Fiber vs. 5G Home Internet: Which is Better?
Superior speeds vs. unbeatable low prices—take your pick
Fiber internet is the best internet type, but 5G home internet is a solid contender. Fiber gets you the fastest speeds and most reliable service—and usually at a decent price. 5G home internet, by comparison, isn’t as fast nor nearly as reliable. However, it’s perfect for budget users because it comes at a bargain price and includes lots of extra perks with no extra fees.
Not sure which internet connection type to choose? Keep reading for a full breakdown of how these two connection types differ and which is best for your needs.
Fiber vs. 5G home internet—At a glance
|Connection type||Prices||Speeds||Availability||Customer satisfaction ratings*||View providers|
|Fiber||$19.99–$300/mo.||100–5,000Mbps||Limited to cities and some rural areas||3.9/5.0||View Fiber Providers|
|5G home internet||$50–$70/mo.||30–1,000Mbps||Limited to cities and metro areas||3.9/5.0||View 5G Home Internet Providers|
*Taken from HighSpeedInternet.com’s annual customer satisfaction survey.
Fiber internet has much faster speeds than 5G home internet, and many fiber plans can come at lower prices too. You can get symmetrical internet speeds on fiber, meaning your uploads are just as fast as your downloads—a technical capability that just isn’t available on 5G home internet.
You also have a better chance of finding fiber internet than 5G home internet in your area. Although both services have limited availability nationwide, fiber has been around longer, and it’s increasingly available in rural areas thanks to local cooperatives and municipal enterprises that have built up local fiber networks. 5G is still fairly new and is mostly limited to dense urban areas where 5G networks work more effectively.
Still, customers seem very happy with 5G home internet. According to our annual customer satisfaction survey, 5G home internet providers got better scores than fiber internet providers for price and customer service. 5G tied with fiber for overall satisfaction, a remarkable feat considering how new 5G is.
Fiber in a nutshell: Extremely fast, mostly affordable, but not always available
How does fiber internet work?
Fiber internet uses fiber-optic cables buried under the ground to provide an internet connection.
Fiber-optic cable consists of bundled strands of glass. Inside those strands, photon signals bounce along at the speed of light (or something close to it). This type of cable isn’t vulnerable to electromagnetic interference like older technologies, and much of the cabling is newer than cable or DSL.
Fiber is fast, but not always easy to find
All of the technological advantages mentioned above make fiber the fastest, most reliable type of internet you can get. Simply put, you can’t do any better than fiber. It’s the preferred connection for gamers, influencers, and high-end remote workers, and it’s an excellent choice for large households too.
Still, building a fiber network from scratch is costly, so availability is limited nationwide. According to the Federal Communications Commission, just under 38% of the country has access to at least one fiber-optic internet provider.
Fiber prices are more than fair
On average, expect to pay about $65 per month for a decent fiber internet plan. That’s more expensive than 5G home internet, but it’s not too bad, and the higher price is well worth it because you’re getting top-tier service.
Most fiber internet plans come with unlimited data and free installation, and in some cases, you may get a break on the price of a gateway (modem and router) as well. So don’t worry about getting burned with extra fees on a fiber plan.
Fiber internet pros and cons
- Symmetrical speeds
- Lots of plan and price options
- Multi-gigabit speeds
- Limited nationwide availability
Best fiber internet plans
|Plan||Speed||Price||View on provider's site|
|Google Fiber 1000||1,000Mbps||$70/mo.*|
|AT&T Internet 300||300Mbps||$55/mo.†|
|Verizon Internet 500/500||500Mbps||$69.99/mo.‡|
|CenturyLink Fiber Gigabit||940Mbps||$75/mo.§|
|Metronet Standard||100Mbps||$39.95/mo.║||View Plan|
Looking for fast internet?
If you want the fastest speeds possible, consult our Fastest Internet Providers guide to see which providers give you the most bang for your buck.
5G in a nutshell: Super cheap, moderately fast, but kinda unpredictable
How does 5G home internet work?
5G home internet uses the 5G network towers of a cellular company to give you internet over a fixed wireless connection.
Radio transmitters and “small cell” nodes peppered around a neighborhood, and one inside your home, allow a 5G router to pick up the signals to give you Wi-Fi. 5G networks use previously underutilized radio waves, giving your internet a ton of capacity to carry data.
Low prices and ample perks make 5G ideal for budget users
The biggest plus with 5G home internet is that it’s cheap. Whether you’re getting a plan from Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, or Starry, in most cases, you’re only going to have to pay $50 a month—and you can get better pricing when you bundle with select phone plans.
Most plans offer unlimited data and don’t require an annual contract or paying extra for installation or equipment. On top of all that, Verizon and T-Mobile often run promotions for new customers that provide discounts, free streaming trials, and other goodies.
5G loses points for unreliability
We’ve had multiple staffers at HighSpeedInternet.com try out 5G home internet, with mixed results. One team member had to bail on Verizon 5G Home Internet because of recurring outages and restarts. But another team member loves his T-Mobile 5G Home Internet setup and gets plenty of bandwidth to support gaming, streaming, and remote work in his two-person household.
5G home internet is still a relatively new service. The news so far is that it delivers solid Wi-Fi speeds on the whole but can end up bogged down by technical issues and recurring slowdowns in areas with poor cell service. A lot of factors can play a role in slowing down the signal, including network congestion, geographic landmarks, and even inclement weather.
5G home internet pros and cons
- Flat monthly rate with no extra fees
- Lots of promotions and bonuses for new customers
- Solid speeds
- Limited nationwide availability
- Slowdowns and outages on some connections
Best 5G home internet plans
|Provider||Speed||Price||View on provider's site|
|Verizon 5G Home Internet||Up to 300Mbps||$50/mo.* ($25/mo. w/ Verizon Unlimited Plus)|
|T-Mobile 5G Home Internet||72–245Mbps||$50/mo.† ($30/mo. w/ Go5G Plus or Magenta MAX)||View Plan|
|AT&T Internet Air||40–140Mbps||$55.00/mo.§ ($35.00/mo. with qualifying wireless plan)||View Plan|
|Starry Internet Plus||Up to 200Mbps||$50/mo.‡||View Plan|
Our verdict: Get fiber if you need top-quality Wi-Fi, but choose 5G to save cash
Fiber really is the way to go. No matter how way you look at it, fiber beats out 5G home internet (and every other type of internet). Fiber is faster, more reliable, and not too expensive.
That said, if you’re really looking for a budget bargain, then go for 5G home internet. You can get some sweet deals on 5G, and you don’t have to worry about data caps or extra fees either. Also, a lot of places in the United States have 5G home internet access where fiber isn’t available.
If that’s your situation, we recommend giving 5G home internet a go before signing up for a costly cable internet plan.
Best fiber internet plans (return to top)
*Plus taxes and fees. Upload/download speed and device streaming claims are based on maximum wired speeds. Actual Internet speeds are not guaranteed and may vary based on factors such as hardware and software limitations, latency, packet loss, etc.
†Price after $5/mo Autopay & Paperless bill discount (w/in 2 bills). Plus taxes & fees. Monthly State Cost Recovery Charge in TX, OH, NV applies. One time install chrg may apply. Ltd. avail/areas.
‡Price per month with Auto Pay & without select 5G mobile plans. Fios plan prices include taxes & fees
§Speed may not be available in your area. Maximum download/upload speed of up to 940 Mbps via a wired connection. Paperless billing required. Taxes and fees apply. Offer details. Offer includes professional installation at customer’s eligible location
║Offers available to new residential customers only and may not be combined with other offers. MetroNet reserves the right to revoke or modify offers at any time. Taxes, fees, and other terms apply. Pricing and speeds not available in all areas
Best 5G home internet plans (return to top)
*w/ Auto Pay. Available in select areas.
†w/ Auto Pay. Regulatory fees included in monthly price for qualified accounts. See full terms.
§AutoPay and paperless billing required. Monthly State Cost Recovery Charge in TX, OH, NV applies. . Service subj. to Internet Terms of Service at att.com/internet-terms. Offers may be modified, or discontinued, at any time without notice. Other conditions may apply to all offers.
‡Available in select areas only. Price per month with Auto Pay & without select 5G mobile plans. Fios plan prices include taxes & fees.
Author - Peter Holslin
Peter Holslin has more than a decade of experience working as a writer and freelance journalist. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008 and went on to contribute to publications like Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless others. At HighSpeedInternet.com, he focuses on covering 5G, nerding out about frequency bands and virtual RAN, and producing reviews on emerging services like 5G home internet. He also writes about internet providers and packages, hotspots, VPNs, and Wi-Fi troubleshooting.