If you’re looking for ways to save on your home internet service or if you live in a rural area, opting for a fixed wireless internet plan from a cellular service provider may be worth considering.
In this article, I’ll take a close look at fixed wireless internet service to help you understand what it is, how it compares to standard internet services and whether or not you should try it out yourself.
I’ve checked out the fixed wireless internet plans available from all the major carriers and have read the fine print to see who’s eligible and exactly what’s available for the price.
5 Things To Know About Fixed Wireless Internet
Many cell phone service providers are now offering home internet plans called “fixed wireless internet.” These plans are typically cheaper than traditional home internet options, and as money expert Clark Howard notes, they’re more likely to be available in rural areas.
“If you happen to live at an address that has no traditional high-speed internet from a cable monopoly or a phone monopoly, know that now one-third of American households have available what’s known as ‘fixed wireless service’ from Verizon or T-Mobile.”
Below, you’ll find more information on fixed wireless internet including how to get it, whether or not you should consider it and how it compares to standard internet service.
Table of Contents:
- What Is Fixed Wireless Internet?
- Who Should Consider Fixed Wireless Internet?
- Which Cell Phone Service Providers Offer Fixed Wireless Internet?
- How Does Fixed Wireless Internet Compare?
- Final Thoughts
What Is Fixed Wireless Internet?
Fixed wireless internet is a cheaper alternative to standard internet plans available from phone and cable monopolies. It provides Wi-Fi to your home through an in-home receiver so that you can connect your devices and enjoy internet access.
“This is something where you have a wireless modem that sits near a window in your home and gives you a strong enough internet signal to do all the video and streaming you want to do,” says Clark.
However, he points out that speeds typically aren’t strong enough for gaming. If you’re a gamer, fixed wireless internet may not provide fast enough download speeds.
This type of internet is available primarily in rural areas where other internet options aren’t available. Most fixed wireless internet providers (with the exception of AT&T) provide Wi-Fi by converting nearby cellular service (4G LTE or 5G) through a modem in your home to provide internet access to connected devices.
You can find fixed wireless internet plans available without annual contracts or monthly data limits.
Who Should Consider Fixed Wireless Internet?
If you don’t have access to standard internet plans at your home, fixed wireless internet may be available. Even if you do have access to a traditional internet service, fixed wireless internet may be cheaper.
Because it’s available only in select areas, the first thing you should do is determine which (if any) fixed wireless internet services are available at your address.
In addition to availability, it’s important to consider the main differences between fixed wireless internet and standard internet. For example, fixed wireless service often includes much slower download speeds, and speeds may vary depending on how busy the network is.
While fixed wireless internet typically provides fast enough speeds for basic surfing and video streaming, if you’re uploading a lot of data or playing online games, you’ll likely find that traditional internet service is much more reliable.
If you’re thinking about trying out a fixed wireless internet plan, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Are there fixed wireless internet plans available for your home? You can enter your address on any service provider’s website to see if it’s available in your area. You may be eligible for only one or two services, which will quickly narrow down your selection.
- Can you get by with limited data speeds? Fixed wireless internet typically provides download speeds of 25-100 Mbps, which is significantly slower than traditional internet plans. Upload speeds are even slower.
- Can you avoid early termination fees when you switch? Unless you’re switching to Verizon Home Internet (which provides up to $500 in credit for early termination fees), make sure you won’t be spending more on switching than you’ll save with fixed wireless internet. Otherwise, it may be worth waiting until your current contract expires.
If you can answer “yes” to each of these questions, I recommend trying out a fixed wireless service. It’s likely cheaper than traditional internet available in your area. If there isn’t traditional internet service available where you live, fixed wireless internet is definitely worth considering.
Which Cell Phone Service Providers Offer Fixed Wireless Internet?
If you’re thinking about switching to a fixed wireless internet plan, it’s important to know which providers offer service in your area. The best way to find out is by visiting each provider’s website and entering your address.
Here’s a list of companies that currently offer fixed wireless internet.
|Provider||Starting Monthly Price||5G Access||Download Speeds||Monthly Data Limit|
|Verizon||$25 with wireless plan|
$50 without wireless plan
|Yes||25-50 Mbps (LTE)|
|AT&T||$59.99 with wireless plan|
$69.99 without wireless plan
|UScellular||$50 with autopay & paperless discounts||Yes (Unlimited Even Better)||Varies||300GB-1.5TB|
|Straight Talk||$45||Yes||20-50 Mbps (4G/LTE)|
20-100 Mbps (5G)
Below, you’ll find more information on each provider’s fixed wireless internet plans including a breakdown of pricing and features, how the service works and how to check availability in your area.
Verizon LTE/5G Home
Verizon offers three different fixed wireless internet plans including LTE Home Internet, 5G Home Internet and 5G Home Plus. In fact, Verizon 5G Home Internet is the first 5G wireless network built to connect your home with high-speed internet according to the company website. Over the past few years, Verizon’s 5G network has been rapidly expanding.
Here are the available Verizon Home Internet plans and prices as of October 2022.
|Plan||Price w/ Autopay & Select 5G Plans*||Price w/ Autopay||Price w/o Autopay||Download Speeds||Additional Perks|
|LTE Home Internet||$25||$50||$60||25-50 Mbps||None|
|5G Home Internet||$25||$50||$60||High-speed**||None|
|5G Home Plus||$35||$70||$80||High-speed**||Get a $150 Verizon Gift Card
$300 off Stream TV Soundbar
*Eligible plans include Verizon’s Play More, Do More and Get More.
**Specific speeds aren’t available for Verizon 5G Home Internet online, but based on a recent study at RootMetrics, Verizon offers the best everyday 5G reliability.
***Additional perks for each plan changes regularly
As you can see, having a Verizon Wireless plan makes home internet cheaper, but it isn’t required for service.
None of Verizon’s fixed wireless internet plans have monthly data limits nor do they require annual contracts. You can cancel any month with no early termination fees or penalties. Additionally, the router is included with no setup fees (self-setup).
Verizon LTE and 5G Home Internet include a two-year price guarantee, and 5G Home Plus includes a three-year price guarantee.
You can also get up to $500 credit toward early termination fees when you switch. If you cancel your current internet service and get Verizon LTE Home Internet within four months, you’ll have 90 days to provide documentation of the early termination fee to receive up to a $500 credit. Note that you will have to keep Verizon LTE Home Internet for at least 90 days after installation/setup to avoid being charged the credit amount.
You can find more information on Verizon LTE Home Internet and Verizon 5G Home Internet and check availability in your area on Verizon’s website.
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet offers one plan for one set price: $50 monthly with autopay or $55 monthly without autopay.
Having a T-Mobile wireless plan will not lower your home internet bill. Still, the price is pretty good compared to standard internet services from phone or cable monopolies.
Like Verizon, T-Mobile 5G home internet doesn’t require annual service contracts and there are no hidden fees, according to the website. You’ll pay for Home Internet month-to-month and can cancel at any time. Also like Verizon, T-Mobile’s 5G network has been rapidly growing to offer service in more areas.
Additionally, there are no monthly data limits. You’ll have unlimited access to T-Mobile’s 4G LTE and/or 5G network depending on where you live, and you can expect download speeds between 33 Mbps and 182 Mbps. However, speeds vary based on location, signal strength and availability, time of day and other factors, according to T-Mobile.
It’s also worth noting that T-Mobile’s 5G network is currently performing better than both Verizon’s or AT&T’s according to a recent study published by Ookla. In the second quarter of 2022, T-mobile had a median download speed of 187.33 Mbps on its 5G network. Additionally, the 5G network and 5G Home Internet availability continue to increase.
T-Mobile Home Internet works through a high-speed internet Gateway device that’s included with your plan.
You can see if T-Mobile home internet is available in your area by visiting the website and clicking “Check availability” to get started.
AT&T Fixed Wireless Internet
AT&T offers a Fixed Wireless Internet plan, but it isn’t quite like Verizon and T-Mobile’s service.
Instead of providing access to 4G LTE/5G signal and converting it to Wi-Fi through an in-home device, AT&T Fixed Wireless Internet works by providing traditional internet service to rural areas through a mounted outdoor wireless antenna and Gateway router.
AT&T Fixed Wireless Internet costs $59.99 plus taxes with a qualifying AT&T postpaid wireless plan or $69.99 plus taxes on its own. Additionally, there’s an installation fee of up to $99 for the outdoor wireless antenna and Gateway router.
You can expect typical download speeds of 25 Mbps, but speeds will vary depending on where you live. Unlike Verizon and T-Mobile, some AT&T Fixed Wireless plans do have a monthly data limit of 350GB. If you go over your monthly limit, expect a $10 charge per 50GB of additional data up to a maximum overage charge of $200 in one month.
You can learn more about AT&T Fixed Wireless Internet and check availability in your area online.
If you’ve searched for fixed wireless internet or cellular home internet, you’ve probably also come across plans from UScellular.
Everyone in UScellular’s 4G LTE coverage area is eligible for service. The company has started to roll out 5G home internet with speeds of up to 300 Mbps, but it’s available only in select locations and prices vary.
UScellular’s 4G Home Internet is available for as low as $50 per month with no data overage fees. While there are monthly high-speed data limits with UScellular’s fixed wireless internet plans, you’ll just be reduced to 3G speeds once you’ve reached your limit.
According to UScellular, speeds “vary due to area, coverage, foliage, compression or the network management requirements.” For these reasons, the company doesn’t guarantee coverage or specify expected speeds. You can find more information on UScellular’s speeds and network practices here.
Here are the available fixed wireless internet plans and monthly prices from UScellular:
- $50 for 25GB
- $70 for 55GB
- $95 for 75GB
- $125 for 105GB
- $155 for 150GB
Unlike Verizon and T-Mobile, you will need to sign a 36-month contract if you plan to use a UScellular high-speed router. It adds $5.50 monthly to your total cost, or you can buy the router outright for $198.
To learn more about UScellular’s home internet and to check availability in your area, visit the company’s website for 4G Home Internet or 5G Home Internet and enter your address.
Straight Talk Wireless
Straight Talk Wireless is the latest option on the market for fixed wireless home internet. Straight Talk recently partnered with Walmart to offer a new prepaid home internet option that provides access to Verizon Wireless’ network.
Straight Talk Home Internet costs $45 per month plus a one-time cost of $99.99 for the router. The router picks up nearby signals from Verizon Wireless’ network (5G or 4G/LTE) and converts the signal to Wi-Fi that you can use to connect your devices at home.
With this plan, you’ll have access to unlimited monthly data. That means there’s no data cap to worry about, and you’ll never have to pay overage fees. Instead, this plan is completely prepaid on a month-to-month basis with no contracts required.
According to the website, Straight Talk Home Internet can deliver download speeds of 20-100 Mbps and upload speeds of 3-10 Mbps. The availability, coverage and actual speeds vary depending on location, signal strength and network connection. Customers in 4G/LTE coverage zones can expect download speeds of 20-50 Mbps and upload speeds of 3-6 Mbps.
For more information, check out the full details here. You can also visit Straight Talk Wireless’ website or Walmart’s website to check availability in your area.
How Does Fixed Wireless Internet Compare?
Fixed wireless internet is less widely available than traditional internet service, but these plans target areas with no other internet options. So they may be the only option for some people.
In addition to availability, other key differences to be aware of include download speeds, data limits, contract requirements, and of course, price.
“Using the fixed wireless from T-Mobile or Verizon often is cheaper than what you can get from the cable or phone monopolies.”
To see exactly how fixed wireless internet compares to traditional internet plans, I looked at a few of the best standard internet service providers.
According to a recent customer satisfaction study by the American Customer Service Index (ACSI), AT&T was the best internet service provider in 2021. It was followed by Xfinity (Comcast) in second place and Verizon Fios in third place. I took a closer look at these three internet providers to see how much plans cost and what they include.
After looking at these plans, here’s a quick breakdown of what I found.
|Type||Price Range (without discounts)||Download Speeds||Data Limits||Contract Requirements|
|Fixed Wireless Internet||$25-$70||20 Mbps to 115 Mbps||None (Verizon, T-Mobile, Straight Talk)|
25GB to 350GB (US Cellular & AT&T)
|Traditional Internet||$40-$80||50 Mbps to 940 Mbps||None||Some require none; others require a year.|
Clearly, fixed wireless internet plans are cheaper, but you’ll experience slower download speeds. Another advantage to fixed wireless plans is that you’re more likely to avoid annual contracts.
Below, you’ll find more information on the specific standard internet service provider plans I used for the comparison. This information is accurate as of March 2022.
- Cost: $55 to $80 plus taxes per month for the first year. After 12 months, “the prevailing rate applies,” but these rates aren’t listed online and likely vary by location.
- Download Speeds: 300 Mbps to 940 Mbps with AT&T Fiber; 0.8 Mbps to 100 Mbps with standard internet plans
- Data Limit: Unlimited for most plans
- Contract Requirements: None
- Cost: $24.99 to $79.99 per month for the first 12-24 months. Then, regular monthly rate applies ($60 to $110 depending on your plan).
- Download Speeds: 50 Mbps to 1200 Mbps
- Data Limit: 1.2 TB per month
- Contract Requirements: One-year agreement
Verizon Fios Internet
- Cost: $24.99 to $89.99 per month with a 3-4 year price guarantee
- Download Speeds: 300 Mbps to 940 Mbps depending on which plan you choose
- Data Limit: Unlimited
- Contract Requirements: None
Ultimately, fixed wireless internet is a great option to consider if you don’t have access to other internet service providers in your area. Even if you do, you may be able to save by switching to a fixed wireless internet plan.
A quick Google search will reveal that a standard internet plan costs $60 to $70 per month on average, which makes both Verizon LTE/5G Home Internet and T-Mobile 5G Home Internet cheaper (especially if you already have a phone plan with Verizon). You can also find lower prices with UScellular and Straight Talk Wireless’ Home Internet plans.
While you will save money with a fixed wireless internet plan, know that you will likely experience slower download speeds. Still, the average 25-100 Mbps should be fast enough for basic browsing and standard streaming.
Verizon and T-Mobile have been expanding their wireless internet services in recent years. They’re working to provide access to their 5G networks and offer availability in more areas, but currently, T-Mobile offers the best 5G performance and availability. If you’re thinking about switching to a fixed wireless internet plan, the first thing you should do is find out which providers currently offer service at your home. You can do this by entering your address on each provider’s website and clicking “check availability.”
Do you use fixed wireless internet? Share your experience with us in the Clark.com Community!