So I experimented with T-Mobile’s 5G Home Internet because the price is right and they recently dropped it to just $25 a month. It’s a huge move against the competition and incredibly smart when it comes to hitting the numbers fast. For me, it was a chance to finally check it out without investing too much (if it doesn’t work for me).
In my opinion, it will act as a backup for now, with a small potential (thanks to the savings it will bring) of replacing my cable connection to the house. It can also act as a solution when traveling as one powerful hotspot, but I haven’t fully tested it yet.
However, changing my cable connection won’t be easy because I have a gigabit plan that is incredibly strong and doesn’t drop often. You won’t find that kind of speed yet with 5G. This and reliability are not the same for some users (like me). I still have a lot to test when it comes to long-term reliability. I can share what I’ve been up to so far (mind you, I’m a bit more sophisticated than your average internet user).
I also involved another user in the results that lead to this story (a friend) who has been using T-Mobile’s 5G Home Internet for about a month. It only allows me to see a little further than my home when it comes to performance.
In general, in T-Mobile-rich areas, T-Mobile’s 5G Home Internet offers the same consistent connection as your phone or any other device. It really is a great hotspot with an internal router and unlimited data. This is a great option, so thank you T-Mobile for standing by your users.
My friend lives across the street from one of the company’s towers. It’s been getting fantastic coverage this past month, getting close to 300Mbps (downstream). He has yet to experience any outages and seems to be quite happy with it. Although it also won’t replace the main cable connection just yet (and I’ll get to that in the next section).
As for my own experience, things are a little different (so far). They check your eligibility for the plan using your address. This is to make sure you live in a 5G covered area and it’s worth your time and money. My address was correct as it always is for T-Mobile and I went with the router to bring home and install.
However, there is something odd about T-Mobile in my neighborhood. There’s actually a tower in the mall across the street from my (small) neighborhood (it’s decently close). This was confirmed over the phone by T-Mobile representatives who thought it was incredibly strange. Because despite being so close to a tower, the house (and that part of the neighborhood in general) has close to zero connectivity. So once against, they don’t really get anything even though they think the address is more appropriate. This is despite living in a big city that claims to have absolutely solid 5G coverage (I don’t live anywhere or in the middle of BFE).
For this reason, a 4G LTE access point was installed a while ago, which is included in the cable connection to signal to nearby T-Mobile devices. The company still hasn’t fixed anything in the area and has never offered to send a tech to fix the problem. So it was no surprise when I shut down the router and discovered it wasn’t connected to the network.
I had to get it as close to the window as possible, upstairs and in the direction of the cell tower. Finally, finally a connection and I was ready to go. Kind of. It didn’t provide the best connection, so I ended up disconnecting it.
So this eliminates the cable connection as an option for me to always replace, as it’s not very reliable thanks to network connectivity issues. Something that has never improved with T-Mobile so far, and most likely won’t until you send someone out to the neighborhood to diagnose what’s causing the strange black hole of a neighborhood spot.
I already mentioned that my friend is doing decently well with his connection and is averaging up to 300Mbps (downstream) with his account. the whole house. However, this is also where it won’t be replacing the cable connection anytime soon, which is another reason I won’t be replacing mine with it.
Downstream is worthy. I was getting up to 253Mbps when I could see the network. This shows that T-Mobile has potential in my area, but something weird is causing it to block at low levels and be intermittent at higher levels. So there might be something unusual in the neighborhood. Regardless, if sustained, 253 Mbps isn’t bad for the average user. It just doesn’t compare to my gigabit plan through the cable company.
Where it doesn’t really compare is upstream bandwidth. My cable connection offers twice the speed on the download side of things, and even compared to the direction some companies are going, that’s embarrassing. Companies like Google offer speeds of 1Tbps or higher in both directions (downstream and upstream). Meanwhile, many cable providers, and probably 5G providers, still struggle to offer slow upstream.
Getting 17-18Mbps just doesn’t cut it for me. I don’t always hit my upper limits, but I do when I’m working because sometimes I need to move backup files or video content between locations. As a press, we shoot a lot of HD/4K content that needs to be sent to the server so our editing teams can all work on it. If I was getting 300Mbps both ways with a solid connection, I’d say my cable company would have something to worry about, even though it’s nowhere near gigabit downstream.
That’s why Google Fiber (and similar options) dominate in certain regions. Most of these other companies can’t keep up with what fiber has to offer.
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet isn’t really a good choice for hobbyists, data-heavy professionals, or 4K gaming. Like any other category that requires a lot of bandwidth.
It should only be considered as an option if:
- You already know you’re getting a fantastic T-Mobile signal in your home
- You don’t have *multiple* devices connected to the internet
- You don’t find yourself moving large amounts of data back and forth
- You’re not into high-res/high-end competitive gaming
- With heavy internet usage, you don’t depend on it to work from home
Indeed, it is good for simple and average home users who need a simple connection to the Internet throughout the house. If you thought that a simple hotspot to carry around in your pocket would be enough to provide you with the internet you need for your daily activities, then it will work for you because this is a hotspot taken to the next level.
As mentioned, I’m a bit more sophisticated than your run of the mill internet user. We sometimes play hard at home (when life allows free time). There are dozens of devices that connect to the Internet in various ways (including 2K/4K security cameras). There are tons of media streams happening every week (i.e. Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, Plex, etc.). There are also a lot of large video files and other content moving in both directions. So T-Mobile 5G Home Internet has completely cut it for me. It could make a good alternate connection when the other goes down (ie, lots of IoT cloud devices), but only if it could reliably connect to T-Mobile.
But if you fall into the bullet points mentioned earlier, this would be a great alternative solution for home internet. There are so many consumers who can benefit from T-Mobile’s affordable plan. My grandparents are a perfect example.
For now, I’ll take it with me to a few places when I get a chance to see how well it performs here or there compared to my own home. If it works for travel or something, maybe I’ll keep it, or I’ll return it and come back later after T-Mobile finally sends someone out to scout the neighborhood and fix something. Obviously, if all I do is sit on it and wait for the day it comes up with the right solution for my home, I’m not going to keep paying for it. If my experience changes in the future, I’ll have to come back with a new story highlighting what got better.