Is 5G Internet Good for Gaming?


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In the last twenty years, the rapidly evolving world of online gaming has witnessed several shifts in trends. The turn of the millennium saw a growing interest in sandbox games. The release of online games like The Sims, Grand Theft Auto, and Rollercoaster Tycoon thrust us into a mysterious world of life simulation. Suddenly we had more power and control in the virtual world as compared to the real one. 

As the AI capabilities evolved and online games became more interactive, we saw how fascinatingly immersive AR and VR gaming arenas could be. But to experience the full potential of these hyper-realistic online games, we needed ultrafast internet connections that could promise minimal lag times and superior gameplay. Fiber-optic internet is a no-questions-asked solution for premium gaming performance. Unfortunately, it is only available in 43 percent of the country. 

So, can a new wave of wireless communication be the oasis of digital connectivity in “internet deserts”? Can gamers rely on 5G technology to challenge their opponents in the middle of nowhere? 

Join us as we deconstruct 5G technology and try to answer the mind-boggling question: Is 5G Internet good for gaming?

Table of Contents

What is 5G Technology? 

The fifth generation of the wireless data network is known as 5G. Wireless cellular network providers use higher radio frequencies to transmit cellular or internet data to customers’ devices and homes. In 1979, a Japanese telecommunications company called Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, introduced 1G wireless network in the populous city of Tokyo. The 1G technology was seen as the successor to the mobile radiotelephone. Mobile radiotelephones or 0G were portable phones linked to a centralized operator. By 1984, 1G wireless technology had become widespread in Japan, but it was AT&T Inc. (formerly known as Ameritech Corporation that first brought 1G technology to the USA). In the 5 decades since its launch, the wideband wireless technology has been modified five times to carry more data at faster speeds.

The launch and deployment of the current generation/ version of the cellular network was a highly politicized affair. Like the nuclear arms race during the Cold War period, the USA and its allies were competing with Communist China for the development and commercialization of 5G technology in 2018. However, in April 2019, Reuters broke the news that South Korea had become the first nation to adopt the 5G network on a large scale. Soon after, ultra-wideband 5G cellular service was rolled out in the USA by the three major mobile network providers; AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. At present, some 2,000 cities in the USA have access to 5G Ultra Wideband technology. 

Below, is a comparison of all the generations of wireless cellular networks, their bandwidths, and maximum speeds. 

Generation Frequency  Download Speed  Upload Speed 
First-generation (1G)  30 KHz 0.0024 Mbps  0.0012 Mbps 
Second-generation (2G)  30 KHz to 200 KHz 0.1 Mbps  0.05 Mbps 
Third-generation (3G) 1.25 MHz to 20 MHz 7.2 Mbps  2 Mbps 
Fourth-generation (4G) 1.4 MHz to 20 MHz 150 Mbps  50 Mbps 
Fifth-generation (5G) 100 MHz to 800 MHz 1000 Mbps  100 Mbps 

The Rise of 5G Home Internet 

In October 2018, Verizon announced the rollout of the nation’s first 5G home internet service in Houston. Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Indianapolis. Verizon’s 5G Home internet was delivering average download speeds of 300 Mbps with peaks of 1000 Mbps at a fixed price of $50 per month. Today, Verizon’s reliable 5G Home internet connection is available in nearly 1,700 cities across 23 states and can be accessed by more than 100 million Americans. 

The second mobile network operator to follow Verizon’s footsteps in the provision of 5G home internet service was T-Mobile. In December 2019, T-Mobile announced that its 5G home internet service would be available in 5,000 cities and towns, covering around 200 million people. The typical download speeds of T-Mobile 5G Home Internet range between 33 and 182 Mbps, and the upload speeds are between 6 and 23 Mbps. With availability in 27 states of the USA, T-Mobile’s wireless home internet service is the most widely available 5G home internet in the country. 

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Starry Internet is the third-best provider of 5G home internet service. For a starting price of $30 per month, subscribers can get up to 1000 Mbps of download speeds, unlimited data, and contract-free service. Starry Internet’s 5G home service is accessible in 7 states, especially in high-tech cities like Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC.    

Cord-cutters frequently look toward 5G home internet for a hassle-free, wireless internet connection that can promise minimal additional costs. You can connect multiple devices, browse social media platforms, surf the web, stream live TV, share large files, and even play online games on your 5G home internet plan. 


Pros of 5G Internet for Gaming

  • Best for immersive gaming (VR and AR games)
  • Can reach download speeds up to 1000 Mbps
  • Offers a latency of fewer than 50 milliseconds.
  • Best for mobile gaming.

Cons of 5G Internet for Gaming

  • Spotty coverage across the country
  • Most 5G Internet plans come with data caps
  • Connection is not as stable as wired internet
  • Can be more expensive than fiber-optic Internet plans

Features of 5G Internet for Gaming

The immersive world of online gaming can be a mystery to those who use the internet as a commodity for their basic digital needs. Recent surveys show that around 3.09 billion people actively play video games, and in the USA alone, 68 percent of adults have played at least one form of online game in their lifetime. From multiplayer games to first-person shooting games, and puzzles to simulation games, a plethora of online games is providing an escape route to individuals who lack independence in the physical world. 

Over the years, online gaming has changed in its aspects. It is now seen as a means of earning an income rather than a thrilling leisure activity. Over 8,000 professional ESports players in the USA are earning between $12,000 to $187,200 per year. Their livelihood depends on a stable internet connection because the choice of an internet plan can make or break their gaming performance. 

The following are the 5 features that gamers must look for when choosing 5G Internet for gaming:

Speed of 5G Internet for Gaming

Frequent and professional online gamers need consistently fast internet speeds to up their game. Most video game console manufacturers will tell you that gamers should opt for internet services that can guarantee at least 100 Mbps of download speed and 25 Mbps of upload speed. The internet speed will determine how quickly information is exchanged between your device and the server of your internet service provider (ISP). As games are interactive and use heavy graphics, a slow downloading speed will mean that it will take longer for the specifications of your games to load. A slow upload speed can be challenging for those players who wish to live-stream their gameplay on platforms like Twitch and YouTube Live. The frustratingly long uploading time will affect their fan following, especially during peak hours when network congestion is a norm. 

The download speed of 5G home internet ranges between 25 Mbps and 1000 Mbps. On the upstream channel, gamers can expect an upload speed between 1 Mbps and 50 Mbps. This can be good for online gaming as long as the speeds do not fluctuate.   

Generally, online gamers prefer to purchase fiber-optic internet plans. The top-rated fiber internet providers in the country, like AT&T Fiber and Frontier Fiber, can ensure ultrafast upload and download speeds up to 5000 Mbps. So, if you are planning to host a Fortnite night in your dorm room with your college buddies, then take a chill pill because, with a 5 Gig fiber internet plan, 10 of you can put on your game face and squad your way into the battle arena.  

Latency of 5G Internet for Gaming

Latency, also known as the ping rate, is an important determining factor for online players. The ping rate is the time it takes for the data signals to complete their journey from the player’s device to the ISP’s server and back. It is measured in milliseconds. Usually, a latency of fewer than 50 milliseconds is ideal for smooth gameplay. A high ping rate will result in lagging, and players will experience frequent screen freezes. In multiplayer games, gamers with low latency have a competitive advantage over players with high latency. Imagine that you are playing Counter-Strike, and you and your opponent fire shots at the same time. If you have a high ping rate compared to your opponent, it will take longer for your computer to send the command (signal) to the ISP server and send the necessary action back to your device. Meaning, that by the time your bullet hits your opponent, his bullet would have already killed you. So a high latency of an internet connection is just as bad as a slow reaction time for humans. 

Speed tests done on several 5G home internet connections show that the latency of 5G wireless internet is much higher than DSL, cable, and fiber internet. On average, the latency for 5G home internet is between 45 and 100 milliseconds, but in worst-case scenarios, gamers have reported peaks of 400 milliseconds. Therefore, the high latency of 5G internet is not ideal for gaming. 

Availability of 5G Internet for Gaming

The nationwide adoption of 5G wireless internet is still a work in progress. Many towns and cities in the USA are still operating on 4G cellular data and are yet to enjoy the upgrade. At present, T-Mobile is the largest provider of 5G home internet with a coverage area including 27 states. But even then, many zip codes in the mid-Atlantic, northwest, and southeast regions are awaiting to welcome T-Mobile’s 5G home internet service. 

So, since the availability of 5G networks is spotty throughout the country, it is not the best choice of internet for gamers. 

Data Caps on 5G Internet for Gaming 

Data caps on internet plans do not pose a risk to online gaming. Typically, video games consume between 50 MB and 100 MB of data per hour. It means that if you are using a 5G internet plan offering 100 GB of data per month, you can play online games for 1,000 to 2,000 hours. Even if your life revolves around online gaming and you spend 8 hours each day in front of a screen destroying virtual empires and killing a tyrant’s army, in total, you would have just played online games for 240 hours per month and used around 24,000 MB (24 GB) of data. So with an internet plan with a 100 GB data limit, you still have 76 GB left to use. 

But with all that said, you should not worry about data caps at all if you are a Verizon 5G, T-Mobile 5G Home Internet, or Starry Internet subscriber because these three 5G network providers offer unlimited data on their wireless home internet service. Even as an AT&T and EarthLink Fixed Wireless Internet customer, you will get up to 350 GB of 5G data per month.

Price of 5G Internet for Gaming

The price of a 5G home internet plan is at least $10 more expensive than the base plan offered by a fiber internet service provider. E.g. Verizon’s fiber internet service starts at $49.99 per month (for 300 Mbps of symmetrical speeds), whereas its 5G Home plan costs $60 per month without AutoPay, and the 5G Home Plus plan costs $80 per month without AutoPay. Similarly, AT&T Fiber internet plans start at $55 per month (for 300 Mbps of equal upload and download speeds), but its Fixed Wireless Internet plan costs $69.99 per month.   

So to summarize, when you pick a 5G internet for gaming, you are paying $10 more than what a fiber internet plan would have cost you AND…getting slower speeds and higher latency. 

5 Best 5G Internet Providers for Gaming

In the table below, we have listed the 5 best 5G home internet providers for gaming. 

Internet Provider  Min. Price  Max. Speed  Data Cap 
T-Mobile Home  $50.00/mo. 182 Mbps  No 
AT&T  $69.99/mo.  25 Mbps  Yes 
Verizon 5G  $50.00/mo. 1000 Mbps  No 
Starry Internet  $30.00/mo.  1000 Mbps  No 
EarthLink  $69.95/mo. 100 Mbps  Yes 
** Prices quoted above are with AutoPay

T-Mobile 5G Home Internet 

T-Mobile owns the nation’s largest and fastest 5G network. It has extended its wireless cellular coverage to individual homes via its 5G Home Internet service that starts at $30 per month when bundled with a T-Mobile Magenta Max phone plan and AutoPay. Without bundling and AutoPay, T-Mobile 5G Home Internet plan costs $55 per month. You get unlimited data, up to 182 Mbps of download speed (up to 23 Mbps of upload speed), no-contract service, a compatible modem-router gateway, and a 15-day money-back guarantee on your T-Mobile 5G Home Internet plan. 

So, far T-Mobile 5G Home Internet service has garnered positive reviews for online gaming. Its fast download speed, low latency, and unlimited data are a plus for lag-free gameplay. 

AT&T Fixed Wireless Internet 

AT&T’s fixed wireless internet service is only available to eligible rural households and small businesses within its 21-state footprint. An antenna is installed on an eligible customer’s rooftop or raised deck, and it intercepts the fastest 5G signals from the nearest AT&T 5G cellular network towers. The technician will also install a WiFi gateway router inside your home to convert 5G radio signals into digital data signals. When you bundle your AT&T Fixed Wireless Internet plan with an AT&T postpaid phone plan, you get a $10 discount on the service. Without bundling, the AT&T Fixed Wireless Internet plan costs $69.99 per month. You get up to 25 Mbps of download speed, 350 GB of data, a compatible modem-router gateway, and contract-free service. 

AT&T Fixed Wireless Internet is not a good option for online gaming. Firstly, the service is only offered to eligible residential and business customers residing in rural areas of America. Secondly, its download and upload speeds are slower than the recommended internet speeds for online gaming. Lastly, it is twice as expensive as DSL, cable, and fiber internet plans offering faster speeds and unlimited data. 

Verizon 5G Home Internet 

Verizon was the first telecommunications company to introduce 5G home internet service in the USA. Currently, the service is available in 23 states, and you can choose between two monthly plans to get high-speed, reliable wireless internet service at home. Verizon 5G Home plan costs $60 per month (without bundling and AutoPay). You get up to 300 Mbps of download speed and up to 50 Mbps of upload speed with a 2-year price guarantee. The contract-free service includes unlimited data and a state-of-the-art WiFi 6 router. 

The 5G Home Plus costs $80 per month (without bundling and AutoPay). You get a blazing-fast download speed of up to 1000 Mbps and an upload speed of 50 Mbps on your contract-free wireless home service. The price includes unlimited data, compatible WiFi 6 router, 12 months of Walmart membership, a $350 discount on Verizon Stream TV Soundbar or Pro, and a 3-year price guarantee. 

Gamers have rated Verizon’s 5G Home service as the second best option for 5G Internet for gaming, after T-Mobile 5G Home Internet.

Starry Internet 

Starry Internet is a new and upcoming 5G wireless internet provider that is offering service in five cities, namely; Boston, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington D.C. It is the third-best 5G internet for gaming. Starry Internet customers can choose between four monthly plans starting at $30 per month and offering download speeds up to 1000 Mbps. The high-speed 5G wireless internet service includes free expert installation and free provision of a WiFi router. You don’t have to worry about price hikes, data caps, or annual contracts because Starry Internet believes in delivering trouble-free service. 

The availability of Starry Internet plans depends on your location. Customers opting for low-speed tiers get a standard WiFi router upon enrollment. A Pro WiFi router is reserved for subscribers of higher speed levels. 

5G Internet Plan Price  Download Speed  Upload Speed 
Starry Basic $30/mo.  50 Mbps  50 Mbps 
Starry Plus $50/mo.  200 Mbps  100 Mbps 
Starry Pro $65/mo.  500 Mbps  250 Mbps 
Starry Gigabit $80/mo.  1000 Mbps  500 Mbps 

Starry Internet’s average download and upload speeds of up to 200 Mbps and its low latency of around 40 milliseconds make it one of the top contenders in the 5G Internet for gaming category. 

EarthLink Wireless Home Internet 

EarthLink Wireless Home Internet service is another reliable option for 5G internet for gaming. EarthLink uses the 5G cell towers of other network providers like T-Mobile and AT&T to deliver wireless internet to rural and suburban communities. There are four wireless home internet plans that EarthLink customers can choose from. The average download speed ranges between 25 Mbps and 100 Mbps. And players can expect upload speeds between 5 Mbps and 15 Mbps.

EarthLink wireless home internet plans include data caps, and the ping rate can be as high as 150 milliseconds during peak hours. You will not be forced to sign an annual contract upon subscription, and in most cases, you will be sent a self-installation kit with instructions to set up your 5G home internet connection in no time. You will also have access to EarthLink’s world-class tech support over call, 24 hours and 7 days a week.  

Plan  Price  Speed  Data Cap 
Casual Surfer $69.95/mo.  Up to 25 Mbps  100 GB 
Social Butterfly $89.95/mo.  Up to 50 Mbps  150 GB 
Digital Nomad $119.95/mo.  Up to 75 Mbps  200 GB
Web Wizard $169.95/mo.  Up to 100 Mbps  300 GB 

Gamers can rely on EarthLink Wireless Home Internet’s speeds, data limits, and availability for a glitch-free gaming session. However, they must be mindful that during peak hours, the latency will be much higher than advertised due to network congestion. 

Final Verdict – Is 5G Internet Good for Gaming?

If the phrase “try again” had a physical form, it would most probably incarnate as an online gamer. E-Gamers play the game, fail, try again, and keep repeating until victorious. The determination of online gamers to succeed in the virtual world pushes them to explore new avenues in the physical realm. They are continuously scouting for better opportunities to up their game.

Today, gamers are lucky to have several forms of internet technology at their disposal. From wired to wireless and terrestrial to extraterrestrial, a broad range of options are available for broadband connectivity. 5G home internet service is a recent addition to the digital landscape. It can offer download speeds up to 1000 Mbps, unlimited data, and average latency between 45 and 100 milliseconds to promise smooth gameplay. 

T-Mobile, Verizon, and Starry Internet are the three main providers of 5G Home Internet service in the USA. However, 5G wireless internet is prone to speed fluctuations, ping spikes, and outages. Moreover, the limited availability and high prices of 5G home internet make it a no-go for many gamers. So, is 5G internet good for gaming? Yes, but only if you live in a fiber-deprived zone. 

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