There have been whispers about 5G internet in the last few years with a multitude of cities undergoing trials. As phone companies pump out new smartphones that are compatible with 5G, it begs the question of, how accessible is it? 5G smartphone sales only accounted for less than 1% of devices in 20191, but it’s on the rise. As remote work and schooling are reinforced due to COVID-19, 5G service might get the push that it needs to launch in more cities this year.
So, where to begin with 5G internet in 2021? We’re saving you time by doing all the research so you’re well-informed on where 5G internet is currently at and where it will go in the future. From the top mobile carriers who offer 5G to how you can find 5G service near you, here’s everything you need to know and more.
What is 5G internet?
Remember 3G? That was two generations ago. As we shift from 4G and 4G LTE to 5G, we’re seeing a gradual progression in improved wireless internet for our smartphones. 5G is the fifth generation network that offers faster speeds, lower latency, and new possibilities for technological innovation and connectivity in rural and remote areas of the U.S. Theoretically, speeds reach up to 10 Gbps, which already surpasses 4G’s speeds. Better network performance means you can download movies faster and perform work or school-related tasks without traffic congestion.
How 5G internet works is it incorporates the electromagnetic millimeter-wave spectrum to deliver faster speeds and carry more data over short distances. It also uses the same radio bands as 4G.
Before you get excited about implementing 5G internet, it’s mainly accessible through mobile devices. Verizon is the only provider to offer 5G “home internet.” Availability wise, mobile providers are still in the process of rolling out 5G service in more areas across the U.S.
5G Internet Facts & Statistics
So, exactly how many people will have access to 5G internet? Verizon Wireless CEO Hans Vestberg predicted that half the U.S. will be 5G accessible by the end of 2020 and that by 2024, 50% of Americans will use 5G-operated phones2. 5G is available in most major cities across the country such as Los Angeles, Miami, Las Vegas, New York City, Houston, and Atlanta. A recent RootMetrics report revealed that Verizon’s 5G network reached speeds of 1.1 Gbps in Chicago, which was faster than AT&T, T-Mobile, or Sprint (now T-Mobile)3. That already surpassed fiber internet’s 1 Gbps benchmark. While providers are promising speeds up to 10 Gbps in the future, we’re currently only experiencing low-tier 5G service.
The Difference Between Internet Providers and 5G Internet
What can be confusing about internet providers and 5G internet is that 5G internet is still very much in development so you’re not going to see providers like Xfinity or Spectrum offering the service. Rather, major mobile carriers that already provide internet services — such as Verizon and AT&T — are more likely to implement 5G to their plans. Verizon is the only provider to offer 5G home internet so far. 5G internet in general is limited to cellular devices.
Top 5G Wireless Internet Providers in 2021
As you can tell, 5G wireless internet is like a newborn with very few providers offering the service. Among the 52 mobile providers in the U.S., the Big Four are Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint (now T-Mobile).
|Provider||5G Launch||Max 5G Speed*|
|Verizon Wireless||5G Ultra Wideband available in 34 cities and 13 NFL stadiums||Up to 953 Mbps|
|T-Mobile||Available in nearly 6,000 cities and towns across all 50 states||Up to 600 Mbps|
|AT&T||Available in 335 markets||Up to 1.5 Gbps|
|Sprint (now T-Mobile)||Live in 14 cities||Average of 213 Mbps|
*Based on projections, reports, and speed results from respective providers.
5G internet is not readily available in all areas of the U.S., which is why it’s important to check out the providers’ 5G coverage map on their websites. Speeds also vary by location, so what’s advertised isn’t going to be the actual speed you experience. You can test your internet speed once you’ve incorporated 5G internet in your home.
Current 5G Internet Plans
Like we said, Verizon Wireless seems to be the only major provider to currently offer 5G home internet service. T-Mobile hopes to provide 5G wireless home internet by 20244. Below are Verizon’s current 5G internet plans.
|5G Internet Plan*||Monthly Cost**||Download Speeds||Data Caps|
|5G Home Internet – No Wireless Plan||$70||300-940 Mbps||Unlimited|
|5G Home Internet – Wireless Plan||$50||300-940 Mbps||Unlimited|
**With Auto Pay.
As of right now, the primary focus for 5G service is broadening coverage availability for smartphone devices. That’s not to say internet providers aren’t also working on implementing 5G home internet, but we’re more likely to see these plans when 5G service is available in more cities and towns.
How to Set up 5G Home Internet
If you’re planning on signing up for Verizon’s 5G home internet plans, you’ll be happy to know that their equipment is free of charge. You’ll receive an indoor and/or outdoor receiver as well as a router and modem combo. You can hire a professional technician to set up your 5G internet, in which case they’ll test the 5G signal outside your home before starting the installation process. Self-installation is an option, but a lot of screwdriving is required and takes place both in and outside your home. If anything happens to your equipment, you’ll need to call Verizon since they technically own the equipment.
Is 5G Better Than Other Connection Types?
5G is already on the same playing field as fiber internet with its Gigabit speeds. There’s a lot of discussion surrounding 5G home internet as a replacement for cable internet, but we’re not quite there yet. 4G and 4G LTE still have a strong presence, but 5G is gradually creeping in to take their spot. Every new generation of technology, whether it’s a new model of the iPhone or a new network, will surpass its predecessors to bring about better performance and user experience.
4G Internet vs. 5G Internet
Although 5G internet builds off of 4G, the former delivers data at a faster rate because it uses a millimeter-wave spectrum of radio frequencies as well as new technology. Theoretically, 5G is 100 times faster than 4G in terms of speed. 5G also uses a new type of cell tower called “small cells” to broaden 5G coverage availability in urban neighborhoods. 4G beams radio signals without a target in mind while 5G is more precise through a process called beamforming. Overall, 5G is projected to be better than 4G in many ways and become the norm for mobile and, eventually, home internet.
The Truths and Myths of 5G Internet
It’s hard to imagine 5G as a tangible thing when it’s fairly limited in the U.S. right now. You may have heard rumors about 5G, but depending on your sources, credibility is important. Here, we bring up some common misconceptions about 5G and dispel them with facts.
Myth: I need a new smartphone once there are more 5G networks available.
Truth: You don’t have to bid farewell to your iPhone 11 to use 5G service, although you’ll notice a significant improvement in performance if your smartphone is 5G compatible. Smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung are already planning on releasing more 5G-compatible smartphones.
Myth: 5G frequencies cause cancer.
Truth: As with most health scares when it comes to technology, 5G internet is the latest to take the brunt of these panic-inducing claims. In actuality, the shielding effect, which is our skin’s ability to block out higher radio frequencies, protects our insides.
Myth: 5G is optional in the ever-evolving world of technology.
Truth: The U.S. is already falling behind in 5G deployment compared to other countries like South Korea, which is why it’s more important than ever to expand 5G accessibility. In a society that continues to rapidly progress in technological pursuits, 5G is a necessity.
The Future of 5G
While 5G is still new to the world, it offers a promising future with incredibly fast speeds and reduced latency. This improvement in performance not only calls for a better internet experience but also opens up new possibilities in industries such as healthcare and VR technology. While we have high hopes for 5G, we can only wait patiently for more towers to pop up and service more cities in the U.S.
Best 5G Internet in 2021 Recap
Only four major mobile carriers have deployed 5G networks in the U.S., one of which offers 5G home internet plans. Although that’s a small number, it’s a promising start for a new network that will take wireless internet to new heights in the coming years. 5G may not be available in your area, but it doesn’t hurt to know what it brings to the table. Here are some key points to remember about 5G internet:
- 5G internet is still new and therefore won’t be as accessible as 4G or 4G LTE
- 5G will supposedly deliver speeds 100 times faster than 4G
- Verizon Wireless is currently the only provider to offer 5G home internet plans
- 5G is on par with fiber internet in terms of speed and connection reliability
- 5G internet will expand in the coming years along with more 5G-compatible smartphones
For now, 5G wireless internet is mainly for cell phone users. As we shift to the fifth generation network, we’ll start to see faster speeds. We can download movies and games at a faster rate, which cuts down waiting times. We won’t deal with traffic congestion or buffering as much, either. There’s a lot to look forward to with 5G internet, and though it has yet to come into our lives with a bang, we’re closer to experiencing it than ever before.
Frequently Asked Questions About 5G Internet
Which network has the best 5G internet?
As it stands, Verizon Wireless delivers impressive speeds of over 1 Gbps and a reliable connection. However, their 5G internet can drop to 4G LTE while on the move. Customers who are willing to pay Verizon’s pricier unlimited data plans will have access to their 5G network.
Does 5G replace home internet?
5G has the potential to replace home internet, but as of this moment, there needs to be a large infrastructure in place in order for residents to rely on the network. While 5G can theoretically reach speeds up to 10 Gbps, it does not have the same data rates as cable internet.
Is 5G the fastest internet?
Yes, 5G is the fastest internet with, theoretically, speeds up to 10 Gbps while 4G tops out at 100 Mbps. At these speeds, 5G surpasses cable internet speeds by a large margin and is more comparable to fiber internet.
Who offers 5G internet?
All three U.S. major carriers — Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile (which recently merged with Sprint) — offer 5G internet service in select metro areas.
- https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/01/verizon-ceo-sees-functioning-5g-wireless-in-half-the-us-next-year.html ↩
- https://assets.ctfassets.net/ob7bbcsqy5m2/5xRUej96FI92mffxrliGfU/ce49d8f1ccb3dc8fb83e9101d124b2dc/First-Look-5G-Atlanta_Chicago_Dallas-FINAL.pdf ↩
- https://www.t-mobile.com/coverage/4g-lte-5g-networks ↩