There has been a lot of hype around 5G over the past six years, and to some extent it still exists today. Driverless cars, remote surgery, i— all rumors that have yet to materialize in any real way.
One area where it has noticeably helped change our lives. It finally provides cable companies with some long overdue competition. I’ve been investigating whether 5G and similar technologies (known as “fixed wireless”) could replace traditional home broadband over the past year, testing midrange solutions from Verizon and T-Mobile, as well as millimeter channel options such as Honest Networks. .
I ditched my Spectrum subscription and even switched my apartment to Honest, which provides gigabit upload and download speeds to our building for $50 a month. It’s been great for months and I’d be happy to continue using it.
At least until the Spectrum came knocking.
Competition breeds deals
After ditching Spectrum, I got a flyer in the mail offering three months of free TV and internet if I went back. There were also no contracts or strings attached. The company seems to be hoping that once people sign up, they won’t leave so quickly.
As an avid sports fan, the appeal of traditional cable was certainly enticing for the rest of the NFL and college football regular seasons, the MLB postseasons, and the start of the NBA and NHL campaigns. Getting and managing regional sports networks in New York is a hassle, and the only streaming service that offers them all (DirecTV Stream) costs $90 a month for a choice package.
While my internet speed won’t be as fast as Honest’s promised gigabit, Spectrum’s Internet Ultra offers download speeds of “up to 500 Mbps,” which is more than enough for me and my roommates to work, video chat, stream, and for games.
Plus, even after three months, the internet bill will still be $40 per month, a savings of $10 per month compared to T-Mobile and Honest.
I can’t say that this deal is a direct result of 5G internet options joining the fray and increasing competition. I also don’t know if Spectrum offers this everywhere or just in certain markets like New York, but it seems to be a newer option.
“We have nationally consistent regular pricing and customer-friendly policies such as no modem fees, data caps or contracts,” a Spectrum spokesperson said in a statement. “We often offer promotions to new or upgrading customers to give them the opportunity to use a service or package at a discount for a limited time before the normal price comes into effect.”
These deals aren’t always just for new subscribers either. The old trick of calling your provider and threatening to switch to T-Mobile or Verizon, which I found while helping a friend in New Jersey with their Optimum bill, helped lower their bill by $40 a month before they settled anything on their service. :
It seems the cable companies are concerned, and perhaps rightfully so. Verizon earnings seenamid higher prices, but the carrier did add 234,000 consumer “fixed wireless” users.
T-Mobile:and now has over 2.1 million subscribers.
Comcast, the largest U.S. cable operator, seems particularly concerned, and earlier this month began running TV ads against T-Mobile’s home internet, encouraging users to go to its website, which “compares” the two broadband options. A number of cable companies, including Comcast, Optimum and Spectrum, also offer home internet packages.
“I think you’re going to see (cable companies) become more aggressive with promotions and work to pick up speed to try to counter the momentum of the telcos,” said Technalysis Research analyst Bob O’Donnell.
“Given how quickly (home Internet) subscribers have grown for both T-Mobile and Verizon, consumers clearly understand that and seem to want to move away from cable companies,” he says.
Faster speeds are also coming
Beyond price and deals, the rise of 5G home broadband has also coincided with a renewed push by cable companies for speed. Comcast’s leading point against T-Mobile is that it has more gigabit offerings and that its broadband can be up to 36 times faster than T-Mobile’s 5G home internet.
“Fixed wireless with 5G makes it critical that cable companies upgrade their infrastructure to be able to claim consistently high speeds, especially for uploads where wireless is difficult today,” said Avi Greengart, analyst at research firm Techsponential.
A wide variety of other carriers, including Optimum, Spectrum, Verizon and AT&T, have added new multi-gigabit speed tiers and expanded their infrastructure for fiber service, while the big three wireless carriers continue to build and improve 5G service. : This push for faster options should allow not only the prospect of better speeds for those looking for a boost, but also better choices for their needs.
“People who continue to work at home or who just want the fastest option will look at fiber,” says O’Donnell. “Mainstream users now have a lot of choices, and people who have had limited options (rural, etc.) can now finally get something reasonable.”