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4G Broadband at Home and Phone Sim in 4G Router Question

Henchard

Member
Hi, newbie alert please be gentle (especially if this has been covered previously)

I live in a valley in Wales where despite earlier promises I am unlikely to get fast/fibre broadband anytime soon (or even before I die!).

In fact our complaints hit the BBC News last weekend as one of the most read items on their website (not that it will do any good)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-46468398

As it hapens I am one resident (because my house is higher up the hill) who has found that I can get a 4G signal on the 3 and EE networks where I live. Accordingly I bought a cheap Huawei 4G router off Ebay and tried it with a data sim card on the 3 network. I could just get a signal inside the house and near an upstairs window I got about 5Mb/s down and less than 1Mb/s up. This is an improvement over our landline though.

After further research I installed a Poynting 4G-XPOL-A0002 directional aerial outside. I chose the directional aerial because I know that the signal can only come from one mast 12km away down the valley. Most people reckon that an omni directional aerial, with less gain, is better for most regular situations because of reflections etc. I just lined it up by sight to where I know the mast is. Instantly I was getting 80Mb/s down and 20+Mb/s upload. Result.

Here's a photo of my aerial installation which I did myself.

aerial.jpg


Now I need to find the best deal for a Sim card and the 3 network seems to have the best deals. However, phone cards seem better value for data (particularly unlimited) than data only sims. Is it possible to use a phone sim contract in the 4G router? Searching various forums indicated initially it isn't because the networks don't like them being used in routers using lots of data and that they have conditions against this. However, one post on another forum indicated that a new European ruling back in the summer confirmed that the public had free use to do what ever they wanted to do with their sims. Can anyone shed some light on this for me before I make a decision. Can a phone sim with unlimited or say 100Gb data be used in a 4G router?

Thanks in advance.
 

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
This can get a bit tricky because Three UK have removed the Tethering (Personal Hotspot) restriction from their SIMs, although I'm not sure if this holds when you put a Mobile SIM into a dedicated router (you'd need to test but in theory it should, although dedicated Mobile Broadband plans aren't always setup in the same way).

I'd also suggest checking out EE's 4G Home Broadband service as, while expensive, you can get a data allowance of up to 500GB on that and their speeds are often faster (depends on your area).

https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2018/09/ee-uk-launch-500gb-data-allowance-on-4g-home-broadband-plans.html
 

Henchard

Member
Thanks for the reply. However, EE's 4G home broadband service is very expensive.

I'd be particularly keen to know if anyone has any information on the EU judgement or can refer me to it (if it is indeed true)?
 

Henchard

Member

Many thanks that links to this

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/bulletins/competition-bulletins/all-closed-cases/cw_01218


which specifically states that Three has confirmed that it has already:

  • withdrawn restrictions on the use of handset SIMs in dongles and mifis.

which presumably means I can just put a 3 phone Sim in the router. I shall be trying it soon!
 

baby_frogmella

Casual Member
Re: unlimited data/calls/texts plan on Three, they were offering this for £20 pm on a 12 month deal until recently. This has now gone up to £27 pm, so worth asking Three if they can give you this at their previous price.
 

Jim Weir

Casual Member
Yes, you can now use a Phone sim in a 4G Router and Yes you can use the AYCE Three unlimited data package in that router and get unlimited 4G data, this is currently the case, but how long this will last is unknown.

The only rule is that there is a soft cap of 1000GB per month, and that you can be affected by TrafficSense traffic management.
 

sheephouse

Casual Member
I recently changed from Three 100GB/month data SIM to a AYCE phone SIM - I spoke to Three and they assured me that the phone SIM works in *any* device including tablets and routers. I got the AYCE everything deal for £20pm, which is pretty good as the 100GB data sim was costing me £30. I don't use much more than 100GB/month, but so far it is working very well. I'm using a Mikrotik SXT LTE with the AAISP L2TP VPN to give me a fixed IP address etc. It isn't as fast as some areas - I get 20Mbs down, 6Mbps up - but much better than the ADSL2+. The EE service in my area is faster, but significantly more expensive.
 

Henchard

Member
I recently changed from Three 100GB/month data SIM to a AYCE phone SIM - I spoke to Three and they assured me that the phone SIM works in *any* device including tablets and routers.
Did the Phone Sim work straight away in the router or did you need to put it in a phone first to 'enable it'? A few people have said that they have to do the latter. I've just ordered a phone sim with a small amount of data to try first but will probably do the same as you if all OK
 

sheephouse

Casual Member
The SIM worked straight away - didn't have to do anything other than put it in the router and switch the router on. I can even send/receive SMS through the router. You need to receive a SMS to register the SIM to get an online account to monitor usage - although it is fairly pointless as it just tells you you haven't used anything outside your (unlimited everything) allowance.
 

Bambi2

Member
I live in a similarly mountainous region in a border townland in Northern Ireland and we've been using a 3 SIM in an Asus router for affordable and moderately reliable internet this past while. But now my issue is that I've no handset for using for calls, messages etc. Is it possible to plug a phone in through the router or something to have my cake and eat it??
 

brookheather

Casual Member
Is it possible to plug a phone in through the router or something to have my cake and eat it??
You can setup a VOIP account (I use sipgate) and either buy a VOIP phone or you can get a cheap Cisco adapter for a few quid on ebay and plug in a normal landline or DECT phone - I use the Cisco SPA122.
 
Hello, a friend in rural Somerset has 1Mbps broadband but gets a 4G mobile signal. Can he keep his BT account (he's been with them for years and has a btinternet email) but change from broadband to 4G (maybe using an EE package as EE is now BT). Are there any issues with 4G internet other than a greater latency and a usage cap? 3 mobile is not available.
 

Captain_Cretin

ULTIMATE Member
Hello, a friend in rural Somerset has 1Mbps broadband but gets a 4G mobile signal. Can he keep his BT account (he's been with them for years and has a btinternet email) but change from broadband to 4G (maybe using an EE package as EE is now BT). Are there any issues with 4G internet other than a greater latency and a usage cap? 3 mobile is not available.
There can be issues, it depends what you do with the connection, mobile based internet tends to share a single IP amongst a LOT of people, so services that require it may not work, or give totally the wrong location.
I do some on line gaming using a mobile connection and network latency is a LOT higher than landline; my landline to a US server is typically 85-95mS, the mobile account to the same server is 130-170Ms with peaks up to 3,500mS. bearing in mind, about 80mS is the jump across the Atlantic, that means the UK side latency is ~10 times higher at best.
 
There can be issues, it depends what you do with the connection, mobile based internet tends to share a single IP amongst a LOT of people, so services that require it may not work, or give totally the wrong location.
I do some on line gaming using a mobile connection and network latency is a LOT higher than landline; my landline to a US server is typically 85-95mS, the mobile account to the same server is 130-170Ms with peaks up to 3,500mS. bearing in mind, about 80mS is the jump across the Atlantic, that means the UK side latency is ~10 times higher at best.
Thanks, but they use it for general surfing, email etc. and have a smart TV so watch programmes on iPlayer etc. They don't video conf and have mobiles for voice.
 

Elbudweiser

Member
Hello, new member here, I'd like to add that earlier this week I bought a TP-link router and a PAYG "Three" phone sim card unlimited data calls text. Works fine in my iPhone SE put it in the router, it connects, sometimes will allow a speed test and then nothing. I contacted Three and the representative said a phone sim card is not compatible in a router, any further advice apart from buy a data plan sim card as well, thanks.
 

Glovepup

ULTIMATE Member
Hello, new member here, I'd like to add that earlier this week I bought a TP-link router and a PAYG "Three" phone sim card unlimited data calls text. Works fine in my iPhone SE put it in the router, it connects, sometimes will allow a speed test and then nothing. I contacted Three and the representative said a phone sim card is not compatible in a router, any further advice apart from buy a data plan sim card as well, thanks.
Yes you'll need a data only sim.
 

Captain_Cretin

ULTIMATE Member
3 Customer support can be pretty bad, they once stung me for £20 in a similar situation.
Told them what I wanted, gave them the money, added £20 credit and got insta-blocked, because it was the wrong type of SIM.
They wouldnt accept it was their error and either send me the correct SIM or refund my money.
It is why I wont use 3, even though they are the fasted network around here.
 

Mark8253

Member
That is exactly my setup - a £20/month unlimited SIM in a TP-Link router. It generally works fine on 3G (no 4G here) giving me 3/4 signal bars and 15-20 Mb/s down and 2-3 up. We use about 300GB a month. Now and again it loses connection and requires a reboot but I don’t know if that is caused by a flaky signal or an issue with the router.
 
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