Three’s HomeFi gives you fast 4G home broadband with unlimited downloads for £22/month.

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 £22/month on a 24-month contract.

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 £22/month on a 24-month contract (with a free router included).

Alternatively, light users just wanting to dabble with 4G home broadband can choose a shorter 40GB plan or 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 £22/month
40GB Data 24 month contract £0.00 £23/month
40GB Data 12 month contract £0.00 £24/month
40GB Data 1 month contract £60.00 £24/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.

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 £25/month.

Alternatives

EE offers 4G home broadband from £40/month with 100GB data.

The main alternative to Three’s HomeFi service is currently the 4GEE Home Router from EE. This starts at £40/month for 100GB 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 4G Home Router:

Data Allowance Contract Length Upfront Price Monthly Price
100GB Data 18 month contract £0.00 £40/month
100GB Data 1 month contract £100.00 £40/month
200GB Data 18 month contract £0.00 £60/month
200GB Data 1 month contract £100.00 £60/month
300GB Data 18 month contract £0.00 £65/month
300GB Data 1 month contract £100.00 £65/month
500GB Data 18 month contract £0.00 £100/month
500GB Data 1 month contract £100.00 £100/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.

Relish also offers 4G home broadband to customers in selected parts of London and Swindon. The company was acquired by Three in 2017 and will become a fully-fledged part of the Three network 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 £40/month for 100GB 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 42 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 42 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • Philip McMullan said:

    Ken
    Do you know if the Three 4G Unlimited data offer at £22 per month will work in Marbella Spain and just as a matter of interest why would anyone opt for the offer below at £23 per month for 40GB, both 24 month contract terms. I must be missing something..

    • Hi Philip,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, it should work absolutely fine in Spain, subject to the fair usage policies described here. If you use more than 19GB of data in Europe during one month, you’ll be surcharged at the rate of 0.5p/MB. If you spend more of your time in Spain than you do in the UK, a surcharge could also apply for your usage.
      With regards to the 40GB plan, you’re right that there’s absolutely no good reason to choose this plan. It was previously the largest data plan that Three offered on the HomeFi before they launched the unlimited data plan around one month ago. Now you can get unlimited data for £22/month, there’s no good reason to choose the 40GB plan.
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

  • right just a update took the plunge after learning there a 14 days to try it and can cancel in those 14 days and only get charged the days you use it not the full 24 months etc but you will after 14 days and going to deiced next week to keep it or not but so far going very well
    was on ADSL 9-10mbps download and 0-1mbps upload and now getting 20-60mpbs the speeds do go up faster if its a large file to download and uploads is around 5-30mbps and ping is around 40-60 did a live stream from my ps4 in 1080p 60fps no problems
    my ps4 downloaded 1GB of a large game in 4mins 11secs
    as for gaming tried Mario kart 7&8 and destiny 2 crucible seem ok during the weekday no problems (MK8 and the switch weak wifi doesn’t help lol) but going to be playing all 3 during the weekend the busiest and see how it goes will give a update in a few days
    also going to trying to stream on now TV and Netflix this weekend too see how it goes

    right here something i am wondering my router is getting 3 bars but i am looking into getting a 4G external antenna one you place on a window or on the inside of a window seal will it in-cress the download and upload BUT also will it reduce the ping?
    btw if any one is after one the router only has one external antenna port on the back under the cover

  • Possibly a daft question (sorry) but when you are talking about unlimited data SIM cards, do you mean the one sold for mobile phones? Does a mobile phone SIM card therefore work in an unlocked Cat6 LTE router?
    (Just because I can’t find an unlimited deal in the mobile broadband SIM section)
    Thank you 🙂

    • Hi Bex,
      Yes, the mobile phone SIM cards can be used in an unlocked mobile broadband router. The main difference is you’ll also get inclusive minutes and texts on the mobile phone SIM card, whereas the mobile broadband SIM cards only include data. If you buy something like the unlocked Huawei B525, you can plug in a phone to use it for phone calls.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Paul Custance said:

    Thanks for a great review, came across it on the off chance after getting a little frustrated by my Boosty plus mobile phone setup. At the right location in the house I can get 30-40mps, so going to see how the router does and then look at maybe purchasing an external arial. On that not I’ve not experience with external antennas, would an omni-directional or directional be better? Suppose I should probably find the location of the mast first!

    Thanks for a great review.

    • Hi Paul,
      Thanks for the feedback! I think there are pros and cons of both omni-directional and directional antenna. A directional antenna would be best if you’re living in a rural area where there is only marginal coverage from one mast (albeit, you’ll need to do a bit of work in order to find it first). If you’re living in an area with multiple phone masts available, you’ll probably be better off with an omni-directional antenna. There’s a nice article here on the Poynting website which I think covers the pros and cons of each type really well.
      Ken

  • Hello I am interested but got a few questions for users who have the unlimited option is there a daily cap after you use the cap does it slows you down?
    Is there a monthly cap because on 3 t&c http://www.three.co.uk/terms-conditions/unlimited-add-on I am not sure this apply to homefi it says there a cap of 1000gb
    Does it work well with sky+HD box?
    Does the binge option include Netflix and now TV?
    Does it work well with online gaming like destiny, Mario kart etc

    • Hi James,
      Thanks for your comment. To answer a few of your questions:
      1) There shouldn’t be a daily cap after which your usage is slowed down.
      2) Go Binge gives you zero-rated data for Netflix, but it doesn’t actually include a subscription to it. As this plan has unlimited data anyway to start with, it probably doesn’t make a huge amount of difference! Now TV isn’t included in Go Binge.
      3. The latency/ping on 4G mobile broadband services probably still isn’t ideal for fast-paced online gaming services. However, I’ll let others comment as they can probably provide more feedback on usable this is in practice.
      Ken

  • How comparable is this to virgin media? I live in Bristol but cannot get BT fibre where I am so the only real option is Virgin Media. I have a basic package of 100mb and there are 4 of us using the broadband I also work from home so would the 3 deal be any good? Don’t want to commit to 24 months if not any good in my area. Thanks

    • Hi Lea,
      Great question! Unfortunately, this is a really tricky question to answer, as the speeds you’ll get will really depend on local coverage & congestion. The best way to this might be to order an unlimited data SIM card from SMARTY (it’s £25/month on a 1-month rolling basis). SMARTY is the low-cost sub-brand of Three, and uses the Three network. This would allow you to test out coverage, speeds, etc before committing to a full 24-month contract on the HomeFi.
      Ken

  • Is the 20 pound unlimited sim only likely tcome back on offer any time soon? I should have took the plunge but delayed too long. I’m interested but would want the better router. At 27 a month I could get virgin vivid 50 for 12 months. But if the 20 pound sim was back soon I’d hold off and wait.

    • Hi Pete,
      Thanks for your comment. I know Three do that Three rotate different offers at different time, but unfortunately, it’s difficult to know whether the £20 unlimited SIM card will come back & when it will come back if it does. I believe their current promotion is on the 100GB SIM card, which is reduced to £21/month.
      Sorry!
      Ken

  • Hi Deltacypher,

    I am on Three with Unlimited Everything, and the Unlimited tethering is back as they could not restrict tethering anymore by law.

    I am on Sky Fibre Pro but never use my landline, so come July when the contract is up I am jumping in to this!

    4G speeds are good where I am!

  • Thanks for the great article. I’ve just moved into a new house and I’m thinking seriously about getting homefi instead of broadband. Broadband options seem expensive for decent speeds and there are many poor reviews related to installation dramas and reliability.

    I noticed three homefi mention that calling or voip is disabled. Does that mean that Skype, whatsapp etc would also be blocked?

    Also, iPhones and iPads restrict some activity on a mobile data connection, like app downloads, system updates and cloud backups. They also recognise tethering links (vs. wifi). Do you know if these restrictions would exist on a homefi device/setup?

    Thanks

    • Hi HertsUser,
      Many thanks for your comment. By calling functionality, this actually refers to the built-in capability of the router. Usually, if you’re buying a 4G router from elsewhere (e.g. from Amazon), you can plug-in a telephone to use the calling capabilities of your SIM card. The phone number that’ll be used by this is the phone number associated with the SIM card in your HomeFi, and it’ll work in a very similar way to how you make phone calls on a traditional landline.
      With regards to making voice-over-IP phone calls using other devices (e.g. your laptop or smartphone), this isn’t affected by the fact you’re connecting through a HomeFi.
      Finally, with regards to iPhone and iPads, I don’t believe software updates should be restricted when using a HomeFi connection. As far as your iPhone or iPad are concerned, they’re simply connecting to a regular home wi-fi network.
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,
    Thank you for this article. I have been wondering about getting the homefi. Three main questions for you please….

    Do you think it would work in rural France where my current mifi manages to pick up 3g? Will I be able to monitor using the fair use limit of 19gb allowance when abroad?

    Will I be able to plug my tv into it in the UK?
    Thanks gabriella

    • Hi Gabriella,
      The HomeFi should work in France in the same way as your MiFi. With regards to monitoring your usage, I’m not sure exactly how to do this but Three should certainly notify you if you’re approaching the 19GB monthly limit.
      With regards to connecting your TV to this, it’s certainly possible to connect it over wi-fi. There’s also a wired LAN port should you need to connect it to your TV via a cable.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken
      Ken

      • Gabriella replied:

        Thats great thanks Ken. Appreciate your help. I monitor my mifi usage by logging into the router so I suppose it will be the same. They do send an email to the mifi to warn of usage limit but I dont see that unless I log into router anyway. Very pleased you have confirmed I can plug the tv in. Our UK virgin router is a bit flaky so I am looking for an alternative.

  • Sunjay Bhogal said:

    I have a 3 homeFi account at home using the Huawei B311, however I am suffering with slow speed especially during evening and weekend, speed of just around 3 to 5 mb, normally average speed at other times is between 10 – 20 mb, I reckon the slower speed is to congestion as I live in Croydon Greater London which is notorious for congestion issues and slow speed. If I upgrade my router to a Cat 6 one e.g Huawei B525 router will it solve the speed issue , will get faster speed ? I don’t really want to buy another router if I don’t see any improvement. Grateful for advice.

    • Hi Sunjay,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, it’s likely the slow speeds are due to congestion in your area. Do you know whether Cat6 LTE coverage is available in your area? If so, it should definitely lead to some increase in your download speed, but it’s difficult to say how much by. As a first-order estimate, I’d normally say it should double your download speeds (albeit, it could increase by more or less than this, depending on congestion on those extra frequencies).
      Do you have an unlocked mobile phone that supports Cat6 technology? If so, you could try placing the SIM card inside this handset to do a speed test. That wouldn’t be totally representative of the speeds you would get using HomeFi, but it should at least provide you with a lower-bound. For instance, if a Cat6 LTE smartphone can get speeds of 10Mbit/s, then I would expect a 4G router to get at least this as a very minimum (it will have a larger antenna, no need to optimise for battery life, etc).
      Ken

  • I live in a semi rural area on long copper run from cabinet (2 miles), on a good day could get 2mbps. We do however have direct line of sight accrosss the farm behind our house to a Three cell tower. When I saw this I thought too good to be true, would it be fast enough? is it truely unlimited? I did have a dongle so got a Three pay as you go sim to check speeds, and got 50mps so decided to go for it. Router arrived set it up tested consitently getting 50mbps. Then I bought an external dual axis directional antenna and a high spec router and now am getting 120mbps down and 40mbps up. Happy days, gone from despair to joy, can’t wipe the grin off my face although still can’t quite believe it. We have reached a crossing point for our area, wired broadband has not improved since the 1990s and I can’t envisage a scenario where it will because of the low population density. Wireless on the other hand has been getting better and better and now with this price point and unlimited data it is a no brainer. With 5G around the corner it will get even better. We have dumped the landline (bye bye openreach) and I believe we will probably be wireless from here on in.

    • Hi GC,
      Thanks so much for your feedback, and really happy to know that you’ve been having a good experience with HomeFi. The speed increase from 50Mbit/s to 120Mbit/s is also fantastic to hear, and shows just how much difference a properly configured external antenna can make to network coverage and download speed.
      I fully agree with you that this is a hugely exciting development. In fact, 5G is just around the corner and I think 5G FWA (i.e. using 5G for fixed home broadband) will be one of the most impactful changes we see from the new technology. It should deliver even greater network capacity, making it possible for 5G to replace fixed broadband for more people. I think this is just the start of things to come 🙂
      Ken

    • Hi there,
      It’s really up to you, and the level of coverage & download speeds you can get without using an external antenna. If you want the best download speeds and coverage available, it’s definitely worth investing in the external SMA antenna.
      Ken

      • @greeslightning replied:

        Hi Ken
        Can you recommend a type, or features I should be looking at if I was looking for a budget option on a well known auction site for example?

        • Hi there,
          Sorry for the delay in replying to your message. If you’re looking at alternative 4G routers, I’d probably have a look at the options from Huawei (e.g. the Huawei B525, B618, etc). More generally, if you’d like to compare other routers as well, I would just make sure it’s unlocked & compatible with Three’s network in the UK. You’ll want Cat4 or Cat6 LTE connectivity (ideally, Cat6 for higher speeds) with the ability to connect an external SMA antenna if desired. Apart from that, apply the same criteria you would use when deciding between any other broadband router (e.g. Wi-Fi technologies supported, maximum number of devices, Ethernet port availability, etc).
          Hope this helps!
          Ken

  • Saw this offer and as we cannot have a phone line fitted at my current address we went for it,
    We live in mablethorpe Lincolnshire on a chalet park,
    Indoors using the internal aerial we are getting a stable 4 bars on the router and speeds of 45-50Mb,
    I’m impressed and will be getting an external aerial to get the full 5 bars so we should be able to get more speed out of the service.

  • Many thanks for a very well written review Ken. Why do I think “if it’s too good to be true, then it is”? I’m in an “excellent” 4g area and had to rely on EE 4g for nearly a month whilst BT openreach and ZEN argued over a fault. But one question – when you say ‘a reduction in download speeds due to poor weather’ do you mean a reduction or potentially no connection? I didn’t experience any problem for that month in November but your views would be appreciated. Also, the SIM only deal for unlimited with three is £20 a month. That’s what I would buy if i wanted to buy the better Huawei router?
    Thanks once again – glad i found you, now bookmarked!! 🙂

    • Hi Paul,
      Thank you for your kind feedback on the article! Mobile network signals can be affected more easily by the weather than an underground landline connection, but you may not always notice it – it would really depend on the strength of your connection. If you have a fairly decent connection to start with, you probably won’t notice any difference – it’s really more of an issue for people who might live in areas with very poor or marginal signal to start with.
      With regards to the unlimited data SIM card, yes, that’s the one you’d go for, though unfortunately it has risen in price to £27/month since your comment was posted 🙁
      Ken

      • Hi Ken. Here’s my latest news summed up in one word – THANKS! I took the plunge a week ago, and followed your advice. Got the £20 unlimited SIM from Three [fortune favours the brave!] and bought the better router through Amazon. Both arrived the following working day, 15 minutes later I had 4g internet. And here’s the big grin. Previous broadband speed was 5mbps – recently ‘improved’ from sub-3mbps. I’m now getting…..50+mbps, for less money and unlimited data!! 10 days on, still can’t believe it, on the basis of ‘if’s too good to be true etc’. As one Amazon reviewer said ‘I’ve seen the future, and it doesn’t include BT!’ Probably a bit extreme, but for people like myself who was told by Openreach engineer if you have a view, you can’t expect fast internet – well, think again buddy….
        Thanks Ken and keep up the good work.

  • Hi Ken

    Good write up. Would these 4G routers be upgradable to 5K (when that happens) or do you think they would need to be replaced by more advanced models. Particularly important to folk who opt for the more expensive routers.

    • Hi Leonard,
      Thanks a lot for the feedback! Sadly, 5G hardware isn’t available on the market just yet. With a 4G router, you’ll only be able to access the 4G network & won’t be able to access 5G when the networks eventually roll out. It’s likely you’ll need to upgrade your router at some point again in the future when you want to access 5G.
      Ken

    • Hi Kevin,
      You’re right: there’s no good reason to choose the 40GB plan on a 24-month contract. The 12-month or 1-month option might however be appealing to some customers, as it’s available on a shorter contract length.
      Ken

  • I’ve just come off the online chat and they claim that you can use as much as you like.

    So i asked her, how about 10tb a month, since we are a family of four and that’s our current average usage. She said yes, no problem, use more if you want. To say that the service we have at the moment gets hammered putting it lightly.

    To say I am skeptical about this deal is an understatement, does anyone remember the one plan from 2015?

    I could run two of these for less money than my current ISP. Netflix doesnt even count…. hmm.

  • This sounds great but 4 days ago I signed up to EE version after years of frustration with BT. Will have to migrate to 3 if it’s unlimited without a catch.

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