Is 5G Good Enough for Home Internet?

DecisionData Team
July 29, 2020

The Internet has grown to become an important part of our daily lives. When the internet first began, it was just a point of interest for many people. You could hop on to check your email, read the news, or browse one of the few sites that existed at the time. These days, you would be hard-pressed to find a home without an internet connection. Now, the internet plays an important role in our social, business, and entertainment needs. As the use of the internet has evolved, so has the speed and quality of these connections. From dial-up to DSL, then to broadband, and now 5G. 

What is 5G?

Without getting very technical, 5G stands for fifth-generation, meaning the newest and greatest evolution of networks and wireless internet. 4G is the generation that really introduced mobile internet as we know it, and 5G is going to elevate this technology. Current in-home broadband connections are established when your internet provider runs a cable underground and into your home, which then connects into a modem. The fastest connection to that service is achieved by directly connecting whatever device into the modem. But, let’s be honest, most people are not looking to be tethered to a cable and would rather use wireless. These broadband Wi=Fi connections can be pretty fast, but they show their limit when multiple people are using them for streaming, gaming, etc. This is where 5G is going to really reign supreme. It is designed largely to accommodate high uses of wireless data while still offering a fast connection. Essentially, where previous connections have been connected to a cable with a modem and the modem offers wireless, 5G is purely Wi-Fi. 

Benefits of 5G as home internet

Speed is going to be a massive benefit of a 5G network. 5G will be abiding by a low latency standard, which simply means that everything you do with the internet will be faster. This will allow multiple devices to connect to the network without worrying about being disconnected, video buffering, or bandwidth congestion. 

While it is currently hard to say without it being largely available, chances are that 5G will have a reduced cost. When it comes to infrastructure for cable and fiber, expenses can be quite high. Providers have to install a lot of costly hardware to deliver service to their customers in various areas, which means that they have to charge a significant amount to actually profit. After providers have invested the initial amount to implement 5G in their services, install costs will be nearly irrelevant. All a customer will have to do is plug their new 5G modem in and connect. So customer costs will be down to a (hopefully) lower monthly service fee and likely a monthly equipment fee. 

Being that 5G will be purely wireless internet, it will not require any cables to be run or a dish to be installed on your roof. All you need to do is plug in your 5G modem and it can be connected to your providers 5G wireless signal. Eventually, this will be a benefit for those who live in an area where cable service is not available. Although, 5G is going to be rolled out quite slowly, so this will not really be a benefit for these areas until much later. 

Where can you get 5G internet?

Currently, there are only two real providers of 5G home internet in the United States. One would be Verizon and the other is a smaller company called Vivint Internet. How many cities are covered between these two providers? Only 5 as of right now. That is how early it is in the rollout of 5G. Verizon currently offers 5G home internet in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Houston, and Indianapolis. Vivint Internet only has 5G service available in Salt Lake City. Both companies are working to expand into more areas and other providers are working on launching home internet services, but this will not be a fast process. Upgrading the entire network that is already in place is no small feat. If we are talking international companies, Huawei is a Chinese company that could be said to be a leader in 5G implementation. Although, Huawei is also blacklisted by the U.S. government due to security concerns, so we will not be seeing service from them anytime soon. 

5G mobile service is the primary focus for a majority of providers at the moment, which means that 5G home internet availability will take longer. There are multiple providers of 5G mobile networks right now, including your telecom giants like Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile. But, even these giant companies only have the service available in select cities. As far as cellular 5G goes, AT&T is leading the charge with it being available in 21 cities, including Austin, Houston, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Louisville, New York City, Orlando, and more. If 5G cellular is available in your area, you could try a mobile hotspot to see how fast the connection is on other devices. Although, the catch is that many devices are not even supporting 5G yet, so you probably have to upgrade your phone to even use it. 

Button line on current 5G technology

The current answer to whether 5G will be good enough for home internet is maybe. Realistically, it is not prominent enough to tell. Once it has been more widely implemented and used, we will be able to judge whether it is as good as a wired broadband connection. Going off of just the technical specifications and speed claims, it would seem it will be great for home internet. The accurate stress test of 5G will be to see how it deals with the weight of numerous households carrying on their online activities. We will likely be seeing an increase in 5G implementation in 2020 and a faster rollout from there. For now, it is probably better to stick with what we have until 5G becomes a more widely available network.