Mobile 4G or 5G is the Right Solution for a Mobile World
With the cost of broadband internet service continuing to rise and mobile service speeds catching up quickly, many people are asking themselves, “Do really I need both?” Let’s take a quick look what you should consider before planning…
How Much Internet do You Need?
If you think you might be able to cancel your home internet service and get by with just 4G LTE or 5G, first take a look at what you need in terms speed and data. Once you know what you need, it’s easier to determine if a mobile plan can meet your needs.
For speed, take a look at what various activities require. Streaming 4K video requires 25 megabits per second (Mbps) by itself. Add a video conference at the same time and you’ll need at least 30 Mbps. But choose a 720p video stream and lower the video quality on conferences and you can easily get by with a 10 Mbps connection. Of course, if your household includes two students who need to stream classes or join Zoom calls, plus a remote worker, your minimum speed requirement is likely over 20 Mbps, and 75 Mbps might be better.
Managing data usage goes a long way, too. Video conferences can use from 500 MB to 2.5 GB per hour, depending on quality and platform. Streaming uses anywhere from 300 MB per hour to 7 GB per hour for 4K HD. For easy calculation, 720p streams use about 1 GB per hour. For online gaming, downloads are the biggest factor. Playing depends on the game, but it’s only between 15 and 200 MB per hour.
How Fast is it?
Cable, DSL, and fiberoptic connections have, until recently, been considered the fastest connections available to most people. Speeds range from less than 10 Mbps to 2 gigabits per second (Gbps). What you actually get depends on where you are and how robust these services are in your area if the services are even available in your area. Satellite internet tops out at 25 to 100 Mbps, but high latency makes it slower than the speeds imply. The much anticipated Starlink service from Elon Musk promises higher speeds and lower latency, but the product still has to prove itself.
4G/LTE and 5G speeds are catching up fast and the outlook is constantly improving. 4G/LTE has gotten significantly faster with the improvements providers have made in order to support 5G. 4G/LTE speeds can be anywhere from around 6 Mbps to near 90 Mbps, and 5G service can deliver up to 2 Gbps if you have the right device and you’re close enough to a 5G tower.
Unfortunately, the answer to “How fast is it?” is still “It depends.” Be sure to research what’s available in your area and talk to neighbors who have, or have tried, the various options before you commit to a contract or large up-front investment. Check out our article on 5G for more information on internet speeds today.
Is it Worth it?
Cable, DSL, fiber, and satellite internet plans cost from $50 to well over $100 per month. Even if the base price is lower, providers add equipment fees, setup fees, upcharges for higher speeds, and frequently, contracts with early termination fees. Many offer essentially unlimited data, but speeds are often a fraction of what customers expected and some
providers throttle speeds at unacceptably low data caps. Besides high costs and slow speeds, wired and satellite services come with notoriously poor customer service.
More and more people are deciding that no, it’s not worth it. Since customers need their mobile devices anyway, many are choosing their 4G/5G plan over a home internet plan to cut costs. Others are embracing remote work plans and considering a move to a rural area where wired service isn’t even available. While an “unlimited” plan on a single device can cost $70-90/month with limits on streaming or hotspot use, for some people, it’s good enough.
If a mobile plan isn’t sufficient, fixed wireless and unlimited LTE options like Verizon’s home service are also available to meet your data and speed requirements at reasonable prices. If you’ve made the choice to cut the cable, or you’re in a rural area where wired services just aren’t available, 4G/5G could definitely be your best solution for internet access.