4G home router help and advice

Following on from the “Optimising Wi-Fi to beat a wired connection” thread, and some others…. I seek a little info for a network novice.

I have now given up on ever getting a decent home broadband connection via BT Landline as we live a long way from the local cabinet (FTTC) and only get about 3MBps download. Not great if you want to stream HI-RES music files !

Just want to know if others in UK currently using a 4G router and data SIM internet solution rather than landline can give a little advice. I’m seeking any pointers as to what I need to consider when actually choosing a router and possibly external antenna (yup poor mobile signal as well) any suggestions would be much appreciated. I am currently exploring which mobile provider has the best local 4G coverage (no 5G either)

I also would ideally want to use my BT mesh discs (white) with the new router somehow and wondered if this is even possible. I anticipate turning off the router WI-FI signal and running the first BT disc off a Lan port similar to that on my current BT home hub. Then just run the wi-fi off the mesh.

There seem to be a lot of router and antenna choice so any specific model recommendations are welcome. I have looked at similar threads and not found the info I seek in order to get started.

I suspect we will choose ‘3’ as it claims to have good 4G in my area.
Apologies if this has already been covered but could not fine what I wanted in other threads I’ve found.

We have the 60 mb BT system with the hybrid EE mobile back up. When the broadband failed……the mobile was just fine.

I recently tried a 4G router from Three as they started offering the service here, and it was cheap, with unlimited data. It gave me about 30 meg when it was in a good mood. At peak times in the evenings I was lucky to get 2 meg and it was quite clear that their network had insufficient capacity.
Make sure that whoever you use agrees to allow you to cancel otherwise you could be stuck with an unusable service for a year or two.


I have 2 lines 1 bt and 1 Plusnet both deliver 7 up and 1 down
Last week I had Airband install they run of the best provider available on site for me it was EE we are getting a constant 18 up and 20 down airband are running a try before you buy 30 day free install and hardware £25/ month 18 month contract its working great for me ATM rather than install the antenna on the building I had them fit it in the loft .

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I live in Sweden but for many years I had all my internet connection via 3G, 4G and 5G until last year when we moved to a newly built flat with fixed fiber. I had a big directional antenna in the attic first but later it didn’t make any difference so I used the normal short ones.

I used a small modem device in an ugly aluminium box made for fixed installations. It accepted two SIM-cards so besides Three I had a pay-as-you-go card as a backup connection. They could be setup so they both were used in parallel (with two accounts) but I never tried that.

The modem was connected to an Apple AirPort Extreme used as actual home router…

With 5G at its best I had around 150-160MBit. On busy evenings it could go as low as 60MBit. The speed was o.k. but latency was not optimal for online gaming.

I’ve had Three home 4G for a few years now. We live in the country and had unreliable 12mbps broadband. The Three product is reliable here and gives a minimum of 65mbps, for the princely sum of £20 a month (other providers are more expensive and/or don’t offer unlimited data). We watch 4K tv daily, stream and work from home without trouble.

We just use the internal antenna, one of my neighbours has a “squarial” looking external antenna. I’ve got a ZTE 5G router now in anticipation of 5G here, but the freebie one is fine. I use the RE550 extenders around the house. They’re excellent.

I can’t recommend the Three product highly enough. Both my neighbours have it too and we’ve all dumped our landlines. There’s a certain amount of snobbery from fibre-using friends and family to overcome - but that’s it !

I don’t work for Three. Just a happy customer.


I have a couple of EE 4g routers; bought off fleabay for peanuts, with unlocking codes. Use one for family network and one for streaming. Three and EE much of a muchness speed wise where I am (given they use the same hardware) with no apparent throttling of download speed or bandwidth.

I just buy prepaid SIM cards when I need them (every 6 months or so) - much cheaper than a contract.

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You might like to consider making sure the 4G router has antenna sockets so that you can use an outdoor antenna.
Many routers do not have that facility but it’s important if you’re not in a strong mobile reception area.
Unfortunately, unless you can pick up a 2nd hand antenna, they’re likely to cost about as much as a 4G modem router but can make a huge difference to the performance.
Also, be careful of what data allowance you’re getting. When I used a 4G connection, a couple of computer IOS updates and video downloads used my entire monthly allowance in 3 days… That was however a few years ago and there are probably better packages now.

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You seem to be dealing with much the same issues that we are here in the Cambridgeshire Fens.
We have actually got the Fibre infrastructure installed up our road and I can see the termination point on the telegraph through the living room window.
4G is poor and 5G non existent.
EE was our best suggested alternative but the EE shop couldn’t transact it when we went in.
I don’t understand how this country is so far behind in telecommunications🤦🏻‍♂️


Unlimited data sims are compromised; put to the bottom of the queue at peak times. There’s a reason why ‘unlimited’ data sims cost more than fixed data sims!

One test you MUST do is try different providers to see who give the best (strength and reliability) signal. This might well mean getting a few payg sims so you can test signals. Once you have the best signal you can then se what the best data plan is. It’s no good have a great data package but a crap signal!

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Three only offer unlimited data contracts, and they are cheap at £20 a month.

And you pay more for a fixed data!

It’s also worth noting that 5G is included in the £20 unlimited data deal - so when it arrives in your area, you should get an instant speed upgrade, if you’ve got a 5G modem/router.

As the OP requested hardware recommendations, ours is a ZTE MC801A, which is 5G ready.

As suggested, test out the Three signal where you live, before you commit. Our box sits on an upstairs windowsill, and we get the speeds I mentioned just with that. My neighbour doesn’t have such a great signal, so uses the “squariel” which is sold by a company called Bluespot. That sits above his front door, concealed by foliage !

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I should have mentioned to search for “Three Home Broadband”. That way you get the deal with the box included. No need to buy unlimited data sim’s separately.

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Signal bars only give an approximation of signs strength with an iPhone you can put it in Field Test Mode that give the actual signal strength as a number. You can find how to put your phone into Field Test Mode with google.

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Hi Chris, Unfortunately having checked the mobile provider coverage maps it seems ‘3’ may be our best choice as they claim good 4G for my home. However despite this when trying to buy router/sim package their website won’t allow me to buy one, saying only that “they are on their way” I have called my nearest 3 store and they confirmed that they are unable to supply me with a 4G home broadband package, but did state that the coverage is good. They went on to say that 3 suspend sales of 4G broadband in areas where the mast is overloaded or likely to overload until the mast is updated (whenever that could be).

The irony is that they will sell me a sim to use in my own router although this costs more than one supplied with a router !

Thanks for the info , but unfortunatly Airband wont service my address (North Lake district) :frowning_face:

Well the good news is that 3 will allow me 14 days trial of their sim package, and if it doesn’t work they will refund me !

Thanks for the suggestion !

Will see if a cheaper router works first (no sign of 5G for a long time here) likely to try a TP link router and upgrade it later if we get 4G broadband working better than our rubbish BT landline internet. Will also be looking to self-instal an external aerial once “proof of concept has been established at the house.

Three coverage is fine in my area too, and I have a cellphone contract with them. The 4G router I had received a good strong signal too, but there’s no way to tell whether their network capacity is adequate until you try it. In my case they clearly made an error in making the service available here when their network couldn’t support it.

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