Can you get by with just 5G home broadband? I tried it to find out

Can you get by with just 5G home broadband? I tried it to find out

Apr 5, 2024

I used 5G broadband instead of cable or fiber internet for almost a year. Even though it strictly worked, it was not a pleasant experience. Having to deal with problems like jittery latency and frequent modem disconnections made my 5G Hub less useful and more of a hassle to use. I recently switched to Fiber To The Cabinet (FTTC), which is slower but much more stable. It makes my internet experience smoother and more trouble-free.

Why use 5G for home broadband?

5G technology changes the way people connect to the internet by providing faster speeds and more bandwidth across a wider range of radio wave bands, making it better than 4G. This new technology opens up a world of opportunities for high-speed internet on portable devices like cell phones.

The perks of 5G go beyond just phones, though. For internet at home, there are big benefits:

Cost-effective Speeds: 5G hub broadband offers download speeds that are the same as full fiber lines, but they cost less.

  • Simple Setup: 5G hub broadband is plug-and-play, unlike standard broadband that needs complicated home installations. Just plug it into a wall outlet somewhere with good signal strength, and you’re good to go. This gets rid of the need for technical meetings and installation fees.
  • Portability: One great thing about 5G hub internet is that it can be taken with you. You can take your internet link with you when you move or go on a trip. It’s important to note, though, that some providers may put limits on where the 5G hub can be used.
  • To sum up, 5G hub broadband provides fast internet access at a lower cost, with easy setup and the extra benefit of portability. It changes the way people connect to the internet at home and gives you easy access to fast internet anywhere.

The good: download speed

Fiber To The Cabinet (FTTC) internet was the best thing about 5G for me because my home couldn’t get full fiber-optic internet (FTTP). There are copper wires that connect this cabinet to my house, but fiber optic cables connect the shared cabinet in my neighborhood to the internet service provider (ISP). It’s much slower than full fiber or 5G, so speeds are only 70 to 80Mbps.

I was totally thrilled when I got my 5G Hub. Speedtest always showed download speeds of over 200Mbps once I found a good place with a stable connection to the cell tower.

Unfortunately, that was the end of the perks. Not only did my 5G link have a fast download speed, but I quickly learned that it had many problems.

The bad: consistency

I’ve only used 5G as my internet link for the past year and a half, which has made me realize how important it is to stay consistent. To be honest, I found that 5G isn’t always reliable, even though I used a linked connection between my 5G Hub and my computer.

Inconsistent download speed

My 5G internet speeds change more often than my FTTC (part-fiber) speeds. A few days ago, I was getting a game from Steam, and the speed changed all the time, going from 15 to 30 megabytes per second and sometimes even faster. Over the past year, my 5G speeds have gone back and forth between 2MB/s and 30MB/s, making it hard for me to give accurate estimates of download times. Over the course of the year, the average speed stayed higher than 20 MB/s, but the fluctuations made it hard to say for sure how long it would take to download files. When people asked how long it would take to download things, I could only give them a rough idea and hope that the bandwidth stayed the same. I can now regularly guess how long downloads will take, even though they do take longer on my partially fiber-optic connection.

Inconsistent latency

“What’s even worse about 5G than its unpredictable download speeds is its latency.” My ping wasn’t too bad on 5G, but the lag was all over the place, especially when compared to part-fiber, which was noticeable and scary.

  • The “ping” sound is how long it takes for data to go from your device to a computer and back again. The “jitter” of these pings tells us how constant they are; higher jitter means less consistent latency.
  • When it comes to online games, bad latency is mostly a problem. For PC gamers like me who only play once in a while, latency that changes can be more annoying than high latency.
  • If your delay is high, it will always take a long time for things to happen in games after you press a key or mouse button. You can change this. But when there is a lot of jitter, it’s hard to make any changes; sometimes there are big delays and other times there are none at all.

It was hard to play competitive games on my 5G link. Any online game that required quick responses was hard, and the jitter made even casual games more frustrating than fun.

But jitter and high delay are problems for everyone, not just gamers. They can also make streaming hard. In a video meeting, for instance, there could be a gap between when you speak and when other people hear you, which would be annoying for everyone.

The ugly: everything else

“The main problems with my 5G Hub were not only unstable download speeds and jitter, but also that it wouldn’t work right at all.” Plus, the router that was in charge of the 5G link didn’t work very well, making the whole experience frustrating and unreliable.

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

In the past year, my 5G Hub has failed several times and needed to be restarted because it would just stop working. Even if devices were hooked up to the Hub via Ethernet cable or Wi-Fi, they would show that they were connected to both the Hub and the internet. However, any chores that needed to connect to the internet would fail until the Hub was reset.

This isn’t a big deal when you’re just browsing the web, but it became a big problem when I had important meetings or had to meet a schedule, which caused stress and interruptions.

The first few times it happened, I gave the Hub a hard reset

“Once I learned that turning off and on the 5G setting on my router could fix my connectivity problems, I used this quick fix every day.” Even though it works, it points to a bigger problem. Even though it’s annoying that the link goes down for 30 seconds, it should work perfectly all day.

The new 4G and “4G+” links, on the other hand, were even less reliable. When I switched to 4G, there were a lot of problems. Due to lag and slow speeds, I couldn’t do things like watch videos, hold conferences, download files, or play games.

Networking project dreams shattered

“I want to learn how to use networks well, but for now my main goal is to use my Raspberry Pi 5 to set up network-attached storage (NAS). But my experience with a 5G Hub has made me less excited. Some 5G Hubs don’t give each person their own public IP address, so they have to share with other people on the same network. Users may be given a public IP address, but it can change often, which can make it hard to join. Using cell towers for internet access adds layers of complexity to standard networking, as they can make it harder to get a stable public IP address. Even though this is a problem, I’m motivated to find a way to solve it and reach my networking goals.

Returning to the tried and true

I thought about the pros and cons for a year and came to the conclusion that while 5G technology is great for cell phones and fast download speeds, it’s not quite ready for home internet yet. Even though it was appealing, the annoying problems made me choose a slower but more reliable part-fiber link. It was slower in download speed but more reliable in the end, which shows how valuable it is. My journey with 5G came to a symbolic end when my new DSL Hub arrived. Its retro comic book-style package and useful design were very different from my 5G Hub’s bland, overly modern look, which made me even more determined to switch.

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