Verizon 5G Home Internet vs. T-Mobile Home Internet: Which Should You Choose For Your Home? - CNET

2022-06-15 13:09:59 By : Ms. Ella Tu

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Both providers can get your household online with a fixed wireless solution. So how do they compare?

Trey Paul is a CNET senior editor covering broadband. His 20+ years of experience as a writer and editor include time at CNET's sister site, Allconnect, and working with clients like Yahoo!, Google, The New York Times and Choice Hotels. An avid movie fan, Trey's career also includes being a film critic while obtaining his Master's in Cinema Studies from NYU.

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Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, and home networking.

5G continues its national rollout, offering millimeter-wave cellular speeds at higher, faster frequencies than 4G LTE . That's a big deal for our phones and 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 the offerings of cable and fiber internet service providers -- 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 things to happen in residential internet in years.

All of that depends on whether 5G home internet service is 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 Verizon and T-Mobile . (Note: For now, AT&T 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, as CNET's own Eli Blumenthal recently discovered in his quest to replace his cable provider .

Time will tell how much 5G stands to disrupt the ISP category. Let's look at how Verizon 5G Home and T-Mobile Home Internet match up.

Are you 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 providing a no-strings-attached broadband experience. Each offers simplified 5G home internet plans requiring no term agreement and no data caps. 

One small difference you'll notice is there are two choices for Verizon: Verizon 5G Home and Verizon 5G Plus. Verizon 5G Home comes with a two-year price guarantee, while Verizon 5G Plus locks in your price for three years, plus some additional perks (see the deals and promos section below). 

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 33-182Mbps. Why so relatively low? T-Mobile Home Internet relies on its growing 5G grid and its existing 4G LTE network to expedite its availability. 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. Verizon's exclusive dependence on its Ultra Wideband 5G network is the main reason for the faster speeds. It uses low-band, midband and millimeter-wave technology to provide customers with speeds that could potentially get as high as 940Mbps. 

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 top plan at $70 a month -- it's essential to look at the cost per Mbps to understand the actual value better. Considering the average download speed of 100Mbps for that $50 a month fee, T-Mobile rings in at 50 cents per Mbps, comparable to what you might pay for a midrange cable internet plan . If you have a qualifying Magenta MAX mobile plan, you could trim that to $30 a month or 30 cents per Mbps.

Verizon, which averages 300Mbps, shaves that amount down to a cost per Mbps of just under 17 cents. Also, if you choose to go with the Verizon 5G Plus plan, your monthly bill is $70 per month, and that cost per Mbps goes up to just under 24 cents. But you get additional perks that might make up for it, depending on how you feel about the worth of the Disney Bundle. Finally, customers with qualifying Verizon Unlimited mobile plans will get 50% off the monthly cost of either plan. Suppose you're able to make use of that additional discount. In that case, it makes Verizon 5G Home -- the Plus plan at just shy of 12 cents per Mbps and the regular plan at an even better 8 cents per Mbps -- one of the most affordable out there, compared to any cable and fiber internet  plans by competitors.

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.

The dark red circles on the map indicate the areas where Verizon 5G Home Internet is currently available.

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 and the total number of households, T-Mobile is pretty clearly in the lead here. Still, Verizon recently closed the gap when it unveiled its 5G Ultra Wideband network in mid-January . 

While Verizon 5G Home Internet is available to approximately 30 million homes  across the country, T-Mobile Home Internet reaches over 40 million households in just over 600 cities nationwide. In contrast, Verizon's service is available in parts of 900 cities but fewer homes. 

To save your eyeballs (and our word count), we won't list the 600-plus T-Mobile cities here, but you can peruse this T-Mobile Home Internet PDF if you'd like to scan them for yourself. Verizon has not yet made available a list of the 900 cities in which its 5G Home Internet service can be found, but you can use its Check Availability tool here .

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 has the edge here.

T-Mobile currently offers its new Home Internet customers a free Paramount Plus subscription for a year. That's a decent value of $60 (especially for Star Trek fans ). It also gives Magenta MAX mobile customers the opportunity to subscribe to YouTube TV for 50% off the regular price of $65. Finally, all home internet subscribers can take advantage of T-Mobile Tuesdays, the company's weekly discount and perks program.

But Verizon has an even more aggressive offer. New Verizon 5G Home Plus customers will receive 12 months of The Disney Bundle (Disney Plus , ESPN Plus and Hulu ) for free (a $168 value). You'll also get a streaming device for free as well. Verizon 5G Home subscribers will get six months of The Disney Bundle (worth $84) and a free streaming device. 

We refer to two of the top customer satisfaction surveys on our ISP reviews -- J.D. Power and the American Customer Satisfaction Index -- and they place Verizon right at the top of their rankings. But those residential internet surveys are focused on Verizon Fios , a fiber internet  service, not specifically the Verizon 5G Home Internet option.

Finding feedback on T-Mobile Home Internet -- which has been out in the market for only a year -- is even more difficult. One of our CNET writers tested T-Mobile during its pilot program last year  and preferred it over his previous provider, Comcast Xfinity .

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 to 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.

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. 

Regarding these two providers, T-Mobile Home Internet has a slight edge in availability. Adding its 4G LTE network to 5G makes it a much more viable pick, particularly in rural and underserved areas of the country, where it's a compelling alternative to options like satellite  or DSL . But Verizon 5G Home Internet takes the lead in performance, featuring nearly triple the current download speeds of T-Mobile Home Internet. With the recent introduction of a new Verizon Router , which supports next-gen connections in the ultrawide 6GHz band , Verizon seems poised to provide a higher upside in the immediate future in cities where the two overlap.

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 available to about 30 million households nationwide. That said, the provider aims to continually increase that number to reach 50 million by 2025.

Read our Verizon 5G Home Internet review.

T-Mobile Home Internet is fairly new on the block: CNET took an early look at the service in February 2021 and it descended upon the country in full back in April of that year. Yet, it's got the widest reach of any fixed wireless internet provider. By utilizing its 4G LTE network and the expanding 5G grid, T-Mobile has been able to aggressively expand its coverage map and offer its service to more households than Verizon's 5G solution. 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.