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Choosing the Right Internet: 5G vs. Fiber - What You Need to Know

Madison McCollum

May 24, 2024

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of ads from cellphone companies advertising ‘5G Home Internet’. People are drawn in by the ultra-low sign-on prices and ‘anywhere you are’ promise, but some don’t know what 5G internet in the home really entails, or how it could turn into a negative experience for them. 

I think it’s very important to understand the differences between the different types of internet, especially in today’s world, where a reliable and fast internet connection is pretty crucial. Both 5G and fiber internet have their own unique features and benefits, but they’re certainly not the same. 

Let’s break down the difference between 5G internet and fiber internet, so you can go into your internet-journey with all the information you need.

What is 5G Internet?

5G—fifth-generation wireless technology, (not 5 Gig of Internet Speed)— is the most recent advancement in mobile networks. 5G promises faster speeds, lower latency (connection delay), and more reliable connections compared to its predecessor, 4G LTE. 5G works by using higher frequency radio waves and more advanced technology to transmit data. This is GREAT for mobile use, because people can access high-speed internet on their smartphones, tablets, and computers whenever they need to! However, that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for home internet. 

Advantages of 5G:

  • High speeds
  • Download speeds average between 40-300 Mbps and upload speeds average between 10 – 50 Mbps.
  • Low latency, which is great for real-time applications like gaming and video chatting.
  • Wide coverage in urban areas with wide and dense 5G infrastructure.

Limitations of 5G:

What is Fiber Internet?

Fiber internet uses fiber-optic cables to transmit data as pulses of light. This technology offers the fastest and most reliable internet speeds available today and is considered ‘future-proof’ in the telecommunications industry—meaning it’s going to be the best-of-the-best for a long time. Fiber-optic cables can carry more data than their predecessors and go longer distances without degradation, making it ideal for both residential and commercial use.

Advantages of Fiber Internet:

  • Consistently high speeds, often exceeding 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps) for both download and upload speeds.
  • Unlimited data.
    • Some 5G home internet plans will slow your speeds once you reach a certain amount of data usage.  
  • Extremely low latency, making it ideal for real-time applications.
    • It has even lower latency than 5G networks! 
  • Reliable performance, unaffected by electromagnetic interference or distance.

Limitations of Fiber Internet:

  • There CAN be limited availability. Fiber is primarily in urban and suburban areas where populations are dense. However, rural Americans have many providers (like Pioneer!) that are building out the infrastructure and bridging the gap between rural and urban communities. 

So, what should I choose?

Personally, I wouldn’t be able to do all that I do on a 5G Cellular network. We were running this house on a 300 Mbps service before I switched to Gig, and I thought that was plenty, but now that I have a Gig, there’s no turning back for me…

You, however, do still have a choice! The low-price cellular-network ‘5G Home Internet’ offered by some providers is attractive, but you’re going to have some ups-and-downs in your service. You’ll experience issues with signal if your home or property has any thing blocking signal, slow speeds during peak times/congested periods (like after school/work hours) and other things. Don’t get me wrong, 5G is AMAZING for mobile use but it’s probably not something you’ll want in your home or business if you have other options available. Fiber internet is ideal for households and businesses needing consistent, high-speed internet, because it is far faster and more reliable than 5G internet. 

Understanding the difference between 5G and fiber internet can help you choose the right internet for your needs. At the end of the day, it’s always your choice as a consumer on what you want, but with this information at hand you can make an informed decision on what will serve you best!

Madison McCollum

May 19, 2021


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