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 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
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 £25/month.

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 £45/month
200GB Data 18 month contract £0.00 £50/month
300GB Data 18 month contract £0.00 £80/month
500GB Data 18 month contract £0.00 £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. 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 98 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 98 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

    • Hi Adrian,
      Great question! Unfortunately, I’m not sure the answer to this question but perhaps someone else reading it might have some experiences they can share?
      Ken

  • Paul lewis said:

    Hi ken, I’ve just signed up for three unlimited for £22 pm and ordered huawei b525 . I am unable to find an answer to my question that if I use Skype to call someone or rj11 phone will I be charged for these calls and secondly could someone actually call me on my rj11 phone . Thankyou

    • Hi Paul,
      Many thanks for your comment. You can plug in a phone via the RJ11 port to make use of the inclusive minutes on your plan. Assuming you have a smartphone SIM card with inclusive minutes, this should be included with no extra cost. Alternatively, if you choose a plan with no inclusive minutes (e.g. a mobile broadband SIM card), it’s likely to cost you 3p/minute or whatever the charge is on the plan you choose.
      With regards to making phone calls over Skype on the data connection, there are no additional charges for this from Three.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hello I just wanted to know if I can play games online in my ps4 slim with no lags at all, thank you.

    • Hi Nelson,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, the latency on 4G home broadband tends to be a bit more than on fixed home broadband. You can read a bit more about that here. Therefore, if you do a lot of fast-paced online gaming, I’d probably still recommend going with a fixed provider if you can.
      In terms of real-world experience, I believe some other readers have done this and shared their experiences (e.g. see feedback here).
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

  • Carol Frewin said:

    I would like to use this device in my caravan but my smart tv is only wired not wireless, would this work?

  • Peter Gray said:

    Hello Ken.
    Can you tell me if the aerial for the B6!8 has to be mounted outside?
    Thank you.
    Regards peter

    • Hi Peter,
      Many thanks for your comment. It depends on the antenna you buy – some of them are designed to be mounted outdoors, whereas others can simply be placed indoors. There’s a bit more information about this in my full guide to mobile broadband antennas (or consult the documentation for your antenna to see how it is supposed to be mounted).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • Peter Gray replied:

        Thank you Ken.
        Just after sending that question I had a look at Amazon & realised that aerials for 4G broadband are very much available in all flavours & am embarrassed at my ignorance.
        I do have a better question now.
        Ken, is it possible to check 4G signal strength by using an iPhone & trying different sims?
        How reliable would that experiment be ?
        Regards
        Peter

        • Hi Peter,
          No worries! It isn’t the simplest product to get your head around, especially when things change as quickly as they do!
          With regards to testing the 4G signal strength on your iPhone, this is a good way of getting some directionally-correct data on the quality of coverage & download speed to expect. For instance, if you’re able to get 4G coverage on your iPhone, you should only get the same or better coverage on a HomeFi (the latter is a mains-powered device so will optimise for coverage & speed, without the constraints imposed by battery life & physical size on the iPhone). However, the lack of 4G coverage on your iPhone wouldn’t necessarily mean you couldn’t use a HomeFi (the HomeFi, especially when used with an antenna, can pick up weaker signals than an iPhone can).
          Hope this helps!
          Ken

  • Mark Barnsley said:

    New customer here. There was a fault with the first router I was given, so I had to exchange it. Connecting with the supplied ethernet cable, the speeds I’m getting are disappointing currently – Download speeds between 0.76MB/S and 1.5MB/S and Upload speeds between 2.03 and 2.2 . That a lot less than 150 MB/S

  • Hi all,
    Just a small update: as of today, Three have removed the 40GB data plan on the HomeFi. I don’t think many people were choosing it due to the availability of the unlimited data plan, but this does remove the option of a shorter 1-month or 12-month contract.
    On a side note, the AI Cube has also been reduced in price from £25/month to £24/month – more info here. That reduces the price differential between HomeFi and AI Cube from £3 per month to £2 per month.
    Ken

  • Donna Bradshaw said:

    I don’t have 4G coverage in my area!! will it work on 3G?

    Also can you connect this to the TV so you can use Youtube apps etc on it?

    Are you saying that if we purchased this deal now, we would get Unlimited Data, not just for the ‘Go Binge’ Snapchat bit ( which I wouldnt use)

    • Hi Donna,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, the HomeFi router will work on 3G as well, though the download speeds will obviously be slower than if you had a 4G connection. It might be worth using an external antenna to see if you’re able to pick up a 4G signal, or looking at one of the alternative services from EE or Vodafone if the coverage is better in your area.
      With regards to the tariff: yes, you’ll get unlimited data. This isn’t restricted to the list of Go Binge services, so you can use this on whatever service you like (YouTube, iPlayer, etc). With regards to your TV: yes, it can connect as normal to the Wi-Fi network that’s produced by the HomeFi router.
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

  • I took out the 24 month 3G cotract 3 days ago, Speedchecks have been extremely erratic, from a max 30 Mbps to a more consistent 2 to 3 download.
    3G customer service advises there are firmware issues with B311 router, limiting their connectivity. Can you confirm this, Ken ?
    Regards.

    • Hi Andrew,
      Thanks for your comment. I’m not aware of any firmware issues with the Huawei B311 – at least, nothing I’ve seen that’s been reported by other readers below this. Have you tried moving your router to a different location, or using an external SMA antenna? It’s likely this will help to improve your coverage, and therefore allow you to access higher speeds. For instance, there was a comment below from another reader here who saw variable results (similar to yours). On re-positioning of the router, the service became a lot more stable with higher ongoing speeds.
      Ken

      • Thanks, Ken. As with Spoonhunter I saw a sudden drop to a consistent low 2’to 3’for 24 hours. After a reset, and without moving router position in any way, I bumped up speeds to earlier values of 18, which dropped off again later. At all times cyan and 3 bars showing on the box. I’m getting a useable but pitiful 1.7 from my landline, and have decided to cancel my contract with 3, and stay with that. We have Gigaclear fttp promised for the village, but no breath holding.
        How we still manage to interact with Voyager II !

  • Richard Hathaway said:

    I took this offer and found it was limited to 100GB – my data soon ran out and I couldn’t access any websites except for a warning saying I’ve used up my allowance and should buy a top-up.

    3 customer service weren’t any good, except to tell me I’d also incurred £75 in extra charges before a spending cap kicked in, and excuses that it is only ‘go binge’ services that are unlimited. Very disappointing, as it worked pretty well for that short while – but I found the way it’s marketed and described though is very misleading.

    • Hi Richard,
      Thanks for your comment. Did you sign up for HomeFi before or after the 4th February 2019? If you took it out after the 4th February 2019, your plan should have an unlimited data allowance and not the 100GB data allowance that was available previously before that. Three’s customer services team should be able to see this, and amend your plan as necessary if required.
      Ken

      • Richard Hathaway replied:

        Definitely after the 4th Feb – I found it very confusing, especially after seeing others having more success. I might give it another go…

    • Hi Jan,
      Thanks for your comment. Are you referring to the Google Home Mini? If so, it should connect to the HomeFi without any issues (all it requires is a wi-fi network, which is produced by the HomeFi).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Hi Ken,

    Would an external SMA antenna help with improved speeds, if the 4G signal I’m getting on a Cat6 enabled smartphone is already 4-5 bars and getting 40/15Mbps speeds?

    Thinking if I should go for the Cat6 enabled AI Cube, or the Cat4 Huawei B311 with an external antenna. Which would get better speeds in my situation?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Brian,
      Thanks for your comment. That’s a very good question on whether an antenna would help in this situation. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to say without actually testing it out for yourself, but you may decide that it isn’t worth the bother if you’re already getting speeds that you’re more than happy with. Alternatively, you could always test out an external antenna and return it if it doesn’t make a difference to the coverage and speed you’ll get.
      With regards to the two router options, the Cat6 AI Cube B900 probably wins out if you’re confident you don’t need the external antenna capabilities. I think the faster Cat6 LTE connectivity and the faster 802.11ac Wi-Fi definitely make this a more attractive router over the HomeFi B311.
      An alternative, however, might be to buy the Huawei B525 router (approx £120) and then to pair it with an unlimited data SIM card from Three (£20/month). The B525 doesn’t have a built-in Amazon Alexa smart speaker, but you’ll get Category 6 LTE and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. There are additional features compared to the AI Cube such as 4 Gigabit Ethernet sockets, an RJ11 socket for you to connect a phone and the ability to connect an external SMA antenna if needed. The total cost of ownership over 24 months works out similarly to buying an AI Cube.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Cannot recommend highly enough. I’m in my mid twenties and like most people am renting until I can afford to buy. My life means I move around yearly and I’ve often found it a huge pain with fixed broadband, sometimes even having to take up a new contract as service isn’t in the new residence. I am currently getting 38.1 mbs download, 35.1mbs upload, ping 39ms. Faster than most home broadbands I’ve had and I have the luxury of being able to just unplug it, pick it up and plug it in at the new apartment when I move. Unlimited data is the key here. Without it my bill would be astronomical.

  • Hi, I have done a coverage check for my location and only have 3g coverage. Will this router (i.e. 4g router) work on the 3g network ? in other words is it backwards compatible with the 3g network – thanks – great article and feedback

  • Spoonhunter said:

    I live in rural Worcestershire, found performance to be variable. I’m in my third week of ownership and regretting the purchase tbh. When I first set up I found the best position and saw 32 mbps download and thought deep joy. Last 2 weeks it’s struggling to achieve 3-5 with terrible latency. If it had been useless from the start I would have got rid within the 14 days. I’ll contact Three and see if any explanation, it’s as though it’s being throttled. External antenna is an expensive addition, not sure if it’s better to just try and back out of the contract…..

    • Hi there,
      Do let me know how you get on with Three Customer Services. It’s odd to see such a big drop from 32Mbps to 3Mbps, as I don’t believe Three applies any throttling to the service. My guess is it probably feels more like a coverage issue (i.e. you were receiving a signal from a certain mast at the start, but are not currently able to receive it). The other option might be congestion or maintenance on your local mast, but this normally shouldn’t last over an extended amount of time.
      Ken

      • Spoonhunter replied:

        Hi Ken

        Three were nice but a waste of time – they know nothing about their masts (apparently). But I do have good news. There is a mast less than 1 mile from my property, I placed the Huawei facing this mast. Thought this would be the best option. I did some googling – the black art of mast location is not officially published anymore, but these guys do a similar job – https://www.cellmapper.net – seems the mast I was pointing to is 3G only! The nearest 4G masts are some way away, and in a different direction. There is a large tree blocking the view to the 4G masts, but I managed to find a tiny plain site view avoiding the tree. I’m getting 18+ mbps consistently since I moved the router. Guess when I first set up I may have picked up the 4G out of luck….I’d recommend anyone struggling to consult cellmapper in addition to Three 🙂

        • Hi there,
          Thanks for getting back to me on this, and fantastic news regarding the coverage. Also, great tip on checking on the Cellmapper website… I’ll include this in a future version of the review as it looks like a good way (or at least an additional data point to refer to) when optimising the speed and coverage of your service.
          I believe the mobile networks used to publish mast location information on Ofcom’s Sitefinder website. This unfortunately stopped some time around 2010-2012 as Ofcom was then required to share the information publicly through Freedom of Information. This led to the mobile networks no longer publishing the information and as such, there are now only unofficial sources for mast location information. Hopefully this changes sometime in the future as I imagine it’s a very useful data point for anyone using 4G mobile broadband.
          Ken

  • We have terrible BT broadband – 1 Mbps which needs resetting daily and is lost completely regularly. OpenReach are in the village daily.

    We have changed to Three Home Fi which is excellent. 20 Mbps.

    Would like to use VOIP but understand this is not possible. Would still like to get rid of our landline.

    Is it possible to still use our landline number?

    Or will it be possible to transfer the number and get call transferred to our mobile?

    This is a minefield for me.

    Any suggestions very welcome.

    • Hi Tad,
      Thanks for your comment. It’s worth clarifying that there’s no actual restriction using VoIP services on HomeFi – it’s simply that the built-in RJ11 socket has been disabled on the Huawei B311 HomeFi router. If you upgrade to something like the Huawei B525, you’ll be able to plug in an RJ11 telephone (as well as benefiting from higher maximum speeds on both 4G and Wi-Fi). With the normal HomeFi router, you can still make VoIP calls from your smartphone/laptop/Amazon Alexa (e.g. using Skype, WhatsApp, etc).
      I believe there are a number of services that allow you to port your current landline number into a VoIP provider (a quick look on Google brings up Virtual Landline, Vonage, etc). I haven’t, however, had any experience with those providers so I’d defer to other readers here.
      Ken

  • Armand Moffett said:

    Recently signed a 24 month contract with 3 network homefi. I am happy with the download speeds but I find the WiFi signal from the supplied router ( huwaei B3ll ) pathetic. I was wondering if the router could be connected to a mesh or whole home WiFi or would I need to buy a separate 4g modem?

    • Hi Armand,
      Thanks for your comment. You’re right: the HomeFi has pretty basic Wi-Fi capabilities (e.g. no 5GHz Wi-Fi, 802.11ac support, etc). You can however connect it to a mesh networking system like BT’s Whole Home Wi-Fi if you like.
      Alternatively, you could look at the Huawei B525 route. That supports Category 6 LTE speeds (up to 300Mbit/s) and has more in terms of Wi-Fi features, including 5GHz Wi-Fi and 802.11ac.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

  • Andy Gaskell said:

    Hi, I’ve stumbled across this article and it’s been a very useful read – thanks.

    I have recently moved into a house with no fibre and a measly 1.5mb/s on the copper broadband, hence looking for alternatives. I have come across this at £22 a month and the EE 200gb 4g home internet at £60 a month.

    Obviously there is a big price difference and I am wondering if there is a catch. From everyone’s experience, does 3’s unlimited claim really mean unlimited or do download speeds plummet after a certain usage is hit. Are there any other hidden surprises?

    Finally are there any other packages that I should be considering?

    Thanks for your help

    • Hi Andy,
      Thanks for your comment. I recommend having a look at other readers comments below on this article. So far, I believe the feedback is that it is genuinely unlimited internet, with no slowdown in download speeds once you reach a certain amount of usage.
      With regards to the plan from EE, this is obviously far more expensive than Three’s HomeFi. EE would probably make the argument that their network was “better” or that it offers coverage in more areas compared to Three. However, personally, I would probably go for the package from Three assuming I had good enough coverage and speeds on the service in my area.
      The other alternative you could look at is Vodafone’s Gigacube. It’s priced fairly similarly to 4GEE Home, but could be a possible alternative if the coverage is best from Vodafone in your area.
      Ken

  • Adrian Kain said:

    Hi Ken, very enlightening and good article.

    I recently got the £22/month Unlimited Data and Huawei B310 (I had a monthly plan with three a year before and just kept the equipment after closing the account) but i seem to have run into a small problem. I live in Pitlochry, Perthshire and while I am in a full 4G coverage area (less than 1km from the closest 4G Mast according to Three) and I have 4G on both my phone and dongle, I can`t seem to get more than 5-6 Mb/s download speed and I see that some of the comments here say they are getting higher speeds than that (average of 15-20 Mb/s)

    Ran a couple of speed tests on different testing websites and it seems I am capped somewhere around 6Mb/s and sometimes 7Mb/s while running on my laptop with an Ethernet Cable hooked up to the Dongle.

    Any tips or advice on how I could improve my speed?

    P.S: I am waiting on the B525 to arrive next week, and a set of antennas for it, hopefully that will make a difference.

    • Hi Adrian,
      Many thanks for your comment. There are a number of different factors that could influence the internet connection speed on your HomeFi. Coverage is definitely one of those things and a B525 router with an external antenna could help here. However, it could also be limited by other things such as the amount of congestion on your local mast and the amount of bandwidth that’s available in your area. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for me to say what the limiting factor really is here – I think the new router is definitely worth a go, and maybe chatting to Three’s customer service team to see if they can give you any insights about your local mast/capacity.
      Ken

  • Thanks Ken. Really useful. We’ve just switched to the HomeFi solution. We live in rural herefordshire and I work a lot from home. So our current solution is 2xBT lines and a bonding service. We are 3km from the exchange so even this solution offers only 11mbits/second.

    After a bit of testing, we’re consistently receiving 22-24 mbps download and 6-8 mbps upload on the 4G router. We can now stream three different media streams at the same time (useful with teenage kids!). The savings for us are over £130 a month.

    We were (are still) waiting for Gigaclear – as part of the Fastershire initiative – to deliver direct fibre to all of us a long way from the exchange. It’s already two years late this and we’ve mostly given up on it.

    It does feel with 5G coming, and us living within 2k of a mast on the local ridge, there is little point in signing up for another wired service. Early days, but that’s my feeling right now.

    Thanks again for the comprehensive articles. We’ve found them very useful.

  • Just received my Huawei B525 4G router and SMARTY unlimited 4G data sim and was up and running within minutes. We live in a village on the outskirts of Swindon (SN6 8..) and was getting on average a measly 3-5Mb with BT broadband. I recorded 55Mb download and 27Mb upload this evening on 4G and had multiple devices (wired and wireless) streaming YouTube, BBC iPlayer and Spotify, whilst surfing. Absolutely fantastic. We’re due to move into a new build home in Norfolk, but broadband coverage is appalling (1-2Mb). I’m going to test the coverage of 4G on Three network is as good as it says and if it is, I won’t even bother getting a BT connection, as we never use our landline and I would much rather pay £22 per month, than £60-70 on BT! Thank you for supper and advice and comments from everyone else. This will make a monumental difference to life in our new-build home!

  • Chantal Thompson said:

    Hi Ken – many thanks for your article and insights.
    Are there likely to be issues with getting good speeds in different parts of the house? (Would we expect to get best service in the room where the router is?)
    Thanks
    Chantal

    • Hi Chantal,
      Thanks for your comment. There are really two parts of this:
      1. The ability for your HomeFi to pick up a 4G connection. It’s probably worth testing multiple locations for the placement of your router. You’ll generally get the best coverage and speeds by placing the router close to a window (ideally facing in the direction of your nearest phone mast, if you know where that is). You can attach an external SMA antenna to improve the coverage if necessary.
      2. The ability for your individual devices (laptop, tablet, etc) to pick up a Wi-Fi connection from the HomeFi. This shouldn’t be any more of a problem compared to wi-fi routers from other broadband providers. You can use something like a wi-fi extender/repeater or a mesh networking solution to improve the wi-fi coverage across your home.
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

  • 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

      • Philip McMullan replied:

        Hi Ken,
        Thank you for replying, that is really helpful.
        I’m now of the mind to buy my own Huawei 4G router and use vodaphone for a pay as you go one month sim giving me 50mg for £30. I’ve had so many issues in Spain with Broadband, currently with Movistar, that I don’t want to sign up for a 2 year contract only to discover that 4G is no better or worse. Vodaphone would be widely used in Marbella so that’s maybe a good reason to use them instead of ‘Three’
        Your thoughts are more than welcome, thanks again..
        Regards

        Philip

        • Hi Philip,
          Thanks for your response! Are you talking about Vodafone UK or Vodafone Spain in your message? Three (as well as Vodafone UK for that matter) offer a UK-based SIM card on which you can use international roaming in Spain at no extra charge, subject to fair usage limits. Your router should automatically connect to the network offering the strongest signal providing they have a roaming arrangement.
          A SIM card from Vodafone Spain would only connect to the Vodafone Spain network. However, you shouldn’t then need to worry about fair usage limits and you may obtain better speeds compared to a UK-based SIM card.
          Ken

          • Philip McMullan replied:

            Thanks Ken, thats helpful advice.
            The Vodaphone sim I purchased is UK based and has a monthly 100 GB data limit for £20 per month. 100GB should be fine as I’m only in Spain for max of 2 weeks in any month.
            Hopefully speed will be better than my current Movistar router, fibre not available in my apartment block!!
            I have purchased the Huawei router…

            Regards,

            Philip

  • 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

    • Hi. Wondered how you’re finding it for ps4 gaming at the weekend as looking into this for a internet solution for my son in new flat with no landline. I guess, if it has 14 day period before returning, can always try it! Thanks

    • here a update for over the weekend testing
      played all 3 games no problems even tried streaming and playing online with destiny 2 no problems too
      uploaded a file which was 21GB did it under 2 hours
      stream a movie from now tv worked all ok no problems too

  • 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.

    • Sunjay Bhogal replied:

      Hi Sean, check the download speed with 3 first before you migrate to them. I suffered with poor download speed with 3 due to congestion issues in my area here at Croydon Town Centre, was getting around low as 2 mb download speed which was useless for streaming. I then migrated to EE a few weeks ago and yes it is more expensive however I am getting download speed of around 110 mb thanks for 4G+ and I have a plan of 300gb which is plenty for me as I live alone. Fibre is not available in my apartment so 4g is the only option for faster internet speed.

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