight to their available satellites. This is apparent in Ukraine, where Starlink is currently deployed in the theater of war, supplying much-needed high-speed internet to the extraordinary Ukrainian people.

We have also tried gaming on 5G Wireless Internet…it works! But you will likely experience higher ping than you would normally experience when connected to cable internet.

Did you switch over to 5G Home Internet yet? Tell us on discord or Give us a comment below!

Gaming on 5G Home Internet

We also gamed on 5G Home Internet. We discovered that although it is playable, it does result in higher ping. Playing games like Diablo 2 Resurrected, which is less crucial for the gaming experience, is excellent. On the other hand, if you’re playing super competitive games such as Valorant and Apex Legends, you’ll notice that your competitive edge may vary depending on the time of day you’re playing. For example, in the evenings, lower pings are more achievable due to less congestion in the network. Lastly, if you enjoy live-streaming through Twitch or YouTube, ensuring connection to a 5G tower (e.g., N41) is paramount to uploading HD streams. We have used 4G LTE towers (e.g., B15) and discovered that the gaming experience is playable, but it is not well-tuned for first-person shooter games and live streaming gameplay. On another note, if you’re video-conferencing through Discord and Zoom, in our experience, 4G LTE and 5G connections work just fine. With download speeds up to 450 megabits per second and uploads of up to 35 megabits per second, which all depend on the location and direction at which you place and point your gateway towards (to the nearest cellular tower), gaming and streaming work just fine, especially for the price.

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