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BT UK Set to Launch Smart Hub 3 Broadband Router in July UPDATE

Monday, January 17th, 2022 (12:01 am) - Score 29,208

Various sources have informed ISPreview.co.uk that broadband ISP BT is currently expected, barring any further delays, to launch their new Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) supporting Smart Hub 3 (SH3) router around July 2022. The new kit will also be accompanied by an updated Complete Wi-Fi 2 (CWF2) mesh system.

We first reported on early details of the SH3 and CWF2 almost a year ago (here), but at the time we didn’t know when it would launch and speculated that it might surface later in 2021. A number of issues made it difficult to predict, such as COVID-19 related disruption to the R&D process, the global shortage of semiconductor chips, and we also understand that BT has an internal plan to bring firmware development in-house (currently, third-parties do a lot of this work). The lack of any obvious customer trials was another factor.

However, over the past couple of months we’ve received new information from a number of sources, which point to both the SH3 and CW3 products being nearly ready for launch. So far as we can tell, BT initially appeared to be targeting a late Spring 2022 launch, but this appears to have now slipped a bit to July 2022. Obviously, there’s still a long way to go, so the timings may change, but that’s where things stand today (it may be better to just say ‘summer’).

The information that we’ve seen shows that the final design of both systems will adopt a style that is very similar to that of BT’s latest Hybrid Connect (HALO 3+) device, which works with the SH routers to automatically connect to a mobile broadband (4G etc.) network for back-up, if required.

NOTE: We’ve done a rough mock-up of the new SH3 will look like using the Hybrid Connect as a template (pictured – top).

At launch, the SH3 and CWF2 will be offered as standard on BT’s premium broadband tiers (Full Fibre) for new customers and also upgrades (regrades). Both devices will also be compatible with BT’s existing Hybrid Connect product, which isn’t a surprise considering that they all follow the same design language (hopefully this won’t cause too much confusion for consumers).

The CWF2 system will NOT be compatible with older Smart Hubs and, likewise, the SH3 will not be compatible with the older CWF1 systems. The CWF2 system also looks as if it will support a new “EasyMesh” technology, although the exact details of how this differs from the current setup process is unclear. A new App will also be introduced to help manage the system.

Interestingly, the CWF2 only appears to support up to 500Mbps throughput speeds, which might irritate those on their 900Mbps FTTP broadband packages. But then again, Wi-Fi rarely gets that fast in the real-world anyway, unless you’re practically sitting on top of the unit. Even the addition of WiFi 6 can’t solve all the inherent problems with WLAN systems.

By the sounds of it, BT’s new CWF2 system will also come attached to a new Wi-Fi guarantee. At present, the current guarantee on CWF1 promotes the following: “If one Wi-Fi Disc doesn’t give you wi-fi in every corner, we’ll send you up to three discs for free. If that doesn’t do it, you can get £100 back.” But with CWF2 and SH3 being aimed at FTTP customers, BT appears to be adding a speed promise too (e.g. 100Mbps). We don’t yet know if this will vary by package, or what other caveats may exist.

All of this is important because an increasing number of BT’s arch rivals (e.g. Virgin Media’s Hub 5, as well as smaller alternative networks) have already started to introduce Wi-Fi 6 compatible routers and mesh systems. We will no doubt learn more as both systems get closer to launch. At present, the details are extremely limited.

UPDATE 28th June 2022

Some early testing has begun on the final Smart Hub 3, but component constraints are known to be causing issues and delays with actually supplying enough of the devices for consumers. We saw similar problems with BT’s most recent TV box, which also caused significant delays. The current expectation for a launch is now Q1 2023, and it’s too early to bank on that.

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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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31 Responses
  1. Mahammad says:

    I was just searching for Smart Hub 3 news on ISP Preview just few days ago and this comes up, pleasant surprise.

  2. Me says:

    I beg to differ, WiFi 6 devices can get 700 to 800Mbps a on properly configured wireless networks. so limiting this to 500mbps is a cop out.
    My advise is don’t but it, get a better performing third party system.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      It may be that the ‘up to’ 500Mbps figure is just a guaranteed level, rather than a hard limit. We don’t know all the details yet, so take with a pinch of salt until they formally unveil it all.

    2. jason999 says:

      Yes, I get 920 Mbps with my ASUS GT-AX11000 on my virgin 1Gig service

    3. WibbledOff says:

      It probably does what a lot of the wifi 6 mesh systems do and only use the WiFi 6 to communicate to the hub, therefore only leaving WiFi 5 for devices hence the lower WiFi speed.

    4. Sam P says:

      Around 600mbps on 80mhz and 1200mbps on 160mhz.

      I get 950mbps on Wi-Fi which is maxing out my Openreach FTTP connection.

  3. Sam says:

    It will absolutely be a product aimed at FTTP. FTTC will be stuck with the SH2.. it’s great to hear but they need to stay focussed on FTTP.

  4. Alex says:

    I have virgin’s new hub 5, and I get over 900mbps over WiFi on my phone!!!! So bt’s offering is quite pathetic really.. especially as the hub 5 uses wifi6 too…..also. I consistently get 1.1gbps on my pc, ps5 AND seires X…..I’ll stick with virgins gig1 thanks….not to mention openreach, and by default, BT, have been absolutely atrocious…..they ripped out the old copper connection without putting in the pole so I can connect to fiber….then took two weeks to “survey and plan” to put it in…just for when they finally came to do,.just to say “oh we can’t do it, there’s a manhole in the way”….bloody incompetence!!!! Absolute incompetence!!! They then said I’d have to wait another month for ANOTHER survey!!!! Disgusting!!!!

    I then rang virigin…they had me connected within three days with gig1 fiber which give me download speeds of 1148mbps over Ethernet, and my phone gets over 900mbps over WiFi!!!!

  5. LPP says:

    Thank god they’re adding the WiFi guaranteed speed at 500. Once again the people on this site are only seeing this from their little tech bubble. BT know full well that their sales teams will be bumping everyone they can to the top package yet the customer will be running speed tests on their 2016 iPhone or Windows Vista laptop then complaining their speed test on WiFi isn’t 900Mbps. It already happens now on the 80/20 package where its their equipment so will only get worse.

  6. Mark says:

    Does this mean as I’m only on fibre 1 with 45 mbps that if I got new hub 3 it would make no difference to my connection or bt might say they can’t offer me the new hub 3 until fttp is available in my area

  7. Jack says:

    Just pray those doing the software at BT aren’t the same ones who have ruined the paid Whole Home discs. Premium discs never stable from launch and they’ve managed to introduce the same bugs into the WiFi 6 version.

  8. Bilal says:

    Just hoping I can use it as an access point!

  9. Mark says:

    CWF2? can someone let me know what that means?

    1. New_Londoner says:

      Sure. CWF2 is BT’s Complete Wi-Fi 2 mesh system, used to improve the reach of the wifi signal from the hub using extenders.

    2. Mark says:

      Thanks very much. Was trying to work it out, turns out ive got their WiFi disc in my house I’m assuming it’s the second one so hopefully will be compatible going forward.

  10. zzing says:

    So much for reducing single use plastic.

    1. Mark says:

      Agreed. Would be nice if modern electronics had the right to upgrade built into them all but I think we’re a long way off that yet.

    2. Sunil Sood says:

      BT changed their Terms & Conditions on 13 December 2019 to state that new BT Hubs and BT TV boxes are now being loaned to customers. So if you join/renew a contract on or after this date, you’ll be charged for not returning equipment to BT for recycling etc.

      I believe other companies are doing something similar to reduce electronic waste..

    3. Laurence 'GreenReaper' Parry says:

      Totally not with the objective of keeping you subscribed, especially with the TV box that is perfectly adequate for Freeview.

      They tried to take ours, until I pointed out that we had simply modified a prior contract under which we had bought ours when renewal time came up – so technically, they should have given us another one! Now if only I could get the Smart Hub working properly with Virgin as a repeater…

  11. Terry Jones says:

    BT Hub2 is alleged by BT to be WiFi 6 capable and as yet have sent no firm date on when this switch on will occur. Statements from BT promising advances in technology for the home user must be taken under caution… if the current equipment is WiFi 6 capable rather than investing another £200 plus in Hub 3 they should fulfil their promises for existing technologies…

    1. Sunil Sood says:

      @Terry Jones

      Do you have a source for that?

      I have never seen anyone else claim that the Smart Hub 2 can sort WiFi 6 and I believe the SH2 was launched a long time before the WiFi 6 standard was agreed so it sounds implausible.

    2. WibbledOff says:

      BT has never said the smarthub 2 is wifi 6. For a start it’s impossible due to the fact it’s completely different hardware. I think someone has been dreaming lol

    3. Scott says:

      Terry – Are you confusing WiFi 6 with IPv6 which has been upgraded/added during the lifetime of the Smart Hub 2 ?

  12. Marty says:

    I really hope the software will be easier to use. Options like access control etc. What’s the point if the software is buggy & glitchy. It just defeats the purpose of buying one regardless of what it’s supposed to have.

    1. Sunil Sood says:

      Hopefully it will also make it easier for them to comply with the new Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act.

      Also, I hope they reintroduce different SSIDs for different WiFi networks

  13. Alan says:

    It’s not going to be Wi-Fi 6E though? Not much point if you cannot use 6Ghz.

  14. Tom Humphreys says:

    Hi I am on the Fibre 900 and made the choice to get rid of Hub2, and go with Ubiquiti. At the moment I have UDM Pro as router and AX88U as Ap and U6 LR as Ap. Max out of 850 average. Works excellent at the moment but hope BT increase the Speed further on their packages.

    1. Andrew Fleming says:

      Can I ask what benefit do you get out of 900mbps speeds? Obviously faster than 150mbps for example but what needs would you have that make great use of 900mbps speeds?

  15. John Simon Knight says:

    Does anyone know if PlusNet will be offering Smart Hub 3 Broadband Router to their customers. I believe that the Hub two they currently offer is the BT 2 with a different badge on it?

    1. Dan says:

      Smart Hub 3 it not out for BT yet, so rebranded I suspect its 6-12 months down the line..
      hopefully I’m wrong, but would not plan on it at all.

  16. Dre says:

    How much longer?

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