What router will I get with my broadband?

ByKim Staples
Router plugged in

A broadband connection isn’t worth a whole lot if you can’t connect to it - and that’s why providers ship you a router when you sign up. Here’s the hardware you get from each of the main UK providers, and what we think of their offering.

The routers compared

Have a quick scan of our table to see how all the routers compare on what's important.

Router Wireless standards Dual band? Ethernet ports USBports Features
BT Home Hub 4 802.11a/b/g/n Yes 3 x 100Mb; 1 x 1Gb 1  
BT Smart Hub 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Yes 4 x 1Gb 1 Smart Scan
EE Bright Box 1 802.11b/g/n No 4 x 100Mb 1  
EE Bright Box 2 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Yes 3 x 100Mb; 1 x 1Gb 1 Beamforming
Plusnet Hub One 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Yes 4 x 1Gb LAN; 1 x 1Gb WAN 1  
Sky Hub 802.11b/g/n No 4 x 100Mb 0 Smart power consumption
Sky Q Hub 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Yes 2 x 1Gb 0 Turns other Sky boxes into Wi-Fi hubs
TalkTalk D-Link 3782 Super Router 802.11b/g/n/ac Yes 4 x 100Mb 1  
TalkTalk HG633 Super Router 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Yes 4 x 100Mb 1 (but there are reports it doesn't work)  
Virgin Media Hub 3.0 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Yes 4 x 1Gb 0 Can also be used for VoIP

Remember that if you're not satisfied with the one you get, you may be able to buy and use your own router instead.

BT

BT broadband comes with one of two routers: the BT Home Hub 4 if you get standard ADSL broadband, or the BT Smart Hub when you take out BT Infinity.

The Smart Hub is probably the best router you can get with a broadband package. It's packed with some fab features and the latest Wi-Fi standards, like 'Wave 2' AC wireless, a whopping seven antennas, and Smart Scan that automatically upgrades your Wi-Fi connections. And if you want to plug devices directly into the Hub, there are four ethernet ports that all support data transfer speeds up to 1Gb - so your internet ought to be lickety split.

Read more about the BT Smart Hub

The Home Hub 4, meanwhile, lags a little behind - it doesn't have AC wireless, for a start - but it's still a decent piece of tech. Dual-band Wi-Fi helps you get decent signal throughout your home, and again you get four ethernet ports.

Read more about the BT Home Hub 4

BT Home Hub 4

EE

EE's router is known as the EE Bright Box. One of its forms, the Bright Box 1, comes with standard ADSL packages, and it's… well, it's okay. It'll do the job of connecting up your gadgets, and transfer speeds are perfectly good enough for the broadband it comes with. For slightly more complicated networking tasks though, like using AirPlay, it may stall a bit.

On the other hand, the Bright Box 2 - which you get with fibre optic packages - is pretty impressive. It's rocking all the latest specs, including some advanced tech to future-proof it, and it can do cool things like beamforming, which zeroes in on the device it's connected to. Plus it's one of the more attractive routers on this list. 

Plusnet

Plusnet Hub One

With any Plusnet broadband package, you'll get a Plusnet Hub One. It's essentially the same as the no-longer-available BT Home Hub 5A - and you know what, it's not half bad. Just like Plusnet's broadband, it's uncomplicated, straightforward, and easy to use, and gives you a good service to boot. There's the latest wireless AC standard, four 1Gb-speed ethernet ports for plugging your computers into, and dual-band Wi-Fi for top-notch home networking. This is a good'un.

Read more about the Plusnet Hub One

Sky

The standard router with Sky broadband is the Sky Hub, though you can also upgrade to the rather more impressive Sky Q Hub for an extra fee.

The regular Sky Hub will do just fine if you choose Broadband Unlimited, but if you pick a fibre package - or if you often use AirPlay, Google Cast, a Steam Link, or anything else that uses Wi-Fi - you're better off upgrading to the Q version. It'll give you far better signal, and can even turn your Sky TV boxes into little Wi-Fi hotspots of their own to spread it further.

Sky Q Hub

A couple of issues, though: it doesn't have any USB ports, so you can't plug a printer or a storage device directly in to your network. And there are only two ethernet ports - which is fine if you only want to connect one or two computers directly, but irritating otherwise.

Read more about Sky routers

TalkTalk

You get a TalkTalk Super Router with one of the provider's broadband deals - either a D-Link 3752, or a HG633. Both have decent Wi-Fi, though experts rate the HG633 a little more highly, citing better wireless performance and excellent build quality.

They come with wireless AC, dual-band Wi-Fi, and four ethernet ports - which aren't the speediest around, but they'll do the job just fine.

Virgin Media

All Virgin Media broadband comes with a Hub 3.0 - a router designed to handle the fast speeds of Virgin Media's network. Data transfer is nice and quick, Wi-Fi tech is up-to-date, and it's really easy to use and understand what all the blinking lights mean. And if you've opted for one of the provider's broadband-only deals, good news - this router also supports landline-free VoIP.

The only criticism is that, like Sky's routers, it doesn't have a working USB port.

Read more about the Virgin Media Hub 3.0

 

 

Compare broadband in your area

We don't share your postcode. More Info
Why do we need your postcode?

Enter your postcode to find the best broadband deals in your area. We value your privacy, please see our privacy policy

Broadbandchoices is accredited by industry watchdog Ofcom