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BT Prep Consumer EE Rebrand and SmartHub 3 Router for Spring 2023

Tuesday, Jan 3rd, 2023 (12:01 am) - Score 29,680

Sources have informed ISPreview that UK broadband ISP BT will trigger the next phase of their plan to turn EE into their “flagship brand for consumer customers” around the February to April 2023 period, which among other things may see their new Smart Hub 3 (SH3) router launch first as an EE (not BT) product.

Just to recap. Back in April 2022 BT announced a major shake-up of their branding, which will eventually see EE become the “flagship brand for our consumer customers” (i.e. converged broadband and mobile plans etc.) and BT become the flagship for their Enterprise and Global units (here). However, so far we’ve only seen limited movement on this, such as with Plusnet’s decision to scrap and shift their business plans to BT (here).

Otherwise, BT has remained the main brand associated with their consumer base, and indeed we’d question the wisdom of doing anything to change that. EE has historically been more associated with mobile, while the consumer subconscious – built on over a decade of familiarity – is not easily changed. We can’t help but feel that BT has failed to understand just how closely tied their brand is to consumer broadband and phone.

Nevertheless, various sources have informed us that the next big phase of BT’s re-branding effort is currently pencilled (i.e. not yet set in stone) in to take place across the February to April 2023 period. The details of this are still being tightly controlled, but it will involve some of BT’s existing products being placed on a “stop sell” and others re-branded to EE (e.g. BT TV). EE will also continue to be the main focus for all things mobile.

During this period we’re expecting to see a big launch, as well as some smaller staggered launches of specific features / products. One of those will be the introduction of BT’s long-awaited and Wi-Fi 6 equipped Smart Hub 3 (SH3) router (this is said to have suffered delays due to development and supplier issues), except due to the branding plans this now looks set to launch as an EE product first.

The previous Smart Hub 2 launched in 2018 with better support for their FTTP and G.fast based ultrafast broadband products (here), although specification wise it wasn’t actually all that different from their original Smart Hub kit, which first launched all the way back in 2016 (here). Suffice to say that BT’s top end router is in need of a more significant update.

A Spokesperson for BT said:

“As the UK’s largest broadband provider, we continually review new, innovative ways to deliver the best in-home connectivity, and our customers will be amongst the first to hear when we launch something new.”

We’re also expecting BT / EE to complement the SH3 with an updated Complete Wi-Fi 2 (CWF2) mesh system (unclear if this will happen on the same day), and it’s probably safe to assume that they’ll give this the WiFi 6 treatment too. As always, this article should be taken as a very rough overview of what we’re expecting from BT and EE during H1 2023, but we’ve seen major plans suffer delays before, so keep that in mind.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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56 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Sam says:

    Does this mean the Smart Hub 3 will the have EE logo on it, or 2 different designs for BT and EE customers? I’m with BT FTTP and desperately want to replace this Smart Hub 2 (We can’t use own own because of VoIP)

    1. Avatar photo Danny says:

      You not thought if taking out your own voip plan from a 3rd party and use your own broadband router then?

    2. Avatar photo Danny says:

      For example Google voice is free for a single account

    3. Avatar photo Taras says:

      “I’m with BT FTTP and desperately want to replace this Smart Hub 2 (We can’t use own own because of VoIP)”

      That doesn’t make sense. if you are using another voip provider, and you have a separate ont and sh2 box, you can switch out the sh2 at any time.

    4. Avatar photo Anon says:

      @Ad47uk – BT put out a press release in Jan 2020 that all calls are now answered in the U.K. and stated they also route you to the nearest contact centre. I’ve not seen anything about charging for U.K. support for years as for two years all support has been U.K. for Broadband.

      As mentioned lots of common sites now across the brands and the management is all common too.

      Cost wise you need to get a deal but BT are not always the most expensive. When I was with Plusnet they were fine, I’m with BT now as I moved to FTTP before Plusnet could offer it. I’ll probably go to EE when my contact ends, unless CityFibre have reached my house by then.

    5. Avatar photo haha says:

      Yes – after all the Plusnet Hubs one and two are the HH3 and the HH5 respectively – just with a different badge on it

    6. Avatar photo haha says:

      “That doesn’t make sense. if you are using another voip provider, and you have a separate ont and sh2 box, you can switch out the sh2 at any time.”

      But BT do voip with their FTTP as a package – so it’s not that easy

    7. Avatar photo Anonymous says:

      It will have the EE logo

  2. Avatar photo Tom says:

    This could be a mistake by BT Group. This decision may weaken BT from a relatively dominant position in the fixed consumer broadband market.

    Consumers trust and are familiar with the BT brand, and associate it both consciously and sub consciously with Openreach, British Telecom etc etc.

    This is likely to play well into the hands of Vodafone and other emerging fixed line broadband providers – but maybe thats what someone wants to happen (bigger picture / investments etc).

    Why undertake such an action right now, the timing is interesting.

    1. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      I never understood this trusting BT thing, my next door neighbour used to say that when I said a few years ago why they don’t change to something a bit cheaper. Familiar with the BT brand yes, it is the national network provider and a lot of us remember the adverts years ago and only dealt with BT before the network was opened up.
      I know I am with plusnet which is owned BT, but they are a different kettle of fish, for a start I can understand what they are saying when I phone customer service and not put through to a poor connection in India where someone with a thick accent is following a script and won’t go away from that script.
      At least with plusnet they will deviate from the script or they did when I phoned them, also plusnet is run separate to BT. I have no idea what BT is going to do with Plusnet, it has been said it will go and will all go under the EE label, if it does then I will certainly change providers as EE will become BT under a different name and will become as expesnive as BT.

      I only went with plusnet in the first place as I came from a wireless network and I had to get a fixed line broadband quickly and plusnet was able to do it and at a decent price. They have been fine for me in the 7ish years I have been with them.

      To be honest I would love BT to make a mistake, maybe then people will realise that there are other providers around that offer a better service and better prices than BT

    2. Avatar photo Matt says:

      “poor connection in India”
      Nothing like a morning dose of Xenophobia.

      BT has been insourcing their callcentre for years. Each time I call them I get through to Liverpool. How often do you call your provider for it to really matter? BTs platform isn’t like Virgin where you have to tell them it’s dead every 3-6 months.

      I do feel like it’s a huge mistake BT moving to EE, though. I wonder if it’ll be done at renewal or they’ll try to move users over? I’m guessing the former as the latter would surely trigger the ability to leave contract?

    3. Avatar photo K says:


      I agree. At least with BT you talk to someone local. As with pricing, one minute people complain that they are expensive, then the next they complain when BT tries to reduce their prices saying its anti competitive.

    4. Avatar photo Anon says:

      @Ad47uk – So you didn’t see my comment last time you went on about how great the Plusnet call centres are?

      All BT, EE and Plusnet calls are answered in the U.K. now. It is the same for all brands, by people who work for BT Consumer (could be on BT, EE, Plusnet or agency contract). I know EE people were answering Plusnet calls a while back and the Doncaster Contact centre for one has both BT and Plusnet people in it, there were images on LinkedIn when they refurbished it showing the multiple branding of the site.

      The team who look after the network is common to all three brands too, beyond the logo on the router and who you pay the bill too there is very little difference now.

    5. Avatar photo Sam P says:

      @Matt Throwing the word Xenophobia around like this just takes the real meaning of the word away. You’re using it to signal your virtues and it’s cringe. Nobody enjoyed talking to the Indian call centres, as mentioned the connection was bad, that mixed with the accent made it near impossible at times to resolve an issue.

      Fortunately this was put to an end in 2015.

    6. Avatar photo DD says:

      It’s not the location of the call centres that are the problem, but the level of training given to those staff. I would think less training is required for staff who are based in the UK, as they have a basic understanding of our infrastructure and processes which would not be apparent to someone overseas. Everyone here generally has a UK mobile and broadband service. Most people have gone through a switch/migration etc. so even a lay person will understand the pitfalls and what can go wrong.

      I often find overseas call centres to be very script based and unable to apply discretion or fully understand what you’re asking. There is nothing to stop BT and similar companies from up-skilling and training their staff regardless of geographic location, however they choose to make their staff nothing more than chat bots following a script. I don’t see the point personally – just use a chat bot instead.

      If it’s true that all call centres are now UK based, I think this is a good thing. I recently had to call EE and I had a UK technical expert listen to me and resolve my issue instantly. It was very good customer service. However I have known EE to have agents in South Africa before? So not sure it is all in the UK? The key thing is that it’s not where someone is based, but how they are trained and the discretion they are allowed to use.

    7. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      @Anon, if all calls are answered in the U.K then why are some people paying BT extra for British call centres? I have not used a Plusnet call centre for a while, i have heard they are not as good as they used to be, I did send a message to them at the end of 2021 as my neighbour changed to Sky broadband somehow Sky got the address wrong so Plusnet thought I was leaving them. They were ok then.

      @Mat, Xenophobia, no, just I can’t understand them and the quality of the phone was awful the few times I phoned them. I had a problem with one of the Plusnet people when I first went to them as they had a broad Yorkshire accent.

      My experience with BT call centres is one of the things that put me off going back to BT as well as the prices.

    8. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      @K, Bt have always been more expensive than any other provider, how they keep customers I don’t know, I presume it is this trust thing and some people are too scared to move. It have been many years since i have used BT as a broadband provider, I used BT for ADSL for around 3 years and their BT anywhere service. The thing with BT now is that they want to do everything, mobile TV and anything else they can, they even have a subscription so people can get better Wi-fi in their own home, for goodness’s sake.

    9. Avatar photo Andrew Campling says:

      BT will generally be more expensive than other ISPs (there are some niche exceptions) because the other ISPs need to be cheaper in order to win customers. In marketing terms, BT is a price giver to the market and the other providers are price takers.

    10. Avatar photo K says:

      The reason why BT charge for complete wifi is the equipment is worth hundreds of pounds. £3 a month is nothing to rent up to £210+ worth for 3 discs. And the speed you get is in the hundreds of megabits all over your house (or at least thats what i get and i live in a large house). Not only that in the future every time BT bring out new discs you get them as replacements (thats why you rent instead of buying). Also with BT you get free security software for 15 devices that doesnt expire worth around £30 a year or more.
      If you bought the complete wifi 3 discs it would be the same as renting them for 70 months or more.

    11. Avatar photo Knock Knock says:


      Do you also rent/lease your car for them same reason?

    12. Avatar photo haha says:


      The Plusnet call centres are Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester and Doncaster – I work in the Leeds one – everyone else is outsourced but still UK based!

      Maybe you should call in sometime – apart from the hours of 8-8 nothing else has changed – still a good experience or it is to the people I speak to – My feedback surveys show me that and I managed to triple someone’s internet speed with the click of a mouse an hour ago – now that’s good service!

    13. Avatar photo haha says:

      They called up for a totally different reason I forgot to add – so they had a nice surprise

    14. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      @Andrew Campling, the thing is you get nothing more for paying the extra. If i changed to Bt my broadband is not going to be better.

    15. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      @K, my brother has the mesh from BT, I would not pay for it, but they seem to think it is worth it, if I wanted a Mesh system I would by the TP-link Deco outright. Granted the BT mesh system works ok, my phone did a speed test of well over 300Mb/s in most parts of their house. I live in a two-bedroom house and my router is downstairs in the living room, just below me and doing a speed test on my phone gets me 33Mb/s, which is only 3Mb/s less than what I get via Ethernet on my computer. I don’t really feel the need to get anything faster for my phone, and that is the only thing that uses high bandwidth on Wi-fi. i have smart home devices, Echo dots, zigeee hubs thermostat, cameras and smart plugs that use wi-fi , but none of them really need super-duper high speed. In fact, most smart home devices don’t even support 5Ghz.

      So Wi-fi wise I am not that bothered, I prefer using Ethernet where I can, even my printer is connected via Ethernet. But I realise some people do use a lot of Wi-fi, my brother Wife has a laptop and do does he as well as the desktops, so they need good Wi-fi for that.

      But myself I would not pay even just £3 a month for mesh wi-fi, if I needed it I would buy it outright

    16. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      @haha, why do I need to call in? My internet connection is fine, i don’t think you will triple my internet speed with the click of a mouse, 236Mb/s is what I get and since I am about 450 meters away from the cabinet that is not going to improve, according to the router, the line rate is 39.999 Mbps or sync speed.
      I have no problem with the service I am getting and i am happy with what I get

    17. Avatar photo Icaras says:

      @DD you’ve repeatedly been told all BT Group calls are answered in the UK or Ireland, but believe what you like. In fact I don’t even think they use Ireland anymore.

  3. Avatar photo Ex Telecom Engineer says:

    BT consumer rebranding to EE, may be related to the PSTN switch off and the move to convergence. In the comments section of another recent Ispreview article, I speculated about landlines being replaced by mobile solution’s using VOIP over FTTP when at home, and using external cell sites during outages, or when out and about; It would be reasonably simple to implement and customers could decide on various resilience options, like needing a UPS, or using a picocell connected to the router, or having an app on the phone managing the connection through Wifi-VOIP/4G/5G as required, with seamless switchover between them. Personally I’d prefer a solution using my mobile, since we stopped using a landline a couple of years ago with mobile as a replacement

  4. Avatar photo Marc says:

    IV been with EE for both Mobile from 2010 then moved over to their firbre broadband for over 5 years now. IV had nothing but absolutely fantastic service from EE .Alot of people continuously keep stating they are “expensive”.I do agree and disagree with those comments .Yes EE “we’re” pretty expensive several years back. However Having my mobile and firbre broadband with then iv had some brilliant loyalty service from then which has bettered Vodaphone and a few others .

    I stopped upgrading & dealing with Thier stores years ago as they never get as good deals with Thier head office.

    So from around 2015 Iv always rangup and delt with their head office Upgrade/retentions department and have managed to secure some incredible deals with them and by doing some haggling at times. That’s the way to do it.

    So the comment’s about being very expensive is really old news to be honest from my Point .

    I recently upgraded again and delt with their upgrade/ retentions team and secured a new 24-month contract with a Oppo Find X5 Pro and yet again I managed to secure fantastic deal way cheaper than their stores deals and even website deals.

    And buy being with EE for such a long time and have great credit with them their more likely to that much further with you .

    Don’t ask …don’t get !!

    1. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      Bt is expensive, but just for a nose I had a look at EE, it is £27 for a 36Mb/s connection whichis more than what I am paying now, and other providers are charging less than that. Also EE is a 24 month contract and FTTP, no matter how much I tried there was no way to change to FTTC. I presume now we have FTTP here that is going to get more difficult. Maybe it is best to stay with the devil you know, recontract with Plusnet after March.

      If you are on one of their phone packages it is £24, but still 24 month contract and I am happy with Smarty for my mobile phone. So EE is not cheap, they are not the most expensive, but there are lower price providers available

    2. Avatar photo Laurence 'GreenReaper' Parry says:

      Indeed, and since BT is on the EE network, one of those alternatives is BT, which I went to and have been perfectly fine on once I sorted out the APN (issue with my specific phone). Plus with EE you don’t even get the overseas roaming now like you do with BT.

      I agree with the commenters above; the trust isn’t really there for EE more generally, and they seem expensive if you don’t need the fancy add-ons on the higher tiers. But maybe it feels different for those who grew up in the mobile era?

    3. Avatar photo Mike says:

      I’m glad they kept the premium pricing, it makes the 4G network usable unlike Three etc.

    4. Avatar photo Knock Knock says:


      Is that Marc Allera the CEO of EE?

    5. Avatar photo haha says:

      Jesus Christ that was painful to read!

    6. Avatar photo Raj says:

      It’s a turn off not knowing if you’re getting the best price. The whole “one price here, another price there”. You shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get the best price.

      Other networks have competitive offers and fixed low prices. No haggling needed. A honest and transparent service is more important to me.

      And EE having great service? No way. Go into their shop – they don’t want to fix your problem unless it involves selling you something (so they can make their commission).

  5. Avatar photo IanR says:

    Will SH3 be Wifi 6e though?
    Plain old wifi 6 isn’t that much of an upgrade… 6e is significantly better

    1. Avatar photo Simon says:

      That’s what I would like to know as well. It should be and hopefully it is, fingers cross.
      Well WiFi 6 was out in 2019 and 6e was 2020 so should be in the SmartHub 3!

  6. Avatar photo Bob says:

    Having a separate brand for business and Retail makes perfect sense as for the router it will probably be the same except for the logo

  7. Avatar photo haha says:


    I did send you an e-mail weeks ago saying that PN agents were being upskilled to EE – but you didn’t reply – maybe next time it’s worth listening to. I was doing it at that time so it was 100% factual – and this news article confirms what we have been taking about internally for a while now – the rumour is true and by the looks of things PN is also going to be rebranded and folded into EE 🙁

  8. Avatar photo 13thhour says:

    EE does not support IPv6 on its BB network

    1. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      Very few providers supports IPv6, Zzoomm is a brand-new network here and they don’t. Does BT support IPv6? If they do, and they have EE as their consumer brand, then EE will start to support IPv6. To be honest, I thought more providers would be supporting it now since we were told years ago IP addresses were running out.

      Most modern routers can cope with IPv6, even my Zxzel can

  9. Avatar photo Matt says:

    A rebrand? Haven’t they just revamped the My EE app? Will the logo remain teal and yellow I wonder…

    I quite like EE and have my mobile and home broadband with them. I’ve had no issues really. Some of the retail staff are a bit clueless at times, especially if you strike a deal over the phone and then you want to discuss aspects of it in a store. I think there are retention deals over the phone they can’t access or see as active in the shops?

    This year as a result of CityFibre and Netomnia turning up, that could spell the end of my run with them. I’ll check pricing and retention offers but we will see.

    1. Avatar photo Dylan says:

      “I think there are retention deals over the phone they can’t access or see as active in the shops?”

      I’m pretty sure this is the case. Over the phone I managed to grab an S22 with 125 GB data and £150 cashback for the same price as their online A23 deal (£27/mo).

    2. Avatar photo Icaras says:

      Logo will stay the same

  10. Avatar photo concerned guy says:

    It’ll be a shame if Plusnet goes. It’s the better out of the three to be honest. It’s cheaper, can get a static IP and even change the reverse DNS record. Those are typically features you only get on business plans or more expensive ISPs.

    Admittedly the support isn’t very knowledgeable and the site is broken in places but the connection itself is no worse.

    1. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      I must admit, I am ok with plusnet, like I may change in June depending on what plusnet offers me, but if it is rebranded to EE than I would not stay.

      My contract ends in June and price increase in March which is why I will wait until after March to look at my options. No good recontracting now and then the price going up sky high because of Inflation.
      now broadband is a good price, the only problem is it is Sky.

  11. Avatar photo MRLeeds says:

    I’m still running T-Mobile phone contracts so I’d not start panicking about them porting you over anytime soon…

  12. Avatar photo Dylan says:

    So what does all of this mean for Plusnet? No package upgrades at all? 76 Mb/s is starting to look very tired with the amount of devices we own these days.

    1. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      Plusnet is still offering upgrades. It depends on your devices at the end of the day and how many is using the network at the same time and what they are doing. My Roku TV is certainly the device that uses more bandwidth, then my computer and then my phone. My Echo dots don’t use a lot even if they are playing music, nor do my cameras. Other stuff like smart plugs, switch bots uses nothing, the plugs are connected at 6Mb/s.

      If you have a lot of people in the house using different devices at the same time, that is a different thing, but even so 76Mb/s should be fine unless you have a large family.

      I did a test a few months ago, I have 36Mb.s connection and I put my TV streaming 4K, my computer streaming 4K and all my 5 alexas playing different stations and music and my phone playing video and everything worked fine.

      I am not saying it was a scientific test, it was just something I tried to see what would happen and II don’t know how much bandwidth was left over, it could have been at the limit. It was just something I thought I would try.

      76Mb/s is not to be sniffed at, plenty of people have less.

    2. Avatar photo Dylan says:

      Plusnet has an issue with traffic prioritisation.

      A 76 Mb/s connection shouldn’t have problems with three people streaming 1080p video and an Xbox playing online, but it does.

      Time and time again I’ve had my connection to my desktop drop to 200 kb/s or slower during times like this. It forces YouTube to default to 144p and even that buffers.

      The cabinet is up the road about 250 ft away according to Google Maps. This is about as best-case as it can be without having the cabinet outside the house, and yet we have had these problems on multiple occasions.

      Plusnet just says there’s nothing wrong and does nothing.

      As for the connected devices, I’m not even discussing smart devices like light bulbs, home assistants and smart TVs because we don’t have any of those.

  13. Avatar photo Tom W says:

    Imo I think they should keep everything under the BT brand apart from mobile and call it “EE Mobile”.
    Then they can sell everything under one website and redirect EE website traffic over to BT.

  14. Avatar photo Jonathan Rose says:

    We’ve been with EE for broadband and mobile for a while, but the yearly increases have made it expensive, I was looking to swap to another BT owned product but take advantage of a new customer deal, if BT limit which company does what, this will mean I am more likely to move outside of the BT family for a new customer deal.

    1. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

      The old cycling of broadband deals. I went BT > Plusnet > EE and got cashback/prepaid cards each time. Made broadband very cheap. Can completely understand why they want to stop cycling the same customers into sign up bonuses against themselves.

  15. Avatar photo Stephen says:

    I hope they decide to upgrade the next router to 6E rather than Wifi 6.
    I am in the fortunate position of having FTTP & I am currently on the EE900 package. The Smart Hub 2 cannot offer speeds of uptown 900 MB/S over wifi (although it does with a wired connection). I find it maxes out around 580, even with current devices such as an iPhone 14 Pro. Now I am certainly not complaining about these speeds, but I can’t get close to the speeds I pay for over a wifi connection.
    I do also have a Netgear Nighthawk router with wifi 6 so I have also given this a try. The speed increases were not as good as I had hoped for. So far my tests max out around 650/120 which is better than the BT hub but not by a lot.
    Has anyone else tried any wifi 6e routers? What is your experience?

  16. Avatar photo Yatta! says:

    IMO the EE rebranding is a big mistake, huge.

    1. Avatar photo Marcus Federa says:

      Totally agree.

      Either rebrand all as BT or use BT as the core brand and retain Plusnet as the value brand.
      Other than Kevin Bacon, EE is not a strong brand outside mobile telephony.

  17. Avatar photo S Huggon says:

    Any further information about the plans?

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