Internet

Best 5G Internet Providers in 2021

Paula Novo
Paula Novo October 13, 2021

What is 5G Internet?

Fifth-generation internet technology, or 5G, is the next evolution in wireless networks set to replace its 4G, 3G, and LTE predecessors with far better performance. These 5G networks are powered by new technology referred to as millimeter wave (mmWave) that runs on three different bands: low-band, mid-band, and high-band. Each band has the capacity to carry different speeds, 100 Mbps, 1,000 Mbps, and 10 Gbps respectively.

Depending on where you are, you can enjoy 5G internet that is capable of delivering faster speeds, lower latency, and increased connectivity for more devices. After years of anticipation, providers including AT&T and Verizon are starting to lay down 5G networks in select regions across the U.S.

Top 5G Providers

AT&T

AT&T

  • Available 17 states
  • Speeds up to 1,000 Mbps
Verizon

Verizon

  • Available in 26 states
  • Speeds up to 10 Gbps

How 5G Internet Providers Stack Up

Provider5G SpeedHome ConnectionMobile Connection
AT&T500 MbpsNot YetYes
Verizon2 GbpsYesYes
*Not all internet speeds available in all areas. Availability based on service address. Pricing varies by location and availability. All prices subject to change at any time. Additional fees and terms may apply. As of 8/4/21.
ProviderAT&T
5G Speed500 Mbps
Home ConnectionNot Yet
Mobile ConnectionYes
ProviderVerizon
5G Speed2 Gbps
Home ConnectionYes
Mobile ConnectionYes
*Not all internet speeds available in all areas. Availability based on service address. Pricing varies by location and availability. All prices subject to change at any time. Additional fees and terms may apply. As of 8/4/21.

Is 5G Internet Right for Me?

As it stands, 5G is poised to change our digital landscape forever. Due to its blazing fast speeds and high connectivity, 5G raises the bar on how efficiently we can interact with our devices and the internet. According to the Consumer Technology Association, 5G internet is 100x faster than today’s networks. To put those speeds into perspective, consider how long it takes you to download a two-hour movie. With 5G, you can download a two-hour movie in as little as 3.5 seconds, versus 6 minutes on a 4G network and 26 hours on a 3G network.

The overall performance of 5G internet could save us tremendous amounts of time – and money – in the long run. From cutting down shipping times to upgrading road systems that improve traffic, 5G has the power to impact every aspect of our lives for the better. On an individual level, 5G is a great option for very active lifestyles and heavy internet usage. With download and upload speeds fast enough to support any online activity, things like gaming and streaming will run as smoothly as simple web browsing.

thumb_upPros

  • check_circleFastest speeds among all connection types
  • check_circleIncreased connectivity for more devices

thumb_downCons

  • cancelLack of infrastructure to overbuild 5G networks
  • cancelDifficulty penetrating barriers can cause weaker signal

How 5G Internet Compares to 4G, 3G, and LTE

Compared to other networks, 5G connections can deliver faster speeds (the minimum bandwidth to qualify as 5G is 100 Mbps), reduced latency (1-4 ms), and connectivity for more devices (easily 6+ devices at one time). According to the Consumer Technology Association, 5G is more than 100x faster than its predecessors – 4G, 3G, and LTE. This reduces download times for things like movies, gaming, and file sharing from hours to seconds. However, while 5G is very promising, barriers like lack of infrastructure and cost to overbuild still make 4G and 3G more relevant. Pre-existing networks are well established, and compatible devices for older networks cost less than 5G options. Tune in to our Resource Center to stay on top of current 5G internet updates and availability.

Main Obstacles In the Way of 5G Internet 

Despite all the progress made to bring 5G to the masses, it is still a relatively new technology that has quite a bit standing in its way. See what implementation hurdles providers must overcome to make it accessible nationwide.

  • Infrastructure – The biggest hurdle providers must overcome is a lack of infrastructure. Similar to when fiber internet was introduced, 5G internet requires a separate network from lower generations because it runs on bandwidth frequencies that are much higher. The work it takes to build and manage such a project leads to the other obstacles we list.
  • Money Cost – Upgrading, building, and managing new 5G infrastructures cost a lot. Because of this, many providers have yet to take on. This may cause 5G internet and compatible smart devices to be considered a “luxury” for the first few years.  
  • Time Cost – In addition to money, building an entirely new infrastructure takes a substantial amount of time to implement. While larger providers have the resources to roll out 5G internet faster than smaller ones, it’s still a big undertaking. Depending on the size of a provider, it can take up to a year to build out 5G infrastructure the size of one neighborhood. 
  • Education – The more obvious hurdle that many are still looking for answers to is education. While there are resources available to learn more about 5G internet, it’s not the same as getting to experience it. Like any new technology, providers and marketers have an uphill battle to ensure the average consumer understands the benefits of 5G internet.

Practical Applications of 5G

As an everyday consumer, why should you care about 5G? In short, it’s a huge step up in speeds and connectivity.

With more and more users switching to smartphones to access the internet over desktops, promises of faster speeds, lower latency, and more device connectivity open the door to innovation and more applications. Here are just a few to get excited about:

  • Autonomous Vehicles (AV) – We’ve all seen self-driving cars introduced by Tesla and other big manufacturers, but many states have issued tight regulations on the technology due to uncertainty around internet reliability. This connection type solves latency issues and thus improve AV response rates on the road.
  • Traffic Management – This isn’t something that comes to mind at first, but traffic technology still has a lot to be desired. Lower latency and faster speed frequencies of 5G internet will enable bidirectional communication between vehicles (V2V) and vehicles to infrastructures (V2X) that can significantly improve road safety.
  • Virtual Reality (VR) – With the advent of 5G, the door to VR applications is blown wide open. From manufacturing improvements to experiential marketing for sports and entertainment, VR has the opportunity to be far more immersive than it already is. Businesses such as Amazon and Walmart are even testing out VR applications like virtual grocery shopping and redecorating home spaces.
  • Drone Delivery – Amazon was the first to introduce drone delivery options to customers in select regions, but drones have always been limited by technology that requires the person or machine controlling it to be within eyesight of the drone. With 5G, you’ll be able to use VR goggles to “see” the drone past further distances. This extends the use cases beyond just delivery services for things like search and rescue missions, road inspections, and surveillance.

5G Internet FAQs

What does 5G stand for?

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5G stands for “fifth-generation.” It refers to the latest evolution in wireless internet technology, replacing its 4G, 3G, and LTE predecessors with far faster speeds, lower latency, and better connectivity for more devices at one time.

Does 5G replace home internet?

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Still in the early phases of deployment, 5G internet is not set to replace home internet any time soon. However, as technologies and smart devices improve, there’s no telling where home internet will stand in a 5G world. Heavy reliance on home internet is expected to remain steady for some time with the advent of smart home security and standard data caps on most mobile phone plans. To keep up with the latest 5G iterations, check back into our Resource Center for more insights.

What speeds does 5G offer?

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5G internet can run on one of three different bandwidths: low-band, mid-band, or high-band. The speeds available to you depend on which bandwidth you’re operating, but 5G speeds cap out at 100 Mbps (low-band), 1,000 Mbps (mid-band), or 10 Gbps (high-band). 

What provider offers the best 5G technology?

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Many providers are working to build out and manage new 5G networks across their service areas, however, few have actually started testing it on consumers. Providers that have rolled out 5G internet service in select locations of the U.S. include AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Of those three, Verizon advertises having the largest high-bandwidth 5G network that are currently available in 55 major cities as of October 13, 2020.

Can 5G be used for home internet?

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Yes, 5G can be used for home internet. Although, it is still in the early stages of deployment and is not anticipated to be fully available to the masses until 2024. Verizon has already launched 5G home internet in select cities for beta testing, and AT&T and T-Mobile are working to add a fixed wireless access solution for 5G home internet in the coming years.

Is 5G all hype or reality?

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It seems to be a mix of both at this point. While improvements in 2020 have suggested we’re at a tipping point for 5G becoming widely accessible, there are still many challenges to overcome before 5G is the new norm in the U.S.

The main deterrents to developing 5G networks are time, money, and infrastructure. Since 5G technology runs on a different bandwidth than current 4G networks, it requires a substantial amount of time and money to build the new infrastructure needed to support it. However, the promise of better internet performance is pushing many providers to jump into the ring and work towards 5G internet plans.