Vodafone’s GigaCube offers 4G and 5G home broadband from £30/month, without the need for a phone line or cable.

If you’re looking for a fast alternative to fixed-line home broadband, Vodafone’s GigaCube can give you high-speed home broadband that’s delivered wirelessly over a 4G or 5G connection from £30/month.

The GigaCube service comes on a choice of three price plans, depending on how much data you want. It costs £30/month for 100GB of data, £40/month for 200GB of data and £50/month for unlimited data. Depending on the area you live in, you’ll receive either a 4G or 5G GigaCube router (this will be either a Huawei B528 or a Huawei 5G CPE Pro).

In this article, we’ll review Vodafone’s GigaCube service. We’ll start by looking at the GigaCube price plans and how they compare to other broadband plans available from Vodafone. We’ll then look at the 4G GigaCube (Huawei B528) and the 5G GigaCube (Huawei 5G CPE Pro) routers in more detail, before comparing the GigaCube service to rival offerings from Three and EE. Finally, we’ll look at the level of coverage you can expect when using a Vodafone GigaCube for home broadband.

GigaCube Price Plans

For many people, 4G technology is now able to deliver similar or even faster download speeds than traditional fixed-line home broadband. With new 5G technology, download speeds can get even faster with average speeds of 200Mbit/s or more.

In the UK, Vodafone is now offering GigaCube price plans powered by 4G or 5G as an alternative to traditional fixed-line home broadband. This sits alongside their more traditional fibre-based plans like Superfast and Gigafast broadband.

The GigaCube plans vary in price depending on how much data you want. You’ll pay £30/month for the entry-level plan with 100GB of data, increasing to £40/month for 200GB of data and £50/month for fully unlimited data. There may also be an upfront cost for the router, depending on the contract length you choose and the router you select. On an 18-month contract, you can get the 4G GigaCube router for free or you can get the 5G GigaCube router for £50 upfront.

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

Vodafone GigaCube 4G Plans:

ServiceData AllowanceContract LengthUpfront PriceMonthly Price

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

Vodafone GigaCube 4G
100GB Data1 month contract£100£30/month

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

Vodafone GigaCube 4G
200GB Data1 month contract£100£40/month

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

Vodafone GigaCube 4G
Unlimited Data1 month contract£100£50/month

Vodafone GigaCube 5G Plans:

ServiceData AllowanceContract LengthUpfront PriceMonthly Price

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

Vodafone GigaCube 5G
100GB Data1 month contract£325£30/month

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

Vodafone GigaCube 5G
200GB Data1 month contract£325£40/month

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

Vodafone GigaCube 5G
Unlimited Data1 month contract£325£50/month

Apart from Vodafone, Three is the only other UK mobile network to offer unlimited data on a 4G home broadband plan. On Three, you can get unlimited data for £20/month on the Huawei B535 HomeFi+ and unlimited data for £25/month on the AI Cube.

It isn’t possible to use the Vodafone GigaCube on a Pay As You Go basis – you’ll need to sign up for a contract to use it.

The Vodafone GigaCube service is subject to “coverage and capacity in your local area”.

Before signing up, it’s worth noting that the Vodafone GigaCube plans have some restrictions on what you can do with them. Firstly, the 5G GigaCube is only available for customers living in selected 5G coverage areas. Everyone else is restricted to using 4G. Secondly, GigaCube traffic may undergo “data de-prioritisation”, meaning it gets a lower level of priority compared to other network traffic. Finally, the GigaCube SIM card will not work in other devices and international roaming is disabled so you can only use it inside the UK.

Compared to Vodafone’s Superfast Broadband (which uses Openreach fibre-to-the-cabinet connections) and Vodafone’s Gigafast Broadband (which uses full fibre connections from Cityfibre), GigaCube tends to be a more expensive service. On the lower priced plans, there are also limits on how much you can download. For this reason, we’d probably still recommend choosing one of the fixed broadband plans over the GigaCube if you’re able to get it where you live. Alternatively, look at rival mobile networks like Three’s HomeFi where you can get unlimited data for £20/month.

Huawei B528 4G Router

The Huawei B528 has a cylindrical design.

Customers signing up for the 4G version of Vodafone GigaCube will receive a Huawei B528 wireless router. This is offered at no upfront cost when you take out an 18-month contract, or for an upfront fee of £100 when you take a 30-day rolling plan.

The Huawei B528 router will pick up a 4G signal from Vodafone’s network and will rebroadcast it as a Wi-Fi network for your other devices to access. Download speeds of up to 300Mbit/s are supported by the router (Category 6 LTE speeds), with full backwards compatibility for 2G and 3G coverage.

Up to 20 devices can be connected to your Wi-Fi connection at any given time with there being full support for dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity (802.11b/g/n/ac technologies on 2.4GHz and 5GHz). Alongside the wireless connectivity, there’s one Gigabit Ethernet socket for connecting a wired device to your network and two TS9 sockets for attaching an external antenna to your router. There is also a RJ11 phone socket on the router but all of the calling functionality has been disabled on the GigaCube in the UK.

In our opinion, the Huawei B528 is a decent mid-range router and the cylindrical design sets it apart from many other 4G routers. Besides the Huawei GigaCube B528, the only other 4G router available in the UK with a cylindrical design is the Huawei AI Cube B900 (available from Three with a built-in Amazon Alexa smart speaker).

The Huawei B525 is an alternative router with a more traditional form factor.

If you don’t mind having a router in the more traditional rectangular form factor, it may be worth considering the unlocked Huawei B525 router instead (available for around £120). This has 4 Gigabit Ethernet sockets (compared to 1 on the B528 GigaCube) and allows you to have up to 64 devices connected to your Wi-Fi network at one time (compared to 20 on the B528 GigaCube). The Huawei B525 also uses SMA connectors for the external antenna which will give you a wider choice of options compared to the more obscure TS9 connector on the B528 GigaCube.

You can use a Huawei B525 router with a SIM card from Vodafone or from any other mobile network. For instance, Vodafone offers an unlimited data SIM card for just £30/month with uncapped download speeds. With this SIM card inside a Huawei B525 router, you’ll pay the equivalent of just £36.67/month over 18 months for an unlimited data allowance (£120 upfront plus £30/month). Other mobile networks like Three may additionally offer unlimited data SIM cards at a slightly lower price than Vodafone.

Huawei 5G CPE Pro Router

If you decide to sign up for the 5G version of the GigaCube service, you’ll receive a Huawei 5G CPE Pro wireless router (also known as the Huawei H112-370). This is offered for £50 upfront on an 18-month contract (or £100 upfront if you choose the entry-level 100GB plan). Alternatively, there’s an upfront fee of £325 to get the router on a 30-day rolling plan.

The 5G GigaCube is able to pick up Vodafone’s 5G signal, in addition to 4G. In theory, the router is able to support download speeds of more than 1,000Mbit/s (1Gbit/s). However, actual download speeds of around 150-250Mbit/s will be much more common when using the GigaCube on Vodafone’s 5G network.

Up to 64 devices can connect at any given time to your Huawei 5G CPE Pro router, with support for the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology (802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax technologies). There are also two Gigabit Ethernet sockets for connecting a wired device to your network and two TS9 connectors for attaching an external antenna.

If you’re living in a 5G coverage area, the extra speeds will probably make it worthwhile to upgrade to the 5G version of the GigaCube. Besides this, you’ll also get better Wi-Fi connectivity along with an extra Ethernet socket for your wired devices. The 5G router can also help to future-proof your technology, especially if you’re expecting 5G coverage to launch soon in your area.

Specifications

The following table shows a side-by-side comparison of the specifications for Vodafone’s 4G and 5G GigaCube broadband routers:

Vodafone GigaCube 4G
(Huawei B528)
Vodafone GigaCube 5G
(Huawei 5G CPE Pro (H112-370))
Home Broadband Plans
Price:From £30/monthFrom £30/month
Data:100GB - Unlimited100GB - Unlimited
Unlimited Data:£50/month£50/month
Contract Length:1-18 months1-18 months
Mobile Connectivity
5G Connectivity:-Up to 2330 Mbit/s download
4G Connectivity:Category 6 LTE-
4G Download Speed:Up to 300 Mbit/s downloadUp to 1600 Mbit/s download
4G Upload Speed:Up to 50 Mbit/s uploadUp to 150 Mbit/s upload
4G Bands:LTE bands 1, 3, 7, 8, 20, 32 & 38LTE bands 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 18, 19, 20, 28, 32, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42 & 43
External Antenna:Yes, 2x TS-9 connectorsYes, 2x TS-9 connectors
Home Network Connectivity
Dual-Band Wi-Fi:YesYes
Wi-Fi Connectivity:802.11b/g/n/ac802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax
Wi-Fi Devices:Up to 20 devicesUp to 64 devices
Ethernet:1 Gigabit Ethernet port2 Gigabit Ethernet ports
Other
Model:Huawei B528Huawei 5G CPE Pro (H112-370)
Colour:WhiteWhite
Review:Vodafone GigaCube 4G ReviewVodafone GigaCube 5G Review

Alternatives

In the UK, there are currently five main alternatives to the Vodafone GigaCube service:

4G Home Broadband

If you’re looking for a cheaper 4G-powered home broadband service, the HomeFi+ from Three (Huawei B535) is well worth a look. You can currently get unlimited data for £20/month on HomeFi. This makes it far cheaper than the 4G Vodafone GigaCube, when you sign up for a 24-month contract.

The following table shows HomeFi price plans from Three:

ServiceData AllowanceContract LengthUpfront PriceMonthly Price

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

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

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

You can use Three’s online coverage checker to see whether a 4G signal is available where you live. Three’s HomeFi service now comes with a Huawei B535 router which supports Category 7 LTE connectivity (up to 300Mbit/s download) along with dual-band wi-fi at home.

As an alternative, you can also consider the Huawei AI Cube B900 from Three. This is a two-in-one device, working as both a 4G home broadband router and an Amazon Alexa smart speaker:

ServiceData AllowanceContract LengthUpfront PriceMonthly Price

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

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

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

For more information, see our review of the Huawei B535 and our review of the AI Cube B900.

If you’re not able to get a signal from Three where you live, you can also have a look into EE’s 4GEE Home. This starts from £25/month, but only for a measly 10GB of data. You’ll need to pay more for a comparable data allowance (EE offers a maximum of 500GB per month):

ServiceData AllowanceContract LengthUpfront PriceMonthly Price

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 4GEE Home service comes with an Alcatel-made router, with an optional external antenna installation service available for £100. For more information, read our full review of 4GEE Home.

5G Home Broadband

In the UK, Three and EE also offer 5G-powered home broadband services.

Three’s 5G Home is currently available only to customers in London. You can get unlimited data on a 12-month contract for £35/month. The service also uses Huawei’s 5G CPE Pro router (the same router used by Vodafone for their GigaCube 5G service):

ServiceData AllowanceContract LengthUpfront PriceMonthly Price

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

For more information, see our review of Three’s 5G home broadband service.

EE also offers a 5G-powered home broadband service. With 5GEE WiFi, you’ll get a HTC 5G Hub router, starting from £50/month for 50GB of data:

ServiceData AllowanceContract LengthUpfront PriceMonthly Price

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

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

Whilst EE’s 5G broadband option is much more expensive than Vodafone GigaCube, it has the ability to function on-the-go using battery power. EE also offers 5G coverage in different cities to Vodafone, meaning it might be the only 5G option available to some.

For more information, see the EE website or read our in-depth review of 5GEE WiFi.

Coverage

4G Coverage

Vodafone offers 99% population coverage on its 4G network.

In order to use the GigaCube service, you’ll need to live in an area that’s covered by Vodafone for 4G. The easiest way to check this is by entering your postcode on Vodafone’s online coverage map:

Check Vodafone Coverage (vodafone.co.uk) →

Once you’ve verified that you’re living a 4G coverage area, you can sign up for the GigaCube service online.

5G Coverage

Vodafone has started to roll out 5G coverage in a handful of cities including Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester. You’ll need to live in one of these cities to benefit from the higher speeds available on GigaCube 5G.

Now Live32 towns and cities are live on Vodafone 5G (November 2019)
Bebington, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Bolton, Bootle, Bristol, Cardiff, Droylsden, Eccles, Gatwick, Glasgow, Horwich, Huyton-with-Roby, Isle of Scilly, Lancaster, Liverpool, Llandudno, London, Manchester, Mangotsfield, Newbury, Paisley, Penarth, Plymouth, Prestwich, Salford, Solihull, Stoke-on-Trent, Stretford, Wallasey, Warrington, Wolverhampton
Planned &
Announced
6 towns and cities planned
Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Portsmouth, Reading, Southampton (End of 2019)

You can check the 5G coverage in your area, by entering your postcode on Vodafone’s online coverage map:

Check 5G Coverage (vodafone.co.uk) →

A total of 22 towns and cities should be live on Vodafone 5G by the end of 2019. For more information, see our city-by-city rollout tracker for 5G.

For more information, see the Vodafone website or read our in-depth guide to the coverage on Vodafone.

More Information

For more information about the GigaCube service, please see Vodafone’s official website.

Your Comments 38 so far

We'd love to hear your thoughts and any questions you may have. So far, we've received 38 comments from readers. You can add your own comment here.

  • Christopher Reilly said:

    Hi. I signed up yesterday for a Vodafone 4G Gigacube, and it’s already transformed our lives in bandwidth-starved rural Wiltshire. But I’ve just discovered that we’ve hit the limit of the number of devices we can connect. There are seven of us in the house and we have an extensive Sonos system with speakers in every room, not to mention smart-phones, tablets and laptops. Would a 5G Gigacube solve the problem, even though we are unlikely to get 5G coverage for at least another 1-2 years ?

    • Hi Christopher,
      Thanks for your comment and it’s great to hear that the GigaCube has made a really big difference! Unfortunately, the 4G GigaCube does only allow you to connect up to 20 devices over wi-fi. There are three ways you can get around this:
      1) Connect your Vodafone GigaCube to a mesh wi-fi networking system, such as BT Whole Home Wi-Fi. Not only will this give you strong wi-fi coverage across your home, it allow you to side-step the 20 device limit as your devices connect to the mesh wi-fi system (the 20 device limit only applies to devices that are connected directly to the GigaCube).
      2) You could buy an unlocked 4G router to replace the Vodafone 4G GigaCube – something like the Huawei B525 is probably the most similar. The Huawei B525 allows you to connect up to 64 devices at the same time over wi-fi.
      3) As you mentioned, you could also upgrade to the Vodafone GigaCube 5G. This has a limit of 64 devices on wi-fi at the same time. You’ll also be 5G-ready for whenever it launches in your area.
      My personal recommendation would probably be to go with #1 as this will also boost the wi-fi signal strength & performance across your home. It’s also ISP-agnostic and will continue to work even if you changed internet provider in the future.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • Christopher Reilly replied:

        Thanks a lot Ken !
        I will try your first suggestion and let you know how that goes.
        Weirdly, the box which the ‘Vodafone’ 4G Gigacube came in says on it that up to 64 devices can connect at the same time. I guess when they put the Vodafone logo on the Huawei packaging they forgot to delete that detail… Does this mean that the gigacube itself can in fact handle up to 64 devices and it’s just Vodafone who have limited it to 20 ?!

        • Hi Christopher,
          Yes, indeed, do please keep me updated!
          With regards to the 20 device limit, it is my understanding that Vodafone asked for a 20 device limit when they specced the GigaCube 4G router (the Huawei B528). For instance, if you look at other very similar routers in the 5xx range (e.g. the Huawei B525 or Huawei B535), you’ll find they actually support up to 64 devices. Even on entry-level routers like the Huawei B315, you can usually have 32 devices connected at once.
          Why they asked for this 20-device limit is unbeknownst to me!
          Ken

          • Christopher Reilly replied:

            hi Ken
            Well the Vodafone 4G gigacube is working ok, and I’m getting between 30 and 40 megs download which is a vast improvement on our <7 which we have had for the last 15 years. But it turns out it is NOT compatible with the BT Whole Home Wifi system. I have spent a few hours today trying to get them to talk to each other. For a while I did manage to get it all working, by connecting the BT things to my old Netgear N150 Wireless Access Point, and then connecting that by cable to the gigacube, which seems to work, but in this large household we are well over the number of devices which the gigacube can accept, and also it does not like Sonos at all – something to do with the ping speeds apparently. So, back to the drawing board I think. It is really tantalising to know that great speed is within reach, but I just can't figure out how to get it distributed well in a large house. Frustrating !

          • Hi Christopher,
            Thanks for the feedback! Do you know why it wasn’t working with your BT Whole Home Wi-Fi? My understanding is the GigaCube should work fine with mesh wi-fi systems (e.g. see the confirmation here from Vodafone’s team). Other readers of this site have also managed to get it working successfully with mesh wi-fi systems, so I don’t see why it would be incompatible with BT Whole Home Wi-Fi…
            Ken

  • I was unable to reply to Ken’s reply or my own post of 3 August 2019.

    I thought it was data deprioritisation – thank you Ken for your reply. But after speaking with another Vodafone tech support person who seems to be the most knowledgeable of any of the people I have spoken with over there, I think the problem may be more to do with a dropped signal.

    Thanks to this tech, I discovered that by taking the SIM card out, putting it back in again and then powering off and back on, I seemed to get Internet again. I had thought that this was one of the solutions I went through in the very beginning of my epic solutions quest, but anyway it works.

    After a week of doing this **every day** I started shortcutting by just unplugging and plugging in the power supply. That seemed to work, then the last few days I have just been powering off leaving it for 3 minutes and then powering back on again using the button at the front of the gigacube – the power button, not the refresh wifi button. Curiously neither of these solutions worked in the past. They do seem to be working now.

    The tech support guy at Vodafone said the SIM is supposed to refresh every couple of hours but he could see at their end that it had not been refreshed in nearly 2 days. I have no idea where the fault lies but I get signal back as soon as everything reconnects again – this is after getting a replaced gigacube and replaced SIM card – If I just wait and don’t take any action at all I stay disconnected from the Internet for hours at a time.

    I do wonder if it’s not the cube since my husband has a mifi with a Vodafone SIM and has never encountered this problem once. Just sayin’

    • Hi Caroline,
      Thanks for getting back to us, and sharing everything you’ve learnt. It’s really curious to hear that you’ve had to this. I’m not sure I fully grasp the concept of the SIM card refreshing periodically, but it’s good to know that this solved the issue for you. Ideally, this isn’t something you should need to be doing manually, so I hope Vodafone will be able to find a better solution soon…
      Ken

  • Vodafone have a new range of Data only SIMs. The Unlimited Max service offers unlimited downloads for only £30 a month. Thus all you need to buy us a 4G router. I already use this method, albeit with an earlier contact that offers 100gb monthly downloads for only £20.

  • Hi Ken,
    Further to our original discussion, I received the ‘Three’ sim card, inserted it into Vodaphone router and have had mixed success these past 6 days. Speeds were initially 21D/26U but over the weekend had speeds of 2D/1U or worse. Switching router power off then on sometimes recovered the speed. Probably 15D/20U for 70% of the time. Pretty acceptable for unlimited at £20/month.
    Do you think changing the router and antenna would stabilise speeds? I’m not expecting higher – just more consistent.

    • Hi Peter,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, it’s really difficult for me to say!
      Having a quick search on Google, it looks like the Panorama WMM8G-7-27-275SP antenna that you use is a directional antenna rather than an omnidirectional antenna (more background on this here). In most cases, people get a more stable connection when they use an omni-directional antenna, assuming there are multiple phone masts serving your area. A directional antenna is much more susceptible to drop-outs and may give you a less stable connection (unless, of course, you know there is only one mast serving your location).
      Ken

    • Hi Damien,
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, I believe it should be possible to attach your ASUS router to the GigaCube via the Ethernet cable.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

    • Yes, we use a Cisco or Linksys (sorry can’t remember which) router plugged into the one ethernet port at the back of our gigacube to distribute the internet from one outbuilding to the chapel we are currently renovating. That works brilliantly.

  • I bought the 4G GigaCube from Vodafone and pay monthly 30 for 100GB. We live in Anglesey and have very few choices in Internet providers or phone providers.

    Up until this year we always used fixed home broadband – BT was the only provider – and it was bad. I use VOIP and video conferencing for work and I when fibre to the premises was promised last year we were on board. Unfortunately we missed the boat!

    So 4G Gigacube has been wonderful – when it works. I spent days of missed work trying to get to the bottom of why I stopped getting signal, sometimes for hours at a time. Vodafone was a pain the neck. I tried to trouble shoot. They were a mess of miscommunication. In addition to my downtime at work because I couldn’t get online, I spent 3 days driving into and out of Bangor to replace the cube. I also asked them to replace my SIM card. Which it took them a week to do and then they charged me for it.
    After all that, I seemed to have no problems for about 2 weeks and then the issue cropped up again. I was told to take the SIM card out, power cycle router, put it back in again and power cycle again. That seemed to do the trick for 2 days. But your article mentions “data de-prioritisation”. This is the first time I have encountered anyone acknowledging this phenomenon and that is exactly what my experience has been. I have not used that term, but I have described this behaviour to Vodafone customer support and they deny that this is happening up and down. However that is the best way to describe the issue I have been having.

    Do you have any evidence to show Vodafone is doing this? Do I have any legal recourse? Is there any way I can show this is happening to my account? My husband also uses a Vodafone data SIM, but in a mifi. When I have lost signal I can go onto his connection and there is no problem – Is Vodafone network detecting that the signal is coming through the Gigacube? Can you talk more about this behaviour and possible solutions? I have loved the Gigacube speed etc, but when internet conks out on my inthe middle of a meeting and can’t be restored for some time – I am not convinced the manual SIM in and out of cube to refresh signal actually does anything – I think they have just given me a job to do whilst to take up the time whilst they decide to re-prioritize my signal.

    • Hi Caroline,
      Thanks for writing and for sharing your experiences of the GigaCube. With regards to data de-prioritisation, Vodafone mentions this in the T&C for the GigaCube service:

      The speeds achieved while using the GigaCube are subject to network coverage and capacity. Speeds may vary significantly. Your plan may also be subject to data de-prioritisation. Data de-prioritisation means that some data traffic will receive less priority over other traffic on the Vodafone Network. During peak periods or congestion, we may manage the Vodafone Network by de-prioritising the internet traffic of certain data users. This could mean that during periods of congestion, Gigacube speeds may be different to the speeds experienced using our other services supplied over the Vodafone Network.

      Unfortunately, I don’t know what your rights are in this situation, or what recourse you have, but hopefully this should at least point you in the right direction!
      Ken

  • Do VF, EE and Three allow customers to use standard pay monthly phone sims in a third party router or a device (intended for data only) not purchased from them? The reason I ask is the “data only” packages they offer for dongles etc are more expensive than the phone “unlimited calls, texts and data” packages. Could they terminate your connection for using a sim intended for a mobile phone in a 4G / 5G router and would they know the sim is being used for that purpose?

    • Hi Jenson,
      Thanks for your comment. Until last year, there were some restrictions in place on using a smartphone SIM card in other devices (e.g. using a smartphone SIM in a mobile broadband router). However, this ended up being investigated by Ofcom and was ruled to be a breach of net neutrality. From Ofcom’s website:

      “The EU Open Internet Access Regulation, among other things, enshrines ISP customers’ fundamental right to access the content and information, to use the applications and services, and to use the terminal equipment of their choice through their internet access service through their internet access service.”

      As such, Three have now removed any restrictions on using a handset SIM card in a mobile broadband router, as have most other mobile networks.
      Hope this helps!
      Ken

      • Hi Ken, thank you so much for that answer, it’s the perfect answer.
        I have to say after reading your review above I have purchased the B525 and am awaiting a sim to activate it. I have done a bit of internet investigating before investing my hard earned and yours was easily the best information I found. A really good review.
        Thanks again for your quick response

  • Hi, I’m in a similar situation… Really poor fixed line broadband (only 8mb average).
    I notice no one has mentioned the Huawei B618 as an option? On paper, it looks a much better option than the B525. I’m trying to find as much info as possible before shelling out £300+ for the router.
    I’m also looking at the Q2 for my mesh as I’m unable to find any info on whether Velop, Orbi or Google wifi are compatible with the Hauwei’s B525 or 618 models?
    Looks like the Poynting omni aerial is the way to go though, as everyone recommends it.

  • David Watson said:

    Problem..
    I’ve got a 3 part SIM card and this modem requires it to be reduced to Nano.
    On Micro, SIM too big.
    On Nano, SIM too small.
    (No it’s not the 3 bears 2)

    Am I just not getting it? Or is something wrong here.
    I’ve tried all day but SIM continues to drop in then out, appears to be no SIM carrier inside port hole. Anyone else got this issue?
    Anyone with answer to dilemma?
    David Watson Ph.D
    (Not in IT)

    • Hi David,
      Thanks for your comment. That’s really strange. The 4G Vodafone GigaCube (Huawei B528) should take micro-sized SIM cards, whereas the new 5G GigaCube (Huawei 5G CPE Pro) should take nano-sized SIM cards. I’m not sure why the SIM card isn’t working on your router – it might be worth contacting Vodafone Customer Support if the problem persists?
      Ken

  • Peter John said:

    Dear Ken,
    Many thanks for an excellent, plain-speaking review.
    Following David’s pioneering saga (thank you David), I’m ready to switch to the heady climes of unlimited 4G with Three.
    At the moment I have 4G, supplied Vodaphone through BigBlu (£35 for 40Gb), with a Zyxel F410 router fed by a Panorama WMM8G-7-27-275SP external aerial. The service is pretty good with 20-25 Mbps down and 10-15Mbps up. The Panorama appears to be pointing in the correct direction, so would it work just as well with a Huawei B525 two SMA connectors to each, I think. The Three signal coverage appears to be the same as Vodaphone as checked on your link.
    Any comments or thoughts would be gratefully received.
    Kind regards,
    Peter

    • Hi Peter,
      Thanks for your comment. This sounds like a great plan, and I would personally definitely want to try this as you’ll get more data for less money on the deal from Three.
      Regarding coverage, you should expect it to be fairly different with Three. For instance, Three generally share their masts with EE (as opposed to Vodafone who often share their masts with O2). For this reason, you might find that your nearest mast from Three is in a different direction from the nearest mast from Vodafone. I’m not sure whether you have an omni-directional or a directional 4G antenna, but if it’s the latter, you might need to test out different placements for your antenna.
      Ken

  • Right, so the madness continues – As I promised, I shall update you as to the merits of my search for ‘4G nirvana’ as soon as I have returned the ‘GigaCube 4G home broadband’ router from whence it came, which I now have done, so as you know…

    1. I had settled on buying a Huawei B525 router – However from what I can see, it doesn’t accommodate the fitting of an outdoor Antenna and I need one here on the farm, so now looking at the TP-Link AC1200 4G LTE SIM Slot Unlocked Wi-Fi Dual Band Router, No Configuration Required, Fixed External Wi-Fi Antennas, UK Plug (Archer MR400) instead, which does (I have been told?)

    2. The ‘unlimited’ data SIM card from Three (currently £25/month) is actually not unlimited but subject to a 1TG threshold (still a great offer) beyond which they have the right to stop the service pending investigation as to the use of the data. However that shouldn’t be a problem as the upside on that is it can be taken on a pay as you go contract – or ‘Three Advanced Plan – Unlimited Data allowance’ as its called – on a one month contract.

    3. I also contacted Sky, my Internet service provider and they very kindly provided me with data to suggest that the main reason for my poor service (2.30Download / 0.33Upload – beyond the fact that we have as I said before a crappy copper ADSL phone line) is that we are currently using between 150Ghz and 200Ghz per month of ADSL provided WI-FI through their modem / router, with…and get this!!!.. 17 active connections sharing an average of 47 different background apps such as internet security, social media like Face book, WhatsApp etc.. Netflix, Google maps, banking apps, Messenger, News, Podcasts, Weather.. that all require constant updating at some time to serve the user as they should.

    Now its obvious to anyone reading this that I am not particularly tech-savvy but that’s a lot of background stuff I didn’t even know about!!! and I wondered how many people actually do? Other than the social media stuff it would obviously be beneficial to turn off all the background stuff possible, especially scheduled updates and the like because once I’m 4G ready the faster this stuff is going to be consumed – by even the biggest of packages. Data usage of this nature is therefore a huge concern for people coming off traditional internet services I would have thought. Automatic software updates for operating systems including apple I-pads and phones that back themselves up to the I cloud more often than they probably realistically need to are paramount and antivirus solutions of course, but all other programmes and Apps should be updated on an unmetered internet connection wherever possible.

    I’m advised also that Windows 10 has a default-setting allowing it to act as an update server to other windows 10 users on line…without even telling you??On demand movies and sky boxes that automatically download the next episode of a box set etc are another huge draw on those monthly data allowances.

    So whilst my search for the best kit goes on, my empirical knowledge grows exponentially…what ever happened to moving the ‘bunny-ears’ on the tv to get the squiggly lines away.. lol!

    David.

    • Hi David,
      Thanks for getting back to me and updating me on your search for a new 4G broadband provider! To answer your questions in turn:
      1. The Huawei B525 does indeed allow you to use an external antenna (it has 2x SMA connectors for this – see my guide to mobile broadband antennas for more info on how to source an antenna). My recommendation would probably be to go with something like the Poynting omni-directional external antenna (XPOL-1) as it should give you the best speeds. With regards to the TP-Link router, I don’t know too much about this but will take a look at it!
      2. I believe the unlimited data SIM card from Three is just £20/month if you take it on a 12-month contract. You’re right, however, this increases to £25/month if you want it on a one-month rolling contract.
      3. It sounds like the root issue here is still the poor download speeds of 2.3Mbit/s down and 0.33Mbit/s up. This greatly limits the capacity of your connection (e.g. you would typically use up around 4Mbit/s if you were watching some HD content online). Obviously, Sky can share some data with you to try and deflect the blame elsewhere, but I actually don’t think it’s that uncommon to be using lots of applications on your network at one time! I think there’s probably a bit of misdirection from them as well (e.g. something like your news app, weather app or messaging app probably uses next to zero data). I do agree that background services like Windows 10 updates & automatic TV show downloads are worth keeping an eye on as they can use up some valuable bandwidth (it might be worth trying to schedule these to happen overnight, if you want to “conserve” some bandwidth for other things during the day).
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • Hi Ken,

        Right!…having settled on following your advice to the letter (so I can blame you when it doesn’t workout lol!) I now have the Huawei 525 router in situ – I have located it near my ADT router, in the middle of what is a 5000 sq.ft house on a remot’ish farm – as this was deemed to be the best spot for maximum signal when they tested for their installation.

        I have also attached that to a ‘Poynting omni-directional external antenna (XPOL-1)’ as you also suggested and gone with a one month (30 day) three 3 – ‘unlimited’ data SIM card for now, to see how good the whole thing would be before committing to any one provider, because its one thing getting ‘unlimited GB’ but if the signal strength is compromised (as I now think it is due to three more limited coverage in my area) then my previous experience with Vodafone’s GigaCube may be a better alternative (because though it is limited to just 500GB, Ookla’s download speed ping-test showed an improvement from 2.30download / 0.33upload (SKY router) to a consistent 31.68 /15.54 respectively with it) which is surprising as when I asked you before about that, you said – “You can use Three’s AI Cube B900 router for faster download speeds, or something like the unlocked ‘Huawei B525 router’. Both of these will give you the same maximum download speed as Vodafone’s GigaCube router”.

        The Wi-Fi and network check on my Vodaphone mobile phone app tells me that on my Voda handset I am getting 11.4 Mbps (DL) and 3.1Mbps (UL) with a 40.0ms ping speed through the Huawei router and as high as 19.8Mbps (D/L) and 4.8 Mbps (DL) with a 72.0 ping speed on Vodas own 4G network. However on the ‘Ookla ping-test’ on the laptop in my office (12ft from the Huawei 525 router) and next to my voda handset I am only achieving uploads of 12.44Mbps and 2.72Mbps respectively with a ping speed of 39.

        That said, I am also about to add a ‘Huawei Q2 smart-home plug and play mesh Wi-Fi seamless roaming system’ to the mix and whilst I have been assured that the overall 4G coverage will be substantially better in this rambling old farm house this will inevitably also mean slower download speeds etc due to the additional appliances. What I don’t yet know is to what extent … and how I can negate that if at all possible?

        All said and done Ken, I am just pleased to have increased the overall functionality of my internet to what it currently is and now just want to ensure that I am maximising it without compromising it at the same time.

        Regards

        David.

        • Hi David,
          Thanks for your comment and for the updates on your installation! I think there are really two separate issues in play here:
          1) The quality of the 4G mobile signal between your Huawei B525 router and the nearest phone mast from Vodafone or Three. An external antenna (e.g. the Poynting) can help you here, by improving the strength of your 4G signal.
          2) The quality of the wi-fi signal between your device (e.g. your laptop or smartphone) and the Huawei B525 router. A mesh networking solution can help you here, by boosting the Wi-Fi signal strength in your home.
          One way to disentangle the two things above is by attaching your device directly to the router using a wired Ethernet connection. This should allow you to see the download speeds available on your 4G connection, without any chance of the wi-fi signal causing things to slow down..
          Adding a mesh networking solution will only help to improve download speeds if it’s the wi-fi network that’s causing things to be slow. However, when set up and installed properly, it shouldn’t have too much of a negative impact on speeds.
          Hope this helps!
          Ken

    • Hi David,
      Thanks for your comment. The download speed you get will depend on lots of local factors (e.g. the quality of coverage you get from Three and the quality of coverage you get from Vodafone). However, comparing the maximum speeds on the Three HomeFi (Huawei B311) to Vodafone’s GigaCube (Huawei B528), the service from Vodafone is up to twice as fast.
      You can use Three’s AI Cube B900 router for faster download speeds, or something like the unlocked Huawei B525 router. Both of these will give you the same maximum download speed as Vodafone’s GigaCube router.
      Hope this helps,
      Ken

      • David McDougall replied:

        Hi Ken,
        Thanks for your speedy response, always helpful when considering the options and looking for qualified advice in a hurry.I now have Vodafone’s GigaCube 4G home broadband and whilst I am impressed with the significant difference it has made (Ookla’s download speed ping test showed an improvement from 2.30Download / 0.33Upload to 31.68 / 15.54respectively) it’s still an awful long way of their suggested download speeds of ‘up to 300Mbit/s’ and so I am thinking that as I have 7 days to cancel this devices contract (300GB Data 18 month contract @ £80/month) – from my already significant existing contract for several phones with Vodaphone – would it not be just as good for me to get the ‘Three HomeFi’ deal as it will provide the same speed at a fraction of the costs…with the upside of ‘Unlimited Data’ as well? Even EE can only guarantee me 31Mbits/s on their fancy system with an outside aerial.

        David.

        Regards,
        David

        • Hi David,
          Many thanks for your comment. The speeds you’re getting (32Mbit/s download and 15Mbit/s upload) aren’t actually too bad for a 4G broadband service! In general, your mileage may vary as it depends on the quality of your coverage and capacity/congestion on the local mast, but adding an antenna might sometimes help to improve these speeds further if coverage is the limiting factor. The maximum speed of “up to 300Mbit/s” is a theoretical maximum of Category 6 LTE technology and is almost never actually obtained in real-world usage.
          With regards to the HomeFi, it’s difficult to say! Personally, I think unlimited data for £22/month is definitely much more economical than the packages on GigaCube. However, it will also depend on the quality of coverage you’re able to get from Three. It’s also worth noting that the HomeFi router only supports up to Category 4 LTE speeds, so your service will most likely be slower than what you’re getting from Vodafone GigaCube (see my full comparison of the different 4G broadband options here). If you’re happy to do-it-yourself, I’d recommend buying a Huawei B525 router (£120) and pairing it with an unlimited data SIM card from Three (currently £20/month). That will give you Category 6 LTE connectivity (the same as on GigaCube) along with a better router and more flexibility (only a 12-month contract rather than a 24-month contract). Alternatively, you could go for the AI Cube from Three which does give you Category 6 LTE connectivity, but that lacks support for an external antenna should you ever want to use one.
          Hope this helps,
          Ken

          • “Boom!”.. there you have it – “buying a Huawei B525 router (£120) and pairing it with an unlimited data SIM card from Three (currently £20/month). That will give you Category 6 LTE connectivity (the same as on GigaCube) along with a better router and more flexibility (only a 12-month contract rather than a 24-month contract) – that’s me done and dusted!..
            I shall update you as to the merits of such an arrangement as soon as I have returned the ‘GigaCube 4G home broadband’ router from whence it came.
            David.

  • How is Three able to offer unlimited and at lower prices and the other big networks are not.
    For Vodafone to restrict their service to a single address or post code is basically marketing it to those who are unable to get a fixed line connection and punishing them with a punitive price.
    The pricing and in todays age 4k streaming, the limit on data usage makes all these wireless broadband concepts other than Three, unpractical.
    The US and most other developed countries routinely offer unlimited data and have been for a number of years now. Only the UK are failing to move with the times.
    I am stuck on an extortionate £45 per month with ee with a data limit of 100gb. Wish I had seen the three offer at the time.

    • Hi Mike,
      Thanks for your comment. I believe the mobile networks have taken different approaches to the launch of 4G home broadband. Both BT/EE and Vodafone are also players in traditional fixed home broadband, so I imagine 4G is currently seen as a strategy for them to extend coverage into areas where a fixed line broadband connection isn’t available. As such, they haven’t been pricing their 4G home broadband services very competitively and you can see that most of the marketing has been focussed on more rural areas.
      Three have made no secret of the fact that they’re looking to break in to the home broadband market, and they’re pushing 5G as a full-on replacement for fixed line broadband. The 4G-based HomeFi service is really the first step towards this, with 5G services hopefully starting to roll out from later this year. I think part of this strategy means having data plans and allowances that are competitive against traditional fixed-line broadband. They also don’t have a fixed-line business so there’s less worry about cannibalising a different part of the business.
      Ken

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