Three offers 4G and 5G home broadband from £20/month without the need for a phone line. See how their broadband plans compare to rival ISPs.

In the UK, Three now offers a home broadband service from £20/month without the need for a phone line. Using wireless 4G and 5G technology, you can get download speeds that are comparable or even faster than a fibre broadband connection.

A key advantage of Three’s home broadband service is you can set it up in an instant, simply by plugging your router into a wall socket. There are no engineer visits required and your router is delivered on the next working day. You also have the flexibility to bring your broadband connection with you to other places, and download speeds aren’t constrained by what you can get through your Openreach landline or cable.

In this article, we’ll review the Three Broadband service. We’ll start by looking at the home broadband plans that are available from Three and how the different router options compare. We’ll then look at download speeds and limitations on the service, before comparing Three Broadband to rival ISPs. Finally, we’ll look at the coverage that’s available on Three Broadband and at their upcoming rollout of 5G.

Three Home Broadband Plans

In the UK, Three offers home broadband with unlimited data from £20/month.

Unlike most other internet service providers (including BT, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media), Three’s home broadband service doesn’t rely on fixed-line technology. Rather than using an Openreach phone line or a Virgin Media cable to deliver broadband to your home, Three’s home broadband service uses wireless technology (either 4G or 5G).

With Three’s home broadband service, you can normally get comparable or even faster download speeds than a fibre broadband connection. As you’re bypassing the BT Openreach and Virgin Media networks, your download speeds also won’t be constrained by what your landline can support. Many people decide to cancel their landline after getting Three Broadband, potentially saving about £20/month on line rental.

As Three’s home broadband service doesn’t rely on a fixed connection, you also have the flexibility to bring it with you to other places. For instance, this is perfect on weekends away or when you’re moving to a different address.

When choosing a Three home broadband plan, the most important thing to decide is which router or service you’d like. There’s a choice of three home broadband routers at present: the HomeFi Plus (Huawei B535), the AI Cube (Huawei B900) or Three’s 5G Home service.

The following table shows a side-by-side comparison of the three routers:

Three HomeFi Plus
(Huawei B535)
Three AI Cube
(Huawei B900)
Three 5G Home
(Huawei 5G CPE Pro)
Home Broadband Plans
Price:From £20/monthFrom £25/monthFrom £35/month
Data:UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Unlimited Data:£20/month£25/month£35/month
Contract Length:1-24 months1-24 months12 months
Mobile Connectivity
5G Connectivity:--Up to 2330 Mbit/s download
4G Connectivity:Category 7 LTECategory 6 LTE-
4G Download Speed:Up to 300 Mbit/s downloadUp to 300 Mbit/s downloadUp to 1600 Mbit/s download
4G Upload Speed:Up to 100 Mbit/s uploadUp to 50 Mbit/s uploadUp to 150 Mbit/s upload
4G Bands:LTE bands 1, 3, 7, 8, 20, 28, 32 & 38LTE bands 1, 3, 7, 8, 20, 32 & 38LTE bands 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 18, 19, 20, 28, 32, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42 & 43
External Antenna:Yes, 2x SMA connectorsNoYes, 2x TS-9 connectors
Home Network Connectivity
Dual-Band Wi-Fi:YesYesYes
Wi-Fi Connectivity:802.11a/b/g/n/ac802.11a/b/g/n/ac802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax
Wi-Fi Devices:Up to 64 devicesUp to 64 devicesUp to 64 devices
Ethernet:4 Gigabit Ethernet ports1 Gigabit Ethernet port2 Gigabit Ethernet ports
Other
Model:Huawei B535Huawei B900Huawei 5G CPE Pro
Colour:WhiteWhiteWhite
Other Features:-360° Alexa smart speaker-
Review:Three HomeFi Plus ReviewThree AI Cube ReviewThree 5G Home Review

All of Three’s home broadband plans include access to unlimited data. Unlike some other ISPs, you won’t get things like a landline or a TV subscription in your package. It might be possible to cancel your landline if you’re using Three for home broadband, typically saving you in the region of £20/month.

Free next working day delivery is included on all of Three’s home broadband routers, providing you order the service before 4pm. For Three’s 5G Home service, there’s a same-day delivery option in Central London for an extra £20 as long as you order before 3pm.

Huawei B535 HomeFi Plus

The Huawei B535 (also known as the HomeFi Plus or WebBox) is Three’s newest 4G home broadband router. Compared to the older Huawei B311 router, it gives you much more in terms of connectivity options.

For starters, the Huawei B535 supports Category 7 LTE technology, with maximum download speeds of 300Mbit/s. In addition, you have 802.11ac dual-band wi-fi, giving you better performance on your home wi-fi network. Up to 64 devices can be connected to your Huawei B535 (versus 32 devices on the original HomeFi router). The Huawei B535 router also allows you to connect more wired devices, having four Gigabit Ethernet sockets (versus 1 on the original HomeFi). There are also two SMA sockets for attaching an external 4G antenna.

The following table shows a list of home broadband plans with the Huawei B535 router:

ServiceData AllowanceContract LengthUpfront PriceMonthly Price

Three HomeFi Plus
Unlimited Data24 month contract£0£20/month
with special offer

Three HomeFi Plus
Unlimited Data12 month contract£29£27/month

Three HomeFi Plus
Unlimited Data1 month contract£79£31/month

For more information, see our full review of the Huawei B535.

Huawei AI Cube B900

The Huawei AI Cube B900 is Three’s two-in-one 4G home broadband router. Designed to sit in your living room, it serves two different functions beng both a 4G home broadband router and an Amazon Alexa smart speaker.

In terms of connectivity options, there’s a slight downgrade from the Huawei B535. You’ve got Category 6 LTE speeds (download speeds can still go up to 300Mbit/s, but upload speeds are slightly slower at up to 50Mbit/s). You’ll get just one Gigabit Ethernet socket, as opposed to four, and you’ll also lose the ability to connect an external antenna to it.

The Amazon Alexa smart speaker in the AI Cube functions in much the same way as an Amazon Echo speaker. There are four built-in microphones with far-field voice recognition and a 360° speaker with a 400ml sound cavity. You can use the Alexa functionality in your AI Cube to listen to music, to make internet-based phone calls and to control your other smart home devices.

The following table shows a list of AI Cube price plans on Three:

ServiceData AllowanceContract LengthUpfront PriceMonthly Price

Three AI Cube
Unlimited Data24 month contract£0£25/month

Three AI Cube
Unlimited Data12 month contract£49£32/month

Three AI Cube
Unlimited Data1 month contract£149£32/month

For more information, see our review of the Huawei AI Cube on Three.

Three 5G Home

If you’re living in a 5G coverage area, you can also get Three’s 5G-based home broadband service. In theory, Three’s 5G home broadband router can offer gigabit download speeds, but Three says an average download speed of 100Mbit/s is more realistic for daily use.

At present, Three’s 5G Home service is only available in parts of London. Three says they’re planning to roll this out to a total of 25 towns and cities by the end of 2019.

You’ll pay £35/month for unlimited data on Three’s 5G home broadband service. There’s a 12-month contract when signing up for the service. One aspect where the 5G service differs from the 4G-based services is that the 5G router is actually leased from Three. You’ll need to return it when cancelling the service, or you’ll need to pay an additional fee of £105 to keep it.

ServiceData AllowanceContract LengthUpfront PriceMonthly Price

Three 5G Home
Unlimited Data12 month contract£0£35/month

You’ll get a Huawei 5G CPE Pro router to use with Three’s 5G Home service.

For more information, see the Three Broadband website or read our full review of Three’s 5G home broadband.

Huawei HomeFi B311

Prior to September 2019, Three also offered the Huawei B311, their original HomeFi broadband router. The Huawei B311 is no longer available to new Three Broadband customers but many existing customers may still be using one.

With support for Category 4 LTE download speeds (up to 150Mbit/s), the Huawei B311 allowed you to share your home broadband connection with up to 32 devices.

The original HomeFi router supported 802.11b/g/n wi-fi technology. While this wasn’t the most modern version of wi-fi technology, it should still give reasonable performance on a small number of devices. There was also a single Gigabit Ethernet socket for connecting a wired device to your home network and a single SMA antenna socket for attaching an external 4G antenna.

Show full specifications for Huawei B311 HomeFi ↓

Three HomeFi
(Huawei B311)
Home Broadband Plans
Mobile Connectivity
4G Connectivity:Category 4 LTE
4G Download Speed:Up to 150 Mbit/s download
4G Upload Speed:Up to 50 Mbit/s upload
4G Bands:LTE bands 1, 3, 7, 8 & 20
External Antenna:Yes, 1x SMA connector
Home Network Connectivity
Dual-Band Wi-Fi:No
Wi-Fi Connectivity:802.11b/g/n
Wi-Fi Devices:Up to 32 devices
Ethernet:1 Gigabit Ethernet port
Other
Model:Huawei B311
Colour:Black
More Information:See three.co.uk

For more information, read our full review of the HomeFi service.

Three Broadband Speeds

4G & 5G Broadband Speeds

Three’s 4G and 5G home broadband download speeds are often comparable or even faster than fixed-line home broadband services.

The absolute maximum download speeds supported are 300Mbit/s on the Huawei B535 HomeFi+ and AI Cube B900 routers. With the 5G Home router, it’s theoretically possible to get up to gigabit download speeds when connected to a 5G network.

Real-World Speeds

Whilst the maximum download speeds sound fairly impressive, actual real-world download speeds will normally be much lower than this. For instance, it depends on the strength of the mobile signal you receive (and whether it’s a 3G, 4G or 5G connection). Some people might live in a blackspot with no coverage whereas others may live in an area with really strong coverage.

It’s best to use Three’s online coverage map to see whether a signal is available where you live.

Check Three Broadband Coverage →

The position of the router in your home can also make a big difference to download speeds. Normally it’s best to have your router on an upstairs windowsill, ideally facing in the direction of your nearest mast. Having an external antenna can also help here, by giving you a stronger 4G or 5G signal. External factors like the weather or congestion on nearby masts can also affect the download speeds you receive on the service.

Because the download speeds you get can vary based on multiple different factors, Three generally takes a fairly conservative approach when it comes to marketing their download speeds. They normally say you’ll get around 14Mbit/s on 4G home broadband and around 100Mbit/s on 5G home broadband. This is based on peak-hour download speeds from 8pm-10pm. In practice, however, you might be able to get higher download speeds than this (or lower download speeds if you’re in an area with poor network coverage).

Comparison to Fixed-Line Speeds

For comparison, traditional fixed-line ISPs like BT Broadband normally advertise a standard broadband (ADSL) package with average download speeds of around 10Mbit/s. The average download speeds on Three’s 4G home broadband service should easily surpass this.

Fibre broadband packages using the Openreach FTTC network (including BT, Plusnet, Sky and TalkTalk) normally offer average download speeds of 36Mbit/s or 67Mbit/s. Comparable download speeds can sometimes be obtained on 4G broadband if you’re in an area with good coverage. Alternatively, 5G broadband should easily beat this.

It’s worth noting Virgin Media offers higher download speeds on their cable-based network (up to 362Mbit/s at the time of writing).

Latency

Latency refers to the amount of time it takes for your device to send information to the internet and for a response to then be received on your device. It’s also known as “lag” or “ping” if you’re familiar with online gaming.

On Three’s 4G home broadband service, the typical latency is around 50ms (0.05 seconds). This is higher than traditional fixed-line ADSL or fibre broadband services, where the latency is about 20ms (0.02 seconds).

For things like browsing the internet or watching TV shows, the extra wait of around 0.03 seconds will barely be noticeable. However, it could affect some fast-paced online multiplayer games like Call of Duty, Halo, or Counter-Strike on your Xbox, PlayStation or PC.

With 5G broadband, the latency should be comparable with fixed-line broadband.

Download Limits & Fair Usage

Three offers unlimited data on all of their home broadband packages so you won’t need to worry about how much data you’re using. There are, however, some fair usage policies that it’s worth being aware of on the service.

On Three’s 4G home broadband plans, there’s a 1,000GB (1TB) monthly threshold which is used by Three to identify non-permitted commercial usage of the service. In addition, whilst it’s possible to use your broadband service abroad through the Go Roam offer, this is capped at 19GB per month in Europe and 12GB per month outside of Europe.

On Three’s 5G home broadband plans, there’s an acceptable usage policy (AUP) but Three hasn’t explicitly defined what this corresponds to. There are no set limits on how much you can download, but Three says they reserve the right to suspend your usage of the service or to apply traffic management if your usage “either exceeds that reasonably expected of someone using the Service or materially affects other users’ enjoyment of the Service, or has an adverse impact on our network”.

Comparison to Alternatives

Fixed Broadband Providers

Three’s home broadband service is best compared against traditional fixed-line providers like BT, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media.

At the time of writing, BT is charging £29.99/month for both their entry-level ADSL and fibre broadband packages (with an 18-month contract on ADSL and a 24-month contract on fibre broadband). Other providers may offer lower prices (e.g. Plusnet charges £19.99/month for ADSL and £23.99/month for fibre broadband).

Three’s 4G-based home broadband service starts from £20/month so is fairly competitive in terms of price against the fixed-line providers.

See our in-depth guide for more information on the advantages and disadvantages of 4G & 5G broadband compared to fixed-line broadband.

Alternatively, for a list of the latest available fixed-line broadband deals, please see the BT, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media websites.

Other 4G & 5G Broadband Providers

Besides Three, Vodafone and EE also offer 4G and 5G home broadband in the UK.

Vodafone offers 4G & 5G home broadband through their GigaCube service, with prices starting from £30/month (£50/month if you’d like access to unlimited data). The following table shows GigaCube price plans from Vodafone:

ServiceData AllowanceContract LengthUpfront PriceMonthly Price

Vodafone GigaCube 4G
100GB Data18 month contract£0£30/month

Vodafone GigaCube 5G
100GB Data18 month contract£100£30/month

Vodafone GigaCube 4G
200GB Data18 month contract£0£40/month

Vodafone GigaCube 5G
200GB Data18 month contract£100£40/month

Vodafone GigaCube 4G
Unlimited Data18 month contract£0£50/month

Vodafone GigaCube 5G
Unlimited Data18 month contract£50£50/month

Meanwhile, EE offers 4G home broadband from £25/month with their 4GEE Home Router. It’s possible to get up to 500GB of data per month, but you’ll need to pay substantially more for this each month.

ServiceData AllowanceContract LengthUpfront PriceMonthly Price

4GEE Home
10GB Data18 month contract£129.99£25/month

4GEE Home
100GB Data18 month contract£0£35/month

4GEE Home
50GB Data18 month contract£0£35/month

4GEE Home
100GB Data1 month contract£100£35/month

4GEE Home
50GB Data1 month contract£100£35/month

4GEE Home
200GB Data18 month contract£0£40/month

4GEE Home
200GB Data1 month contract£100£40/month

4GEE Home
300GB Data18 month contract£0£45/month

4GEE Home
300GB Data1 month contract£100£45/month

4GEE Home
500GB Data18 month contract£0£50/month

4GEE Home
500GB Data1 month contract£100£50/month
To show you the most relevant plans, 5 similar but more expensive plans have been hidden. .

If you’d like 5G broadband on EE, you can get the 5GEE WiFi service with the HTC 5G Hub router. This starts from £50/month for 50GB of data as follows:

ServiceData AllowanceContract LengthUpfront PriceMonthly Price

5GEE WiFi
50GB Data24 month contract£100£50/month

5GEE WiFi
100GB Data24 month contract£100£75/month

For more information, see our overview of 4G and 5G home broadband services in the UK. Alternatively, see our in-depth reviews on the Vodafone GigaCube, 4GEE Home and 5GEE WiFi.

Coverage

Unlike most other internet service providers, Three’s home broadband service doesn’t rely on Openreach or Virgin Media cable connections. For this reason, the coverage profile for Three Broadband is very different from other ISPs. You might still be able to get Three Broadband where you live even if you’re unable to get fibre broadband from any other provider.

3G & 4G Coverage

Three Broadband currently offers 99.8% population coverage across the UK. This includes 99.8% coverage on 4G, as well as 98.7% coverage on 3G.

Before joining Three Broadband as a new customer, it’s strongly recommended that you check the coverage in your area. You can do this by entering your postcode on Three’s online coverage map.

Check Three Coverage (three.co.uk) →

For more information, please see our full review of the coverage on Three.

5G Coverage

At the time of writing, Three’s 5G home broadband service is only available in parts of London. The best way to check whether 5G broadband is available where you live is by using the address checker on Three’s website.

Check Three 5G Broadband Availability (three.co.uk) →

Once you’ve entered your postcode and address, you’ll be told about the plans that are available in your area. You’ll be offered a 4G broadband plan if 5G coverage isn’t yet available where you live.

Three says they’re planning to roll out 5G coverage across a total of 25 towns and cities by the end of 2019. The following table shows a list of locations that currently have a confirmed launch date for 5G:

Now Live1 towns and cities are live on Three 5G (November 2019)
London
Planned &
Announced
24 towns and cities planned
Birmingham, Bolton, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Reading, Rotherham, Sheffield, Slough, Sunderland, Wolverhampton (End of 2019)

There’s more information about the 5G roll-out on Three’s website. Alternatively, see our in-depth guide to the coverage on Three.

International Roaming

On Three’s 4G home broadband services (the HomeFi, Huawei B535 and AI Cube), it’s possible to use your service abroad in 71 destinations at no extra charge. This is available as part of Three’s Go Roam offer.

If you’re travelling inside of Europe, it’s possible to use up to 19GB of data abroad each month. If you exceed this limit, a regulated surcharge will apply (currently 0.44p/MB, except from countries where VAT does not apply in which case you’ll pay 0.37p/MB).

If you’re travelling to a Go Roam country outside of Europe, it’s possible to use up to 12GB of data abroad each month. If you go over the 12GB limit, international roaming will be disabled for the rest of the month.

For more information, see our full review of Three’s Go Roam service.

International roaming is not currently available on Three’s 5G home broadband service.

Relish Broadband

In 2017, Three purchased the Relish Broadband service. Relish offered 4G home broadband to customers in Central London and Swindon. In April 2019, Relish was re-branded as Three Broadband.

In some parts of London and Swindon, it’s still possible to sign up for the old Relish Broadband service (now known as Three Home Unlimited). The service comes with a 4G Wi-Fi Hub, which is sometimes also referred to as the Three Home Hub or Indoor Hub.

You’ll pay £22/month for the ex-Relish Broadband service with no upfront cost on a 12-month contract (or with a £70 upfront cost on a one-month rolling contract). The service comes with a Verve VH510B router, which allows you to connect up to 32 devices to the internet. Download speeds of up to 40Mbit/s are available on the service, with average speeds clocking in at around 20Mbit/s.

Show full specifications for Three Home Hub ↓

Three Home Hub
(Verve VH510B)
Home Broadband Plans
Mobile Connectivity
4G Connectivity:Category 4 LTE
4G Download Speed:Up to 150 Mbit/s download
4G Upload Speed:Up to 50 Mbit/s upload
4G Bands:LTE bands 42 & 43
External Antenna:No
Home Network Connectivity
Dual-Band Wi-Fi:No
Wi-Fi Connectivity:802.11b/g/n
Wi-Fi Devices:Up to 32 devices
Ethernet:4 Gigabit Ethernet ports
Other
Model:Verve VH510B
Colour:Black
More Information:See three.co.uk

For most people, we’d now probably recommend going one for one of Three’s newer routers if the service is available in your area.

For instance, the Huawei B535 is available for £20/month (£2/month less than the Relish 4G Wi-Fi Hub). The Huawei B535 supports Category 7 LTE download speeds (up to 300Mbit/s) along with 802.11ac dual-band wi-fi.

More Information

For more information, please see the official Three Broadband website.

Your Comments 9 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 9 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • I see Three have now discontinued the Huawei B535 router completely now, and it appears they now only offer the HomeFi unit and the portable E5573bs-322 4G router.

    As an existing Three customer I “was” going to ditch Virgin next week and sign up to the B535 £18 a month 2 year deal, but as of this morning its no longer listed.

    If they’re no longer providing a half decent router I’m now wondering if I can just go out and buy a decent router and just get a SIM deal from them. Probably need to give them a call!

    • Hi Buggerlugs,
      Thanks for your comment. Three have actually done some rebranding lately, which has caused a little bit of confusion! The old HomeFi (Huawei B311) has now been discontinued. It’s been replaced by the Huawei B535 which they’re now calling the more consumer friendly “HomeFi Plus”. Nothing has changed here, and it’s still the old Huawei B535 that we know and love, but with a new name to capitalise on the brand equity Three has built on “HomeFi”.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,

    Really great site with loads of useful info!

    I’m thinking about trying to get Three’s 5G Hub. It doesn’t look like I can get 5G yet, but my logic is that I need a mobile broadband solution now and Three’s 5g should be coming to my London E2 address soon. I wanted to ask if you think I would get faster 4G speeds with Three’s 5G Hub compared with a 4G router? I’m wondering if the 5G Hub router works anything like the pro Netgear m1 and increases 4G speeds?

    Thank you!

    • Hi Paul,
      Thanks for your comment. The 5G router does have the potential of higher 4G download speeds (in theory, up to 1600Mbit/s). In practice, however, I don’t think the 4G network is currently set up to allow you to benefit from this. It does of course help to future-proof your solution a little, however. One potential issue is that I don’t think you’ll be able to buy the Three 5G Home router unless you already live in an area that has 5G already. You could decide to side-step this issue with an unlocked Huawei 5G CPE Pro router, albeit with an upfront cost of £399.
      Ken

      • You are right, Ken – Three wouldn’t let me sign up until 5G is in my area. They said that if I get their 4G broadband now, once I have access to 5G, I could potentially upgrade after three months as that’s the deal with their pay monthly phone contracts, but this hasn’t been confirmed yet. They seem a bit unprepared with how to deal with this situation…

        “the 4G network is (not) currently set up to allow you to benefit from this” – is this the same for all of the network providers, Ken? Is there any way to get faster 4G broadband? Would the pro Netgear m1 that O2 is selling not get faster 4G speeds?

        • Hi Paul,
          Yes, I’m not quite sure how much that has been thought through. The only workarounds I’m aware of would be to get 4G broadband on a one-month contract (you can sell the router at a later date to get some money back), or you can buy an unlocked Huawei 5G CPE Pro router pairing it with one of Three’s SIM cards for unlimited data from £20/month.
          With regards to your other question, I think EE and Vodafone have historically supported up to Category 9 speeds, whereas Three and O2 have supported up to Category 6 speeds. Things are obviously changing very quickly however. For instance, Three is rolling out 1400MHz L-Band spectrum which should deliver a further boost to download speeds. With regards to the Netgear M1 that O2 are selling, I don’t believe that O2 have ever supported some of the faster speeds available on that device.
          Ken

  • Thanks for the information. I just checked three.co.uk and couldn’t find Huawei 535 webbox. Only 311 or AI cube deal? In this case, which one shall I choose?

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