Alternatives to traditional home broadband internet connections have recently been put in the spotlight. Many people are looking for alternatives to traditional cable or DSL services. Satellite internet technology utilizing low earth orbit satellites, and 5th generation cellular technology (5G) are now promising to offer an alternative to traditional wired home internet service providers such as Verizon Fios, AT&T Fiber, Spectrum, and Xfinity (Comcast).
T-Mobile’s 5G Home Internet plan is taking the world by storm. T-Mobile is promising unlimited data for truly disruptive prices. T-Mobile has a good reputation for increasing competition and driving down prices.
AT&T is an established player in the home internet market. They offer both fiber and DSL based internet services to millions of subscribers. AT&T internet is generally reliable and competitively priced. However, many people are looking for alternatives, especially to their DSL offerings. DSL is an older technology that is generally not as fast as cable or fiber based internet connections.
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet offers faster speeds than AT&T DSL (IPBB) internet service in most cases during off peak hours. During peak hours T-Mobile 5G Home Internet can be quite slow.
AT&T DSL tends to be much more stable and consistent, while also offering lower latency (ping). AT&T DSL download speeds are more than fast enough for 4K streaming and online gaming.
AT&T Fiber offer the best performance far and above. T-Mobile 5G Home Internet is not competitive with fiber internet services such as AT&T Fiber and Verizon Fios.
About T-Mobile 5G Home Internet
T-Mobile 5G home internet is a 100% wireless internet solution that uses T-Mobile’s 5G cellular network to provide high speed home internet service. T-Mobile home internet has been rapidly expanding its coverage region in 2022. T-Mobile home internet is generally not the best internet you can get, but it may in fact be the cheapest you can get. T-Mobile has always been good at providing service at disruptive prices.
About AT&T Home Internet
AT&T home internet is actually 2 different services that are all sold under the umbrella name. AT&T home internet can refer to AT&T DSL internet, or AT&T fiber internet. These are very different services, each has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. AT&T home internet is competitively priced and generally offers good reliable performance.
Consider T-Mobile Home Internet If the Following Applies to You
- Your internet needs are relatively modest.
- You are an existing T-Mobile customer.
- You are not a gamer.
- You do not work from home.
- You do not care about using your own router.
- Saving money on your internet bill is your top priority.
If your internet needs are relatively modest T-Mobile home internet may be a viable option for you. On the average downloads are fast enough for streaming HD video and for other online activities. During peak hours your speeds may be substantially lower than expected. This is highly variable and primarily depends on how crowded the cell phone tower you are connected to is, along with many other factors.
5G is a wireless technology traveling through the air with other radio signals, with wireless comes the possibility for interference. Data signals traveling as light through fiber optic cables do not have this same issue.
This is not a deal breaker for everyone, but something to be mindful of if you need consistent speeds at all times especially during peak hours. Overall for the casual internet user with modest needs T-Mobile 5G home internet is likely good enough most of the time.
Cell phone coverage is varies greatly by location. Even a difference of a few hundred feet can make all the difference. If you use T-Mobile for your cell phone service you would know whether the signal at your home is good or not. You can also run a speed test on your smartphone to get a rough idea of the bandwidth you will be getting.
Although in many cases the home internet service will be slower due to data deprioritization. This is not the same as throttling that occurs when you reach a certain data cap, but rather giving cell phone customers a higher priority if the tower is busy.
This is much more likely to be an issue in urban areas and also in tourist areas during peak months. If you get good performance on your phone, you are likely going to get good results with your T-Mobile home internet connection. If you are not satisfied with the performance on your cell phone, you may not have good coverage at your location. If coverage is poor at your residence you should not even consider T-Mobile home internet.
Gaming is not recommended with T-Mobile home internet or any 5G home internet service for that matter. Latency, jitter, and packet loss are all issues that face gamers. T-Mobile home internet struggles greatly with this, as do other 5G internet services. When the tower is congested the problem is even more noticeable.
Over the course of a several minutes pings can range all the way from 40 ms all the way up to 500+ ms. This makes it completely unusable for most forms of online gaming. During the off peak overnight hours performance is generally a little better but still not great. In comparison, a typical cable or fiber-based internet connection will offer latencies of 20 ms or less.
Even a low bandwidth 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. Packet loss and jitter are problematic with T-Mobile home internet which makes it a poor choice for gaming or any real time communications such as VoIP. If You are a gamer, pass on 5G internet services, at least for now.
Another downside of using T-Mobile 5G Home Internet for gaming is the use of CGNAT. Like most cell phone carriers, T-Mobile uses CGNAT to assign IP addresses to subscribers. With CGNAT your router does not get assigned a public IP address directly. This is usually not a huge problem for web browsing and watching Netflix. For gaming CGNAT is not preferable as it results in a double NAT environment.
Double NAT caused by T-Mobile using CGNAT primarily affects people that are looking to get an “Open NAT Type” within games. With CGNAT it is not possible to get an Open NAT Type in most cases. Generally CGNAT will result in an automatic “Strict NAT Type”. This is because CGNAT creates a double NAT environment.
If you work from home you probably do not want to make the switch to T-Mobile home internet at this time. Performance is inconsistent at times and higher latency makes it less than ideal for virtual meetings. If you rely on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or other any videoconferencing platform you will want to stick with a traditional wired home broadband internet connection such as Xfinity (Comcast) or Verizon Fios.
As with gaming, videoconferencing requires a low latency and low jitter connection. With latency spiking to 800+ ms in many cases and jitter as high as 90 ms, 5G home internet is not ideal for virtual meetings. Connecting to corporate VPNs over 5G cellular internet can also be difficult to packet loss. You may get frequent disconnects from your corporate VPN. If you work from home, a cable / fiber based internet connection is your best option hands down.
Reliability is paramount, although no internet connection is truly bulletproof, 5G connections are much more variable in their connection speed and quality. If there is a local event in the region and the local cell tower is crowded, your internet may suffer. If you work from home this could be an issue.
T-Mobile home internet uses CGNAT and their provided gateway offers no bridge mode or passthrough mode. This means that if you connect your own router you will have a triple NAT setup. This is likely to cause a whole host of issues. The first layer of NAT is happening on the T-Mobile network via CGNAT, the second layer of NAT is happening on the T-Mobile 5G gateway, and the third layer of NAT is happening on your personal router. Triple NAT can create a variety of issues ranging from performance to connectivity.
If you wish to use your own router avoid T-Mobile home internet.
T-Mobile home internet currently costs $50 per month with all taxes and fees included. This is similar to what you would pay for lowest internet package with AT&T. Getting a faster AT&T home internet plan could cost you more. On the average T-Mobile home internet is less expensive, especially when you consider that all fees and taxes are included in the price. If saving money is your top priority and a difference of $10 – $15 per month is meaningful to you, T-Mobile home internet is something you should check out.
T-Mobile Home Internet vs AT&T DSL
AT&T DSL has been around the longest and has the widest service availability. AT&T DSL is also slower than AT&T fiber or T-Mobile Home Internet. Download speeds with AT&T DSL max out at 100 Mbps and Upload speeds max out at 20 Mbps. This is significantly faster than Verizon’s DSL service which tops out at 15 Mbps download speed.
Most people will see slightly lower speeds, especially if they are located farther away from the central office. Latency is in the 25 – 40 millisecond range with AT&T DSL.
AT&T DSL is more stable than T-Mobile 5g home internet at the present time. If you need absolute stability for VoIP or virtual meetings, AT&T DSL is going to be a much better option.
AT&T DSL is also going to be much better for online gaming. Latency is lower, ping is much more stable, and latency spikes are less common. AT&T DSL also provides a public IP address rather than a CGNAT private IP that T-Mobile provides. This is essential for gaming, especially if you want to do port forwarding or get an open NAT type.
However download speeds with T-Mobile home internet tend to be faster than with AT&T DSL. This makes download larger files faster. Both services are fast enough to stream 4K video without buffering. This is primarily true during off peak hours. During peak hours download speeds tend to be similar or even better for AT&T DSL in some cases.
Uploads are very similar in speed. If you use cloud storage services such as Dropbox, OneDrive, or Google Drive, upload speed is of high importance. T-Mobile has slightly more raw upload speed, whereas AT&T DSL offers more consistent upload speeds.
The better option really depends on whether raw speed or stable performance is more important to you. T-Mobile 5G home internet offers a higher raw download speed / upload speed, whereas AT&T DSL offers lower latency, better stability. and more consistent download speeds. We think the later is more important.
Pricing will depend on which plan you choose with AT&T. The faster plans generally cost more. With T-Mobile home internet the price will vary depending on whether you have a T-Mobile cell phone on your plan as well. On The average T-Mobile home internet is slightly less expensive, especially when you consider that all taxes and fees are included in the advertised price.
Given the unstable performance of the T-Mobile 5G home internet service, our pick goes to the AT&T DSL.
Winner: AT&T DSL (Unless Price Is Your Top Concern)
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet vs AT&T Fiber
AT&T fiber is an established player in the market with a relatively small but still somewhat sizable service area. AT&T fiber is fast and reliable, with speeds of 1 Gbps available in most areas. AT&T fiber uses fiber to the home technology to deliver symmetric download and upload speeds of 1 Gbps.
T-Mobile home internet is not really competitive with AT&T fiber. Performance with T-Mobile home internet is just too inconsistent. Even when it is working well it is not truly competitive with fiber or even cable internet service.
If you happen to live in a AT&T fiber coverage region AT&T fiber is a great choice. Generally fiber internet has the absolutely lowest latency and the highest download / upload speeds. AT&T fiber is no exception here.
With AT&T fiber you will generally get a highly reliable internet connection with consistent download and upload speeds. This makes it a great choice if you rely on your internet connection for critical tasks. This could include working from home, running a small business, or using VoIP services.
latency with AT&T fiber is usually in the 5 ms – 25 ms range, and jitter is usually less than 3 ms. This means that real-time communication platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams will perform well. Corporate VPN connections will also be highly stable and free from drops.
If you are a gamer you will be well suited to using AT&T fiber internet. The low latency offered and lack of CGNAT makes it an ideal choice for gaming. If you want an open NAT type in games AT&T fiber is a great option. You get a public IP address that you can use to set up port forwarding.
The quality of service you will get from T-Mobile home internet largely depends on how many users are active on your local cell phone tower. With AT&T fiber you can be pretty certain that if service is available you will be getting max performance. This is the nature of the technology. Fiber communications tend to be more reliable and less susceptible to outside interference.
T-Mobile home internet experiences ping spikes to 800+ milliseconds pretty much all the time during peak hours. If you need a highly stable internet connection T-Mobile home internet is not going to be a great option for you.
Last but not least, another reason you may want to choose AT&T fiber is if you want the absolute fastest download speeds and upload speeds. With AT&T fiber you can get internet service of 1 Gbps. A 1 gigabit internet connection will net about 950 Mbps of download speed due to packet overhead.
This is ideal if you do a lot of downloading of large files or have multiple users sharing the internet connection. Most people would be perfectly fine with 100 Mbps to 400 Mbps, but if you need and or want the extra speed AT&T fiber can offer it.
Your bandwidth will also be highly consistent and you can expect to get the speeds you are paying for most of the time. Upload speeds with AT&T fiber are also symmetrical. This is great for people who work from home or use cloud storage services.
Winner: AT&T fiber (By a Landslide)
AT&T home internet varies greatly in price depending on when you sign up and what promotions are offered. Generally you can expect to pay between $30 and $110 per month for service. Generally the lower speed tiers cost less within each service type. AT&T does not charge any equipment fees.
T-Mobile 5G home internet currently costs about $50 per month for service. This will depend on whether you enroll in autopay and whether you have a T-Mobile cell phone on the account as well. This price also includes all taxes and fees.
T-Mobile 5G home internet vs AT&T internet? Which is the better home internet service?
T-Mobile 5G home internet offers the best pricing in the industry and could save you $15 per month or so on your internet bill, especially if you are already a T-Mobile cell phone customer. T-Mobile 5G home internet performance is a mixed bag. Downloads are fast enough most of the time, upload speeds are generally acceptable, but stability and reliability is poor. For this reason we have a hard time recommending it to most people.
AT&T DSL is much more reliable than T-Mobile 5G home internet, and offers lower latency (ping). Download speeds are fast enough for streaming 4k video and for working from home. Gaming performance is good and you get a proper public IP address rather than a CGNAT IP address. AT&T DSL is a viable option for most people. However, if cable or fiber internet was available at our location, we would probably skip the DSL.
AT&T fiber blows T-Mobile 5G home internet out of the water in terms of performance. If AT&T fiber is available to you, just pass on T-Mobile 5G home internet. Fiber internet is king and that is unlikely to change anytime soon.