May 17, 2021

Denoch Emexicana

For technology buffs

T-Mobile 5G home Internet: $60 a month, 100Mbps speeds, and no data cap

4 min read
Enlarge / T-Mobile’s 5G home Internet gateway.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile yesterday launched a $60-per-month 5G home Internet service, saying that it will generally provide download speeds of 50 to 100Mbps and upload speeds of 10 to 25Mbps.

The $60 monthly price includes everything, T-Mobile said, promising, “No added taxes or fees. No equipment fees. No contracts. No surprises or exploding bills.” The service has no data cap, but T-Mobile’s home Internet customers will get slower speeds than mobile customers in times of congestion.

“During congestion, Home Internet customers may notice speeds lower than other customers due to data prioritization,” T-Mobile said in a footnote in the announcement. T-Mobile says this should be rare. In its Open Internet disclosure, T-Mobile said that home Internet “customers receive the same network prioritization as Heavy Data Users, but should be less likely to experience congestion because the equipment is stationary and available in limited areas.” (“Heavy Data Users” are mobile customers who face potential slowdowns because they exceed a specific limit, which is 50GB per month on most T-Mobile plans. The 50GB threshold is not used for 5G home Internet, but the home service may be slowed down relative to mobile speeds when the network is congested even if a home customer hasn’t used much data that month.)

T-Mobile notes that “[v]ideo streaming resolution depends on available speeds,” and there’s apparently no strict limit on video resolution. A CNET reporter who tested the service wrote, “I’ve streamed hours of 4K video, participated in Zoom meetings, downloaded big games to install and so on, all without a hiccup to report.” T-Mobile told Ars that its typical home Internet speeds “far exceed the bandwidth needed to stream 4K video.”

A T-Mobile FAQ said, “We anticipate most new T-Mobile Home Internet customers will see average download speeds in excess of 100Mbps, and all eligible households are projected to see average download speeds of 50Mbps or more. Speeds can vary depending on location, signal strength and availability, time of day, and other factors.” Additionally, “[m]ost new T-Mobile Home Internet customers can expect average upload speeds between 10 and 25Mbps.” Latency is typically between 21 and 35ms, T-Mobile said.

T-Mobile said that customers will receive “the max speed the network is able to offer at their home location,” as there is no option to upgrade to a faster plan.

30 million homes eligible

T-Mobile said that 30 million households (about a quarter of the US total) are “eligible” for the home Internet service, but it’s not clear how many customers the company can take on before cutting off signups. You can check if service is available at your address at this webpage. T-Mobile said that 10 million of the eligible households are in rural parts of the US, with the rest in urban and suburban areas.

T-Mobile launched a 4G LTE home service two years ago. The company already has 100,000 home Internet customers and “has said it expects to count around 500,000 fixed wireless customers by the end of this year,” according to Light Reading. “Within the next five years, T-Mobile said it expects to gain between 7 million and 8 million fixed wireless Internet customers.”

T-Mobile also provided this PDF that lists the cities and towns where the 5G home service is available. Plenty of metro areas are included, but the service might be easier to get in less densely populated areas. Light Reading quoted New Street Research as saying that T-Mobile will “only sell capacity to fixed broadband subs in markets where they have more than their mobile subs could possibly use. We estimate they could only support 4.1 million average fixed broadband subs in markets where they have excess capacity.”

“T-Mobile will take subscribers on a first-come, first-served basis until capacity runs out, and then will add subscribers as it adds capacity, [T-Mobile Executive VP Dow] Draper said,” according to PCMag.

In its FAQ, T-Mobile said, “We are working aggressively to expand T-Mobile Home Internet Service to more and more people, but don’t have specific dates by location currently.”

“Availability can and will change in local areas as more customers in that area sign up,” T-Mobile told Ars. “And in the short term, availability may be impacted by Wi-Fi gateway availability until global supply chains normalize.”

5G home gateway

Customers will receive a router-and-modem gateway that “converts [the] 5G signal to Wi-Fi and provides a Wi-Fi signal accessible by all the devices in your home,” T-Mobile said. The device uses Wi-Fi 6 along with “[m]uti-user MIMO, which creates more capacity as more users connect, improving individual speeds when many devices are accessing Wi-Fi,” T-Mobile said. Customers can set up to four network names (SSIDs) on each gateway.

To begin service at your home, “power up your T-Mobile High-Speed Internet Gateway, download the T-Mobile Home Internet app (Android or iOS), and follow a few instructions,” the company said.

T-Mobile does not support use away from the address where you purchase service. “The T-Mobile High-Speed Internet Gateway is specific to your eligible address, so you can’t move it from one location to another. This helps us assure that the place of use meets our network standards to provide you with a high quality of service,” T-Mobile said.

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