HomeTechnologyInternetWhy I Ditched My 5G Home Internet and Went Back to Spectrum

Why I Ditched My 5G Home Internet and Went Back to Spectrum

There’s been a lot of hype around 5G over the past five years, and to some extent it still exists. Self-driving cars, remote surgery, the other way around — all buzzwords that have yet to materialize in any real way.

An area where it has noticeably helped change our lives? It finally offers some much-anticipated competition for cable companies home broadband. I’ve spent the past year exploring whether 5G and similar technologies (known as “fixed wireless”) can replace traditional home broadband, exploring midband solutions from Verizon and T Mobileas well as millimeter wave options like Honest Networks.

I have canceled my Spectrum subscription and even switched my apartment to Honest, which provides gigabit upload and download speeds to our building for $50 per month. It was great for months, and I would have been happy to keep using it.

At least until Spectrum came knocking.

Competition leads to deals

Spectrum’s three-month free deal was very attractive.

Screenshot by Eli Blumenthal/CNET

Since I dropped Spectrum, I got a flyer in the mail offering three months of free TV and internet when I went back. There were also no contracts or obligations. The company seems to be hoping that once people sign up, they won’t be so quick to leave.

As an avid sports fan, the lure of traditional cable was certainly enticing for the rest of the NFL and college football regular seasons, the MLB postseason, and the start of the NBA and NHL campaigns. Bringing in and managing regional sports networks New York is a hassle, and the only streaming service that offers them all (DirecTV Stream) is pricey at $90 a month for the Choice package.

While my internet speeds wouldn’t be as high as the gigabit promised by Honest, Spectrum’s Internet Ultra offers download speeds “up to 500 Mbps,” which is more than enough for all of my and my roommates’ work, video chats, streaming, and gaming.

In addition, even after the three months are up, internet costs would be $40 per month, a $10 monthly savings compared to T-Mobile and Honest.

I can’t say this deal is a direct result of 5G internet options joining the fray and adding competition. I also don’t know if Spectrum offers this everywhere or only in some markets like New York City, 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 chance to try a discounted service or package, for a period of time, before the regular price goes into effect.”

These deals aren’t always just for new subscribers, either. The old trick of call your provider and threaten to switch to T-Mobile or Verizon, which I noticed while helping a friend with theirs Optimal Bill in New Jersey, helped lower their bill by $40 a month before making any changes to their service.

The cable companies seem concerned, and perhaps rightly so. Verizon’s earnings saw consumers are fleeing traditional cordless phone activities amid higher prices, but the carrier did add 234,000 consumer “fixed wireless” users.

T Mobile 578,000 home internet users added in the most recent quarter and now has over 2.1 million subscribers.

Especially Comcast, the largest cable operator in the US, seems to be concerned and started earlier this month rolling out TV ads against T-Mobile’s home internetencourage users to go to his website where it “compares” the two broadband options. A number of cable companies, including Comcast, Optimum, and Spectrum, also offer home internet bundles that include their own mobile services.

“I think you’ll see (cable companies) get more aggressive with promotions and work on increasing speeds to try and counter the momentum that the telcos are getting,” Technalysis Research analyst Bob O’Donnell say.

“Given how quickly (home internet) subscribers have grown for both T-Mobile and Verizon, consumers clearly understand and seem eager to move away from cable companies,” he says.

Higher speeds are also coming

Loop bundle of fiber optic wires against black background

Getty Images

Beyond the price and deals, the rise of 5G home broadband also coincided with a renewed push for speed from cable companies. Comcast’s main point against T-Mobile is that it has more gigabit offerings available and its broadband can be up to 36 times faster than T-Mobile’s 5G home internet.

Fixed wireless over 5G makes it critical that cable companies upgrade their infrastructure to claim consistently high speeds, especially on uploads where wireless can be difficult today. Avi Greengart, analyst at research firm Techsponential.

A wide variety of other providers including OptimalSpectrum, Verizon and AT&T have added new multigigabit speed tiers and expanded their fiber service buildouts as the three major wireless carriers continue to build out and improve 5G service. This push for faster options should not only bring the prospect of better speeds for those looking for a boost, but also better selections for their needs.

“People who continue to work from home or just want the fastest option will look to fiber,” says O’Donnell. “Regular users now have multiple choices, and people who had limited options (country, etc.) can finally get something reasonable.”

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