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A Complete Guide to T-Mobile’s Home Internet Plans and Pricing

A Complete Guide to T-Mobile’s Home Internet Plans and Pricing - Featured Image

published by Chand Bellur
March 6, 2023 at 7:54 p.m. PST
  • Cable Internet service is unreliable, and fixing problems can often take days as a technician’s expertise is necessary.
  • Over the past few years, cellular companies and other providers started offering wireless home Internet service.
  • T-Mobile offers fast, unlimited, and un-capped 5G home Internet service starting at $30 monthly.

Why Use 5G Home Internet?

Are you sick and tired of your cable modem dropping its Internet connection? That happened to me too often. I live in a condominium complex in the San Francisco Bay Area — the world’s tech center. Unfortunately, Internet service here is awful.

I had Comcast/Xfinity cable and Internet service for about a year. My Internet connection failed once a month, and it took four days for a technician to come out and fix it. There was a problem with the distribution box in the garage, but they required me to be home to service it, even though they didn’t need access to my unit.

Every month, I went without Internet access for three-to-four days, then I had to stay home most of the day, waiting for the repair person. This situation impeded my ability to work from home, requiring extra commute days. Clearly, Comcast, Xfinity, or whatever you want to call it, was a monopoly and didn’t care about my experience.

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I am one of the first to use wireless Internet service. Over a decade ago, I used a provider known as Clear that used WiMax technology to deliver home Internet service. The problem is, it was terrible. At best, I’d get 7 Mbps, which is usable. Unfortunately, fog, humidity, and rain interfere with the signal. Where I live is extremely foggy, so it didn’t work well, but it was still better than Xfinity.

Eventually, Clear went out of business as the industry discontinued WiMax, making the band available to other technologies. This began the next chapter in my Internet saga — using my iPhone for a wireless hotspot. Yes, that’s right. Internet service is so bad in San Francisco an iPhone’s wireless hotspot is often superior to a non-functioning cable modem.

Cost and wear are two problems with using an iPhone for a home Internet connection. Most cellular plans make customers pay through the nose for data, making that iPhone personal hotspot very expensive. Also, using your iPhone as a modem and Wi-Fi router will shorten the battery’s lifespan. It could also damage wireless components from overuse and overheating; however, this is less likely.

Many “unlimited” plans will slow your speed down to 256kbps or even 128kbps after you’ve reached a certain threshold. That’s 1990s dial-up modem speed. In other words, you can’t stream video or even high-quality music. Once you hit that cap, you can barely surf the web. I’ve hit it several times and hobbled for weeks until the limit reset. It’s not fun!

Eventually, I found Visible, which offers a truly unlimited cellular plan for the iPhone with personal hotspot support. Visible caps the hotspot at 5 Mbps, but you’d be surprised at what you can do. It’s enough to stream video in 720p. In fact, I connected my Apple TV to my iPhone’s hotspot and enjoyed Netflix, Amazon Prime, and every other streaming service at 5 Mbps. It’s a very reliable 5 Mbps, regardless of signal strength or network congestion. Of course, if you have a massive 4K TV, you’ll need more speed to support a higher resolution.

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Dissatisfied cable Internet customers are an opportunity for cellular companies. No provider has met this demand better than T-Mobile. For only $30 a month, you can enjoy fast Internet speeds without limits or caps.

The best thing is that T-Mobile’s home Internet solution uses 5G technology instead of cables or satellite dishes. If there’s a problem, wait a little while. At most, you’ll need to cycle the power on the gateway. That’s my favorite thing about cellular-based Internet service. You’ll never have to be without Internet service for days while you wait for a technician to arrive.

As you can see, T-Mobile’s home Internet service is affordable and reliable. Let’s look at speed, data caps, and restrictions.

T-Mobile 5G Home Internet: Speed, Data Caps, and Restrictions

Since T-Mobile’s home Internet service relies on cell towers, this and network congestion are the primary factors regarding speed. If you’re close to a cell tower and the network isn’t busy, you can achieve up to 182 Mbps download and 23 Mbps upload speeds. That’s fast enough to stream 4K games. If the signal isn’t as strong or the network is congested, 33 Mbps is more likely for download, with a 6 Mbps upload speed. That’s fast enough to stream 4K video to three devices simultaneously.

Cable companies may boast faster speeds, and some customers may experience this. Outside of wealthy CEOs, I’ve never known anyone with fast Internet access in SF. Taxpayers pay for fat cats’ advanced Internet services, like T1 lines and similarly exclusive technology. Most Apple execs don’t know how shabby their customers’ home Internet services are.

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Cable has the same problem. When the network is congested, your speeds decrease. Even worse, if your neighborhood has old or faulty equipment, you could experience outage after outage without any durable solution.

Unlike many cable services, T-Mobile’s home Internet plan has no data caps. They only restrict commercial, automated uses. For example, if you’re engaged in mass downloading (terabytes daily), they could throttle or terminate your account. It’s also not a good idea to run a server or other machine-to-machine connections using this account. If you’re remoting into your home computer from work, or vice-versa, that’s fine. But if you’re trying to run your enterprise web app off a Mac Mini connected to T-Mobile service, they may prohibit this if the impact is noticeable.

Only Two T-Mobile Plans, With a Discount for Current Cellular Subscribers

Despite what other websites claim, only two T-Mobile home Internet plans are available. I recommend their 5G home Internet service. It costs $50 per month, with additional taxes and regulatory fees. If you forgo their AutoPay service, T-Mobile charges $55 per month.

Home Internet Lite, the other T-mobile broadband service, is a pay-as-you-go plan. Customers can purchase data in increments of 50 GB in bundles ranging from 100GB to 300GB, with discounts for using AutoPay. I recommend something other than T-Mobile’s Home Internet Lite plan because it’s effortless to burn through 300GB, which costs $150 to $155. They don’t even let you roll over the data to the next month. It’s a bad deal!

Unfortunately, only some are eligible for T-Mobile’s 5G Home Internet service, with Home Internet Lite offered to more customers. If you can’t get the unlimited 5G service, look elsewhere. Paying up to $155 for 300GB of data is absurd. I recommend it only if there’s no other option, and you can write it off or claim it as a work expense.

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T-Mobile offers discounts to its current cellular subscribers. If your smartphone uses T-Mobile, you’ll get a better deal on their 5G home Internet service. Those with Magenta MAX cellular service and T-Mobile’s home Internet plan will receive the latter for only $30 per month (with AutoPay). If you subscribe to a standard T-mobile plan, you get a $10 discount. Both discounts require AutoPay. Without AutoPay, you must pay $55 monthly. Additional taxes and regulatory fees apply to all plans.

How Much Does T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi Gateway Cost?

T-Mobile’s home Internet service uses a Sagemcom Fast 5688W combination cellular modem and Wi-Fi hotspot. The device is free for all home Internet subscribers. In my research, I found that it costs about $100 to purchase, but you won’t need to do that.

Is it Difficult to Install T-Mobile 5G Home Internet Service?

The good news is that T-Mobile 5G home Internet service is easy to install. They have an app that guides you through the process. Basically, you plug in the Wi-Fi gateway and continue setup with the app. If you know the basics of operating an iPhone, you can do it yourself.

The best part about 5G Internet service is that you usually don’t have to do anything if it goes down. Sometimes you need to cycle the gateway’s power, but this is typically unnecessary. I’ve found cellular home Internet to be far more reliable than cable.

T-Mobile 5G Home Internet 15-Day Test Drive

One of the best things about T-Mobile’s 5G home Internet service is that you can try it out. They offer a 15-day test drive. If you’re dissatisfied with the service, they’ll refund your money.

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This is an important feature and should be required of all Internet services. No one can tell for sure how any Internet service will perform in a particular household. Wiring or other infrastructure may need fixing or updating, even with cable. With a cellular connection, there may be too many customers on the nearest tower, or it’s too far away.

With a 15-day test drive, you can really make sure that it works. You’ll see how T-Mobile performs during peak hours, like weekends or after 5 p.m. on weekdays. You need to test for network congestion during peak periods, but virtually every Internet provider offers slower speeds during peak usage. If video pauses to buffer, there are better options than T-Mobile’s 5G home Internet service for your residence.

5G Home Internet Bad News for Comcast

Let’s face it, Comcast, Xfinity, or whatever you want to call them, have treated their customers poorly for decades. This opened opportunities for many other Internet providers. Some use cellular networks, while others, like Starlink, use satellites. Amazon is working on a satellite-based home Internet service right now. In either event, I wouldn’t want to be a Comcast executive these days.

You already have other options if you’re fed up with Comcast/Xfinity or other cable-based Internet services. There will be more to come. An entire industry of non-cable Internet providers is emerging to rescue customers from poor service and dependence on in-person support. The competition will ensure fair prices and faster, more reliable service.


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