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Three 5G Hub review

14th March 2022

Three 5G Hub

 

Overview

Pros

Cons

Very fast

Only 2 Ethernet ports

Easy to set up

Only available in white

Reasonable pricing

 

Verdict:

The Three 5G Hub is an excellent 5G home broadband router, and while rivals offer similarly good hardware, Three remains competitive when it comes to price.

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Three 5G Hub

Unlimited Data
£30.00 a month24 month contractThreeSee Deal
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  • Full Review
  • Specifications

Full Review

Home broadband is one of the best uses for 5G, offering a number of potential advantages over fibre broadband, from lower costs and simpler setup to sometimes even higher speeds. As such, a number of mobile networks are already offering this service, with Three being among them.

And if you get 5G home broadband from Three, then at the time of writing you’ll be sent the Three 5G Hub (a rebranded ZTE MC801A 5G Hub) to use as a router.

So just how is the Three 5G Hub? The short answer – as you can tell from the score on this review – is very good. For the long answer, read on.

Design

The Three 5G Hub is actually the ZTE MC801A 5G Hub. This isn’t surprising, as mobile networks rarely actually make their own hardware.

In any case, the Three 5G Hub is a tall, curvy white block and looks rather different to most 4G home broadband devices such as the BT 4G Home Router and the EE 4GEE Home Router 3.

They’re wider but less tall, sporting a design that’s more in line with a typical fibre broadband router. With the Three 5G Hub it’s clear you’ve got something different. We think that’s a good thing, and as routers go it looks quite good – a white monolith with a modern design.

It’s nothing amazing – ultimately it’s quite plain, and many of the key rival 5G devices look similar, but we quite like it.

Setup

Even those who really struggle with tech likely won’t have too much trouble getting the Three 5G Hub up and running, as there’s little that needs doing beyond plugging it in and turning it on, and there’s a quick start guide to run you through the basics.

That means you don’t need to wait (or pay) for an engineer to come and get it connected. And as it relies on a mobile network you also don’t need a landline for it – so if you’re not using your landline for calls, you could cancel it and save some money.

Being quick and easy to set up means you can have your internet online very soon after placing your order, as all you need to wait for is the Three 5G Hub to arrive in the mail. And the simplicity also means it’s just as easy to get up and running again in a new house. Of course, the viability of the Three 5G Hub does depend on you having mobile (and preferably 5G) coverage.

Performance and speeds

The Three 5G Hub supports download speeds of up to 3.8Gbps and upload speeds of up to 542Mbps. Speeds which notably are far higher than you’re likely to get on any current 5G network. Indeed, Three claims that its network currently tops out at 1Gbps for downloads with this device - but at least that means it’s future-proofed.

In practice, average download speeds are more likely to be in the region of 100-200Mbps, but will vary a lot depending on the coverage where you are, and how the construction of your home affects signal.

Even those averages though are pretty high. For comparison, average download speeds on 4G home broadband devices tend to come in at around 25Mbps.

Fibre broadband meanwhile is more in line with what you can expect here, but speeds there vary a lot, from much lower double digit download speeds at the bottom end, to speeds of over 1Gbps at the top end, so in many cases the Three 5G Hub will still be faster.

Features and software

Three 5G Hub Ports

There are a few notable features of the Three 5G Hub. For one thing, it can connect up to 30 devices to the internet at once. So you shouldn’t have any trouble getting all your phones, tablets, computers, consoles and the like online, and even if you have a fairly smart home with connected lights, televisions, thermostats and the like, you’re unlikely to hit the 30-device limit. That said, some rival devices (detailed further down) allow up to 64 connections.

The Three 5G Hub also supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi, and has two Ethernet ports, so whatever you want to get online and however you want to do it, the Three 5G Hub should have you covered.

Plus, it supports Wi-Fi 6, and if you are struggling with signal, there’s also the option to add external antennas to it.

Alternatives

The main alternatives to the Three 5G Hub are the Vodafone GigaCube 5G and the 5GEE Router 2021.

These are largely similar devices to the Three 5G Hub (and to each other) but with a few key differences. Obviously, they’re available on different networks (Vodafone and EE respectively), but they also have some hardware differences.

For one thing, both of these devices support up to 64 simultaneous connections – so more than double what the Three 5G Hub allows. Yet that’s far more than most people are likely to need so it needn’t be a major factor.

They also offer different maximum download speeds, with the GigaCube 5G being the lowest at 2.8Gbps, while the 5GEE Router 2021 is the highest at 4.67Gbps. The Three 5G Hub sits in the middle at 3.8Gbps.

But as noted above, these speeds are far higher than you’ll actually get on any UK network, so again, this isn’t much of a concern.

The biggest factors will be whether they offer 5G coverage in your home (which you’ll have to check for yourself) and price.

On the price front, Three often undercuts rivals, and you can see the latest deals on the Three 5G Hub at the top of this article.

Conclusion

The Three 5G Hub is an excellent 5G home broadband router, with high speeds, tech to help you maximise its performance, and relatively affordable prices.

As key rivals offer comparable devices, the actual hardware doesn’t stand out much, but Three’s plans do. Ultimately though, coverage will be the single biggest factor for many people right now, as 5G coverage is patchy on every network, so you might simply have to opt for the one that has a signal where you live.

Specifications

Specifications

  • Dimensions (mm): 182 x 124 x 70
  • Modem: 5G
  • Colours: White
  • Ethernet ports: 2 Ethernet ports
  • Download speeds: Up to 3.8Gbps
  • Upload speeds: Up to 542Mbps
  • Wi-Fi specs: Dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax (Wi-Fi 6) 4 x 4 MIMO
  • External Antenna: 2 x TS-9 antenna extension ports
  • Power: Mains powered
  • Launch date: Out now

Editorial Manager

James has been writing for us for over 10 years. Currently, he is Editorial Manager for our group of companies ( 3G.co.uk, 4G.co.uk and 5G.co.uk) and sub-editor at TechRadar. He specialises in smartphones, mobile networks/ technology, tablets, and wearables.

In the past, James has also written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media, Smart TV Radar, and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV. He has a film studies degree from the University of Kent, Canterbury, and has over a decade’s worth of professional writing experience.

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