I’ve given up my Spectrum for 5G Home Internet from Verizon. This is what it was like

Verizon’s 5G home internet is poised to take on the local cable provider with a bold promise: fast broadband with no data restrictions for as low as $25 a month. To get this price, you must have a recent paid plan from Verizon Unlimited such as Play More, Do More, or Get More options. The Wi-Fi 6 router comes with service, plus taxes and equipment charges included in the sticker price.

The big question with any internet provider: Is the actual service good? As Verizon continues to upgrade its network to support faster C-band ultra-wideband spectrum, I wanted to know. So I ditched the Spectrum and switched my apartment connection to just using my Verizon 5G home router.

Results? Although it only ran for a few days, it works just fine. Gaming, streaming, and zoom generally work as expected, but there are a few things you’ll want to know if you’re considering the switch.

Here are my initial impressions.

Verizon 5G major caveats

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Verizon 5G home internet box.

Eli Blumenthal/CNET

Before we dive into the performance, we should start by clarifying a few things about this service.

Although Verizon aggressively advertises 5G Home on TV, it’s actually not as widely available as the company’s 4G LTE network or newer. 5G Ultra-Wide Offer Reaches Over 100 Million People. Verizon says 5G home internet Available to 30 million peoplebut as with T-Mobile’s 5G Home Internet OptionThere is no clear map to determine if you qualify. Instead, you need to enter your address into the Verizon website to find out.

Depending on where you live, Fios could be an obstacle. If you are in an area you have the option to access it Verizon Fiber ServiceYou won’t be able to get 5G Home. My apartment happens to be located in one of those, but Verizon sent me a 5G Home to test anyway, which is how I was able to try out the service.

And that the price is $25 a month? Again, that’s only if you also You have the correct Verizon Wireless plan. If you don’t have one or if you don’t use Verizon as your wireless carrier, you can get 5G Home…but it starts at $50 a month with automatic payments enabled ($60 a month if you don’t use Auto Pay). These are the same prices that T-Mobile charges for a 5G Home Internet product.

Verizon technically has two 5G Home plans. There’s Basic and “5G Home Plus,” which offers an extra $10 per month if you use Verizon for phone service (and have the appropriate Unlimited plan); It’s an extra $20 without it.

Plus gives you an extra year of price protection, although Verizon hasn’t given any indications that it’s considering raising prices. You also get a free year of Disney Bundle (Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, Hulu), $300 off one of the company’s speakers and the ability to use Verizon Cloud for data backup. Personally, I’m not sure that justifies the additional monthly cost, especially since there are no speed or performance differences between the two plans.

Setting up the Verizon 5G home

As mentioned earlier, I only had Verizon Home 5G on for a few days. Before that, my roommates and I paid for a cable and internet package from DomainMainly for live sports. With NBA games now broadcast on national networks, I no longer need a cable package for YES Network and MSG. With Spectrum’s $122 monthly 400Mbps internet package, cable, and three cable boxes, the idea of ​​cutting back on internet and something like YouTube TV is becoming more and more appealing.

Verizon’s 5G ultra-wideband service recently became available in my area with speeds on my iPhone 13 Pro Max often going as high as 300-500Mbps on downloads and 10-30Mbps on uploads. This is true (and sometimes faster) than I was getting from Spectrum.

As with T-Mobile Home Internet, setting up a Verizon box couldn’t be easier: Plug in the little white box and you’re good to go. The only items in the box are a router, a power cable, an ethernet cable (for connection to devices such as a router, computer, or game console), and a small one-page setup guide. This same guide has three steps: Plug the router near a window, wait for the device to turn on, and make sure the front of the box displays a steady white light. If it’s red, move the setting to a different location.

Nice touch: There is a QR code at the bottom of the router for quick network connection.

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The bottom of the Verizon 5G Home router includes two Ethernet ports and Wi-Fi details for the box itself. There is also a QR code to connect more easily from a mobile device.

Eli Blumenthal/CNET

I hope Verizon will follow T-Mobile’s example and include a small screen with signal bars and other important information. It will surely come in handy in finding the best place to leave the device. Similar to the T-Mobile service, you can manage the router via the app. This was the My Verizon app in this case, but I didn’t have access to that account because this is a test device.

How the price is: Durable, but not overwhelming

Performance, at least in early use, was solid but not overwhelming: according to my Eero, from April 24 to 28 we downloaded over 130GB of data and uploaded 8GB. I had no real issues with video streaming, gaming, work and video calls on Zoom or FaceTime during all hours of the day with multiple devices connected simultaneously.

A 4K video stream from YouTube uploads to my computer very quickly, although I did notice a few seconds of buffering when scanning a timeline. Playing online games like Fortnite or MLB The Show 22 worked without problems even when a roommate was streaming a show or playing another game in a different room at the same time. Watching live TV on YouTube TV or DirecTV Stream on Fire TV Stick 4K Max, iPad, or computer also worked smoothly and looked good.

I haven’t yet downloaded any large files, but I’ve noticed some strange speed discrepancies compared to my 5G experience in my area when connected to Verizon’s mobile network. While there are times when I can get download speeds of over 300Mbps and upload speeds of more than 20Mbps over Wi-Fi and home Verizon 5G, it often seems that the phone connection is the Faster. There have been times when speed tests over Wi-Fi from my phone have shown download speeds under 100Mbps and when I disconnect and switch back to 5G, the network will show downloads on 300 Mbps.

This seemed to be especially true when I connected my Eero to my 5G Home, which sometimes left me with 50Mbps Wi-Fi download speeds when the Verizon 5G on my phone had several times faster performance.

It’s not clear if this is a result of deprioritization of 5G traffic at home, congestion, or ethernet throttling on the device itself or if a specific cell tower in my area is not configured to support 5G home broadband. I’ve reached out to Verizon for more details and will update if the company responds.

Even with the inconsistencies, I still feel encouraged by what Verizon is doing with 5G Home Internet. For many everyday tasks, it works great. And for $25 a month, it can be a solid alternative to traditional cables… if You can get it in your area.