T-Mobile’s 5G Home Internet footprint is getting a lot bigger with a data capped version

T-Mobile is launching a new rate plan for its Home Internet service called Home Internet Lite, and as the name implies, it’s a lighter version of its unlimited fixed wireless access (FWA) service.

T-Mobile doesn’t offer its FWA Home Internet service to anyone and everyone.  

There’s a big reason for that. “We only offer our unlimited home internet service where we know there’s enough capacity to deliver a great home broadband experience,” said Kaley Gagnon, VP of marketing at T-Mobile.

Like Verizon, T-Mobile uses the same network to serve new FWA customers as it uses to serve its millions of well-established mobile customers, which is one of the reasons it’s so economical for the operators. But T-Mobile can’t serve all of them all the time with unlimited data.    

T-Mobile employs a dedicated geospatial engineering team that uses a very precise methodology to determine the eligibility of an address for FWA, Gagnon said. “They look sector by sector, home by home to really ensure there’s quality of service not just for our fixed wireless customers but also for all of our customers, including mobile,” she told Fierce.

In fact, T-Mobile has to say “no” to thousands of requests every single month because it doesn’t have the capacity to accommodate everyone who wants it, according to Gagnon.

So T-Mobile started looking at how to serve more people and came up with the lighter version, which goes on sale a week from today – Tuesday, August 16. That way, it can offer service to every home that’s covered in its wireless footprint. For homes that aren’t eligible for the unlimited version, T-Mobile is offering a plan with a bucket that starts at $50 a month for 100 gigabytes of data.

It comes with a free internet gateway, which is the same as the one that comes with the unlimited plan, so as circumstances change, they can move to  unlimited when that’s available at their address.  

Why 100 gigabytes? Looking at its own customers’ data usage and external surveys, T-Mobile found that about 26% of U.S. broadband consumers use less than 100 gigabytes per month. Those kinds of users are perfect for this kind or product, she said. That supports about 140 hours of SD streaming, 3 hours of Zoom calls per day and “thousands of hours” of general web browsing and checking of email.

“We really believe that this is our next bold step to connect more people, and it will give us millions more homes so that consumers can access the internet without all that traditional ISP BS,” she said.

Obviously, it’s not for everyone. Heavy gamers, content creators and TikTok aficionados will want something with more heft, but for consumers who might otherwise be stuck with more costly satellite or sluggish DSL choices, this is an option.

The unlimited plan will continue to be the flagship offering.

“This really is us being able to say ‘yes’ to more customers” and leveraging the power of T-Mobile’s 5G network, she said.

What’s enabling T-Mobile to play in this space, traditionally dominated by cable, is the capacity from its 5G network. The FWA footprint – for unlimited – stretches across about 40 million homes across the country with 1.5 million customers already, and it just launched a little over a year ago. The company has said that expects to serve 7 million to 8 million FWA customers by 2025.