Best 5G router

21 July 2021

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, which includes the router you’ll almost certainly be getting if you sign up for a 5G home broadband contract.

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, Three and Vodafone both offer the exact same 5G router option, albeit under different names, and EE used to offer it too. Thankfully, it’s a good one.

We’ll update this piece as more 5G router options become available.

Huawei 5G CPE Pro

Huawei 5G CPE Pro

The Huawei 5G CPE Pro is notable for being the 5G router that all three UK 5G broadband suppliers issued – though at the time of writing EE (which called it the 5GEE Home Router) doesn’t stock it. It’s unclear if or when this router will return to EE, with reports in early 2021 of shortages of it, but you can still get in from Three, which calls it the Three 5G Hub, and Vodafone, which calls it the GigaCube.

This means that buying a 5G router in the UK is a bit of a no-brainer at the time of writing. The Huawei 5G CPE Pro is the 5G router you’ll be given as part of your 5G home broadband contract, stock permitting, with EE only offering a portable alternative at the moment (more on which below), and no other networks beyond Three and Vodafone offering 5G home broadband. Still, it’s good to know what you’re getting all the same.

The Huawei 5G CPE Pro router allows up to 64 devices to get online at once over a range of 100 metres, 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.

Three 5G Hub Deals

Three 5G Hub

latest image
Unlimited Data
£30.00 a month
24 month contract
£30.00 a month
With a 43" LG TV worth £499.

Three 5G Hub

latest image
Unlimited Data
£29.00 a month
24 month contract
£29.00 a month

Three 5G Hub

latest image
Unlimited Data
£34.00 a month
12 month contract
£34.00 a month
Free tech gifts worth up to £89.99

Vodafone GigaCube Deals

Vodafone GigaCube

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100GB Data
£30.00 a month
24 month contract
£30.00 a month

Vodafone GigaCube

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

Vodafone GigaCube

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

Portable alternatives

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

5GEE WiFi

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

EE's device has a lot going for it, with a massive 6,450mAh battery, a 30 metre Wi-Fi range and the ability to connect up to 64 devices at the same time. Impressively it also supports Wi-Fi 6, which is the very latest generation of Wi-Fi, leading to improved efficiency and speeds when multiple devices are connected.

Theoretical maximum speeds of up to 2.33Gbps are supported, but currently you can expect average speeds of around 150Mbps. This doesn’t support external antennas, but that’s typical with portable devices.

EE 5GEE WiFi Deals

EE 5GEE WiFi

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50GB Data
£50.00 a month
24 month contract
£50.00 a month

EE 5GEE WiFi

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100GB Data
£75.00 a month
24 month contract
£75.00 a month

EE 5GEE WiFi

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200GB Data
£100.00 a month
24 month contract
£100.00 a month

Huawei 5G Pocket Hotspot Pro

Huawei 5G Pocket Hotspot Pro

If you need maximum mobility from your broadband connection, then the Huawei 5G Pocket Hotspot Pro could be a good choice.

Available through O2, the Huawei 5G Pocket Hotspot Pro is a tiny 280g device powered by an 8,000mAh battery. It offers 5G download speeds of up to 1.65Gbps, though again, you’ll likely be getting around a tenth of that most of the time.

Elsewhere you get a USB-C port for wired charging (at up to 40W), and that’s your lot for physical connections – though it can also be used to wirelessly charge other devices. On the whole though this is as no-nonsense a 5G router as they come, with no external antenna ports.

5G Pocket Hotspot deals

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 Hub

You can pick up the Three 4G Hub on Three. It’s a Cat 12/13 device that’s technically capable of download speeds of up to 600Mbps and upload speeds of up to 150Mbps, 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

12 month contract

£25 a month

Free gift worth up to £89.99

View Deal

Unlimited data

Three Logo

24 month contract

£23 a month

With a 32" LG TV worth £249

View Deal

4GEE Home Router 2

EE offers the 4GEE Home Router 2, which is a Cat 7 device. That means it can hit a theoretical 300Mbps download and 100Mbps upload speed.

Again, you won’t hit anything like those speeds in real life, but it’s worth noting that EE typically has the best all-round 4G performance in the UK. There’s support for up to 64 simultaneous connections and two SMA antenna sockets. You only get two ethernet ports, however, so if you’re fond of physical connections over Wi-Fi, it might not be the best choice.

4GEE Home Router 2

4GEE Router 2

100GB data

EE Logo

18 month contract

£35 a month

View Deal

Frequently Asked Questions

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

Yes, you can. The Three 5G Hub and Vodafone GigaCube 5G both 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.

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.

There are only two reasons you should actively choose a 4G router over a 5G router: budget and availability. It’s early days for 5G connectivity in the UK, and it’s neither widely available nor particularly cheap to get set up with a 5G broadband package.

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

5G is still in its infancy, particularly here in the UK. Only two operators are offering 5G home broadband packages, and only in a relatively small percentage of the country.

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

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

Check out the 5G coverage checker for the UK’s two 5G home broadband suppliers (Three and Vodafone). Keep an eye on EE too, as it used to offer 5G home broadband and might do so again. You might also want to consider a portable/mobile broadband option from EE or O2.

Check coverage

 

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.

View more posts by Jon Mundy >
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