Three’s HomeFi gives you fast 4G home broadband with unlimited downloads for £23/month (£11.50 for the first 6 months).

4G technology has now developed to the point where it can feasibly be used as an alternative to fixed broadband delivered through a phone line or cable. Three’s HomeFi is the one of the first products to bring this to the mass-market, with unlimited data currently being offered for £23/month on a 24-month contract (£11.50/month for the first six months).

HomeFi technology is perfect if you’re looking for a fast and easy to setup home broadband connection. Because it uses 4G technology that’s delivered over the airwaves, it isn’t limited by the speeds you can get through a phone line or cable. Download speeds of up to 150Mbit/s are available on the service, making it a potential alternative to fibre broadband in both urban and rural areas. There’s also the flexibility to easily bring your connection with you at any time to another address without the need to set up a new connection.

In this article, we’ll review Three’s HomeFi service including the price plans available and the included wireless router. We’ll also compare the HomeFi service to traditional home broadband that’s delivered through a BT phone line or cable.

HomeFi Price Plans

For many people, 4G technology can now deliver similar or even faster download speeds compared to traditional fixed home broadband. Three’s HomeFi gives you 4G home broadband with a maximum download speed of up to 150Mbit/s, though speeds may be closer to 15-20Mbit/s in practice.

For customers wanting to replace their fixed home broadband connection, we recommend the unlimited data plan which costs £23/month (discounted to £11.50 for the first six months). You’ll get a HomeFi router included when you take this on a 24-month contract.

Alternatively, light users just wanting to dabble with 4G home broadband can choose a Pay As You Go tariff. The following table shows a full list of HomeFi price plans that are available at the time of writing:

Data Allowance Contract Length Upfront Price Monthly Price
Unlimited Data 24 month contract £0.00 £11.50/month for 6 months
then £23/month
Unlimited Data 12 month contract £29.00 £27/month
1GB Data (1 month validity) Pay As You Go £59.99 Top-up as required*
3GB Data (3 month validity) Pay As You Go £65.99 Top-up as required*
12GB Data (12 month validity) Pay As You Go £89.99 Top-up as required*
24GB Data (24 month validity) Pay As You Go £109.99 Top-up as required*

* Customers with a HomeFi on Pay As You Go can use the Data Reward plan. This offers 200MB of free data per month, with further usage costing 1p/MB.

See all Three HomeFi Deals →

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to make phone calls by plugging a phone into the HomeFi router. This is because Three have disabled this on the Huawei B311 router they provide. For this reason, you’ll need to use another service for your phone calls (e.g. you’ll need to use your mobile phone or a separate landline connection).

If you decide to replace your landline connection with a HomeFi, it might be possible for you to stop paying a rental charge on your landline. This should save you in the region of £20/month, possibly making the HomeFi close to a cost-neutral solution.

Huawei B311 Wireless Router

Three’s HomeFi service comes with an inclusive Huawei B311 4G LTE wireless router. The router allows you to share a wi-fi connection with up to 32 devices at one time using 802.11b/g/n technology. The router supports up to Category 4 LTE speeds (up to 150Mbit/s download and 50Mbit/s upload) but download speeds will typically be lower than this depending on your location (around 15Mbit/s). You can use either the built-in antenna, or you can connect the router to an external SMA antenna for better coverage and higher speeds.

The downside of the included Huawei B311 router is it only supports Category 4 LTE speeds (up to 150Mbit/s download). Calling functionality has also been disabled, and only 2.4GHz Wi-Fi technology is supported (802.11b/g/n technologies).

If you’d really like to get the most out of 4G home broadband, it might be worth investing in a more expensive router for higher speeds. For instance, the mid-range Huawei B525 router is available for £120 unlocked. It supports Category 6 LTE speeds (up to 300Mbit/s download), as well as the faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology on 5GHz spectrum. The B525 router also includes additional ethernet ports, and allows up to 64 devices to be connected at one time. It can be paired with an unlimited data SIM card from Three.

If you’re looking for a real high-end router, it might also be worth considering the Huawei B618. This is much more expensive at £250 unlocked, but supports Category 11 LTE speeds (up to 600Mbit/s). You won’t currently be able to benefit from this extra speed on Three’s network as they only support up to Category 6 speeds. However, the more expensive router allows you to future-proof yourself somewhat and means you can benefit from faster speeds when the service is rolled out.

If you’re looking for a 4G router that also incorporates the Amazon Alexa voice assistant, Three also retails the Huawei AI Cube B900 router. It supports Category 6 LTE speeds (up to 300Mbit/s) on up to 64 devices at one time. There is also an Ethernet socket for connecting wired devices, but the AI Cube lacks a SMA socket so you can’t connect an external antenna to it. You can get unlimited data on the AI Cube router for £26/month (£13/month for the first six months).

Alternatives

The main alternative to Three’s HomeFi service is currently the 4GEE Home Router from EE. This starts at £35/month for 50GB of data, increasing to £100/month for 500GB of data. In this way, EE’s 4G Home Router is far more expensive than Three’s HomeFi service. However, the service from EE might be preferable if you’re not able to get coverage from Three where you live.

The following table shows a list of price plans offered by EE on the 4GEE Home Router:

Data Allowance Contract Length Upfront Price Monthly Price
50GB Data 18 month contract £0.00 £35/month
100GB Data 18 month contract £0.00 £40/month
200GB Data 18 month contract £0.00 £50/month
300GB Data 18 month contract £0.00 £60/month
500GB Data 18 month contract £0.00 £70/month

EE’s 4G Home Router supports up to Category 6 LTE speeds (up to 300Mbit/s). It is only available on a Pay Monthly contract and is not available on Pay As You Go. For more information, see our full review of 4GEE Home.

In some areas, it may also be possible to get 4G home broadband through Vodafone’s GigaCube service. This starts from £35/month for 60GB of data, increasing up to £80/month for 300GB of data.

The following table shows a list of currently available Vodafone GigaCube price plans:

Data Allowance Contract Length Upfront Price Monthly Price
60GB Data 18 month contract £0.00 £35/month
60GB Data 1 month contract £120.00 £35/month
100GB Data 18 month contract £0.00 £45/month
100GB Data 1 month contract £120.00 £45/month
200GB Data 18 month contract £0.00 £60/month
200GB Data 1 month contract £120.00 £60/month
300GB Data 18 month contract £0.00 £80/month
300GB Data 1 month contract £120.00 £80/month

Relish previously offered 4G home broadband to customers in selected parts of London and Swindon. The company was acquired by Three in 2017 and was later rebranded as Three Broadband in April 2019.

Coverage

Three offers 99.8% population coverage on its 4G mobile network and 98.3% population coverage on its 3G network.

Before joining Three HomeFi, it’s strongly recommended 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) →

Customers with a Three HomeFi can also use their service abroad in other countries through the Go Roam offer.

For more information about the coverage on different mobile networks, please see our in-depth guide to mobile network coverage in the UK.

Comparison to Fixed Broadband

Three’s HomeFi service uses 4G mobile network technology to provide a broadband service. This differs from traditional “fixed” home broadband services which typically use either a phone line or cable.

The key advantages of 4G broadband compared to traditional fixed broadband are:

  • There’s no need to pay for a home phone line. Unless you’d like to keep your landline for another reason, it’s possible to do away with it entirely when you’re using 4G home broadband. This can save you in the region of £20/month on line rental.
  • 4G broadband is faster to set up. There’s no need to wait for a phone line to be installed or activated. This makes it perfect for some new-build houses, or if you’ve just moved to another address and don’t want to wait for broadband to be set up.
  • You can bring 4G broadband with you, wherever you go. With 4G broadband, you have the flexibility to bring your router with you to a different location. For instance, if you decide to go on a weekend away, simply bring your router with you and get an instant 4G broadband connection.
  • 4G & 5G broadband will eventually over-take fixed broadband in download speed. At present, 4G broadband is comparable in speed to a traditional fixed broadband connection. In the next few years, 5G technology is due to roll out with Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) playing a bit part of this. 5G FWA will offer increased network capacity along with download speeds of up to 1Gbit/s (1,000Mbit/s).
  • 4G broadband can be best in rural locations. In many rural locations, BT Openreach and Virgin Media have refused to install fibre broadband due to the prohibitive costs. In such areas, it is often far more economical to install a 4G mast and to deliver high-speed broadband over a 4G connection.

However, there are also some key disadvantages of 4G broadband at present:

  • 4G broadband is more easily affected by network congestion and poor weather. For instance, you may see a reduction in your download speed due to poor weather conditions or lots of other people using the service in your area. This tends to be less of a problem on traditional fixed broadband services.
  • Download speeds vary depending on location and proximity to nearby masts. For this reason, the maximum download speed of 150Mbit/s can rarely be obtained. You can maximise your download speed by placing the router close to a window, and installing an external SMA antenna.
  • Latency or “ping” is higher on 4G broadband. Latency (also known as the “lag” or “ping”) refers to the amount of time it takes for data to travel up and then back down from the internet. On a 4G connection, typical latency is around ~50ms (0.05 seconds). Meanwhile, fixed broadband connections typically offer lower latency of around 10-20ms (0.01-0.02 seconds). This shouldn’t noticeably affect things like browsing the internet or watching online videos, but it may affect fast-paced online gaming. With 5G technology, latency should reduce to around 1ms (0.001 seconds).
  • 4G broadband is typically more expensive. Historically, 4G broadband connections have been much more expensive than fixed broadband connections. For instance, it’s normally possible to get unlimited data on a fixed broadband connection for around £20 to £25 per month. With Three’s HomeFi service, 4G broadband is now comparable in price but other providers are still much more expensive (e.g. EE’s 4G Home Router starts from £35/month for 50GB of data, which is far more expensive than fixed broadband alternatives).

More Information

For more information about the HomeFi service, please see Three’s official webpage.

Your Comments 163 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 163 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • Hi Ken, great article, many thanks for publishing it.
    I’m very tempted as we have no superfast (BT or Virgin) and no plans for them to install it, so Three 4G Home Broadband sounds great.
    Is there any difference (technically) between the Three Home Broadband SIM and the standalone unlimited data SIM (that you recommend with the better router, the B525).
    Would both automatically upgrade to 5G when rolled out (we’re in Harrogate so not holding my breath for this)?

    Pushing my luck here now, but do you know of any way to find out where my Three mast is? (I was looking at the antennae and the Poynting Omni (product no. ending 1) recommended another one (product no. ending in 2) if you could point it in the right direction).

    Apologies for the basic questions – I’m a technical Luddite!

    • Hi James,
      Thanks for your comment. No, there’s no real difference between the two. With the Huawei B525 and the unlimited data SIM card, you’re really just building a “do-it-yourself” home broadband solution (similar to buying a SIM-free smartphone and then getting a SIM-only deal for it). You’ll pay a bit more upfront for the router, but I personally think it’s worthwhile given you’re getting much better hardware.
      As far as I know, Three will be enabling 5G coverage at no extra cost on all of their SIM cards. You’ll just need to upgrade your router at a later date for one that supports the faster 5G coverage.
      Finally, with regards to finding your nearest mast, I don’t think there’s an official solution for this. However, many readers of this website have used CellMapper.net quite successfully to optimise their 4G home broadband set-up.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Just started using the HomeFi since fixed line contract was up and thought it was worth a try. Speeds an average but perfectly usable 15-20mbps both down and up, but unfortunately in my first 24 hours of use, the router has needed resetting twice due to the network just ‘hanging’… (all lights still on, good coverage, devices still connected, just zero data coming to them from the router). Doesn’t bode well and if it keeps up will need to look for alternatives!

    • To reply to my own comment, I called Three and apparently there are known software problems with this router which cause the dropouts. They are promising an update ‘within weeks’, but looking elsewhere online I see that others were promised the same, several weeks ago, and of course there is only a 14-day returns period.

      I would advise everyone not to buy this: if you want a package with Three, go for the AI Cube which is slightly more expensive but doesn’t have issues. I personally will be buying a router outright and building my own package with unlimited data SIM.

  • Mairi Argyll said:

    Hi ken and thank you for your marvellous site. I see the mast from my house and have always thought a landline is heading rapidly towards obsolete technology so was needing reassurance before taking the plunge and getting Home Fi Huawei 311.
    What I would like to know :-
    Can I access through my smart tv Netflix etc at the same time looking at my iPad/ laptop ? If I have visitors can they also use their laptops at the same time? Is this included in the unlimited data deal?
    Would the Huawei B525 be a better option? Overall I use internet 1/2 hours a day which is minimal but obviously increases with visitors staying occasionally
    Thank you!

    • Hi Mairi,
      Thanks for your comment, and for the kind words about the website!
      1) Yes, you can use your Smart TV, iPad, laptop, etc as normal with the HomeFi. The WiFi network that your devices see is exactly the same. The only thing that changes is the technology used by your router to connect to the internet (4G rather than ADSL on a landline). Similarly, visitors can connect to your wi-fi network as well, and this is included within the unlimited data allowance.
      2) If you’re willing to spend the little bit extra, I’d personally recommend going for the Huawei B525. The router will cost you £122 upfront, and then you can get an unlimited data SIM card for £20/month. It works out a little more expensive over the 24 months, but I personally think it’s worthwhile given the better router, the ability to make phone calls through your router, etc.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

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