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Three UK Upgrade HomeFi 4G Broadband Router with Huawei B535

Friday, August 23rd, 2019 (1:23 am) - Score 25,495
huawei b535

Mobile operator Three UK informs us that new customers of their 4G based HomeFi service, which originally bundled unlimited mobile broadband data with a Huawei B311 router, are now optionally able to receive a more advanced Huawei B535 device instead.

The B311 wasn’t a particularly impressive device, not least because it was limited to 802.11n spec WiFi (max of 32 connected devices) and could only handle slower 4G speeds (LTE Cat 4). In fairness it was separately possible to take HomeFi with the more capable Huawei AICubeB900 router but crucially that one lacked a port for connecting external antennas, which is something that the B311 did have.

By comparison the new Huawei B535 router supports external antennas and can handle LTE Category 7 speeds (theoretical max of 300Mbps download and 100Mbps upload), although the UK average speeds on their network are closer to 14Mbps but this varies radically from place to place.

Huawei B535 Specs

FDD-LTE Cat7: 300Mbps(DL), 100Mbps(UL) @ 20MBW
TDD-LTE Cat7: 220Mbps(DL),20Mbps(UL) @ 20MBW
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2.4GHz 2*2 & 5G 2*2 (Up to 64 simultaneous users)
4 x RJ-45 for Gigabit Ethernet (1 WAN)
2 x SMA external antenna interface for LTE
1 x SIM card slot (3FF)
1 x power interface
1*Hi(WPS) KEY / 1*Reset KEY / 1*Power KEY
Parental Controls
Dimensions 219mm (W) x 138mm (H)

At the time of writing the package costs £23 per month on a 24 month contract or £28 per month (plus £29 one-off) on a 12 month term. The plan also includes Three’s Go Binge (now with Snapchat) add-on, although we’re not sure why they mention that on an unlimited data package.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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62 Responses
  1. Avatar Mike

    Shame that Three never really rolled out 4G+, hopefully they will make up for this with 5G coverage.

    • Avatar CJ

      Agree on 4G+ but it wasn’t for lack of spectrum, they just choose to to spend less on their network than others. I can’t help but think the same company philosophy will apply to their 5G rollout.

    • Avatar groovyclam

      I have this setup and get a faster connection restricting the router to a 3G connection (23-ish Mbps) than a 4G connection (flakey 5Mbps). It’s an option in the router to restrict connection type. The router has recorded a 4G+ connection rarely and the speed was in the 30-ish Mbps but I think the gods have to be allowing that because the connection usually drops back down to the flakey 4G connection quickly.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      @groovyclam
      Have you tried using a router with an external aerial to get the best possible signal?

    • Avatar paul

      hi all
      how do i change my new huawei B535 router from 4g to 3g for use on the three mobile homefy package?

    • Avatar Richard

      Hi Mike,

      I’m on Three and currently using the ai router which picks up 4G+ no problem.

  2. Avatar Fred

    Not for me as no coverage but I wonder if this has ‘bridge’ mode? Most Huewei routers appear not to and this can be a major pain for those with more demanding network requirements.

  3. Avatar Cal

    How do you take up this option ?

    • Avatar groovyclam

      Best bet is to phone 3 on their sales line from their website. I got this solution 3 months ago ( with the Huwawei cube router ) and managed to improve over my FTTC speed ( 14Mbps ) to 23Mbps although you have to play about with finding the best position in the house to get the best signal from the 3 mast. Unlimited data for £24 a month is a great price.

      When speaking to 3 make sure they give you the option to back out of the contract after 14 days ( because you won’t know how good a signal you get until you have the kit ).

  4. Avatar Liam

    GoBinge is maybe included because the package isn’t truly unlimited. Dig into the terms and you’ll find a 1TB cap.

    • Avatar Alex

      Hi Liam,

      I work for Three & 100% data the truly Unlimited, there is no data cap, no speed restrictions.
      The only time Three ever apply restrictions is if you are roaming abroad or if bills have not been paid.

    • Avatar dave

      I have to laugh when people say they work for a company, implying that this means they must know what they’re talking about.

      You missed what Three say in their T&C’s, which is that there is a 1TB soft cap and if you reach it then they will investigate your usage. If it’s deemed to be commercial, they will kick you off the network.

    • Avatar Jack

      There’s a limit, I was using 2tb a month before with three and my add-on got removed whenever I hit it each month, I had to contact three and explain the add-on is removed.

    • Avatar Mike

      £20 per 1TB doesn’t seem to unreasonable to me.

    • Avatar Wayne Smith

      Mike, Lol 1TB for £20 isn’t good always try EE they charge £50 for 50gb 5G rofi

  5. Avatar *-*404 Error*-*

    My understanding of GoBinge is that it receives network priority at mast level, with the traffic to GoBinge sites being handled differently than Traffic sense volume.

    • Avatar dave

      This would be in breach of EU net neutrality regs, because that would inevitably mean that services which are not part of Go Binge would be at a disadvantage.

    • Avatar MARK KELLY

      It would not be in breach of eu net neutrality cause for example if now tv want to be included it can ask three to be included. It has already been tested in eu court. If on other hand there is no way for third party service provider to add their services to it, then it would.

    • Avatar Stephen Wakeman

      There’s a difference between being given network priority and not counting toward a data cap. The former breaches net neutrality, the latter does not.

  6. Avatar Sunjay Bhogal

    Three homefi was useless for me, was only getting around 1 to 2 download speed, after complaining to them I was able to cancel my contract, they were still denying that there were congestion issues in the London area. I now have EE4g at home and average speed between 80 and 100, yes it is more expensive but at least I am not suffering with useless speed which I was getting with three.

    • Avatar alex

      Hi,

      Im also having trouble with the connection is too slow from 1 to 2 mbps (Huawei B535). Please could you let me know what to do when I go 3?

  7. Avatar Sarah

    I asked that question bout go binge on unlimited they said it was to cover abroad

  8. Avatar Jordan

    Im on Three 4G unlimited data, i get 80mbps and above download speed on my iPhone. If i get HomeFi will my speeds be faster? I live in London.

    • Avatar Lee S

      I used to tether from my iphone and got 40mb – got a router and its not gone much quicker to be fair..

    • Avatar Adam

      It should be similar. The iphone 8 has cat 12, capable of 600mbps. Three only has so much spectrum (less compared to all the others carriers) Should pull the same on a standalone router as you do on your iphone. No harm in trying. Three allow you to return the device within 14 days.

  9. Avatar Barry Cook

    Put a 3 data SIM used in Huawei dongle plugged into a cheap ASUS router at work. That in turn has a 16 port switch. Works a dream and £20.50 a month (was £20 in yr 1). Previously business fiber was costing me £90 a month (hiked from £50 over time). Download speed is usually 60-70mb/s upload around 40mbps. Plenty for a small business. No random reboots, no throttling or caps (we run a video production business)- very happy.

    Took a chance on it with a Black Friday deal back in 2017. Honestly works well. Can’t see any need for a fixed line now at work.

    Three signal at home isn’t as fast – otherwise would have it there too.

  10. Avatar Rob Walker

    This deal is £18 a month for existing customers if you log in to your account. You should presumably get 5G for no extra cost once it rolls out a bit more. I guess you’d need a new router for that though.

    I’m paying through the nose for Virgin at the moment and recently signed up for a cheap standard ADSL connection as a backup £13.99 a month inc line rental. I’m tempted to get this and see how it goes. Once 5G is in my area there’s a very god chance it could be a viable primary connection.

  11. Avatar A. H

    Can anybody clarify that this router is available for existing customers for free if you originally took out a contract for unlimited data with the Huawei B311 router? I have spoken to 3 and they have said they are not upgrading existing customers to the B535 for free. But I just wondered if they all weren’t aware of the offer yet or if this is for new customers only. Thanks in advance.

    • Avatar Slow Caerphilly

      As the article states new customers

    • Avatar hunch

      Interesting 3 are trying to shift all the old stock at the moment (sep 19). just ditched my sky basic broadband to go to this. If you go via their website and put the post code in. It comes up with just the AIcube and the older b311. if you search their site without a postcode it offers the B525 for £23 vs £21 a month for the b311. I asked for a loyalty discount via chat as have 6 phone contracts (too many kids….) . they said sure, gave me a check out link for the B525 unlimited over 24 months for £18 pm. seems a bargain. I’m only about 300m from the nearest 3 mast so should be good performance – particularly if I stick an external antenna with it. granted it isn’t anywhere near 5G speeds and latency but I don’t need that performance. Also hoping as everyone gets onto the 5G infrastructure it will reduce the load on the 4G network (i can dream!) but we go 5 G in the next couple of months.

  12. Avatar James Rawnsley

    I’ve replaced my fixed line broadband with the three 4g service. Average download speed is around 35mbps but at quite times that can shoot up to around 60mbps. We stream Netflix and Amazon video without any issues even with several of us on the net at the same time. I’ve got the router linked to a network switch for wired devices and then connected to a range extender. All working fine.

  13. Avatar Terry Collins

    Im on BR, recently had lots of issues, download speed of 6M to 8M ! After lots of argument over three weeks they finally sent someone out to fix it. In the meantime I used my old LG phone in tethering mode. Speed varied from 12 to 30M most times, once I saw 60M. As thats with an ancient phone propped up in the window I suspect I should get much better with the latest router with an external antenna, at just over a third of the price. Guess where I will be heading when my contract expires in 7 months time!

  14. Avatar Ricky Izod

    I’ve got the £20.00 per month unlimited data and calls from 3. I’m using a Huawei 315 router which I bought, connected to a omnidirectional twin element antenna outside. I’m positioned between three 3 masts, I generally get 30mbs, sometimes it Jumps up to
    65+ I can connect a home phone to this router to take advantage of the calls, and I use a tp link mesh system which gives fantastic wi fi, much better than the router on its own. I intend canceling my fixed line which was only giving 2-3 mbs and was costing £28.00 with a call package.

  15. Avatar Fabrizio

    Well I went for it as my guess was that the low price of £16 won’t be around for long as they’re just shifting the old devices until stock lasted. There’s method in my impulsive madness as I’ll eventually get the Voda 5g router once they allow me it ( I have the feeling 5g from them will reach my area quicker than Three ) on a 30 days contract and when I put into the equation the upfront price of the router and month then I’m still paying only £30 a month over 24 months instead of being stuck with Three £35 forever: instead I’ll be paying £16 a month 😉

    • Avatar Wayne Smith

      Even for £16 with the old router that a bargain for unlimited data alone. Personally for me I will sign up to this deal and pickup the £325 Vodafone 5G router now you have 5G for £16 a month locked for 24 months unlimited data.

    • Avatar Fabrizio

      I know Wayne but Voda won’t let me have it yet as the 5G in my area isn’t strong enough so like Three they don’t care even if I beg them to give me it ! lol I just have to be patient and hope that Voda expands the coverage to reach my place I’m just 500 yards away from a strong square so hopefully in the next 8 weeks they’ll update their masts.

  16. Avatar Rob

    I’m still using the original B310 and regularly getting 100Mbps.

    https://www.speedtest.net/result/8530985803.png

    I take it this is really for people with weak signals.

    • Avatar Fabrizio

      Wow for a category 4 router that’s impressive: you must be adjacent to a undersubscribed mast, you lucky devil. I only managed that figure with a cat 16 router in my area.

    • Avatar Adam

      Wow, I’m getting a 10th of that at best with my current B311.

  17. Avatar Pembo

    I’m on a contract for the old B310 and just rang 3 to see if I could get the new device. They wouldn’t let me buy the device or upgrade till my contract runs out in 2020. So I don’t know why this article says we can optionally upgrade to the new device

    • Avatar Fabrizio

      Not trying to be the devil’s advocate here but I read it as optionally at point of contract’s purchase. I nearly went for it but really wanted the cheap £16 a month so the B315 being offered will suit me for the time being.

    • Avatar Mike

      You can get the Asus MR600 4G router off Amazon.

      Wouldn’t bother recontracting for a new router unless the monthly price is lower or you need a specific 5G router.

  18. Avatar Adam

    I joined 2 months ago and received the B311. I’ve been on the phone to tech support multiple times in the last 2 months complaining about terrible speeds (1-5Mbits); managed to get some funds credited and surprisingly today they offered an exchange of the router with the Huawei AICubeB900. I believe it’s a CAT7 router, 2×2 MIMO. Not as good as the Huawei B535 but much better than the B311.

    If you’re not getting what was advertised/what is in your contract, call and keep complaining. If they suggest the fix for crap speeds is to change your router to 3G mode or to wait for a software update, do not settle for such bs. I’ve been waiting 2 months for a software update and got nothing. They have some leeway to exchange your device IF you are experiencing crap speeds. The B311 should never have been distributed to majority of customers.

    • Avatar Adam

      Has that router provided you with faster speeds? Perhaps your area isn’t capable of faster speeds?

    • Avatar Fabrizio

      You weren’t kidding Adam my unit I received today wouldn’t connect to 4G even when I forced it to. Speed test gave me 3Mb so off to the Three store I went with my screenshot of my old iPhone 6 ( Category 4 just like the B311 ) that managed 30Mb, manager agreed it was a dire situation so I contracted for the B535 for £18 which is £48 more over two years but the upfront cost for the device was for £59 plus £30 for a 30 days contract. I have the task to return the B311 and being on the phone all morning tomorrow to ask for a return label for DPD pickup. Not looking forward to doing that.

    • Avatar Fabrizio

      Sorry forgot to add the B535 is great managed 45Mb download on a very oversubscribed local mast so I’m a happy bunny lol

    • Avatar Richard

      I had similar issues but Three agreed today to swap my ai cube out and will be replacing it with the B535-232 as my ai cube does a poor job of holding onto 4G+.

      Once it drops off 4G+ I have to force a factory reset and then it immediately grabs the 4G+ for a week or so. The 4G+ speeds are in the 40-50 Mbs, whereas 4G for me drops to around 10-15 Mbs which Sonos really doesn’t like.

  19. Avatar Chance

    Has else anyone noticed the B535 seems to slow down over time and ends up needing a reboot? I set it up and used it yesterday evening and managed to pull 85 down/30 up (very impressed!), but after leaving it overnight, it’s down to 40/30.

    However if I turn it off and on again it’s back to the 85/30.

    Looking in the Device Information (in Advanced -> System) the signal is just as strong and the cell ID it’s connected to is the same, so I’m a tad perplexed at the moment. Any ideas?

    • Avatar Fabrizio

      I can’t say I noticed something similar on mine after nearly 48 hours of usage but then again my local mast is busy so I kinda expect to have various disparate readings. I’m averaging 50Mb with a late night maximum of 65Mb.

  20. Avatar Mike B

    Hello, I upgraded to a Huawei B310 router in Mar 2018 and I live in the centre of a large UK town 400 metres from the Three Cell Tower (which is a big one) but the 4g speeds on the B310 were so bad i.e. 1 to 5 Mbits/s download. I connected a 5db external antenna but only got a slight improvement – still very bad. I heard about Traffic Sense so contacted Tech support in India and spent a lot of time with them on my case and it was elevated up several times but they came back and said that’s the best I’ll get from the Cell Tower and they will advise on changing provider if need be. 3g Settings on the B310 were slightly better than the 4g !! They said use this in the interim. I thought the B310 router may be programmed with software (embedded code) that limits the speeds but Three said no it’s not.
    Then I bought a MiFi 4g from Three Huawei E5573 for a £30 one off fee and it solved all the problems, download speeds from the same cell tower at my location shot up to 30 to 59 Mbits/sec depending on time of day.
    Clearly the B310 and possibly the cut back version B311 are very poor for Cell Tower use with or without external antenna’s. The Three MiFi Huawei E5573 is excellent in comparison. It’s tiny, no external antenna’s and portable. My contract is for unlimited data/calls/txt’s at £20/month. I’m now a happy bunny -:) Hope this helps.

  21. Avatar Hussain

    I bought Huawei 535 from 3 store for my medical education and viewing results on my laptop. I asked specifically that I need high down load broadband devise. The saleman in 3 minutes offered me different devises like cube, other one Huawei 313 each according to him is compatible as 4G, I don’t know but a black box. The 3 rd one a white colour Huawei 535 which I am told is 4G. When connected my laptop it recorded download speed as 3 to 5MB tried various place to change and looking for good signals, no luck. I phoned the technical team made some changes and speedo meter went to just 5Mb. I was told its 4G compatible which is not and I can not return it because I bought from 3 store I must say very misleading staff mostly non-UK and cunning. So I am disappointed with my broadband Huawei 535 which is not 4g compatible and I can not return as I was not told in store the different criteria they apply to on line or in store. I have been with 3 for more than 10 years. What an award….

    • Avatar Fabrizio

      The router is definitely 4G compatible. I got a download of 50Mb using it during daytime so you’re either too far away from your local mast or it is oversubscribed. You could always complain about the speed by phoning their customer service and they would sometimes offer you a rebate on your monthly charge. I do agree that their money back guarantee is only for online purchase and that should be clearer when agreeing on a contract in store. You can connect an external aerial to that router and that could improve your speed. Look them up on amazon. If you meant that they promised you a 5G compatible router then yes that’s not compatible.

  22. Avatar Benedetta

    HI all, I have just bought Huawei B535-232 and it works well with my apple devices, but it is a disaster with laptops. Wi-fi does not connect, and if it does, the internet signal is strong but there is no network. The first day I used the new network without problems, so I am not sure what the problem could be. Any advice?

  23. Avatar Simple

    Currently using this router three network 4G unlimited loving it at the moment better speed than a fixed line with Vodafone who were clamping my speeds from 70mbps down to 2 to 4 Mbps in a evening with this little beauty I am getting 20 to 30 both upload and download in peak times. I have ditched fixed line services altogether now

  24. Avatar Gimlet

    Just set up a 535 and so far quite happy as I’m getting 20-25 Mb both up and down, only thing is the ping is a little slow at around 65 ms.
    Anyone else noticed a slow ping?

    It’s a great improvement of the landline though as we we’re only getting 6-7 Mb, and that’s paying for fibre to the cabinet!

  25. Avatar Chris

    I’ve set up the B535 as 3 upgraded us from B311, but in a poor signal area so have bought antennas to attach to it. I’ve checked router settings & says it has switched to external & laptop says signal has gone up from 72Mbps to 150Mbps but laptop keeps disconnecting from internet & iPhone has very poor / intermittent signal on wifi.

    Do I need to configure the antenna to Open DNS settings as these seem to be hidden on the B535 router settings? – seems the B525 had the same problem & are hidden in the Web UI & you have to input coding in the Developer Mode for it to come up on the settings screen.

    Does anyone know how to access DNS settings on B535 as nothing coming up on any internet searches? (the Developer Mode has a different layout from B525 so you can’t input the coding in the same folder for B535 for the settings to appear)

  26. Avatar hunch

    So I’ve had the 535 router on 3 for about 2 weeks now and it’s been a mixed bag. So the only issue I have with it is the inconsistency of the load on the mast. my nearest mast has a pure gym and a pub next to it, so at peak times the bandwidth allocation on my router drops down to about 1-2mb/s I assume this is down to how much the mast is being hit by people in the gym and pub. Outside of peak time I’m getting 40 mb/s. I’ve had some advice on how to tweak the config on the router to take advantage of some features, but I guess the big difference I notice between fixed line and mobile broadband is that the traffic management on fixed line is more manageable and goes down to 4/5 MB/s at worst (Assume it is far easier to manage the load when you know how many routers are connected to a switch in a data center rather than the transient load you would get on a mast.)

  27. Avatar Mark

    Phoned Three today as been thinking of moving when my fixed broadband comes to the end of its contract next month. Had wanted the 535 at £18 but it’s no longer discounted for Three customers. It’s not even listed but online chat sent me a link to it for £22 a month. I found offers from external websites that link to Three deals at £20 a month but reading here it sounds like it can be inconsistent.

    At home I get a regular 90Mbs on an iPhone 8 on Three throughout the house so assume I would get something like that with a router. Open Signal shows three masts in the area which gives me some confidence there is plenty of capacity but reading this thread there are clearly some risks and Wondering whether to bit the bullet and get the £20 deal while I still or if it’s better to just get the older one for £16 and buy my own router. It would only be slightly more expensive if I bought say a 525, but any suggestions for a reliable router appreciated. One more question are Three routers locked as obviously buying an unlocked one would be a slight advantage.

  28. Avatar Mark

    Well the existing customer deal is back again but at £17 a month for the 535. I’m still getting a consistent 90-100 mbs with an iPhone 8 throughout the house-about three times faster than my Fibre line. Reading reviews here and elsewhere when Three home broad works it seems good and pretty reliable. I’m still nervous about taking the plunge as we rely on our broadband a lot.

    • Avatar Richard

      Hi Mark,

      If it helps in terms of confidence, I decided to buy a Huawei 525 (via Amazon) with a took a 3 Unlimited SIM. I’m within half a mile of a relativity rural mast, though with lots of trees and some houses so don’t have uninterrupted line of sight. We tested alongside our (slow) BT fibre to the cabinet (8 Mbps at best) for 1 month before cancelling the BT broadband. In general were getting ~45Mbps down and ~20Mbps up, though it does vary – and weather (rain / wet trees) can see if down to ~15Mbps.

      Conclusion: Well worth it overall, way faster than BT, though it does vary and isn’t as stable. We do need to re booth the router occasionally (once a week) and the Ping times not always brilliant. That said my 14 year old finds he can game perfectly well!

      I am toying with buying a 535, as it seems it may be even faster / have better signal antenna than the older 525. at least based on some of the comments above.

      The one other annoyance, is that my router version does not have bridge mode (we use a Mash Wifi system and while I disable the Huawei 525 Wifi, with no bridge mode I do still get double NAT warning on the wired network.

      Has anyone with a 535 model succeeded in finding a bridge mode on their device (3 issued or 3rd party?)

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