What is 5G?
Ari Howard Last updated: February 18, 2021
5G is the next generation wireless network technology (after 4G) and is the newest standard regarding data communication for a network. Compared to past generations, 5G will allow data to transfer from a source to its destination quicker and with fewer delays. This network will be able to be applied to both cellphones, which is what most people think of when they hear 5G, and home internet.
5G networks are made up of three bands. The highest bandwidth provides the fastest speeds but the worst coverage and penetration abilities (can’t go through a brick wall, for instance). The lowest bandwidth, on the other hand, provides the slowest speeds but the greatest coverage.
Low-band spectrum (<1GHz): Widespread coverage with speeds up to 100 Mbps and excellent penetration capabilities.
Mid-band spectrum (<6GHz): Limited coverage with speeds up to 1 Gbps and moderate penetration capabilities.
High-band spectrum (>6GHz): Low coverage with speeds up to 10 Gbps and poor penetration capabilities.
What is Fixed Wireless 5G?
Fixed wireless is the equipment that converts radio waves into internet service. Fixed wireless internet is created from a fixed antenna connecting to a nearby (and in line of sight) wireless tower. The wireless tower is the base station. Once the fixed antenna receives radio signals from the base station, it then sends that connection down a short cable installed in your house and links up to your router so that you have access to Wi-Fi.
Currently, fixed wireless internet primarily exists through a 4G network and is mostly used in rural areas. However, once the infrastructure for 5G is more built-out, fixed wireless service can use the 5G network instead. This fixed wireless 5G internet service is most commonly referred to as 5G home internet and will have several key benefits.
5G home internet benefits
Affordability – Once 5G is more widespread, 5G home internet will become one of the most cost-efficient internet services available. Verizon, for instance, offers a range of 300 to 1,000 Mbps for only $50/mo. This offer, however, is not yet available in many places.
Gig speeds – 5G speeds will be significantly faster than what most people currently have in their homes, with the potential to reach 1,000 Mbps.
No contracts or hidden fees – Currently, most of the carriers offering, or getting ready to offer, fixed wireless 5G are promising no contracts or hidden fees, which includes free installation.
Low latency – With reduced latency, data between a source and its destination will be able to transfer much faster. This means much fewer delays, buffering and lag when you are video chatting or gaming online.
Reliability – Since fixed wireless base stations tend to be located within 10 miles of all homes and atop tall cell towers and buildings, the internet connection is rarely affected by bad weather.
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Unlimited data allowance
AT&T consumer home internet or Fixed Wireless Internet customers can use unlimited internet data through September 30, 2020.
Self-installation is the default installation option when available for customers.
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Get a temporary speed upgrade to 50 Mbps when you order Cox 10 & 30 Mbps internet plans. Offers valid through June 30, 2020.
Self-installation encouraged. Select your desired installation date, and a Cox representative will call to confirm or reschedule your appointment.
Safety-first Installation: A Frontier technician will perform your installation with appropriate safety protocols including wearing protective equipment and maintaining social distancing. In taking these precautions, it’s recommended that Frontier customers wear a face mask or face covering for the safety of technicians.
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Contactless installation: Mediacom will send an installation kit and a technician to set up a single high-speed data connection, phone, or one local TV channel plan with the help of someone in your home.
Self-installation is encouraged. For professional installation, contact-free delivery is available for work done outside of the home. For customers moving more than 7 days from the date the order is placed, professional installation is available.
Free Contactless Delivery: An Xfinity technician will drop-off your equipment with installation instructions, then perform any outside work. Get your installation fees back in a customer credit for a no-charge installation.
What’s the difference between 5G mobile and 5G home internet?
There are two ways of connecting to the 5G network: through cellular service (mobile 5G) and through fixed wireless (5G home internet). With 5G cellular service, customers must purchase a mobile device that is capable of receiving 5G radio waves. Through this device, customers can use 5G cellular service to access the internet when they are not on Wi-Fi.
Conversely, 5G home internet requires an antenna to be installed on top of each customer’s home so that any device in that person’s home can connect to the 5G network, generally through Wi-Fi. The antenna on top of one’s home must be in line of sight to a base station with another antenna. Therefore, 5G cellular service and 5G home internet are two different plans even though you can receive both services through the same wireless carrier.
To break it down, here are the most important differences between 5G mobile and 5G home internet:
Portability: 5G mobile is portable and 5G home internet is limited to the home.
Equipment: 5G mobile requires a compatible 5G mobile device to connect to 5G through a cellular tower. 5G home internet requires each household to have a fixed wireless antenna installed on top of their homes and for that antenna to be in direct line of sight to a 5G base station.
Reliability: Since 5G mobile requires widespread coverage because it is portable, it is less likely to have consistent speeds than 5G home internet, which never changes location. Even in one’s home, a fixed wireless connection is more likely to receive a better signal than a mobile connection.
Data caps: In addition to being less reliable and receiving an inferior signal, 5G mobile is generally not a good replacement for home Wi-Fi because its plans tend to have data caps. Most 5G home internet providers, on the other hand, offer unlimited data.
5G home internet providers
Verizon and Starry are currently the only providers actually selling 5G home internet. However, T-Mobile and AT&T are also working to provide 5G home internet soon. In the meantime, T-Mobile and AT&T are offering 4G home internet in select rural areas. Verizon, Starry, T-Mobile and AT&T are the four main providers expanding 5G home internet throughout the country.
|Provider||Starting price||Speed range||Data caps|
|Verizon||$50.00/mo.||300 to 1,000 Mbps||Unlimited|
|Starry||$30.00/mo.||100 to 200 Mbps||Unlimited|
|T-Mobile||$50.00/mo.||9 to 47 Mbps||Unlimited|
|AT&T||$59.99/mo.||10 to 25 Mbps||250 GB/mo.|
Verizon currently offers fixed wireless 5G internet, referred to as Verizon 5G Home Internet, in select areas. Verizon keeps pricing simple with all taxes and additional fees included in the advertised price.
|Verizon 5G home internet|
|Price for current Verizon Wireless customers||$50.00/mo.*|
|Price for new customers||$70.00/mo.|
|Download speeds||300 to 1,000 Mbps|
|Upload speeds||50 Mbps|
*For existing customers with a Verizon mobile plan of $30/mo. or greater.
Current promotions and special offers
- Free professional installation – While installing a fixed wireless connection can be done without professional assistance, Verizon is currently offering free professional installation for all customers. For those living in a larger home, a Wi-Fi extender mini may also be installed in your home free of charge to ensure adequate Wi-Fi coverage.
- Streaming accessory: You get a free Stream TV device if you opt for self-installation or a free Verizon Stream TV device when you opt for professional setup.
- Amazon smart home bundle: For a limited time, you will receive an Amazon Smart Home Bundle when you sign up for Verizon 5G Home Internet.
- YouTube TV: Verizon will provide YouTube TV for one month for free. After that, the cost is $64.99/mo. to continue your subscription.
Verizon 5G home internet availability
Verizon 5G Home Internet is currently available in select areas of:
- Los Angeles, CA
- Sacramento, CA
- San Jose, CA
- Denver, CO
- Atlanta, GA
- Chicago, IL
- Indianapolis, IN
- Detroit, MI
- Minneapolis, MN
- Saint Paul, MN
- Dallas, TX
- Houston, TX
Starry is a brand new fixed wireless internet provider. It is the only fixed wireless 5G provider that is not a wireless carrier. However, just like Verizon, it includes taxes and additional fees in its advertised price, and there is no promotional pricing. Through Starry, you can connect up to 60 devices at a time.
|Starry packages||Internet 100||Internet 200|
|Download speeds||100 Mbps||200 Mbps|
|Upload speeds||50 Mbps||200 Mbps|
Current promotions and special offers
- Free installation: With Starry, you have the option for self-installation; however, Starry is also currently offering professional installation to all customers for free.
Starry internet availability
Starry is currently only available in apartment or condo buildings in five major U.S. cities:
- Boston, MA
- Denver, CO
- Los Angeles, CA
- New York, NY
- Washington, D.C.
However, Starry Internet is set to expand into 47 additional U.S. markets in the coming years.
T-Mobile has fixed wireless 5G internet, known as T-Mobile Home Internet, on the way. However, its 5G internet service is not yet ready for the public and its 4G home internet service is extremely limited.
T-Mobile promises no price increases and the advertised price includes all additional fees and taxes. An additional perk is that T-Mobile includes built-in security features to protect your internet service. However, unlike other providers that are currently offering free professional installation, T-Mobile only offers free self-installation.
|T-Mobile home internet|
|Download speeds||9 to 47 Mbps|
|Upload speeds||4 to 20 Mbps|
T-Mobile home internet availability
T-Mobile Home Internet is in its most beta phase. It is currently only offering an invite-only pilot program for individuals living in rural and underserved areas across the U.S. However, T-Mobile expects to have fixed wireless 5G in almost two million homes by 2021 and in 9.5 million homes by 2024.
Similar to T-Mobile, AT&T is still in its earliest phases of bringing 5G home internet to the U.S. It has been more focused this year in providing 5G for wireless phones. Currently, AT&T only offers 4G home internet. AT&T is one of the few fixed wireless providers that does not offer unlimited data or free installation.
|AT&T home internet|
|Download speeds||10 to 25 Mbps|
|Upload speeds||1 Mbps|
|Data caps||250 GB/mo., overage fees apply|
|Installation fee||Up to $99|
AT&T home internet availability
As of now, AT&T offers fixed wireless 4G for select rural households and small businesses. AT&T’s home internet service is primarily targeted towards people who live in areas where other internet services are unavailable. AT&T is currently only offering home internet to existing customers with a plan of at least $29.99/mo.
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5G home internet equipment
Another perk of fixed wireless internet is that installation will be fairly simple. This means that, in most cases, self-installation will be an option; however, for now, most carriers are offering free installation. Here’s the equipment you will need:
- Outdoor antenna – Must be installed on top of your home and in line of sight to a nearby 5G base station.
- 5G router – converts 5G radio waves into Wi-Fi.
- Antenna power supply – a cable that connects the antenna and router.
- Wi-Fi extender – If you have a larger home, you will likely need at least one Wi-Fi extender in order to provide internet access to your whole home.
5G home internet FAQs
Although fiber optic is currently the fastest and most cost-efficient option available, 5G home internet will likely become the superior choice once it becomes more widely available. While fiber optic gig plans tend to cost over $100/mo., 5G home internet plans will be able to provide gig speeds for about half the price.
If there is a base station in line of sight to your home, you will likely be able to purchase 5G home internet even if you do not own your home. However, you will need approval from your landlord if an antenna is not already installed on top of your apartment, condominium or townhome.
Out of all the most common forms of internet service, DSL, cable, fiber optic and satellite, fixed wireless is most similar to satellite internet because they both require installing equipment on top of your home to receive signals from external sources. These two types of internet service differ because while satellite internet is created from a satellite dish connecting to an orbiting satellite, fixed wireless is created from an antenna on top of your home connecting to a line of sight 5G base station.
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Written by:Ari Howard
Associate Writer, Broadband & Wireless Content
Ari is an Associate Writer for the Allconnect team, focusing on broadband and wireless news, as well as broadband and TV provider deals. She recently graduated from Davidson College with a bachelor’s degree in… Read more
Edited by:Robin Layton
Editor, Broadband & Wireless Content
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