Three 5G Hub review

21st February 2022

Three 5G Hub (ZTE 5G Hub)

Pros

Cons

Very fast

Only supports 30 connections

Multiple Ethernet and antenna ports

Plain design

Unlimited data at a competitive price

Three’s 5G can’t make the most of the hardware

Verdict

The Three 5G Hub is an excellent way to get 5G broadband at home. While it's slightly lacking for simultaneous connections and doesn't stand out much from some rivals, it's very fast, provides good coverage to your home, and has all the ports you should need.

Three 5G Hub Deals

Three 5G Hub

latest image
Unlimited Data
£10.00 a month
24 month contract
£10.00 a month
6 months half price

Three 5G Hub

latest image
Unlimited Data
£30.00 a month
24 month contract
£30.00 a month
With Chromebook 4+

Three 5G Hub

latest image
Unlimited Data
£30.00 a month
12 month contract
£30.00 a month
  • Full Review
  • Specifications Specs

Full Review

If you’re after 5G home broadband then your options are limited at the time of writing – not many networks offer it, and they typically only offer one router each.

Take Three – if you want 5G home broadband on this network, then you can only get it with the Three 5G Hub currently, but that needn’t be a problem, as this is a very good device.

From its fast speeds (like all 5G routers) to its simple setup, along with other useful specs and features, most buyers should be happy with this, but to find out more – and whether it’s the right router for you – read on below.

Design

Three 5G Hub (ZTE 5G hub)

The Three 5G Hub is actually a ZTE MC801A 5G Hub to give it its full name. It’s a tall rounded box, it comes only in white, and it has dimensions of 182 x 124 x 70mm.

Despite being made by ZTE, the only big brand name you’ll see on the device itself is Three’s, but that’s not uncommon, with networks often rebranding hardware from other companies.

There aren’t many other details to note – there are a few indicator lights running down the front and a few ports on the back, but basically it’s a very plain router, as most such things are.

It’s not likely to either offend or excite from a design perspective, which is exactly what we want from a 5G router.

See Three 5G Hub deals

Setup

Like most 5G home broadband devices, the Three 5G Hub is essentially plug and play – just plug it in and it will start working. That means no engineer visits and no need for a landline, the latter of which means you can potentially save money, and the former means you can save time in getting your broadband up and running.

Of course, getting the Three 5G Hub configured involves a bit more than just plugging it in – you’ll likely want to change the security settings and potentially the Wi-Fi name, all of which can be done from logging in to the Hub’s online dashboard, but that too is simple and speedy to do.

And once it’s configured you can easily just plug the Three 5G Hub in at a new address if you move house or want to take it with you somewhere else – though you’ll need 5G coverage to make the most of it.

Performance and speeds

Three 5g coverage

The Three 5G Hub supports download speeds of up to 3.8Gbps, and upload speeds of up to 542Mbps.

However, in reality you probably won’t get speeds anywhere near that in most cases. Average speeds vary by location, but in most locations Three seems to report average speeds of 100-200Mbps – you can plug your postcode in on Three’s site to see what it estimates for where you are.

That’s great, but still a long way short of the theoretical maximum – though note that Three claims that its network tops out at 1Gbps with this device, so even at the top end, the hardware is capable of more than Three’s network will currently allow for.

Still, that does mean the Three 5G Hub is future-proofed, and those speeds are significantly faster than most 4G home broadband connections, as well as competing with fibre broadband.

While you can get average speeds of 1,130Mbps if you opt for a Virgin Gig1 fibre connection, that’s not available in most places. Indeed, the average fibre broadband connection is far slower than you can potentially get with the Three 5G Hub. BT Broadband’s most widely offered fibre deals for example have average speeds of between 35Mbps and 73Mbps.

Features and software

The Three 5G Hub has just about all the features you’d expect and then some. It supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi, along with Wi-Fi 6, it has two Ethernet ports for wired connections, and it also has two antenna ports, so you can give it a signal boost if needed.

There’s also a one-touch WPS pairing button, and while there’s a RJ11 phone port too, this port is disabled when getting the router from Three.

One area where the Three 5G Hub isn’t quite so impressive is the number of devices it can get connected to the internet at once. It tops out at 30, which should be far more than most people need, but it’s also less than half the 64 that rival devices like the 5GEE Router 2021 can manage, so that’s a bit disappointing.

Alternatives

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

The 5GEE Router 2021 and Vodafone GigaCube 5G both have the edge in at least one way, with support for up to 64 simultaneous connections (compared to just 30 here), but in most other ways they’re comparable.

Top speeds vary a little between devices, but they’re all theoretical, and you’ll be limited more by the network you’re on – in other words, all of these devices support higher speeds than you’re ever likely to actually get.

They also all have two Ethernet ports, as well as antenna ports, and a fairly plain, white design.

Beyond the hardware differences, you should be selecting based on price, coverage, and data allowance.

We’ll get to Three’s plans below, but they’re very competitive. Three’s 5G coverage is also growing rapidly, though of course that doesn’t mean you’ll have it in your home. In the early days of 5G if you have any coverage it might be limited to just one network, so that by default will be the one to go for if you want 5G home broadband.

Plans

At the time of writing, Three offers its 5G hub on the choice of a 12-month or 24-month contract. Either way you get unlimited data, with 12 months coming in at £25 per month, while 24 months costs £21 per month, and there’s no upfront cost in either case.

We’re fans of the simplicity of the plans on offer. While some networks offer a range of plans with differing data limits, the fact is that in 2022 home broadband should be unlimited, so there’s little need for that. The pricing here is also very competitive.

See Three 5G Hub deals

Conclusion

Three 5G hub (ZTE 5G hub)

The Three 5G Hub is an excellent 5G home broadband router. It’s fast, affordable, designed for maximum coverage, and has handy Ethernet ports and antenna slots.

Our main complaint is that it tops out at 30 connections, but realistically that limit won’t be a problem for the vast majority of people – consider how many web-connected devices you actually have on at once in your home.

That aside, if you have 5G coverage at your home on Three, then this is a superb option and a strong alternative to fibre broadband. That said, price aside the rival devices from EE and Vodafone are similarly accomplished.

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

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