Verizon broadband home internet has been around for many years, first in the form of DSL and later in the form of Fios. Fios uses a fiber optic network to deliver residential internet services with up to 1 Gbps in bandwidth. Fios has a relatively limited coverage area, primarily focused on dense urban deployments.
Verizon launched its 5G home internet service in 2018. Verizon 5G aims to provide high speed residential internet service to additional areas of the United States with speeds of up to 1 Gbps. Right now location availability is somewhat limited and the fastest speeds are limited to 5G ultrawideband areas utilizing millimeter wave frequencies. Currently they only offer the service where they know they have the cell tower capacity to handle the added demands.
How do They Work
Verizon Fios is delivered over Verizon’s 100% fiber optic network. This network works by placing an optical network terminal on the side of your residence, connecting it to Verizon’s GPON fiber network. This fiber to the home approach is considered by industry experts to be the optimal method of delivering data services.
Verizon 5G home internet uses 5G / 4G cellular signals to deliver high speed data services. This works virtually the same way as using the hotspot function on your smartphone. In fact you can get a good feel for how the service will perform at your location by turning on the hotspot function of your Verizon smartphone and running a speed test from your computer connected to the hotspot. If the Verizon cellular signal is week in your home, 5G home internet may not be the best option.
Is Verizon 5G Home Internet Better than Fios
No, Verizon Fios is the better service. Fiber optic internet is going to be more stable / reliable than a service delivered over 5G wireless. Additionally ping stability is much better with Fios than with 5G. If you work from home, use software such as Zoom, or play online games Fios is the better option.
Keep in mind in most areas one or the other may be available but usually not both. You may not have both options in that many areas. Coverage areas of both services are limited at this time. If you do live in an area with access to both services, Fios is the better option hands down.
Download speeds with Verizon Fios starts out at 300 Mbps with their lowest tier plan. This is enough for the vast majority of users. If you wish to go higher they offer plans up to 1 Gbps in bandwidth. For some households with several heavy users these higher speed tiers are a godsend. They enable multiple 4K streams, plus video conferencing, plus huge file downloads to all be happening at the same time with no noticeable impact on performance. If you have a real need for speed, Fios has you covered with a plan that is fast enough for anyone.
Verizon 5G on the other hand does not advertise different speed tiers. Instead they advertise speeds of up to a gig in select areas. Real world speeds will vary greatly and generally be lower than what you get even on a basic Fios plan. If you do not have millimeter wave signal available at your home your speeds will be even lower, likely under 100 Mbps. During off peak hours you may see speeds actually temporarily go higher than usual. The issue is that during the critical evening peak hours when everyone is streaming Netflix and other video content, speeds tend to tank. Speeds as low as 20 Mbps is not uncommon during peak hours, especially in areas not covered by millimeter wave technology.
Real world speed tests have shown download speeds of about 100 Mbps being most common, with areas utilizing millimeter wave technology being faster. Performance depends greatly on the time of day and the number of users connected to the local cell tower.
Both services offer the potential for fast speeds. The difference is that with Fios you are pretty much guaranteed to get at least 80 – 90% of the bandwidth you subscribe to at all times. This includes during peak hours. With 5G technology download speeds can be hit or miss. Unfortunately when they miss it is usually during peak hours when you need the bandwidth the most.
Fios internet connections are symmetrical in bandwidth. The speed of your downloads will be the same as the speed of your uploads. For example if you get the 300 Mbps package you will get 300 Mbps in both directions. This is typical with most providers of fiber based internet. It is also a huge selling point for Fios, especially for people that either work from home, operate a business out of their home, or do a lot on online content creation. It also makes uploading large files to cloud storage services such as Drobox, Google Drive, or OneDrive a breeze.
Upload speeds with Verizon 5G home internet are usually in the 12 Mbps – 25 Mbps range. This is comparable to many lower tier cable-based internet connections, but much lower than what you get with Fios. As with downloads, speeds also tend to be lowest during peak hours.
Latency (ping) with Verizon Fios is generally very low. This makes it a popular choice for gamers. It is also a great choice for VoIP and other real time communications. It makes Zoom calls very fluent and free from unwanted delay. If you work from home or play online games, Fios is a great option, as is a cable internet service from a provider such as Comcast (Xfinity) or Spectrum. Latency in the single digits is likely with Verizon Fios to nearby servers. The stability of the ping is also excellent and not generally affected by your neighbors usage or the time of day.
Latency is an area where Verizon 5G home internet fail to impress anyone. Over the course of any minute pings can range all the way from 45 ms all the way up to 300+ ms. This makes it unsuitable for online gaming, Zoom meetings, VoIP or any other real time communications. During the off peak overnight hours performance is generally better. Off peak latencies can be in the 45 – 90 ms range but occasionally spiking higher. From 4 PM to 11 PM every day latency is in the 100+ ms range with spikes to 300+ ms. For this reason Verizon home internet is not recommended for gaming or other real time communications. Packet loss and jitter also tend to be much higher on the 5G service when compared to Fios or virtually any other wired internet service including even DSL.
Gaming performance on Verizon Fios is excellent in most cases. You will get the lowest latency possible with a fiber based internet connection. This is completely to be expected. Additionally Fios gives you a proper public IPv4 address and does not rely on CGNAT technology to provide you your IP address. This is great for gaming as it allows for port forwarding.
I will say it up front. If you are a gamer, 5G internet is not for you, at least at this time. Latency is far too high and inconsistencies in performance are a real deal breaker for gaming.
Another potential downside of using Verizon 5G Home Internet for gaming is the use of CGNAT. Like most cell phone carriers, Verizon uses CGNAT to assign IP addresses to subscribers. This is generally okay for web browsing and watching Netflix. For gaming CGNAT is not preferable as it creates a double NAT environment.
The issue primarily affects 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”. Port forwarding is usually not possible if your ISP uses CGNAT. This just something to be aware of.
Verizon is expanding its home broadband coverage area with the launch of its 5G home internet service. This is great as it provides another option for consumers in a market that is dominated by monopolies and duopolies. Even if 5G service is less than ideal, it is another option and creates additional competition in the market. This is great for consumers because it drives innovation and keeps prices down.
Verizon Fios is the superior product if you can get it at your service address. Right now coverage is fairly limited because installation requires stringing fiber and often digging trenches. If you are lucky enough to have access to Fios internet, go for it. Even the 300 Mbps tier is fast enough for virtually anyone.
If you do not have access to Fios but have access to Verizon 5G home internet, consider your options. What does your local cable provider offer? In most cases cable internet is a close second for performance behind fiber based internet. If you do not have access to cable internet or simply wish to avoid the local provider, Verizon 5G internet may be a great option, as may Starlink internet service. If you are a gamer you probably want to avoid Verizon 5G home internet, especially outside of their millimeter wave coverage areas. Options are a beautiful thing as a consumer and 5G home internet along with services such as Starlink are bringing some much needed competition to the market. That is good for everyone.