Online gaming has exploded in popularity in recent years. Millions of Americans enjoy playing games like Call of Duty, Fortnite, and League of Legends with friends and competitors worldwide. To have a good experience, gamers need an internet connection that’s both fast and stable. A sluggish or unstable connection leads to lag, disconnects, and a competitive disadvantage.
T-Mobile recently launched its 5G home internet service, which provides unlimited data over the cellular network. For gamers with no access to cable or fiber broadband, T-Mobile promises a potential alternative. But with online gaming’s demanding requirements, how does T-Mobile Home Internet actually perform compared to wired options?
To find out, we ran extensive tests in urban, suburban, and rural areas across different times of day. We checked speeds, latency, reliability uptime, and NAT type issues while playing popular games on PlayStation, Xbox, and PC.
The results were mixed. T-Mobile Home Internet can provide sufficient speeds for online gaming most of the time. We measured average download speeds of 55 Mbps during peak hours and 101 Mbps off-peak – far above the 5 Mbps needed for smooth online play. Unlimited data is also a plus for heavy gamers.
However, T-Mobile struggled to deliver consistent low latency, which is key for competitive multiplayer titles. Latency averaged 82-113 ms, nearly triple that of cable or fiber. Even worse were massive ping spikes up to 1000+ ms that frequently occurred during peak evening hours when many want to game. These spikes made fast-twitch games like Call of Duty and Overwatch nearly unplayable.
According to Uptime Robot monitoring, T-Mobile Home Internet uptime over 30 days was 98.4%, meaning outages averaged 1-2 hours per week. Most outages were under 15 minutes but still disrupted gaming sessions.
Strict NAT type issues were another headache, especially on PlayStation consoles. T-Mobile uses CGNAT technology that prevents an open NAT type critical for hosting multiplayer matches.
For casual gaming and slower-paced RPGs, T-Mobile Home Internet may provide a usable experience, especially for the nearly 25 million rural Americans lacking cable and fiber. But for serious online gamers who want smooth, consistent performance on fast-twitch FPS and esports titles, T-Mobile has more work to do.
Based on our testing, we recommend setting expectations accordingly with T-Mobile Home Internet for gaming. Performance varied not just by time of day but day to day based on cell tower congestion. Gamers without other options should try T-Mobile to see if it meets their needs. But most looking for a premium online gaming experience will want to stick with cable or fiber broadband.