Marek’s Perspective: My 5G Fixed Wireless Experience
I have been working remotely – full time or part time – for 20 years. And during that time, I relied heavily on my local cable company to provide my broadband connection so I could do my job. And for the most part, I have been a satisfied customer.
But, like many remote workers, the Covid-19 pandemic has made me much more dependent on Zoom and other video conferencing tools to connect with customers and interview topics. And because I was a lot more at home than in the past, I also started exploring new entertainment options, like streaming live performances from some of my favorite bands.
I quickly realized that my broadband connection, which until now was sufficient for my research and writing, was not suitable for these new intensive video tasks. More often than not, I have experienced issues and delays.
At the same time, I had closely followed Verizon’s rollout of its 5G Home fixed wireless broadband service in my Denver neighborhood. I watched the installers laboriously run the fiber on a side street near my block and was delighted to see one of Verizon’s green 5G towers set up a short distance away. I can see the top of this Verizon tower from my backyard.
In April, I decided to check the availability of the service in my Denver neighborhood and called Verizon customer service to install it. I learned it was not so clear. The customer service rep said he was not sure I would have adequate coverage (although I said I could see the tower from my garden) and would need to install the router in my house before I can guarantee a service. I decided to wait and see.
Sure enough, five months later I received in the mail a Verizon flyer touting 5G Home and got a call from a 5G Home sales representative a few days later advising that the service was definitely available and that I could install it in a week. I jumped at the chance and made an installation appointment.
A Verizon installer showed up to my door a week later and within 30 minutes she got me up and running with service at my home. The hardest part of the process was deciding where to install the router. It should be installed on a window, preferably in direct line with the tower. We chose my utility room window at the back of my house, which is probably about 250 feet from the tower.
The router, made by Winstron for Verizon, was installed inside my window, then plugged into a nearby outlet. The device has Wi-Fi 6 and an Ethernet port, in case I want to plug in a device. Although I donate Winstron accessories to try and make this router look sleek and unobtrusive, it’s still a big white box hanging on my window.
I am eligible for a network repeater, which will take the signal, amplify it and relay it back to parts of my house, but I declined because I can get coverage anywhere in my house without it. Repeaters are particularly useful in apartment buildings or large houses where the signal may not propagate to different floors.
Let’s talk about speeds
Aside from the ugly white box, I’ve had my Verizon 5G Home service for just over a week now and the network speeds have been far superior to what I was getting before. When I am near the router, I have recorded speeds as high as 1.7 Mbps downstream and 25 Mbps upstream.
In my home office, which is in the other corner of the house and away from the router, I still get speeds of around 350 Mbps downstream and 14 Mbps upstream.
I had a few hiccups in my coverage and experienced a few drops in signal – but it only lasted a few minutes and didn’t cause me too much grief. However, I will continue to monitor him.
The price of the service is another plus. It only costs $ 50 per month for Verizon Wireless customers and $ 70 per month for everyone else. Unlike my cable provider, Verizon doesn’t charge a router rental fee, so I don’t have that extra cost and I don’t have a service contract.
My Verizon installer told me that so far there were very few Verizon 5G homes in my neighborhood. The company didn’t do a lot of marketing for the service here and none of my neighbors were aware that there was another broadband choice in the area. I hope I’m just one of the first to adopt and more will follow soon.