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) are now promising to offer an alternative to traditional wired home internet service providers such as Verizon Fios, AT&T Fiber, Spectrum, and Comcast. One home internet service that is rapidly increasing in popularity is T-Mobile’s 5G Home Internet plan. T-Mobile is promising unlimited data for highly disruptive prices. Who should consider making the switch and who should stay put with Spectrum, at least for now?
Consider Switching to T-Mobile Home Internet If the Following Applies
- Your internet needs are 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.
- You are a cord cutter.
If your internet needs are relatively modest T-Mobile home internet may be a great option for you. On the average downloads are fast enough for streaming and other online activities. During peak hours your speeds may be lower than expected. This is highly variable and largely depends on how crowded the local cell phone tower is, and many other factors. 5G is a wireless technology traveling through the air with other radio signals, with wireless comes the possibility for interference. While the FCC does a good job of licensing frequency bands and minimizing radio frequency conflicts, interference is always a possibility. Data signals traveling as light through fiber optic cables do not have this problem. This is not a deal breaker for most people, but something to keep in mind 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 a good choice.
Cell phone coverage is highly variable. If you use T-Mobile for your cell phone service you would know whether the service in your residence is good or not. You can also run a speed test on your smartphone to get a rough estimate of the speeds you will be getting. Although in some cases the home internet service will be a bit slower due to data deprioritization. This is not throttling when you reach a certain data limit, but rather giving cell phone customers a higher priority if the tower is heavily congested. This is more likely to be an issue in urban areas. Overall, if you get good performance on your phone, you are likely going to get good performance out of 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 do not want to make the switch.
Gaming is not a strong point for T-Mobile home internet. Latency, jitter, and packet loss are all issues that face gamers. T-Mobile home internet struggles with this, as do most 5G internet services. When the tower is congested the problem is especially pronounced.
Over the course of a minute pings can range all the way from 40 ms all the way up to 400+ ms. This makes it completely unsuitable for most forms of online gaming. During the off peak overnight hours performance tends to be better. In comparison, a typical cable or fiber-based internet connection will offer latencies of 20 ms or less. Even a much 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. Packet loss and jitter are also common problems with T-Mobile home internet which makes it a poor choice for gaming or any real time communications such as VoIP.
Another potential 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. This is generally okay for web browsing and watching Netflix. For gaming CGNAT is not preferable.
The issue with 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 may not want to make the switch to T-Mobile home internet at this time. Performance can be 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.
As with gaming, videoconferencing requires a low latency and low jitter connection. With latency spiking to 400+ ms in some cases and jitter as high as 70 ms, 5G home internet is not ideal for virtual meetings. Connecting to corporate VPNs over 5G cellular internet can also be an issue due to packet loss. If you work from home, a cable / fiber based internet connection is generally a better option.
Reliability is also 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 gateway offers no bridge mode or passthrough mode. This means that if you connect your own router you will have a triple NAT environment. This is far from ideal. 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.
With spectrum you have the option of either using a straight cable modem without router functionality or putting your gateway into true bridge mode. This will pass your public IP address though to your personal router. This results in a properly configured network with just a single device (your personal router) performing NAT.
Spectrum offers a variety of promotions and deals on internet packages. Depending on when you buy and the current promotions offered, you will likely be paying around $50 per month plus taxes and fees for the first year of service. Often times you can renew the promotional rate, but in same cases your bill can quickly escalate to $70 per month or more. If you opt for a higher service tier you can expect to pay even more. Keep in mind that even the 200 Mbps plan is more than fast enough for most people. Even if T-Mobile theoretically offers higher speeds your speeds with Spectrum will be much more consistent. You will pretty much get the speeds you subscribe to regardless of the time of day or other factors.
T-Mobile home internet currently costs $50 per month with all taxes and fees included. This is likely less than you will pay for even the most basic internet package with spectrum. If saving money is your top priority and a difference of $10 – $15 per month is important to you, T-Mobile home internet is likely for you.
This of course assumes that you do not have cable TV service with spectrum. If you are not a cord cutter or not interested in becoming a cord cutter you have absolutely no financial reason to make the switch. The bundle pricing with spectrum for TV and internet is going to be less expensive than paying for Spectrum TV and T-Mobile home internet. Just be sure to ask spectrum about any current promotions and make sure you are getting the best possible rate. If they do not budge on the price ask for the customer retention department. They often have the most ability to get you the best rate.
Stay With Spectrum If The Following Applies
- You need a highly stable and reliable internet connection.
- You are a gamer.
- T-Mobile has poor signal at your residence.
- You want to use your own router.
- You want the fastest possible speeds.
With spectrum you will 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 spectrum is usually in the 20 ms – 30 ms range, and jitter is usually less than 5 ms. This means that real time communications such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams will perform optimally. Corporate VPN connections will also be highly stable and free from drops.
If you are a gamer you will be well suited to using Spectrum 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 Spectrum 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 largely depends on your proximity to the local cell phone tower and the number of obstructions. T-Mobile only offers its home internet where it has sufficient tower capacity to support the additional demands. Of course cell phone carriers are notorious for over estimating their coverage areas. If you have T-Mobile cell phone service and performance is lacking at your residence, you probably do not want your home broadband internet running off the same towers. With Spectrum you can be pretty certain that if service is available you will be getting full performance. This is the nature of the technology. Wired communications tend to be more reliable and less susceptible to outside interference.
With Spectrum you get a public IP address and the ability to bridge your public IP address to your own router. There are many reasons you may want to use your own router. These can include better Wi-Fi coverage, faster speeds, or additional security features. If you wish to use your own router, Spectrum will not provide any hoops to jump through.
Last but not least, another reason you may want to stay with Spectrum is if you want the absolute fastest download speeds. With Spectrum you can get internet service up to 1 Gbps in most areas. 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 200 Mbps to 400 Mbps, but if you need and or want the extra speed Spectrum can offer it. Your bandwidth will also be highly consistent and you can expect to get the speeds you are paying for.
Alternatives to traditional home broadband internet connections have recently been put in the spotlight. Many people are fed up with their current internet service provider and are excited about new alternatives on the horizon. T-Mobile is a newcomer to the home internet market. For many people T-Mobile home internet may be a solid option.
For other people Spectrum internet is well worth the additional cost because it offers the consistent reliable performance they need. Whether you make the switch or not, you can’t argue with having more competition in the market. The home broadband market is badly in need of some additional competition both to reduce costs and to drive the innovation of new technology.
Yes it is unlimited, however your data is deprioritized when the cell phone tower is congested. This may reduce your download speeds significantly in some cases. There is however no data cap and you are not charged based on your usage.
T-Mobile does not throttle your internet when you exceed a certain amount of data usage. However your data is deprioritized when the cell phone tower is congested. This may reduce your download speeds significantly in some cases. Cell phone users get a higher priority of data.
T-Mobile is generally not faster than Spectrum. Spectrum offers speeds of up to 1 Gbps. In most cases speeds with T-Mobile 5G will be 200 Mbps or less. Spectrum offers faster internet than T-Mobile in most cases. T-Mobile is improving it network all the time.