I get 5G on my phone at home, so why can’t I get 5G home internet?

It’s been a few years now 5G: started coming out, but I have to admit it still confuses me sometimes. One of the questions I am often asked is: “My provider says I can’t get their 5G home internet service, even though when I’m at home I can get 5G on my phone. What gives?”

I ran into this myself when I switched carriers in 2022 AT&T: to: T-Mobile: and was immediately impressed with my phone’s 5G performance. But even though I got T-Mobile 5G cell service at home, my address doesn’t match T-Mobile Home Internet. My immediate reaction.

It’s not just T-Mobile. The same applies Verizon:, too. Its 5G home internet product is also strictly not available in all addresses covered by the company’s 5G coverage map. Even if you have Verizon Ultra Broadband service near you, it’s not sure if you’ll be able to sign up Verizon 5G Home Internet.

Wait, T-Mobile and Verizon Offer 5G Home Internet?

Yes! T-Mobile and Verizon use the mobile airwaves to offer special 5G home internet plans. Each provider’s plan includes simple, comprehensive pricing that cuts out equipment fees, data caps, term contracts, and other extras often associated with Internet service providers.

T-Mobile Home Internet has one plan for $50 per month ($30 for Magenta Max eligible customers). Verizon offers two plans: Verizon 5G Home ($50 per month) and Verizon 5G Home Plus ($70 per month). Qualifying Verizon cell plans can also save 50% off any plan price. Simplicity and a simple approach seem to be key for both companies.

AT&T does not currently offer 5G home internet. When we asked in January if that would change in 2023, an AT&T spokesperson shared, “Fiber remains our focus.”

Is home internet a side hustle for mobile operators?

I’d be tempted to think that getting into the ISP game was a lark for these companies, but telecom insider Jeff Moore, CEO; Wave7 surveysees more in the game.

“Mobility is T-Mobile’s core business, and for the most part, it’s Verizon’s core business,” Moore said. “But T-Mobile, in particular, is telling Wall Street beyond selling [home internet] services to businesses, it also says it is increasingly pushing into rural America. I don’t think it’s just a PR stunt.”

T-Mobile, whose gateway device is shown here, includes equipment in the monthly fee.


Some early numbers support Moore’s assessment. In mid-April 2022, T-Mobile proudly announced that it has reached 1 million customers just one year after the product’s nationwide launch. T-Mobile Home Internet now has more than 2.6 million customers and is available in more than 40 million households. A third of those homes are in rural communities and small towns, according to T-Mobile.

Overall, T-Mobile has been aggressive in its pitch. In May 2022, it started its Internet Freedom a push that bends Americans’ dissatisfaction with ISPs and encourages people to “break from the Big Internet” by trying T-Mobile Home Internet. To entice customers, it offers a free, 15-day test drive (so you can try it without switching your current provider), a price lock guarantee (you pay the same price as long as you’re a customer, with no prices after one year growth concerns, as with many providers), and an additional $20 per month in savings on eligible Magenta Max cell plans.

Verizon has also been ambitious with its offerings, but with less of an “ISPs are evil” sound. That’s probably why Verizon Fios — the company’s fiber Internet service is an ISP and is one of the few that regularly receives high ratings. In their case, 5G home internet seems to be less of a jab against the “Big Internet” and more of a play to expand Verizon’s home internet game out of the Northeast (Verizon’s Fios playground) and into the rest of the country.

If T-Mobile and Verizon are serious about home internet, why isn’t it as accessible as their overall 5G coverage?

When my partner Eli Blumenthal tested the Verizon 5G HomeHe noted that his iPhone’s 5G connection was better than his 5G Home hub number.

He was on to something.

A Verizon spokesperson told me it designed its network with its mobile customers in mind. “We continue to allocate spectrum to ensure our mobile customers have the reliability they’ve come to expect from Verizon,” they said in an email. “As we deploy more spectrum beyond what our models show, we need the highest reliability for our mobile customers, we can also offer a 5G Home service.”

Verizon also includes its 5G equipment in your monthly bill.

Sarah Tew/CNET

5G enables greater connection density — approximately 1 million devices per square kilometer — than previous generations of mobile communications. Is that a lot? Yes, it goes 100 times better than 4G, but it is not infinite. Because home Internet products use a lot of capacity on the cellular network, Moore believes T-Mobile has also been smart about how it sells home Internet.

He showed me a YouTube interview Kendra Lord, director of geospatial engineering and analytics at T-Mobile, where she compared 5G home Internet access to the number of seats on an airplane.

“It’s not just the number of households that we think we can get [T-Mobile Home Internet]”, he said, “but how many can we say yes to in this section?”

A spokesperson confirmed that line of thinking when I reached out to T-Mobile for further insight. “There are still many households that are not yet eligible for home internet even though they can get 5G on their mobile device, and that’s on purpose,” I was told via email.

“Our fixed wireless home internet works on a network extra the strength of our wireless network. In some areas we have additional network capacity and in others we don’t. So we allocate home Internet access sector by sector, house by house.”

In other words, it’s entirely possible that I could get 5G cell service in my home, and my next-door neighbor might even have T-Mobile Home Internet. However, my address may not be usable for home internet products due to bandwidth limitations of mobile coverage in my area.

So the next time you ask, “Why can’t I get 5G home internet even though I have 5G on my phone at home?” I advise you to hang tight. Both operators are actively optimizing their networks for mobile first and home internet second in a dynamic process that changes from month to month. 2023 could be your year to try 5G for your home broadband.

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