I’m going to compare Comcast’s XFinity home internet service with T-Mobile home internet. TL;DR XFinity was both faster and slower.
When I moved into this home, I called Comcast (my cable company) and Frontier (my phone company) to get broadband set up. Comcast said they could come out that week. Frontier asked if I was sure I was in their service area. I signed up with Comcast and spent months fighting with Frontier to get them to admit they were my phone company.
Basically, Comcast was the ONLY choice for wired broadband when we moved in and remains so. When we finally got Frontier to admit they were our phone company, they offered ADSL internet with a maximum speed of 6 megabits. We were getting 600 from Comcast. Even now that the ostensibly more competent Ziply has bought out Frontier’s service area, the best they can/will offer is that 6 megabit ADSL.
When T-Mobile started offering 5G home internet at a flat rate of $50 (all taxes and fees included) for uncapped data, I decided to give it a try.
The speed tests
Now that I’ve had both for over a year, both have been pretty reliable in terms of uptime. Here are my thoughts and some real results on their differences. These tests are both using Speedtest.net on Chrome on a MacBook Air running in the same room as both gateways on WiFi.
|Download Speed||867 Mbps||591.64 Mbps|
|Upload Speed||36.91 Mbps||77.00 Mbps|
Comcast at the gateway (using their app) claimed they were getting 1435 Mbps down, 41.4 up, and a 12ms ping. T-Mobile’s app doesn’t offer that test.
Let’s break down the results
Ping: Ping is the round-trip speed of a packet between your server and the test server. The lower the better. Here XFinity is the clear winner at less than 1/5th the speed of T-Mobile. Ping also depends on network congestion. I’ve seen XFinity’s as low as 8 with T-Mobile going as low as 31.
For my gaming-obsessed kids, it’s the delay between when they mash a key/button and when it registers in a multiplayer online game. In gaming, low ping is essential. Your processor, graphics, monitor, and more all contribute to how fast you can act/react in games, but ping speed still matters.
Download: Unless you’re regularly downloading HUGE files or have many devices streaming 8K TV at the same time, a few hundred megabits is enough. We only upgraded to Comcast’s highest home tier to get off their 10-15 Megabit upload speed at lower tiers, which was too slow for me to be streaming Alexa Office Hours on Twitch while my wife and kids were all home and on video calls during the pandemic.
Upload: Here T-Mobile won by a big margin, more than double. This is why I’ve kept it… a backup for being able to do my work while the rest of the family are eating up the XFinity connection’s upload speed, or when Comcast has been doing work in the area. I will say that the upload speed tends to be more variable on T-Mobile. Sometimes it’s a little less than XFinity, sometimes a lot more.
Price: XFinity is approximately $105 with the XFinity Gig Plus program which provides the Gigabit plan plus equipment, periodic equipment upgrades, and uncapped data. T-Mobile is $50 for the hardware and uncapped data.
Both prices are what I’m paying including taxes and fees, though XFinity can vary on taxes and fees while T-Mobile is a flat rate. I honestly believe T-Mobile set the price at $50 because a lot of people in tech could get a $50 a month subsidy for home internet from their employers (like I did).
Comcast is the best for families and gamers. There’s a lot of speed at the port to spread around and the ping keeps my kids happy. But I’m not and haven’t been happy having to pay for more download speed than I need just to get less crappy upload speed.
T-Mobile is better for home offices. When ping milliseconds aren’t as big of a deal, the download speed is plenty fast enough and the upload speed makes it a lot faster to upload big files. Plus it’s less than half the cost and your employer may be willing to pay for it if you’re remote.
Your mileage may vary on both because both are dependent on how far you are from a main network node and what’s between you and the node.
Comcast has said they are rolling out XFinity Gigabit Plus upload speeds of 100-200 megabits, but rather than nationwide all at once, it will be in select markets over the course of over a year. Late last year, they did have outages due to planned work in our area to upgrade infrastructure, so I can only hope our speeds jump soon.
So there you have it… XFinity is essential if you have gamers in the house and/or a lot of users in the house. T-Mobile is a very affordable alternative if you need faster uploads and/or don’t need everything XFinity offers.