Best 5G router

26 April 2024

Contents

Thanks to 5G, an exciting new alternative to traditional fibre home broadband is starting to emerge.

The next-generation mobile network known as 5G is not merely a super-fast way to get connected from your smartphone, it’s also being positioned as a viable means of connecting to the internet from your home.

In order to connect to 5G home broadband, you’ll need a 5G router. Here’s a rundown of the current 5G router market in the UK.

What is a 5G router?

A 5G router is a plug-in device that enables you to access home broadband using a 5G signal rather than the telephone wiring that runs to your home.

With average real world download speeds of between around 100–200Mbps, 5G home broadband is already faster than standard fibre broadband where available. With peak speeds potentially exceeding 1Gbps in places, it could even potentially compete with top-notch full fibre broadband.

5G also benefits from lower latency than 4G, which should in time make for a fixed broadband-like responsive online experience. Based on the available data, you can currently expect a ping of around 20-35ms, which falls in between a decent home broadband connection (10–20ms) and a 4G broadband connection (around 35-50ms).

But perhaps the key benefit of using a 5G router right now is how quick and easy they are to set up. You can receive it in the post the very next day after you order, at which point you literally plug it in and access the internet. There’s no need to wait around for an engineer to visit.

Best 5G routers

Given the relatively new nature of 5G broadband, there aren’t an awful lot of options for 5G routers on the market. In fact, until fairly recently there was only really one, albeit rebranded by three different networks. Thankfully, the choice is a little wider now.

Three 5G Home Broadband

If you take out Three 5G Home Broadband, then you’ll receive a Three 5G Hub (also sometimes referred to as the Three 5G Home Broadband Hub), and it supports an impressive max download speed of 4.7Gbps – though Three’s own network tops out at 1Gbps on this device, so for now you won’t see those speeds.

For average download speeds, Three claims that at least 50% of its 5G home broadband customers will get average speeds of 150Mbps during the peak hours of between 8pm and 10pm.

The Three 5G Hub also has two Ethernet ports, along with antenna sockets, plus support for up to 64 simultaneous connections. That’s far more than you’re likely to need, and is in line with rivals.

5G Broadband Deals

Three 5G Broadband

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Unlimited Data
£12.00 a month
24 month contract
£12.00 a month
6 months half price

Three 5G Broadband

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Unlimited Data
£28.00 a month
1 month contract
£28.00 a month

EE Smart 5G Hub

EE offers 5G home broadband via its own-branded 5G router (seen above), the EE Smart 5G Hub.

EE hasn’t revealed all the specs of this device, but it claims that you'll get average download speeds of 146Mbps from its Smart 5G Hub, and that it can impressively get over 100 devices online, which is more than rivals. The EE Smart 5G Hub also has two Ethernet ports.

Smart 5G Hub Deals

EE Smart 5G Hub

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5GB Data
£21.00 a month
24 month contract
£21.00 a month

EE Smart 5G Hub

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25GB Data
£24.00 a month
24 month contract
£24.00 a month

EE Smart 5G Hub

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500GB Data
£45.00 a month
18 month contract
£45.00 a month

Vodafone GigaCube 5G

The Vodafone GigaCube 5G theoretically offers top speeds of 2.8Gbps, though as with other options your real world speeds will be a lot lower, with Vodafone stating that its network tops out at 1Gbps.

Like many rivals, it can get up to 64 devices online at once, so it’s competitive with most rivals, and it has two Ethernet ports. Note however that Vodafone used to offer different routers under the same name.

GigaCube 5G Deals

Vodafone GigaCube 5G

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200GB Data
£40.00 a month
24 month contract
£40.00 a month

Vodafone GigaCube 5G

latest image
Unlimited Data
£60.00 a month
24 month contract
£60.00 a month

Huawei 5G CPE Pro

The Huawei 5G CPE Pro (above) was notable for being the 5G router that every UK 5G broadband supplier issued – but Three, Vodafone and EE have all now replaced this with alternative models. You can still get it from National Broadband though, which calls it the 5G WiFi Router.

The Huawei 5G CPE Pro router allows up to 64 devices to get online at once, and also has two Gigabit Ethernet ports, which are handy for console and PC gaming, plus support for external antennas, to boost your signal if needed. It also offers support for download speeds of up to 2,330Mbps, which clearly isn’t attainable right now. But 5G is only predicted to get faster over time, and the Huawei 5G CPE Pro will be ready for it when it does.

National Broadband for its part claims that in urban locations, its 5G home broadband averages download speeds of well over 100Mbps.

Portable alternatives

Your choice of portable 5G routers is extremely limited at the time of writing. But there are a few interesting options if you want to be more flexible or mobile with your 5G broadband connectivity.

EE 5G WiFi

The EE 5G WiFi is the latest mobile broadband device to be launched by EE. 

EE's device has a lot going for it, with a 30-metre Wi-Fi range and the ability to connect up to 64 devices at the same time.

Note however that EE’s current plans available with the EE 5G WiFi top out at 100Mbps speeds. This also doesn’t support external antennas, but that’s typical with portable devices.

Netgear Nighthawk M6

The Netgear Nighthawk M6 is a 5G mobile broadband router that’s available from O2 at the time of writing.

It has a peak download speed of 3.1Gbps (though as with all of these devices the speeds on the network will be much lower), and it has a 5,040mAh battery, a 2.4-inch touchscreen, an Ethernet port, and the ability to get up to 32 devices online at once.

Vodafone 5G Mobile Hotspot

The Vodafone 5G Mobile Hotspot is Vodafone’s portable 5G option, and this can get up to 32 devices online at once, and has a 2.4-inch touchscreen and eight hours of battery life.

Speeds theoretically top out at 3.8Gbps, but don’t expect to get anywhere near that currently.

Best 4G routers

If you’re looking to set up a mobile home broadband service, but don’t live in a 5G area, there is another option. A 4G router will work in much the same way as a 5G router, but with lower download speeds and higher latency.

Three 4G Home Broadband

If you sign up for the Three 4G Home Broadband service you’ll receive a Three 4G Hub. It’s technically capable of download speeds of up to 600Mbps, though you almost certainly won’t achieve anything like those speeds given the limitations of the modern 4G network.

Any such issues won’t be down to the router itself though, which is one of the most capable on the market. You can connect up to 64 devices simultaneously over Wi-Fi - the same as most 5G routers - and there are also four ethernet ports for wired connections and two sockets for hooking up a signal-boosting external antenna.

Three 4G Hub

Three 4G Hub

Unlimited data

Three Logo

24 month contract

£20 a month

3 months free

View Deal

EE Smart 4G Hub 2

EE offers the Smart 4G Hub 2, which EE claims offers average download speeds of 40Mbps. There’s support for up to 64 simultaneous connections, and two Ethernet ports.

Vodafone GigaCube 4G

Vodafone also offers a 4G version of the GigaCube. This offers theoretical peak download speeds of 1.6Gbps (though that’s far higher than 4G networks are capable of), and it has two Ethernet ports, and can get up to 64 devices online.

4G WiFi Router

The 4G WiFi Router from National Broadband has average speeds of 25Mbps, peak speeds of 300Mbps, and can get 64 devices connected to the internet. National Broadband will provide coverage using whichever network is best in your area.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a 5G router or a 4G router?

5G broadband is much faster and more responsive than 4G broadband, and that gap is going to increase exponentially over the coming years. You should go with a 5G router if at all possible.

The main reason not to is simply that you don’t have 5G coverage in your area, but with 5G coverage increasing all the time, you might soon do if you don’t already.

How do I check whether I can get 5G broadband?

Check out the 5G coverage checkers for the UK’s  5G home broadband suppliers. These will provide detailed 5G coverage information for your area.

Check coverage

 

How fast is 5G broadband?

At the time of writing, real world download speeds for 5G broadband tend to fall between 100 and 200Mbps on average, which is faster than most regular broadband packages. Peak speeds of almost 1Gbps have been recorded in certain places, however, which rivals the fastest full fibre broadband services available in the UK.

Can I get an external antenna for a 5G router?

Yes, you can. The Three 5G Home Broadband Hub, Vodafone GigaCube 5G, and the 5G WiFi Router from National Broadband all support external antennas, which you can connect to improve your signal, which is ideal if your 5G signal is iffy or absent without an antenna.

Why aren’t there many 5G routers on the market?

Due presumably to limited 5G coverage, only a few operators are offering 5G home broadband packages, and only in a relatively small percentage of the country.

Because of this, there isn’t an abundance of 5G router options available. This will undoubtedly improve over time as 5G broadband becomes more popular.

Jon Mundy
About Jon Mundy

Technical Writer at 5G.co.uk

Jon has nine years experience of writing and editing copy for leading publications, as well as attending technology shows and events and conducting interviews. Currently working with 5G.co.uk, TechRadar, Trusted Reviews, T3, Digital Spy, What Mobile, Pocket Gamer, and The Gadget Show.

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James Rogerson
About James Rogerson

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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