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Using Three Mobile SIM in 4G Router

sammerano

Casual Member
As someone who, like many on this forum, live in an area with poor broadband speeds (2-3meg), I was trying to find out more about using a 4G router and ditching the fixed line. I live in an area with decent 4G coverage. I'm in Northern Ireland and my two options for 4G broadband are Vodafone and EE. I wanted to go for Three home broadband as my mobile is with Three (unlimited data), but have been told by Three that they don't supply home 4G broadband in Northern Ireland (!) Not sure why that is, as they obviously supply mobile coverage. What I'm wondering is, if I were to buy a Huawei B535 router on Ebay, can I legally put in a SIM like my mobile SIM with unlimited data and use that for 4G home broadband, or do I have to get a specific SIM?
Thanks
 

Mezcita

Member
Three are incorrect as I use one of their unlimited sims in a B535 router. No issues at all.

The main issue is the potential speed. As the likes of Vodafone and EE might be faster where you live. Best thing to do is get a free sim from each company and then run a speed test on your phone. That should give you an idea of what would be best for the B535.
 

sammerano

Casual Member
Thanks, would it have to be an unlocked B535? Or are they all like that? Sorry for the newbie questions
 

sammerano

Casual Member
Cheers. When I started this contract with Three the personal hotspot was limited to 30 or 40 Gb / month, although it may be unlimited now. Am I right in thinking if the same sim was put in the B535 then it just uses the normal data and not the hotspot data, if that makes sense?
 

GavinAshford

Pro Member
While Three may not supply their 4G home broadband product (i.e. data only sim + router package) to NI, you can effectively get the same thing by putting one of their phone (data+sms+minutes) sim into a router you've provided yourself.

There is now no separation of 'hotspot data' vs 'normal data'.
Back in 2018 there was an Ofcom investigation into Three for limiting tethering with unlimited data sims in routers - the investigation was dropped after Three changed their policy, including:
withdrawn restrictions on the use of handset SIMs in dongles and mifis
remove any specific tethering or hotspot allowance for new or upgrading customers, to allow for unrestricted tethering
see here:
https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.p...eutrality-probe-of-three-uk-and-vodafone.html

Providing you get a good signal/speed on Three on your mobile now you can just sign up to another unlimited data sim-only phone plan and use that in a router.
 

kommando828

Pro Member
I use an old legacy Three sim in a B525 4G router which has unlimited data and have no issues with downloading.
 

heronaddict

Member
I use an old legacy Three sim in a B525 4G router which has unlimited data and have no issues with downloading.
Hello kommando828 and everyone.
I registered to ask a question.
I too have the B525 4g router with a Three unlimited sim fitted and also a Three sim in my Oneplus 6T. I switched from Sky Broadband (previously O2 I think, service was always unreliable )
I think I know the answer to my question already, but how come the speed test result from the router is so much slower than my mobile signal ?
They are both connected to the same mast as far as I know.
Is it simply better technology in the Oneplus phone ? Apologies for what may be a daft question !
Thanks
 

GavinAshford

Pro Member
There is likely to be better technology in your phone vs the router but that doesn't automatically mean it would give a higher speed - its very much depends on your local mast.
Out of curiosity what speeds are you seeing on your router vs phone?

The B525 router is 2x2 MIMO and it seems the 6T phone is 4x4 MIMO. Assuming your mast is 4x4 enabled then that could be up-to twice as fast (theoretically in ideal conditions).
Additionally, the router 'only' can do 64QAM whereas the 6T can do 256QAM which would see another theoretical +30ish% uplift in throughput (though I'm not sure Three have 256QAM deployed...)

To start to investigate, you really need to confirm it is the same mast you are connected to for both devices - its best to position both devices in the same physical location in your house to try ensure they see the same masts.
Usually it is possible to find the CellID somewhere the routers interface. And on your android phone something like the CellMapper app to show the Cell Identifier.
To find out what configurations are enabled on your mast you'd really need a rooted android phone with the Network Signal Guru app to reveal the MIMO and modulation (QAM) values. of the mast that it is connected to.
 

heronaddict

Member
There is likely to be better technology in your phone vs the router but that doesn't automatically mean it would give a higher speed - its very much depends on your local mast.
Out of curiosity what speeds are you seeing on your router vs phone?

The B525 router is 2x2 MIMO and it seems the 6T phone is 4x4 MIMO. Assuming your mast is 4x4 enabled then that could be up-to twice as fast (theoretically in ideal conditions).
Additionally, the router 'only' can do 64QAM whereas the 6T can do 256QAM which would see another theoretical +30ish% uplift in throughput (though I'm not sure Three have 256QAM deployed...)

To start to investigate, you really need to confirm it is the same mast you are connected to for both devices - its best to position both devices in the same physical location in your house to try ensure they see the same masts.
Usually it is possible to find the CellID somewhere the routers interface. And on your android phone something like the CellMapper app to show the Cell Identifier.
To find out what configurations are enabled on your mast you'd really need a rooted android phone with the Network Signal Guru app to reveal the MIMO and modulation (QAM) values. of the mast that it is connected to.
Thank you for that info.
The router has never given more than 50mb, whereas 6T can get up to 100mb
I was thinking of investing in a Poynting external antenna, but, like you say, mast is important. I've tried a few mast finding apps and websites (mastdata) which often give me conflicting results.
I've just checked the router device info cell id 524544
I'll keep searching !
I appreciate your advice, thanks.
 

GavinAshford

Pro Member
Thank you for that info.
The router has never given more than 50mb, whereas 6T can get up to 100mb
I was thinking of investing in a Poynting external antenna, but, like you say, mast is important. I've tried a few mast finding apps and websites (mastdata) which often give me conflicting results.
I've just checked the router device info cell id 524544
I'll keep searching !
I appreciate your advice, thanks.
If I've looked up that cell correctly then that suggests you're located in East of the Joppa(?) area near Edinburgh - is that right?
 

heronaddict

Member
If I've looked up that cell correctly then that suggests you're located in East of the Joppa(?) area near Edinburgh - is that right?
No ! North east London

The cell id on b525 definitely says 524544 though.
Thanks for searching, I'll keep on digging around and testing.
Cheers
 

GavinAshford

Pro Member
No ! North east London

The cell id on b525 definitely says 524544 though.
Thanks for searching, I'll keep on digging around and testing.
Cheers
Haha - almost could'nt be more wrong! Either that site isn't mapped on Cellmapper yet or the CellID of the router is reported in an unusual way.
 

bluehandle

Member
Hi all, along the same lines, I was looking to get a B535 through Three as a direct replacement to my talktalk connection.

I don't use the talktalk router because I've never seen such nonsense, so all my WIfi/networking is done through a Netgear Nighthawk.

Am I able to turn off all the networking/wifi/DHCP etc of the B535 and still continue to use the netgear for that.
 

GavinAshford

Pro Member
Yes Wifi and DHCP can both be disabled, but the main thing at the moment is the B535 doesn't support 'bridge mode' which is the term given to make the router act as a more dumb 'modem' and simply pass-through the internet connection to a 2nd router behind it (connected by LAN).

Without 'bridge mode' support things get more complex as you'll end up with a double-NAT (DNAT) situation which can impact certain use-cases (e.g. remote connections into your network).
Some of that can be somewhat mitigated by setting up the B535's DMZ, setting it as LAN-only on the ethernet ports, disabling some of the firewall features and manually configuring the WAN IP on your Netgear and the LAN ethernet on the B535.
However that still doesn't get you around the double-NAT for things like if you're using Dynamic DNS on from your Netgear - it'll see that the WAN IP is the internal IP of the B535, not the 'real' external IP.
 

bluehandle

Member
Thanks Gavin,

I don't have any requirement for incoming connections so it sounds like I'll be good. Worst case, I'll use the wifi from the 535, but the AX12 does some good support for higher wifi speeds and QoS etc.

I just need it for the time being as they are laying fibre in the summer at last.
 

GavinAshford

Pro Member
FYI, remote incoming connections would include any 'smart' devices that you'd normally be able to access externally - Hue, Nest, security cameras and the like. I'm not saying they won't all work, but some may be impacted.
 

oriodec

Member
Three do supply the homefi package in Northern Ireland - they don't supply the 5G package - the website quite often, wrongly, links you through the assessment of whether you can receive their 5G homebroadband before dead-ending you. I have Three Homefi (unlimited data only sim) and have had this for several years - first with the old B310 router and now the B535 router - I live in Northern Ireland. I also have a current unlimited phone sim card in a Huawei B525 router - both work reasonably well but hugely better than any landline isp can offer. I live in a rural area where the best BT have ever managed to deliver is 0.2 mbps on a good day. With Three I average donwload speeds of between 17 and 22 mbps - and regularly stream UHD content on one sim - the other sim keeps the rest of the family happily gaming and security cameras uninterrupted.
 
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