Spectrum Resource Center

Spectrum Resource Center


"5G" Home Internet vs. Spectrum Internet

4:00 Minute Read

Big wireless companies want you to believe "5G" Home Internet is new technology, but it’s not. Wireless broadband home Internet or Fixed Wireless Internet has been around for over 20 years in rural areas. They’re basically just rebranding existing technology and using it on a “5G” network. The problem is, “5G” networks are in the early stages of being built, so "5G" Home Internet is limited to certain cities, it’s unreliable and speeds are slower than most cable Internet plans.

This article uncovers the truth about why “5G” Home Internet speeds are so slow and unstable. We’ll also compare “5G” Home Internet to cable Internet, like Spectrum Internet. Before diving into the problems with "5G" Home Internet, it’s helpful to understand how it works.

How Does “5G” Home Internet Work?

“5G” Home Internet or Fixed Wireless Internet uses the same cellular network smartphones use. Cell towers and/or small cell nodes use radio frequencies to send Internet signals to an outdoor antenna or indoor gateway receiver at each customer’s home. How you receive the Wireless Home Internet signal depends on whether your provider is one of the big cellular phone carriers or a Fixed Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP).

WISPs typically mount an antenna to the roof or an exterior wall of your home, and an Ethernet cable connects the antenna to a modem inside your house, which links your computer to the Internet. A WiFi router can then be used to connect your wireless devices. Mobile phone companies transmit signals to an Internet gateway device placed inside your home. Unlike an outdoor antenna, the Internet gateway device not only communicates with the cell tower/node, it also serves as a WiFi router to connect your wireless devices to the Internet.

How Fast Is “5G” Home Internet?

While Verizon and T-Mobile claim their "5G" Home Internet plans can reach certain speeds, the reality is, Wireless Home Internet is prone to speed fluctuations and fails to meet the demands of today’s average consumer usage. In fact, Spectrum’s analysis of Ookla® Speedtest Intelligence® data revealed 5G Home Internet fails to consistently maintain broadband speeds over 25 Mbps during peak times.[1]  That doesn’t sound like the “5G” Home Internet big wireless companies are hyping up, but it is.

Factors like your location, the weather, RF interference, network traffic and network capacity can cause slow "5G" Home Internet speeds, unstable connections, lag and buffering. What’s worse, “5G” Home Internet customers don’t always get the “5G” network they’ve been promised and may end up surfing the web on a slower, 4G LTE network.[3,4]

How Does “5G” Home Internet Compare to Spectrum Internet

T-Mobile and Verizon boast about their large, nationwide “5G” networks, but network size doesn’t matter when a large number of people connect to the same cell tower/node at the same time because that’s when T-Mobile and Verizon limit their “5G” Home Internet customers’ speed and/or bandwidth. Spectrum Internet, on the other hand, delivers consistently high speeds (including Gig speed) all day, every day… even during peak times. In a recent study by Ookla®, Spectrum’s data analysis confirmed Spectrum Internet had faster and more reliable speeds than both Verizon 5G Home Internet and T-Mobile Home Internet.[1]

T-Mobile “5G” Home Internet vs. Spectrum Internet

Tucked away in the fine print, T-Mobile admits “5G” Home Internet customers are prioritized last on the T-Mobile network, alongside heavy data users.[4] That means cell phone plans, mobile data Internet plans, even Sprint-branded mobile plans may experience faster speeds than T-Mobile’s “5G” Home Internet customers during network congestion.[4]

T-Mobile also notes video speeds may be slower, depending on video resolution, so “5G” Home Internet is not ideal for those who like to stream without interruption.[4] Spectrum Internet is a much better choice because all customers have equal priority on the network and Spectrum does not limit customers’ Internet speeds, bandwidth or video quality.

Verizon “5G” Home Internet vs. Spectrum Internet

Verizon’s network management practices reveal that users on their “5G” network are prioritized behind other traffic, which can result in reduced speeds for “5G” Home Internet customers during peak times.[3] Verizon also discloses that “5G” Home Internet customers may receive 4G LTE Home Internet speeds at times, which are typically 25-50 Mbps for downloads and 4 Mbps for uploads.[3] So, if you want fast, reliable Internet speeds, you can count on Spectrum Internet. Spectrum offers three Home Internet plans with speeds up to: 300 Mbps, 500 Mbps and 1 Gig (wireless speeds may vary).

High-Speed Internet for Rural Areas

While Fixed Wireless Internet has been available in rural areas for many years, “5G” networks are limited to select metro areas, so wireless broadband Internet service has been restricted to slower 2G, 3G and 4G networks. The good news is, cable Internet providers are rapidly expanding into more rural communities, and Spectrum Internet has invested over $40 billion[2] in infrastructure and technology to bridge the digital divide. You can learn more about the Rural Broadband Build-out program here.

Frequently Asked Questions About “5G” Home Internet

No. “5G” stands for fifth generation and refers to wireless technology. 5 Gbps is an Internet speed or data transfer speed of 5 gigabits per second.

No. 5 GHz refers to the 5 gigahertz radio frequency some routers use to transmit your Internet signal to wireless devices in your home. While 5G does use radio signals, it uses different frequencies. 

The benefit of “5G” Home Internet is that it does not require a wired connection, so it’s relatively easy to set-up. However, there are many problems with “5G” Home Internet, including limited availability, slow speeds, lag, buffering and unreliable connections.


[1] Based on Spectrum’s analysis of Ookla® Speedtest Intelligence® data during Q4 2022 in Spectrum’s footprint. Reliable speeds based on Consistency Score™ comparisons. Faster speeds based on the median speeds delivered. Peak hours defined as 7-11 PM Mon-Fri. Ookla trademarks used under license and reprinted with permission.

[2] “Investing In Innovation & Infrastructure,” Charter Communications,  https://policy.charter.com/resource-hub/network-investment-access

[3]“Important Information About Verizon Wireless Broadband Internet Access Services,” https://www.verizon.com/support/broadband-services/

[4] “Important information about T-Mobile's Broadband Internet Access Services and T-Mobile's Open Internet Disclosures”, https://www.t-mobile.com/responsibility/consumer-info/policies/internet-service


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