By Sascha Segan
Americans want better home internet options. We’ve seen that in survey after survey. A pair of new surveys show with more details that they don’t think they’re going to be able to get them from 5G—but they think they’ll get them from Elon Musk’s satellite ISP, Starlink.
In a recent survey from weBoost (a maker of cellular boosters), 53% of American respondents reported they’ve had a connectivity issue during the last six months, and 48% said they’ve had to fall back to cellular instead of their home internet service at some point in the past six months
So who’s going to step up with an alternative to the currently dominant cable systems? A new survey from AllConnect.com (a site that compares broadband plans) has relatively bleak news for promoters of 5G home internet. Only 17.77% of Americans have or want 5G home internet as an alternative to their current service, according to the survey. That number is far short of the 51% who want to switch to the satellite-based Starlink service, as was found in an earlier survey from Reviews.org.
There’s considerable confusion about the validity of home 5G, with another 35.77% of people in the AllConnect survey saying they don’t know whether they would want the service. That, once again, contrasts with the clear desire for Musk’s satellite-based service. But even with the maybes added to the yesses, only slightly more people would go for 5G home than would go for Starlink.
Starlink is best positioned as a rural solution, but the demand for Starlink is outpacing the population of rural Americans. According to the US census, only about 19.5% of the US population is rural, meaning that if Starlink is opened up to everyone who wants it, the rural folks who most need it may get crowded out by the millions of suburbanites who just want to escape from their cable company.
Home 5G solutions may be suffering from their long story of promising but not delivering. Verizon launched its 5G home pilot in late 2018, but still hasn’t moved beyond a small number of cities and customers. T-Mobile’s 5G home service may be held up by a lack of available home modems, although its Nokia home unit just got clearance from the FCC.
Starlink is far more expensive than the 5G home options so far, although that hasn’t diminished demand. Starlink is charging $499 for equipment, $99 per month, and $50 for shipping and handling, while Verizon charges $70 per month with no equipment fee for 5G Home, and T-Mobile charges $50 per month with no equipment fee for its current rural 4G service.
They Can’t Fulfill the Demand
Neither Starlink nor 5G internet looks like it’ll be able to fulfill Americans’ thirst for better options. In an official release, T-Mobile says it intends to have up to 9.5 million 5G home customers … by 2024. Verizon hasn’t released any speculation about how many people it wants signing up for its home service.
On the Starlink side, Musk’s company asked for clearance from the FCC to deploy up to 5 million user terminals. But a research note from financial analysts at Cowen said the company will have capacity for only about 485,000 customers and another space-tech blogger estimates a full capacity of about 1 million US subscribers.
New Year, New Challenges
By BitDefender — Your digital safety will not be one of the challenges with our unbeatable cybersecurity protection. Get Bitdefender at a special discount!
Both the T-Mobile estimate and the Starlink request fall far short of the more than 65 million households which the Reviews.org survey implies want Starlink, and they’re also short of the 22.8 million households the AllConnect survey says would want 5G at home.
The demand for satellite internet may yet fall to earth once these alternatives to cable systems become more widely available and capacity limits become clear. But right now, Starlink is definitely winning the mindshare war against other potential home broadband alternatives.
View Original Survey at Allconnect.com