5G continues its national rollout, offeringat . That’s a big deal for our phones and for other mobile gadgets that connect over cellular airwaves — and it could be a game-changer for home networking too. With the potential for near-gigabit speeds over the air that rival what cable and fiber internet service providers offer, plus the added appeal of straightforward, consumer-friendly terms that ditch data caps, equipment fees and the like, 5G is shaping up as one of the most exciting new avenues in residential internet.
All of that depends on whether or notis even an option at your address. 5G signals aren’t available everywhere, but the two providers doing the most to expand the technology’s availability for home internet use are and . (Note: For now, is sticking with fiber and DSL to bring homes online.) Both providers offer dedicated 5G home internet plans that promise fast speeds and simple terms at an affordable rate, and in some areas, you might even find that your home is serviceable by each of them.
Time will tell how much 5G stands to disrupt the ISP category, if at all. For now, let’s take a close look at how these two top providers currently compare.
Verizon 5G Home Internet uses ultrawideband 5G technology to deliver max download speeds close to 1 gigabit and average download speeds of 300 megabits per second. That’s the fastest average download speed delivered by a major fixed wireless provider. What it sacrifices is coverage, as it’s currently only available to about 15 million households nationwide. That said, the provider aims to double that number by the end of 2022.
Read our Verizon 5G Home Internet review.
T-Mobile Home Internet is less than a year old — CNET took an early look at the service in February and it descended upon the country in full back in April — but it’s got the widest reach of any fixed wireless internet provider. By making use of its 4G LTE network in addition to the expanding 5G grid, T-Mobile has been able to aggressively expand its coverage map and offer its service to double the amount of Verizon’s 5G service. While the average download speed sits around 100Mbps, that might be plenty of pep for some customers, especially those in rural areas where satellite and DSL might have previously been the best options.
Read our T-Mobile 5G Home Internet review.
Where do Verizon and T-Mobile offer 5G home internet service?
Neither provider offers a detailed coverage map specifically for its 5G home internet solution. Nor are they yet included in the Federal Communication Commission’s database of broadband providers. But taking into account the total list of cities they claim to cover, T-Mobile is pretty clearly in the lead here.
While Verizon 5G Home Internet is available to approximately 15 million homes across the country, T-Mobile Home Internet reaches 30 million households in just over 600 cities nationwide. In contrast, Verizon’s service is available in parts of 65 cities. Here’s the current list of where you can find Verizon 5G Home Internet.
|Akron, Ohio||Cincinnati||Fremont, California||Little Rock, Arkansas||Omaha, Nebraska||San Jose, California|
|Albuquerque, New Mexico||Cleveland||Fresno, California||Los Angeles||Orlando||Sarasota, Florida|
|Arlington, Texas||Columbia, South Carolina||Greensboro, North Carolina||Louisville, Kentucky||Pensacola, Florida||Seattle|
|Anaheim, California||Columbus, Ohio||Gresham, Oregon||Memphis, Tennessee||Phoenix||Spokane, Washington|
|Ann Arbor, Michigan||Dallas||Hartford, Connecticut||Miami||Raleigh, North Carolina||St. Louis|
|Athens, Georgia||Dayton, Ohio||Houston||Milwaukee, Wisconsin||Riverside, California||St. Paul, Minnesota|
|Atlanta||Denver||Indianapolis||Minneapolis, Minnesota||Sacramento, California||St. Petersburg, Florida|
|Austin, Texas||Des Moines, Iowa||Jacksonville, Florida||Nashville||Salt Lake City||Tacoma, Washington|
|Birmingham, Alabama||Detroit||Kansas City, Missouri||New Orleans||San Antonio, Texas||Tampa, Florida|
|Charlotte, North Carolina||Durham, North Carolina||Knoxville, Tennessee||Niagara Falls, New York||San Diego||Tucson, Arizona|
|Chicago||Fort Wayne, Indiana||Las Vegas||Oklahoma City, Oklahoma||San Francisco|
Under T-Mobile’s umbrella, only six of those cities are missing — Athens, Georgia; Fremont and Fresno, California; Gresham, Oregon; Niagara Falls, New York; and Sarasota, Florida.
To save your eyeballs (and our word count), we won’t list the other 500-plus T-Mobile cities here, but if you’d like to scan them for yourself, you can peruse this T-Mobile Home Internet PDF.
Verizon and T-Mobile 5G Home Internet plans
|Plan||Max speeds||Monthly fee||Equipment fee||Data cap||Contract|
|Verizon 5G Home Internet||300-940Mbps download, 50Mbps upload||$70 ($50 for existing Verizon mobile customers)||None||None||None|
|T-Mobile 5G Home Internet||35-115Mbps download, 6-23Mbps upload||$50||None||None||None|
How do Verizon and T-Mobile’s 5G plans compare?
Tired of trying to decipher which broadband package to choose out of seemingly countless options? Wary of signing up for a long-term contract with penalties looming if you don’t fulfill it? Sick of sweating it out every month with a stingy data cap? No worries! Both Verizon and T-Mobile lean into the idea of providing a no-strings-attached broadband experience. Each offers only one 5G home internet plan and that plan requires no term agreement and features no data caps.
So which one is faster?
While 5G is capable of gigabit download speeds, don’t expect those top-end numbers from either provider’s home internet product. T-Mobile, for example, says on its site that customers can expect to see “average download speeds in excess of 100Mbps,” and experience typical ranges from 35-115Mbps. Why so relatively low? To expedite its availability, T-Mobile Home Internet relies on its growing 5G grid and its existing 4G LTE network. So don’t expect a pure 5G experience.
“During congestion, Home Internet customers may notice speeds lower than other customers due to data prioritization,” reads the very first sentence of T-Mobile Home Internet’s full terms. “Service may be slowed, suspended, terminated, or restricted for misuse, abnormal use, interference with our network or ability to provide quality service to other users.”
On the other hand, Verizon tells its subscribers to expect average download speeds of around 300Mbps. The main reason for the faster speeds here is Verizon’s exclusive dependence on its ultrawideband 5G network. It uses low-band, midband and millimeter-wave technology to provide customers with speeds that could potentially get as high as 940Mbps.
Which offers the best value?
While a cursory glance at the chart above might lead you to believe that T-Mobile is the better buy — $50 a month versus Verizon’s $70 a month — it’s essential to look at the cost per Mbps to understand the actual value better. When you take into account the average download speed of 100Mbps for that $50 a month fee, T-Mobile rings in at 50 cents per Mbps, which is.
Verizon, which averages 300Mbps, halves that amount with a cost per Mbps of just under 24 cents. Plus, if you have a qualifying Verizon mobile plan, your monthly bill falls to $50 per month, and that cost per Mbps is shaved down to just under 17 cents. That’s quite affordable compared to theplans out there.
What about the fine print?
Let’s revisit that idea of the no-strings-attached internet experience. Verizon and T-Mobile are eager to get customers to try their 5G home internet offerings, so no hidden fees or taxes are added to the monthly cost. We mentioned before that there’s no contract and no data cap. There’s also no additional equipment rental fee, no installation or activation cost and no other trap fees.
What sort of deals and promos do Verizon and T-Mobile offer?
Still not convinced by the straightforward terms both T-Mobile and Verizon put forward? They’ll try to sway you with their promotional offers — though Verizon clearly has the edge here.
For example, T-Mobile currently offers its new Home Internet customers a free Paramount Plus subscription for one year. That’s a decent value of $60 ().
But Verizon has a much more aggressive offer valid through Jan. 19, 2022. New Verizon 5G Home Internet customers will receive a Google Nest Hub Max ($229 value), a year of AMC Plus ($108), 12 months of Disney Plus for free ($96) and two months of Sling TV for free ($70 value). Lastly, until Jan. 4, new customers will additionally receive a $100 credit towards their bill.
How do Verizon and T-Mobile rank for customer satisfaction?
Two of the top customer satisfaction surveys we refer to on our ISP reviews — J.D. Power and the American Customer Satisfaction Index — place Verizon right at the top of their rankings. But those residential internet surveys are focused on , which is a service, not specifically the Verizon 5G Home Internet option.
Finding feedback on T-Mobile Home Internet — which has been out in the market for less than a year — is even more difficult.and preferred it over his previous provider, .
Similarly, PCMag’s most recent Readers’ Choice awards tagged T-Mobile Home Internet with the highest overall ratings among wireless providers with a 7.7 score on a scale from 0-10. That’s well above the survey’s average ISP score of 7.1 and puts T-Mobile in the top 10 of all ISPs for overall customer satisfaction.
Too early to call?
Both T-Mobile and Verizon are still aggressively building out their 5G networks, so we’re much nearer the beginning of this story than the middle or end, especially as it relates to 5G fixed wireless internet overall.
As it specifically relates to these two providers, T-Mobile Home Internet certainly has the edge in availability. By adding its 4G LTE network to 5G, it makes itself a much more viable pick, particularly in rural and underserved areas of the country, where it’s a compelling alternative to options likeor . But Verizon 5G Home Internet takes the lead in performance, featuring nearly triple the current download speeds of T-Mobile Home Internet. With the , which supports , Verizon seems poised to provide higher upside in the immediate future in cities where the two overlap.