Three’s 4G Hub (ZTE MF286D) is available from £20/month. Read our review.
In the UK, Three has launched a new version of their 4G Broadband Hub router. Currently available for £20/month (free for the first 3 months), it gives you unlimited 4G home broadband that you can use on up to 64 devices.
The new 4G Hub router (also known as the ZTE MF286D) supports download speeds of up to 600Mbps on 4G networks. In practice, the speeds available will depend on where you live but Three says a typical download speed might be 50Mbps to 100Mbps. The 4G Hub offers plug-and-play setup and also includes free next working day delivery.
In this article, we’ll review Three’s 4G Hub router. We’ll start by looking at how the 4G Hub works and at the best plans and offers currently available on it. We’ll also look at the technical specifications of the 4G Hub, along with the download speeds and coverage available on it.
|Prices From:||Free for three months, then £20 per month|
|Contract Length:||24 months|
|Download Speeds:||50-100Mbps (typical download speed)
Will vary based on the signal strength & coverage in your area
|Model Number:||ZTE MF286D|
|Coverage:||Selected UK postcodes (check your postcode)|
Three 4G Hub Plans
In the UK, Three currently offers unlimited 4G home broadband for £20/month (free for the first 3 months). This is available with no need for a landline.
You can get unlimited 4G home broadband with a 4G Hub router on the following plans:
|Service||Data Allowance||Contract Length||Upfront Price||Monthly Price|
Three 4G Hub
|Unlimited Data||24 month contract||£0||£20/month|
with 3 months free
Three 4G Hub
|Unlimited Data||12 month contract||£0||£25/month|
Three 4G Hub
|Unlimited Data||1 month contract||£28||£30/month|
If you replace your fixed-line home broadband connection, you may be able to cancel your landline if you don’t need it for another reason (e.g. for making phone calls). This can save you in the region of £20/month on line rental, potentially making it a cost-neutral solution to get 4G broadband on the 4G Hub.
If you’re living in a 5G coverage area, you may be offered Three’s 5G home broadband service instead (currently available from £20 per month).
Three 4G Hub Offers
As a special offer for October 2023, you can get Three’s 4G home broadband service free for the first three months. You’ll then pay £20 per month from month 4 onwards on your plan.
Three 4G Hub Router
In July 2021, Three launched their new 4G Hub router in the UK. Also known as the ZTE MF286D, it’s a major upgrade on the old 4G Hub router (the Huawei B535) that was previously offered to 4G home broadband customers.
When you plug in the 4G Hub router inside your home, it will connect to Three’s 4G mobile network. From that, it will produce a Wi-Fi network allowing your other devices to get connected to the internet.
The new 4G Hub router supports Category 12/13 LTE speeds (giving download speeds of up to 600Mbps and upload speeds of up to 100Mbps). In practice, however, it will rarely reach the top speed. Instead, Three says 50-100Mbps is more realistic as an average download speed. The 4G Hub router has a built-in 4G antenna but there’s also the option to attach your own external antenna using the 2 SMA ports on the back.
In terms of your home network, you’ll get support for Wi-Fi 5 technology (802.11a/b/g/n/ac). This allows up to 64 devices to be connected to your Wi-Fi network at the same time. There are also four Gigabit Ethernet sockets allowing you to connect wired devices to your home network.
The following table shows the full technical specifications of the new 4G Hub router:
|Three 4G Hub|
|Home Broadband Plans|
|Contract Length:||1-24 months|
|4G Connectivity:||Category 12 LTE|
|4G Download Speed:||Up to 600 Mbps download|
|4G Upload Speed:||Up to 100 Mbps upload|
|4G Bands:||LTE bands 1, 3, 7, 8, 20 & 32|
|External Antenna:||Yes, 2x SMA connectors|
|Home Network Connectivity|
|Wi-Fi Devices:||Up to 64 devices|
|Ethernet:||4 Gigabit Ethernet ports|
|Dimensions:||18 x 17 x 3 cm|
|More Information:||See three.co.uk|
Compared with the old 4G Hub router (Huawei B535-232), the main upgrade on the ZTE MF286D is the superior support for new 4G networking technology. Whereas the old 4G Hub router supported 2×2 MIMO and 64QAM, the new 4G Hub router supports 4×4 MIMO and 256QAM. In combination with the support for Three’s L-band spectrum (band 32), it should deliver much better home broadband performance.
Three 4G Hub Speeds
According to Three, the 4G Hub supports Category 12/13 LTE speeds. This means you’re able to get download speeds of up to 600Mbps and upload speeds of up to 100Mbps.
In practice, you’ll rarely be able to get the maximum possible download speed. This is because the speeds will vary depending on the signal strength and the available network capacity in your area. Instead, Three says an average download speed of 50Mbps to 100Mbps is a more realistic figure for customers using their new 4G Hub.
When your 4G Hub arrives in the post, you’ll be able to set it up simply by plugging it in at the wall. However, it’s normally recommended that you place it close to a window to maximise the 4G signal strength available. Ideally, you should choose an upstairs windows that faces in the direction of your nearest mobile mast. In some cases, adding an external antenna can also help to improve the strength of your 4G signal.
Coverage & Availability
At present, Three offers their 4G home broadband service in around 7.1 million UK homes. This is around 25% of all UK households. To check the availability of the service where you live, enter your postcode on the following page:
In some cases, you might not be able to get 4G home broadband, even if you’re within Three’s 4G network coverage area as shown on the coverage map. If this is the case, you’ll be shown the following error message:
We’re on our way
We’re busy expanding our network to connect more homes.
You then have two options if you still want to get 4G broadband on Three:
- You can get 4G broadband on the 4G Plus MiFi instead. The 4G Plus MiFi is a mobile broadband router with the advantage that you can use it more easily on-the-go. Unfortunately, speeds cap out at 300Mbps and the Wi-Fi signal also has more limited range (around 10m). However, it’s available to 99% of the UK’s population. Find out more about the 4G Plus MiFi.
- You can do-it-yourself using a unlocked 4G router. If you like, you can “build your own” 4G home broadband service. To do this, you’ll need to buy an unlocked 4G router like the Huawei B311 or the Huawei B535. You’ll then be able to put an unlimited data SIM card inside it. For instance, Three offers a 5G unlimited data SIM card for £18 per month.
Frequently Asked Questions
|What is the Three 4G Hub?||
The 4G Hub is Three’s most popular 4G home broadband router. It provides you with unlimited 4G home broadband and download speeds of up to 600Mbps. You can use it to get up to 64 devices connected to the internet at the same time.
|What 4G home broadband plans are available on the 4G Hub?||
Three currently offers the following 4G home broadband plans:
|What speeds can I get on the 4G Hub?||
Three’s 4G Hub (ZTE MF286D) supports download speeds of up to 600Mbps and upload speeds of up to 100Mbps. In practice, however, you’ll rarely get the maximum possible speed. Three says the average download speed on the service normally ranges between 50-100Mbps.
|Does the ZTE MF286D support 5G?||
No. Unfortunately, the 4G Hub (ZTE MF286D) does not support 5G connectivity. You’ll need to get Three’s 5G home broadband on the 5G Hub if you want access to faster 5G speeds.
|What coverage can I get on the 4G Hub?||
Three’s 4G home broadband service is currently available to around 25% of all UK households. You can check the availability of the service where you live by entering your postcode on Three’s website.