Verizon 5G Home Internet: Fast enough for phones — how about your whole home?


Verizon

Verizon’s 5G Home Internet service first launched in 2018, and availability has been surging over the past year. In September, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul joined Sacramento, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis and Detroit on the list of regions where the service is available. Less than a month later, the addition of Atlanta, Dallas, Denver and San Jose brought the number up to 12. Now, after the addition of six new cities in January, 10 new cities in March, three new cities in April and seven new cities in July, you’ll find Verizon 5G Home Internet available in more than 50 markets across the US — and the number is projected to continue rising into 2022.

Unlike fiber, cable, DSL and other common modes of internet that get you online with a wired connection between your home and your provider’s network, cellular internet plans like Verizon 5G Home Internet take a fixed wireless approach. Like the name suggests, that means that your home will get its internet connection wirelessly, by way of a receiver that picks up Verizon’s signal and broadcasts it throughout your home as a Wi-Fi network. 

Fixed wireless connections like those, including satellite internet and previous-gen, 4G LTE internet, are typically a lot slower than what you’ll get from a wired cable or fiber connection — but that’s not the case with 5G. In some regions, including parts of Verizon’s coverage map, you’ll find 5G plans capable of hitting near-gigabit download speeds.

That makes 5G especially interesting if you’ve been living without access to high-speed cable or fiber internet, and Verizon is one of the top names leading the effort to bring the technology to as many homes as possible. With straightforward pricing and no data caps or contracts — all of which seem to be emerging standards across 5G home internet in general — there’s a lot to like about what Verizon’s selling here, but it’s a moot point until the service is available at your address. Until then, here’s everything you should know about Verizon 5G Home Internet, including what sort of speeds, prices and terms you should expect if you decide to sign up.

Each dot in this Verizon coverage map is a city with access to 5G Ultra Wideband, which Verizon uses to deliver the fastest 5G Home Internet speeds. The dark red regions of the map indicate where Verizon offers 5G for mobile customers — those are the likeliest spots for future 5G Home Internet expansions.


Verizon

Where is Verizon 5G Home Internet available?

I mentioned a few cities from the coverage map before, but here’s the complete list, which I challenge you to read out loud in a single breath:

Akron, Ohio; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Arlington, Texas; Anaheim, California; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Columbia, South Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Des Moines, Iowa; Detroit; Durham, North Carolina; Fresno, California; Greensboro, North Carolina; Gresham, Oregon; Hartford, Connecticut; Houston; Indianapolis; Kansas City, Missouri; Las Vegas; Little Rock, Arkansas; Los Angeles; Louisville, Kentucky; Memphis, Tennessee; Miami; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota; Nashville; New Orleans; Omaha, Nebraska; Phoenix; Raleigh, North Carolina; Riverside, California; Sacramento, California; Salt Lake City; San Antonio, Texas; San Diego; San Francisco; San Jose, California; Seattle; Spokane, Washington; St. Louis; St. Petersburg, Florida; Tampa, Florida; and Tucson, Arizona.

I ran out of steam somewhere around Riverside, but you get the idea. Verizon 5G Home Internet is available in a lot of places — but most of them are centered around America’s largest metro regions, where the development of 5G infrastructure is the furthest along. That puts it on a similar trajectory as fiber, with service mostly focused in America’s largest cities, where the population density makes expansion more cost-effective.

That said, deploying new cell towers and upgrading existing ones is generally a faster process than wiring entire regions for fiber, neighborhood by neighborhood. So, while availability is still somewhat limited, there’s room for hope that 5G might be able to bring speedier home internet to underserved parts of the country faster than fiber, cable or other, more common modes of internet.

Check your address

Even if Verizon 5G Home Internet is available in your city, there’s no guaranteeing that it’s available at your address. That’s because serviceability requires fairly close proximity to one of Verizon’s 5G cell towers, and a strong, steady signal.

Take me, for instance. I live near downtown Louisville, Kentucky, where Verizon’s 5G Home Internet is an option for some — but Verizon can’t offer service at my address yet, even though I have a cell plan with Verizon, and service that’s strong enough for my phone to connect over 5G on a semiregular basis when I’m at home. That lack of availability might change in the near future (and I’m definitely eager to test the service out and tell you all about it), but for now, all I can do is wait.

Want to see if Verizon 5G Home Internet is available at your address? Here’s the link.

Speeds, prices and terms

Verizon 5G Home Internet plans

Plan Max speeds Monthly price Equipment fee Data cap Contract
Verizon 5G Home Internet 300-980Mbps download, 50Mbps upload $70 ($50 for existing Verizon mobile customers) None None None

Verizon keeps things pretty simple. There’s just one 5G Home Internet plan, and one fixed monthly price — $70 — that covers all taxes and fees. That drops to $50 per month if you’re an existing Verizon customer who already spends at least $30 per month for mobile service.

Speeds will vary based on the quality of the connection at your address, but Verizon says most customers should expect average download speeds of about 300 megabits per second. In select parts of the coverage map, speeds can get as high as 980Mbps. As for your uploads, which affect things like video calls and posting large files to the web, most homes should expect to see speeds of around 50Mbps.

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Verizon’s 5G network is capable of hitting gigabit speeds in select areas.


Eli Blumenthal/CNET

Why is 5G faster?

With Verizon’s 4G LTE home internet plan, customers can typically expect to see download speeds ranging from 25-50Mbps, with uploads in the single digits. 5G is much, much faster than that, and that’s because the standard’s millimeter-wave technology (aka mmWave) sends signals at much higher frequencies than LTE. Those higher frequencies can deliver gigabit speeds in the right circumstances, but the tradeoff is that they don’t travel as far, and they can struggle with obstructions.

5G accounts for those high-speed range limitations by mixing in slower mid- and low-band signals that travel farther for better coverage. On those frequencies, you can expect your 5G speeds to dip down to around 300Mbps on midband or down to double-digit LTE levels on low-band. That’s why your 5G mileage will vary as far as speeds are concerned — it all comes down to the location of your home.

No data caps, contracts or hidden fees

Verizon’s terms are about as simple and straightforward as you’ll find in home internet. The monthly rate includes all taxes and fees, and you won’t need to pay an additional equipment fee like you will with most providers, either. There are no service contracts or early termination fees, and no data caps to contend with. That means you can use your connection as much as you like without fear of incurring overage charges for using too much data. On top of that, Verizon 5G Home Internet doesn’t come with a promo rate, so your bill won’t arbitrarily jump up after the first year.

All of that is pretty appealing, and it matches what we’re seeing from T-Mobile and Starry, the other two names of note offering 5G home internet plans this year. Like Verizon, neither of them enforces contracts, data caps or equipment fees. That seems like a smart strategy for providers hoping to tempt customers into trying something new.

What’s the competition like, and how does Verizon stack up?

I mentioned T-Mobile and Starry — those are the two other providers currently offering 5G home internet plans. AT&T is the notable absence here. The company has its own 5G network and it currently offers fixed wireless home internet service too, but that service doesn’t make use of 5G, at least not yet.

As for T-Mobile and Starry, they offer appealingly straightforward terms just like Verizon does, but the prices and speeds are different. T-Mobile’s plan, which uses a mix of 5G and 4G LTE signals, is slower than Verizon, but a bit less expensive — you’ll spend $50 per month for home internet speeds ranging from 25-110Mbps download and 6-23Mbps upload. Starry is more impressive, as $50 per month gets you matching upload and download speeds of 200Mbps. That makes it the only cellular internet provider that currently offers symmetrical speeds, like fiber does.

As for the size of each company’s coverage map, T-Mobile offers the widest availability, with cellular internet service currently available to 30 million households across the US. Earlier this year, Verizon told us that it plans to offer 5G home internet service to 15 million households by the end of 2021. Starry is the smallest provider of the three and currently available only in Boston; Columbus, Ohio; Denver; Los Angeles; New York City; and Washington, DC, but the company plans to expand access to 30 million households in new markets by the end of 2022.


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Which 5G home internet provider offers the best value?

Verizon could potentially offer the best value if your average speeds are high enough, but it’s difficult to say for sure with such a wide range of possibilities. With Starry, $50 per month for speeds of 200Mbps comes out to about 25 cents per Mbps. With T-Mobile, your average cost per Mbps would sit at about 45 cents, but that’s assuming that you’re routinely hitting those max speeds of 110Mbps. As for Verizon, the company says that customers should expect downloads to typically come in at around 300Mbps, so if that’s your average, then you’re paying about 23 cents per Mbps each month. If you have a strong connection and average download speeds closer to, say, 500Mbps, that cost per Mbps falls to just 14 cents, but if the connection is weak and your average sits at around 100Mbps, the number shoots up to 70 cents. Like I said, your mileage may vary.

All of that assumes you’re paying the full $70 per month, but if you’re already a Verizon mobile customer, your monthly bill falls to $50. In that case, Verizon’s value figures come out to 10 cents per Mbps at average speeds of 500Mbps, 17 cents at 300Mbps and 50 cents at 100Mbps.

That stacks up pretty well with the top cable providers, most of whom charge at least 25 cents per Mbps, on average. Fiber still tends to offer the best value, though, with most plans typically coming in between 9 and 17 cents per Mbps. If you’re choosing between fiber and 5G, I’d still lean towards fiber in most cases.

Does Verizon 5G Home Internet come with any special offers or deals?

Remember how I mentioned that 5G home internet providers are doing their best to lure customers away from other technologies? That’s definitely the case with Verizon, as the company is currently offering a lot of sweeteners for anyone thinking about making the switch.

For starters, if your current provider will charge you an early termination fee for ditching it before your contract is up, Verizon will cover that cost when you switch, up to $500. On top of that, new Verizon 5G Home Internet customers will get a free Samsung Chromebook 4, a $129 value, and online orders get a $100 Visa gift card, too. Verizon is also offering new customers two free months of Sling TV, which is an Editors’ Choice-winner among streaming TV services here on CNET.

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Angela Lang/CNET

The outlook

On paper, there’s really not much to criticize here. Verizon 5G Home Internet offers some truly outstanding terms, and the download speeds could potentially match what you’d expect to see from cable or fiber. And don’t forget that Verizon is consistently ranked as a top ISP for customer satisfaction by organizations like the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power. I wish the uploads were faster than 50Mbps, especially given that Starry promises uploads as high as 200Mbps — but that might also be an indicator that there’s room for Verizon to improve over time, and as the 5G network expands.

That expansion of 5G infrastructure will be the key to bringing availability to more people, and to strengthening the signal for Verizon’s existing customers. Time will tell if Verizon can continue growing its service map fast enough to keep up with the competition, but if it can, and if that simple, straightforward approach to pricing proves popular, Verizon’s 5G Home Internet service might be a potential game-changer. We’ll continue to watch this space, and I’ll update this post as soon as we’ve had the chance to test the service out for ourselves.

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