I’ve been wanting to try out T-Mobile Home Internet for a while now – it’s a 5G-based Internet service that’s $50/mo. with no service contract. If you already have a T-Mobile cell phone account, their 5G Home Internet service drops down to $25/mo. Seems like a pretty good deal overall with one big caveat – you have to be in an area that has solid 5G coverage.
I should start with a disclaimer here – I have zero affiliation with T-Mobile, I have not been paid by them or even contacted by them as part of this review. I started my T-Mobile Home Internet experience by walking into one of their T-Mobile store locations at a local strip mall and asking about it. 30 minutes later, I walked out with the T-Mobile Home Internet router and was ready to plug it in at home.
My purchase also included a $100.00 rebate for signing up, which is essentially 2 months free – T-Mobile seems to be running various promotions all the time, and they were definitely trying to get me to switch my Verizon phones over to T-Mobile’s service with some pretty crazy promotions – they said they’d pay off our phones (up to I think it was $1000.00 per phone) and it included free Netflix, etc. Definitely compelling – and I am not someone who is in love with Verizon…I may just switch over.
Let’s talk about the modem itself – it’s not too big, measuring 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 7.5″, and they recommend placing it in a window for the best signal, which makes perfect sense. The front features a display screen that gives some limited stats about the connection – Connection status, Devices connected, Messages, and Language settings. Messages is interesting – since I’m a T-Mobile Home Internet customer who doesn’t have a T-Mobile cell phone, they gave me a phone number as part of the service – and apparently, that phone number gets phishing spam because I had a bunch of ‘Reset your Facebook’ spam texts in the Messages section of the modem.
The back of the device features a USB-C connector for power, and a secondary USB-C connector which seems non-functional, but does supply power if you wanted to use it to charge up your devices. It also has (2) 1Gbps Ethernet ports that can be directly connected to a device such as a laptop or desktop computer, or you can use the Ethernet port to plug your T-Mobile Home Internet connection into the WAN port of a router to supply Internet to your home networking gear.
Plugging directly into my WAN port works great, but I did have a small hiccup when I first tried it – my UniFi UDM-Pro WAN interface was negotiating with the T-Mobile Home Internet modem at 100Mbps instead of full Gbps, which means my speed tests were never going above 100Mbps. After some fiddling around with the two different Ethernet ports and rebooting the UDM-Pro, it did end up negotiating at 1Gbps, and has remained solidly connected at that speed ever since.
The IP address provided by the T-Mobile Home Internet modem is a private IP subnet – 192.168.12.x/24 my case. This means that it’s going to be double-NAT’d, and it doesn’t seem that they have the option for either ‘bridge mode’ or a static IP address. There appears to be no static IP option with either the Home Internet or Small Business Internet service.
The modem’s integrated WiFi is 4×4 MIMO WiFi 6, and it definitely seems to take advantage of those speeds – let’s do some speed testing!
Of course all speed testing is going to be anecdotal since there are so many variables – the device running the speed test, T-Mobile’s signal to the 5G network, the geographical area, other interference, etc. So take any speed tests with a grain of salt – but in my experience with the service, it has been pretty solid. I regularly see daytime speed tests of around 350Mbps from my iPhone 14 Plus directly to the modem.
From my PC directly to the T-Mobile modem, my speeds are a bit lower, but not by much.
If I connect the T-Mobile modem to the WAN interface of a Ubiquiti UDM-Pro and then run the same speed test through a U6-Lite access point, my speeds are a bit lower, but keep in mind that it’s not a perfect wireless environment (I have the access point inside a network cabinet in my test network). Still though – ~150Mbps isn’t that bad for $50/mo.
From my desktop PC to the UniFi network, I see similar results – about 1/2 the speed of connecting to the T-Mobile Home Internet wireless directly:
As you can see in this picture, my access point is not in an ideal spot – it’s basically sitting inside a metal box. With proper access point placement and fine tuning, I have no doubt that you could achieve speeds close to what you get when connecting to the T-Mobile modem directly.
So why would you want to plug the T-Mobile Home Internet into the WAN port of a different network in the first place? Well – the answer there is simple – since the T-Mobile Home Internet service needs to be placed in a window, and preferably whichever window in your house gets it the best, most consistent signal, that location may not be the best place for the onboard wireless to reach your entire home. So if use your own router/firewall and access points, you have much more scalability and control over how you distribute the wireless signal to your devices.
By and large, having the T-Mobile Home Internet on the 2nd floor of my home in a window on the front of the house centrally located seemed to have fairly good coverage of the entire home, though it probably wouldn’t stretch too far into my backyard. The built-in wireless is pretty good for a normal sized single family home.
Running speed tests can give you a nice point in time view of the Internet speeds at any particular time, but what about consistency? In order to measure consistency, I set up a small Raspberry Pi configured with the Ookla Speedtest CLI client writing to a database and graphed with Grafana. It took readings every 30 minutes for more than a month to get a good view of Internet speed tests over time. The Raspberry Pi was hard-wired into the T-Mobile Home Internet modem in order to eliminate any wireless interference. Here are some of the results:
In the 30-day view, you can see that speeds were fairly consistent hitting upwards of 600Mbps at nighttime and between 250-300Mbps during the daytime. Let’s also zoom in a bit to a 7-day view.
Again here we can see decent consistency in speeds over time.
So for $50/month and these speeds this is a perfect Home Internet solution right? Well – maybe not so fast there. While the speeds are great, I did have a few bumps with the service. For instance every so often if I was browsing the Internet, all of a sudden pictures would stop loading, or it would become sluggish – it would usually clear up in a few minutes, but it was always enough to make me hop back onto my hardwired Comcast/Xfinity cable connection, which never has those kinds of issues.
Overall, I’m impressed with the T-Mobile Home Internet service. Signing up for service and setting up the modem in my home was incredibly simple – even the most technologically-challenged individuals would have a tough time messing it up.
The pricing is great – these speeds for $50/month (or $25/month if you’re already a T-Mobile cell phone user) are hard to beat. My other Internet connection is a Comcast Business 600/40 cable connection that I pay almost $350.00/month for. It pains my wallet every month, but since I run a business out of my home, I really like the solid connectivity. Back to this in a moment though.
In comparison with a service such as Starlink, T-Mobile Home Internet is faster and cheaper. My Starlink service is $110/mo. for speeds that typically range between 80-150Mbps. Twice as expensive, and much slower than T-Mobile Home Internet, but I can also use Starlink in very remote locations that don’t have 5G coverage if I needed to.
With T-Mobile Home Internet, I love that there’s no contract, and I can cancel at any time with no penalty. I also love that they’ve got some crazy good promotions to incentivize people to sign up.
The Internet connectivity is OK – I have no issues with the speeds that I was getting, but I did have some occasional issues with Internet browsing – slowness, pictures not loading properly, etc. For the ‘normal’ home user – I’m talking about your parent’s house where they do some basic web surfing and use streaming services to watch TV, this is going to be a perfectly fine connection – again though, your experience with 5G Internet is going to vary based on many variables including how far you are from a 5G tower, how many other people are using 5G, wireless interference, etc. etc. You get the point.
So now let’s talk about power users and business users. In my opinion, this may not be the best primary Internet option. The occasional sluggishness and drop-outs would be incredibly frustrating if you’re trying to work from home or run your business. The double-NAT would be terrible for voice over IP and other real-time services, and the lack of any static IP options could be an issue if your business WAN IP address can’t be dynamic.
All of that being said though – this is an excellent backup Internet option for power users or businesses. If you want a relatively inexpensive way to mitigate primary Internet outages, or perhaps provide a completely separate open WiFi network for business guests, T-Mobile Home Internet is actually a pretty great choice.
And that’s exactly how I’m using it – as a backup Internet connection. My entire business is online, so I have to be highly available. It’s worth $50/month for me to have a backup Internet connection that can provide me with high speed Internet if my Comcast connection goes down. If you have a dual-WAN router, you can use this as a secondary failover, or as I mentioned previously, route some of your non-critical traffic down this connection.
So now you have now heard about my experience with T-Mobile Home Internet – I’d love to hear about YOUR experience with this product – you can comment below…any and all feedback is going to be great to help out others who may be investigating this Internet service option.
I received my modem just a few days ago and I have had a good experience so far. I live in Michigan far away from any cities and only get T-Mobile’s 4g service (I think they call it ‘Home Internet lite’) with speeds ranging from 3Mbps to 35Mbps but averaging maybe 10Mbps. I am in the free “Test Drive” period so I am not sure how much it will ultimately cost per month but T-Mobile has plans that start at $30 and go up to $150.
The T-Mobile app has an Augmented Reality feature that locates the closest antenna and points you to the location in the house that will receive the best signal. The modem displays signal strength with five bars and I get three bars most of the time with an occasional two bars.
My current internet provider is AirAdvantage (a WISP) which provides 200Kbps to 900Kbps with an average of about 700Kbps. When the T-Mobil unit arrived I connected both WANs to my Netgate router and configured them as a “Balanced group”. The T-Mobile service has a built-in scheduler so I schedule it to shut off during low-traffic periods and we fall back to the AirAdvantage connection to save data.