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If you’re ready to kick your current internet service provider to the curb, this 5G fixed wireless option might be right for you.
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Trey Paul is the senior editor covering broadband. Her 20+ years of experience as a writer and editor includes time at sister site Allconnect and working with clients such as Yahoo!, Google, The New York Times and Choice Hotels. An avid film fan, Trey’s career also includes working as a film critic while earning a master’s degree in film studies from NYU.
T-Mobile must be pretty excited about its 5G home network. Earlier this year, he launched an aggressive internet freedom campaign titled “Free Yourself from Internet BS.” The company also rocked the 2022 American Customer Satisfaction Index survey results, which ranked newcomer T-Mobile Home Internet second among national Internet providers. Not too shabby.
T-Mobile Home Internet launched as a pilot in early 2021, and one of my (now former) colleagues, Rick Broida, was one of the first to try it out. In April 2021, T-Mobile announced that it had launched its home broadband service nationwide. A short year later, it announced that it had expanded its reach to 40 million homes, and another teammate tried.
We’ve known for quite some time about T-Mobile’s desire to use 5G to break into the home internet game. But now that the company’s broadband offering has been launched, what does it mean for you? Does 5G home network offer something new? Is T-Mobile Home Internet a viable option for switching your current ISP?
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First, the price is right. T-Mobile charges $50 per month (and that drops to $30 for eligible Magenta MAX cell phone customers). Plus, you don’t have to worry about long-term contracts or data limits. Pretty sweet, right?
Definitely, but it’s still early. Although T-Mobile Home Internet is now available in nearly 40 million homes in the United States, many locations and addresses cannot receive it. While 5G is a big player in this bill, T-Mobile is relying on 4G LTE to help expand its home network coverage area. This means that of the 5G home network providers, T-Mobile will offer the slowest speeds on average. But let’s dive into the details.
Whenever we start talking about any ISP, it’s always good to start by answering the basic question. Can I get this service? T-Mobile Home Internet is available to more than 40 million homes nationwide. That makes it the most popular 5G home internet service in the US. By comparison, Verizon’s 5G home internet service has been deployed in about 900 markets, but is available in about 30 million homes. Meanwhile, T-Mobile is open for sign-ups in more than 600 cities, but in more households, many of them in rural areas.
Check out this T-Mobile Home Internet PDF to see the full list of available cities and towns.
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As mentioned, T-Mobile is the most widespread 5G home network service, covering more than 40 million homes. But when you consider that US Census data shows that the total number of households in the country is more than 122 million, about 67% of households do not have access to T-Mobile Home Internet.
A T-Mobile spokeswoman did not provide specifics about expansion plans, but emphasized that more than 10 million homes in its current footprint are in rural America. In addition, the emphasis is on increasing access to smaller towns and localities. For those outside of the current availability window, T-Mobile’s website notes that the extension could take six months or longer and allows interested parties to put their name on the list along the way.
That said, T-Mobile recently announced a new Home Internet Lite service that is open to anyone in the T-Mobile service area. While it expands the company’s footprint, it wouldn’t be right to include this as part of T-Mobile Home Internet either, as the Lite has a 100GB data cap.
Simplicity is one of the biggest things that jumps out at me when I look at T-Mobile Home Internet. There isn’t a range of levels and options to choose from as there is one plan and one plan only.
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There aren’t many qualifiers when it comes to T-Mobile Home Internet plans. It’s one plan, one price, and no extra fees. The premise of a 5G home network is that, unlike traditional internet connections (including coax lines, fiber optic and digital subscriber lines), you are not dependent on underground buildings and facilities to connect you. Instead, it’s a fixed wireless service that provides you with a router that connects to a cellular signal.
T-Mobile provides its Wi-Fi Gateway device, a combination modem and Wi-Fi 6 router that is compatible with T-Mobile’s 4G LTE and 5G networks. As you can see from the chart, the only variable is the average download and upload speeds you will experience. At the very least, T-Mobile says all eligible homes will see average download speeds of 33 megabits per second. Depending on your location and the location of the T-Mobile Gateway, you may see download speeds of 182 Mbps or higher.
T-Mobile is currently using more of its 4G LTE network to increase its coverage, so don’t expect full 5G capabilities. T-Mobile:
The hopes and promises of 5G and its potential have not yet been fully realized. My colleague Eli Blumenthal did a great job outlining the basics of 5G and how not all 5G is the same. Add up: 5G’s faster speeds come with shorter range. The longer the distance, the lower the speed at the top end.
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In order for T-Mobile to launch cost-effectively to more than 30 million homes, it had to rely on its 4G LTE network and the growing 5G network. As a result, my colleagues averaged download speeds of just over 40 Mbps with T-Mobile Home Internet, and some homes can get up to 100 Mbps. We have heard that some users are seeing download speeds of 300 Mbps. However, T-Mobile’s FAQ section promises that customers will “see typical download speeds between 33-182 Mbps.” So that might be great speed for a lot of people, but don’t expect to get faster download speeds with fiber or cable plans. At least not yet.
One of the main advantages of T-Mobile Home Internet is its simplicity. No boring fine print. ISPs are notorious for hidden fees and prices, trying to lure you in with enticing promotional rates, only to stick you with a higher bill after those terms expire. That’s not the point here.
T-Mobile Home Internet has no data cap, so you don’t have to worry about excess data charges. There is no hardware fee for the Gateway device, so you don’t have to incur extra monthly costs to set up a regular account. It also doesn’t require annual maintenance contracts, so you don’t have termination fees on your mind. These are all attractive aspects of this service and make it very attractive to try T-Mobile Home Internet if it is available in your area.
In addition to its consumer-friendly approach, T-Mobile is also trying to sweeten the pot for potential customers. First, T-Mobile is offering new customers a one-year subscription to Paramount Plus for free ($60 value). Second, it allows new customers with a Magenta MAX mobile subscription to subscribe to Philo TV for $15 per month for a year ($10 per month during holidays). Third, home network subscribers can now participate in T-Mobile Tuesdays, the company’s weekly discounts and free bonus promotions. Fourth, T-Mobile boasts a price lock guarantee, meaning prices won’t change as long as you’re a customer. Finally, T-Mobile has a “Worry Free Trial” promotion where customers can try the service for 15 days with a money-back guarantee.
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As I said, T-Mobile is ahead of its 5G home network competitors Verizon and Starry in terms of availability. Starry is currently available in six metropolitan areas and aims to expand to 30 million homes by the end of 2022, based on the cities of Atlanta; Chicago; Dallas; Detroit; Houston; Indianapolis; Memphis, Tennessee; Miami; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco; and Seattle. Verizon is available in more cities than T-Mobile (currently 900), but trails T-Mobile in terms of total households.
However, Starry and Verizon lead in average download speeds. Star customers typically see consistent download speeds of 200 Mbps, and Verizon’s 5G home network plans average around 300 Mbps. What Starry and Verizon have given up in high availability, they make up for in the average speed they currently deliver.
All three 5G home internet providers share freedom from all the hidden fees and price games that many cable and fiber service providers play. With 5G, the monthly fee is the monthly fee. There are no additional fees, equipment rental fees,
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