Alternatives to traditional home broadband internet connections have recently been put in the spotlight. Many people are fed up with their current internet service providers and are excited about new alternatives on the horizon. Satellite internet technology utilizing low earth orbit satellites, along with 5th generation cellular technology (5G) is now promising to offer a quality alternative to traditional wired internet service providers such as Verizon, AT&T, Spectrum, and Comcast.
This is exciting news for many consumers looking for alternatives either to save money or for faster speeds. Additional competition in the broadband market will be a huge win for consumers. For some people living in more remote locations their only option right now is a relatively low speed DSL connection or a satellite connection from a legacy provider such as HughesNet or Viasat. These connections often max out at less than 15 Mbps download speed and 1 Mbps upload speed.
In a growing number of regions Starlink internet is also an option. Unfortunately, at the present time, Starlink currently has a multi year waitlist to get signed up for service. They are also a little on the pricier side with service now costing $110 per month, plus a onetime equipment purchase of $599. 5G home internet from providers such as T-Mobile and Verizon offer an alternative with faster speeds than DSL often for less money.
Gamers are particularly excited about the option of a 5G home broadband internet connection. Verizon launched its 5G home internet service in 2018. Verizon 5G aims to offer high speed residential internet service that is available in many areas of the United States and with speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps. Right now, location availability is somewhat limited, and the fastest speeds are limited to only 5G ultrawideband areas. 5G ultrawideband is available in a few select cities across the United States.
Verizon only offers the service where they know they have the cell tower capacity to handle the added demands. Verizon 5G home internet is aiming to compete with not only other 5G services such as T-Mobile home internet, but also with established players such as Comcast, Spectrum, and AT&T. Presently Verizon has no data caps on their 5G home internet service which makes it especially attractive to cord cutters, streamers, and gamers. 5G technology is promising a next generation experience with speeds that are competitive with cable and fiber internet services. Verizon 5G home internet is also available in some regions that lack access to traditional broadband internet connections
T-Mobile more recently launched its 5G home internet service in April of 2021. T-Mobile aims to provide high speed residential internet service that is available in many geographic regions of the United States and with speeds of up to 200 Mbps.
Right now, location availability is somewhat limited. As with Verizon, they only offer the service where they know they have the cell tower capacity to handle the added demands. T-Mobile 5G home internet is also aiming to compete with not only other 5G services but with established players such as Comcast, Spectrum, and AT&T. Similarly, to Verizon, T-Mobile has no data caps on their 5G home internet service. Is either 5G home internet service good for gaming?
Unfortunately, at this time the answer is no. Neither Verizon 5G home internet nor T-Mobile 5G home internet offers a stable enough connection to be recommended for gaming. Ping spikes are all over the place ranging from 70 ms up to 500+ ms and everywhere in between. This is not suitable for online gaming.
This is not totally surprising. If you have ever tried to game using a mobile hotspot connection, you would know that latency has always been an issue with cellular based internet connections. 5G aims to be the solution, but as of now, 5G home internet is not stable enough for optimal gaming performance.
Make no mistake, you can game using cellular internet. It just likely won’t be a great experience for you or anyone else playing with you. You can test it for yourself, try enabling the mobile hotspot feature on your phone and connecting to it.
This is the big question everyone wants answered. Just how bad is gaming performance with 5G home internet? As it stands right now, performance is a complete mixed bag. Whether you are using Verizon’s 5G home internet service or T-Mobile’s 5G home internet service you will frequently experience performance issues.
Some of the time, especially in the middle of the night, performance is good. The real issue is what performance looks like during peak hours. It is almost unusable for gaming from 4 PM until after 11 PM. Unlike with Starlink your connection won’t completely drop out for minutes at a time, but your performance will still suffer during peak hours.
Download speeds were typically in the 40 – 80 Mbps range most of the times. Sometimes during peak hours speeds would be slower. During off peak hours we occasionally reach speeds of over 200 Mbps. Generally Verizon 5G home internet was faster than T-Mobile 5G home internet but not in all cases.
Upload speeds ranged from about 5 Mpbs or less during peak hours to 25 Mbps during the middle of the night, Verizon was faster on average than T-Mobile but not by that much.
Latency is one of the most important factors in determining online gaming performance. Anyone who plays online multiplayer games certainly knows all too well what happens when your latency (ping) suddenly spikes.
Unfortunately latency (ping) is where both 5G home internet services failed to impress. Over the course of any minute pings would range all the way from 45 ms all the way up to 500+ ms. This makes it unsuitable for online gaming.
During the off peak overnight hours performance was acceptable. Off peak latencies would be in the 45 – 95 ms range but occasionally spiking higher. From 4 PM to 11 PM every day latency would be in the 100+ ms range with spikes to 300+ ms. For this reason 5G home internet is not recommended for gaming at this time.
A typical cable or fiber-based internet connection will offer latencies of 20 ms or less. Even a slower DSL connection offers latencies in the 40 ms range. Starlink is also much better suited for gaming with latencies in the 40 – 50 ms range.
Another potential downside of using 5G cellular based home internet for gaming is the use of CGNAT. Like most cell phone carriers, Verizon and T-Mobile both use CGNAT to assign IP addresses to subscribers. This is generally okay for web browsing and watching Netflix. For gaming CGNAT is not preferable.
The issue is for people that are looking to get an “Open NAT Type” on a PlayStation or Xbox console. With CGNAT it is not possible to get an Open NAT Type without using a VPN service. In most cases CGNAT will result in an automatic “Strict NAT Type”. This just something to be aware of.
If you wish to get an Open NAT Type using Verizon or T-Mobile 5G home internet, your best option is using a quality VPN provider. The VPN provider that in my experience works best for gaming is ExpressVPN. They offer servers in North America for optimal performance and also offer servers globally which can be used to access geo-restricted content. ExpressVPN also offers a 30 risk free money back guarantee. If you are not satisfied you do not pay.
Another VPN option that works well at bypassing CGNAT and is less expensive is NordVPN. Much like ExpressVPN they also offer a 30 day money back guarantee. If you do not like the service, you do not pay anything at all. Another benefit to NordVPN is that they offer servers globally which can be used to access geo-restricted content. If you wish to access for example region specific streaming services NordVPN is a great option.
5G home internet is a decent option for people who lack access to proper cable or fiber-based internet. Gaming is not really recommended with any cellular internet connection, this is to be expected. 5G home internet is really nothing more than a mobile hotspot designed to be stationary.
Starlink may be a better option for gaming, but also has its own share of issues. If you are currently using a service such as HughesNet or Viasat you will defiantly want to consider switching to either Starlink or 5G home internet from Verizon or T-Mobile.
If you currently have DSL you may want to consider switching to 5G home internet as long as you are not too worried about gaming performance and don’t mind a CGNAT connection. If you care about gaming, you may want to check out Starlink.
If you currently have cable or fiber-based internet, I would not recommend switching to 5G home internet at this time. Currently, Verizon 5G home internet and T-Mobile 5G home internet offers no real compelling reason to make the switch. 5G home internet is slower, has much higher latency, and is similarly priced to other legacy service providers such as Comcast, Spectrum, or AT&T fiber. As much as you might like to dump your current ISP, now is probably not the time to make the switch. Remember this is just the beginning for 5G home internet. The service will likely improve in the coming years.
FAQ About 5G Home Internet
No 5G is not better for home internet than traditional home broadband services such as Comcast, AT&T fiber, and Verizon FIOS. 5G home internet is generally slower and less reliable, especially during peak hours. For most people 5G is not better than their home broadband.
No it is not. Fios offers a consistent gigabit speed internet connection. Verizon 5G offers peak speeds that approach gigabit speeds but often come in much lower, especially during peak hours. If both are available at your service address Fios is the better choice.
5G home internet will be able to compete with existing home internet services that use wires to deliver service. At the present moment 5G home internet is not as fast a fiber or cable based internet. This may change as 5G speeds increase. Cable will likely continue to get faster as well.
No 5G home internet is not as fast as cable or fiber internet. 5G speeds are increasing nationwide but so are cable speeds. If you want the best performance for your home Wi-Fi, go with a fiber based internet connection. 5G has a few years before it reaches primetime.
No Verizon 5G home is not better than Comcast. Comcast offer consistently faster speeds with much lower latency (Ping). Verizon 5G is not the same as Verizon Fios which uses fiber optic cables to deliver high speed internet service.
5G will offer an alternative to traditional home broadband internet services. Overall 5G is not going to be a death blow to legacy internet service providers. Wired connections still offer numerous advantages including lower latency, faster speeds, and increased reliability.
You can if your data needs are fairly minimal. Most hotspot plans have a strict data limit on them. If you do not use a lot of data using your hotspot is your primary internet connection is a viable option. In most cases this would mean no streaming or gaming.
No it will not. In fact 5G will require the running of many miles of fiber to build out the networks. Fiber optic cables are not going anywhere anytime soon. Fiber is the technology that connects the world together, spanning across countries, and between continents.
5G technology will never replace Wi-Fi. They are two totally different things. 5G is a cellular wide area network (WAN) technology. Wi-Fi is a short range local area network (LAN) technology. They serve very different functions and are not interchangeable 5G will not replace Wi-Fi.
5G is not ideal for gaming. Neither is 4G or any other cellular based internet connection. Latency (ping) is much higher than with DSL, cable, or fiber. If you are into gaming your best bet is to use a wired internet connection. 5G is good for most other uses.
5G internet is not the best choice for gaming. Latency is too high to truly be competitive with cable and fiber based internet connections. If you want to get the best gaming performance you will want to go with a traditional wired home broadband connection. 5g internet is not the best choice for serious gaming.
5G cellular internet is better for gaming that 4G cellular. That said, traditional wired broadband options such as cable or fiber is still leaps and bounds ahead of 5G for gaming. Latency with 5G tends to be unstable and packet loss is also a frequent issue with 5G gaming.
Fiber is the better option for gaming. Latency with fiber is generally in the 5 ms range to nearby servers. With 5G your latency will generally be higher and much less stable. Spikes of 500 ms or more is very common with 5G cellular connections. This makes 5G less suitable for gaming than fiber or even cable based internet.