AT&T Joins T-Mobile, Verizon in Deploying 5G Home Internet

Originally published at: AT&T Joins T-Mobile, Verizon in Deploying 5G Home Internet - TidBITS

AT&T has joined T-Mobile and Verizon in offering wireless home Internet service. Julio Ojeda-Zapata tested AT&T Internet Air and found it a good value—but not good enough to replace his Xfinity wired broadband. He thinks wireless home broadband is a great fit for many, though.

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Thank you for this interesting article, @julio.

We’re fortunate to live in a town where we can get great 1-Gbps fiber service for $75/m from a local company that’s a pleasure to work with*. A while back we were thinking about renting a small place over in San Francisco where unfortunately (and in spite of always trying to bill itself as the tech capital of the world) several really nice neighborhoods still don’t have fiber at all. You’re stuck dealing with Comcast cable or AT&T DSL, both of which I have about as much urge to deal with as repeatedly poking my eyes with knitting needles. So I suppose one of your three tested 5G options would have worked just fine for us over there. I’d take a simple DIY 300 Mbps over dealing with Xfinity any day.

I just wonder, do they all lock you in for a min duration or could you try each for ~ a month to figure out who delivers best/consistent performance in a certain location before settling for one provider?

*) I once emailed their customer service dept about a service option I would have liked to see. Less than 24 hrs later I got an email from their CEO, apologizing that his CFO was on parental leave which is why he would be replying, and explaining to me in great detail (about a 2-page email) how they were aware of that option being attractive to some customers and that they would like to offer such service, but local regulation in the City of Berkeley did not allow for that. He offered to set up a phone/Zoom call too if I was interested in more detail or had any other questions. That’s the kind of grade-A company they are. So once you get used to that, there’s no ever going back to dealing with an outfit like Comcast. :laughing:

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And just one more question. As you point out in your articles on 5G home internet, users might want to set up such a 5G access point in a certain location of their home due to 5G signal strength. That of course does not necessarily match the location they want to have their wifi router at considering that likely depends more on the layout of your house and its building materials. You mention in your articles the Gigabit LAN ports on these devices so that would indicate I could just plug in my own wifi router from afar over CAT-6. But my question is: do these 5G access points allow you to shut off their own wifi circuitry entirely and use only their LAN ports? I would imagine, not everybody would want to have the 5G AP’s wifi compete for spectrum with your dedicated home wifi which you actually intend to use.

All three services have free-trial periods of varying lengths. If you sign up after that, there are no contracts, so you can cancel at any time.

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To your follow-up question: I don’t know off the top of my head but I’ve emailed my contacts at all three carriers about that.

In August I moved to T-Mobile 5G (after a decade of using ATT’s copper connection, referred to by various names du jour: DSL, Uverse, Internet) and had the same question about configuring their 5G/WiFi access point.

The software on their gateway provides very few configuration options and turning off the WiFi is NOT one of them.

Great article. I was wondering what the data caps are for each? When I looked into ATT 4G service (since 5G is not available consistently), I think it was 50GB for around $55.00 and extra if you go beyond that.

Just curious, Simon. By any chance is this company Sonic? I know they are all over the SF Bay Area and had expanded into Berkeley a few years back, among other locations. Many of my clients, friends and family who live in areas they serve have moved to Sonic and been very happy. Having almost 24/7 local phone support is a big advantage over the big corporate ISPs alone.

[Edit: Added Sonic link]

Yep indeed, it’s Sonic. Great service. Really an awesome local company.

IMHO, the great promise of these services is providing decent broadband service for individuals in rural areas. While Comcast/AT&T/Spectrum keep snaking their fibre lines into rural neighborhoods, complete coverage with wired services is problematic – they just won’t go everywhere.

Unfortunately, 5G home internet service isn’t available in my area. There’s no estimate and (AFAICT) no map where (or when) the services will be available. Are local towers close to capacity on “normal” cellular voice and data? There’s no way of knowing. Everybody is in the dark.

Hmm! They all seem to have address checkers, but I don’t see first-party maps.

However, BroadbandNow has one for T-Mobile.

And there’s this:

We were loving our Verizon 5G Home for three months…right up to when our local town scheduled a repainting of the water tower. This was where all the Verizon antennas that service us were located. It’s now been 3 months with temporary pole based service and it has been pretty terrible. Still, the water tower is fully painted so very excited to have the antennas reinstalled within the next month. (BTW, Verizon has said they will compensate for the lousy service with a fee rebate).

In the meantime we have resorted to using our AT&T iPhones in hotspot mode to do video conferencing and get work done fairly reliably.

So, just a word of caution, maybe think about not consolidating your home and mobile 5G service under the same company, particularly if your water tower has peeling paint .

(PS, this is in a northern suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul.)


The same thing happened here (Purcellville, VA) a year or so ago. They did maintenance on the water tower where all the cellular antennae were located. For the year or so while they were working, everything was relocated to a nearby tower, and coverage was not very good.

But then the tower maintenance was completed and not only did they move the antennae back, they upgraded the equipment - our town jumped from LTE to 5G when that happened.

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The Verizon router, when you turn on the advanced settings, allows you to turn on and off wifi as well as have a guest and IOT network.

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No data caps on TMobile or Verizon but as I recall T-Mobile had a throttling potential that was larger than Verizon which is part of why we went with Verizon (plus the higher speed).

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Continuing the discussion from AT&T Joins T-Mobile, Verizon in Deploying 5G Home Internet:

Great article. What speed do you recommend for a 2 person household? Most usage is typical WIFI internet web surfing and movie streaming. We’re wired to Spectrum/Charter and getting 300Mbps but paying too much.Thanks

I am using Xfinity with an Eero mesh network. Pretty expensive but works great. Will the mesh network work with these 5G services? Or will I even need it?

Don’t see any reason it wouldn’t work. We had a separate router attached to the Verizon unit acting as a 2.4 bridge for a while as one of our IOT devices didn’t like the combined 2.4/5K capability and there was no issue. Because of the water tower repair, but before Verizon figured out that was the cause, they provided us with a replacement unit. Looked the same but from a different manufacturer and the IOT device was ok with its combined 2.4/5K service so no longer needed bridge.

We have a split level house with three floors and no issue with signal strength throughout the house using just the Verizon unit.

The beauty of these services is that there is the no obligation trial period and no contract beyond a month to month so easy to try it and decide.

Edited to add:

Before the water tower painting we had no issues with dropped packets or disconnects unlike with our wired Xfinity service. It was faster, cheaper and more reliable. That’s why we are looking forward to going back to Verizon at full capability.

You can take a month to try each. None of the services have contracts.

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I’d say one of the wireless broadband services would be sufficient. I’ve tried making them the primary networks in my three-person household and and I didn’t get any complaints. My wife would have definitely hollered if her YouTube TV streaming had been compromised.