Top 5G Internet Providers

Check Availability
Scott Orr
January 07, 2021
FREEPIK2 / Shutterstock

What is 5G?

Sometimes it's hard to keep up with all the strides in technology, as they are so frequent and numerous. Internet service, for instance, has gone through many evolutions and has become increasingly faster and more convenient to engage in various online activities. Well, internet and cellular services are now going through the next evolution as they become available through 5G networks. 

5G Internet Speeds

5G internet comes from communication towers that specialize in one of three different frequency bandwidths, categorized as low, mid and high. Each of these spectrums has different internet speed and range capabilities. The further the range, the lower the speed and vice versa.

  • Low band spectrum: Covers hundreds of square miles and offers speeds between 30 to 250 Mbps
  • Mid band spectrum: Covers many square miles, but significantly less than the low band. Offers speeds between 100 to 900 Mbps
  • High band spectrum: Covers around one square mile and offers speeds from 1 to 3 Gbps

Top 5G Wireless Internet Providers

Verizon 5G

The cost of Verizon 5G internet is $50/mo. if you also have a smartphone data plan and $70/mo. if you do not. The service comes with several promo options, such as a free Stream TV device, an Amazon Smart Home Bundle, Disney+ free for a year or YouTubeTV free for a month. Conditions apply and offers are not available everywhere.

Verizon is one of the providers already pushing 5G options out to customers in these cities:

  • Arlington, TX
  • Ann Arbor, MI
  • Anaheim, CA
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Fort Wayne, IN
  • Hartford, CT
  • Jersey City, NJ
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Louisville, KY
  • Milwaukee, WI
  • Oklahoma City, OK
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Richmond, VA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Sarasota, FL
  • St. Louis, MO
  • Syracuse, NY
  • Tucson, AZ

Home internet 5G options are more limited, as they are only available in select areas of:

  • Chicago, IL
  • Detroit, MI
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Houston, TX
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Saint Paul, MN

AT&T 5G

Another giant with its hand in the 5G race is AT&T. AT&T currently only offers 5G phone service, but promises a fixed in-home service is on the way. AT&T also has “5G+,” a name for 395 areas that have 5G service by low-band only, which is slower than the full 5G service, but somewhat faster than 4G. Their 5G phone service is available in locations within these states:

  • Arizona: Phoenix
  • California: Los Angeles, Menlo Park, Oakland, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, West Hollywood
  • Florida: Jacksonville, Miami, Miami Gardens, Orlando
  • Georgia: Atlanta
  • Indiana: Indianapolis
  • Kentucky: Louisville
  • Louisiana: New Orleans
  • Maryland: Baltimore, Ocean City
  • Michigan: Detroit
  • North Carolina: Charlotte, Raleigh
  • Nevada: Las Vegas
  • New York: New York City
  • Ohio: Cleveland
  • Oklahoma: Oklahoma City
  • Pennsylvania: King of Prussia, Philadelphia
  • Tennessee: Nashville
  • Texas: Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Waco
  • Wisconsin: Milwaukee

Starry Internet

Starry Internet is a growing ISP of fixed wireless internet. They offer one plan at $50/mo., with no data caps and no long-term contracts. Starry service is available in:

  • Boston
  • Denver
  • Los Angeles
  • New York
  • Washington, DC

T-Mobile 5G

T-Mobile offers several wireless phone plans, starting at $26 a line/mo. They offer 5G access at no extra cost, but you must have a T-Mobile 5G capable device.

T-Mobile, which bought Sprint in 2020, currently offers its 5G mid-band phone service in these cities:

  • California: Citrus, La Puente, Los Angeles, Paramount, San Fernando, Willowbrook
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida: Azalea Park, Holiday, Progress Village, Westchase
  • Georgia: Atlanta, Gainesville, Mableton, North Atlanta, Winder
  • Illinois: Bellwood, Calumet City, Chicago, Chicago Heights, Glendale Heights, Hanover Park, Ingalls Park, Northlake
  • Indiana: Merrillville
  • Maryland: Towson
  • Massachusetts: Holbrook, Waltham
  • Michigan: Bangor, Decatur
  • Minnesota: Maplewood
  • Missouri: Jennings
  • New Jersey: Camden, Cliffside Park, Fort Lee, Hasbrouck Heights, North Arlington, Palisades Park, Paterson, Roselle, Totowa
  • New York: Copiague, East Williston, Freeport, Garden City, Garden City Park, Harbor Isle, Hempstead, Island Park, Lindenhurst, Long Beach, Malverne Park Oaks, Middle Island, Mineola, New York, Plainview, West Hempstead, Williston Park
  • North Carolina: Clemmons, Kernersville, Pineville, Stallings, Statesville, Winston-Salem
  • Oregon: Aloha, Newberg, Sherwood
  • Pennsylvania: Braddock, Colwyn, Darby, East Lansdowne, Kerrtown, Meadville, Philadelphia, Rankin, Yeadon
  • Texas: Dallas, Houston, Nassau Bay
  • Virginia: Bailey's Crossroads, Bull Run, Highland Springs, Lake Barcroft, Newport News, Sudley, Tysons Corner
  • Washington: Geneva, Oak Harbor, Snohomish

5G Technology Overview

What does 5G actually mean?

5G stands for the fifth generation of mobile networks. You’re probably familiar with 4G, which is the current standard connectivity for smartphones. 5G is intended to be a new kind of ultrafast wireless network, made to interconnect more than just smartphones, but also the so-called “Internet of Things” (IoT) – devices around the home, including smart appliances. And 5G will make this possible without cables snaking through your living room.

Is 5G just for phones or is it also for fixed wireless?

Both.

This is still an emerging technology; it will likely take years to see the transition settle into place completely. Phones with 5G capability are coming onto the market, but they’re only the first devices that will fully take advantage of 5G’s higher speeds, lower latency (delay) and ability to interconnect more smart devices.

4G connections are the current primary standard for wireless service. 4G is pretty fast, but it can become bogged down when too many people are connected or when you're using multiple high-bandwidth apps for gaming or streaming.

How does 5G work?

5G improves on 4G’s abilities while sharing the same networks, at least until a standard is set for 5G voice calls. That hasn’t happened yet, and the development has been primarily aimed at data use. When you make a voice call, even on a 5G network and phone, it still goes over the 4G network, and will likely keep doing so for a few more years.

How 5G gets the speeds it does is pretty technical, but in essence, it takes advantage of a portion of the radio spectrum that was not previously available to wireless networks. They can now access frequencies in three bands: low, middle and high (the new one). The tech allows them to “stack” the bandwidth they use to transmit and receive data for greater volume.

That also determines where 5G is physically available: If your area doesn’t have the advanced network yet, you can’t get 5G coverage until it does.

With DecisionData, you can check your speed and see which ISPs are currently available in your area.

How is 5G better than other connections?

The infrastructure of 5G will allow more users to engage in these activities without concern about connection issues or buffering.

With 5G, it will be possible to have your home internet and your mobile data plan combined, creating a single network that is both fixed and mobile. Already, some 5G internet providers are offering 5G home internet with no data caps.

Do you need special equipment for 5G?

You’ll need a 5G-capable smartphone to get the 5G advantages. As ISPs begin to roll it out for home IoT applications, they will make available the high-speed compatible gear necessary to connect them, although it is worth noting there are plenty of current IoT devices that run just fine on 4G or home WiFi.

Am I able to get 5G?

5G has only started being implemented in various places around the country. While there are several companies now offering 5G service, it’s not available nationwide yet, and complete home IoT connectivity is still being built up. Expect to see a massive jump in the implementation of 5G in 2021 and 2022, but don’t assume it will be in your area right away.

What is the Future of 5G Internet?

Keep in mind that 5G cellular service is the priority for most providers at the moment, which means that the rollout of 5G home internet will be slower. If 5G home internet is what you have your eye on, then Verizon will likely be the best option.

In addition, it will also take some time for many mobile devices to begin offering 5G support, which means the service will essentially be useless if your devices do not support it. On the other side of the coin, several cellular providers are now offering 5G phones, but these are no different from 4G devices unless they have access to a 5G network. 

The bottom line is that 5G technology is still new and it will not be nationwide for quite some time. Unless you reside in a bigger city, it might not be worth diving into yet. When it does start becoming a more prominent technology, the benefits of speed and efficiency will definitely be appealing to those who use their internet for bandwidth-heavy activities.

Is 5G Safe?

As with many technological developments, some people have advanced theories that 5G poses a health hazard. It can be difficult to prove a negative, i.e, normal exposure to radio wave transmissions do not pose a health hazard. One Australian study found no connection.

“Typical exposure to 5G devices—such as small cells attached to phone poles or the sides of buildings—is far below the permissible levels,” says industry advocate CTIA. In response to an early 2020 rumor, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a notice that 5G has no relationship to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pros and cons of 5G internet

Pros

  • Substantially faster than 4G. If you are within range of a 5G tower with a 5G-capable phone, you will see a noticeable performance improvement.
  • Lower latency. That means less lag time.
  • Less network congestion. If you’ve ever noticed your phone’s speed drop when you’re at a major event, you’ve experienced congestion. 5G doesn’t have this problem.
  • New IoT development will increase. The faster the connection, the more that can be done online.

Cons

  • Shorter reach. Higher-frequency radio waves don’t travel as far, so more transmission towers are needed to cover the same area as previous 4G technology.
  • Coverage is lacking. Partly because of the above range problem, carriers will develop metropolitan areas first, where the highest number of customers will be served. Less-developed and rural areas will have to wait.
  • Shorter battery life. The power draw for 5G phones is greater than 4G and below. Current batteries may not last a full day on a charge.
  • More expensive. The phones cost more and carriers can justify charging more for 5G plans.

5G Frequently Asked Questions

Will my new 5G phone work on non-5G networks?

Yes, the phones are designed to be “backward compatible” and work on earlier-generation networks.

Will a 3G or 4G phone still work?

Yes, a 4G phone will keep operating. Carriers will be phasing out 3G service as they implement 5G more fully, so you’ll need to ask yours when that will happen.

My home WiFi router says “5G” on it — do I already have 5G capability?

Sorry, no. That 5G refers to the fact that it operates in the 5 GHz (Gigahertz) spectrum band. That’s different than fifth-generation wireless technology.