Who has the "best" broadband router from the main broadband providers?

silverpuma

Active Member
I am currently with sky for TV+phone and BB (63mbps). I am cutting the cord, I now need only BB. I have had virgin BB before so the cable is still there to be used.

I'm looking at the different BB providers and with the different deals at present (Oct 2021), it looks as if Virgin (100mbps) or maybe Vodafone 63mbps will be my choice. Both virgins cable and the BT line which Vodaphone would be using for my BB are at the corner of my house and with my floors downstairs being all tiled I can't really move the access point/cables to the middle of the house. So in the past all the BB providers I have had understandably struggled to push the wifi to the backend of the house.

Now to my question (at last:)) Who has the best router of all the main BB providers for wifi coverage? To begin with, I will just try the supplied router from virgin or Vodafone or whoever I choose and see how the wifi works and if its not good enough, this time with the savings from my cord-cutting I was thinking of buying a Home mesh set-up with 3 hubs (maybe these TP-Link Deco E4 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System £85) to help with my wifi coverage. But before I do that is there any difference in the supplied routers from the main BB providers? I have heard mixed reports about Virgin's super 3 hub and don't know anything about Vodafone or the others..

Any help or advice would be appreciated.

PS: FYI......I have Sky Entertainment + Sky Q Multiscreen pack + Sky HD = 3 x Sky Multiscreen (for my 3 tv's so 1 main skyq box and 2 x mini boxes + 63mbps BB + landline. This all costs me £102 per month or £1224 per year.....yikes...:eek: I know I could ring sky and plead for money off but I am fed up needing to do this every 18mths or so. So I'm leaving. And whilst it will not be a like for like comparison with skyq, nevertheless, for BB @ say £25 per month = £300 + £100 for a mesh set up + £100 for a couple of Rokus it still only adds up to £500 for the first year saving me £724 and the next year £900+ of savings as the mesh and Rokus will be one-off purchases. Anyhow, again thanks for taking the time to read this novel, and I welcome any constructive criticism and advice....
 

psychopomp1

Member
TalkTalk's Wifi Hub is a very good router wrt wifi coverage, probably the best out there from the main providers. Vodafone's is probably one of the worst.
 

RBZ5416

Distinguished Member
No experience of Virgin but I did have Vodafone for 10 days or so before jumping ship. Wouldn't have it again if it was free.

All budget ISPs will use a budget router, so I'd discount that from the decision process & just budget for buying your own. But having said that I had no real issues wit the BT Smart Hub. I recently bought a FritzBox! 7530 & have been impressed with it. It has mesh built in but I don't use it in a 3-bed semi, although it is at the top centre of the house. It's the router supplied by Zen, one of the best ISPs.
 

MarkyPancake

Distinguished Member
I've got a VM Super Hub 2, which is old now and doesn't suffer the Intel Puma Chipset flaw, but I run it in modem mode and use my own router. The general vibe I get from the VM Community Help forums is that the SH3 and SH4 are not the best when it comes to wireless performance, particularly once they have to deal with less open spaces, multiple floors, etc.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Wi-Fi transmit power (Tx) is limited by law and most kit is, and always has been, at (or very close) to the permitted max. If you look at the datasheets for any Wi-FI kit, for those that actually bother to cite the Tx power, they almost all cite the permitted max - in the UK 20dBm in the 2.4Ghz waveband and 23dBm in the 5Ghz waveband. (Some other territories differ.) This is so ubiquitous, some manufacturers don't even bother to cite it. (Occasionally one sees 17dBm, but that tends to be in things like phones and tablets.)

There's no "magic" uber-router out there with "much better signal" than everyone else's because they are all governed by the same laws. Most people opining about how router X compares with router Y, well meaning as they are, lack the expertise to understand how the tech. works and almost everyone lacks the facilities to objectively test anything.

There is some clever stuff done with phased antenna arrays (so-called "beam forming" sometimes touted as "MIMO") which can make a subjective difference, but it's not as dramatic as you might think and tends to be in more up market kit rather than cheap ISP gear. Cheap stuff is cheap for a reason. That said, some of the ISP gear I've seen from BT and VM is far from shabby.

Wi-Fi is a two-way radio "conversation" like walkie-talkies, not a one way radio "lecture" like television. If there was some magic "uber-router" with "much better signal" than everyone else's, to be of much use, you'd also need "magic" "much better clients" to send the signal in the client-->router direction, and such "magic" clients don't exist either. (Though routers with the aforementioned phased arrays can help with that a bit, though it can introduce as many problems as it solves.)

Besides, it would be best to uncouple your mindset a bit and regard "new broadband" and "better Wi-Fi" as separate issues to be addressed. Shop around BB providers for a broadband service that you like. Fix Wi-Fi separately with a Wi-Fi solution, if what the ISP provides doesn't cut it in your locale.

IMHO, choosing your BB provider based on "how good their router's WI-Fi is" would be like buying a car based on how good the stereo is. A good car (engine, gearbox, handling, etc.) with a crap stereo can be "fixed" by changing/enhancing the stereo and will still be a good car. A crap car with a great stereo is going to be a crap car forever, no matter how much we screw up our faces and squint (or turn up the stereo) and try to kid ourselves that we didn't make a poor choice of vehicle.
 
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silverpuma

Active Member
Wi-Fi transmit power (Tx) is limited by law and most kit is, and always has been, at (or very close) to the permitted max. If you look at the datasheets for any Wi-FI kit, for those that actually bother to cite the Tx power, they almost all cite the permitted max - in the UK 20dBm in the 2.4Ghz waveband and 23dBm in the 5Ghz waveband. (Some other territories differ.) This is so ubiquitous, some manufacturers don't even bother to cite it. (Occasionally one sees 17dBm, but that tends to be in things like phones and tablets.)

There's no "magic" uber-router out there with "much better signal" than everyone else's because they are all governed by the same laws. Most people opining about how router X compares with router Y, well meaning as they are, lack the expertise to understand how the tech. works and almost everyone lacks the facilities to objectively test anything.

There is some clever stuff done with phased antenna arrays (so-called "beam forming" sometimes touted as "MIMO") which can make a subjective difference, but it's not as dramatic as you might think and tends to be in more up market kit rather than cheap ISP gear. Cheap stuff is cheap for a reason. That said, some of the ISP gear I've seen from BT and VM is far from shabby.

Wi-Fi is a two-way radio "conversation" like walkie-talkies, not a one way radio "lecture" like television. If there was some magic "uber-router" with "much better signal" than everyone else's, to be of much use, you'd also need "magic" "much better clients" to send the signal in the client-->router direction, and such "magic" clients don't exist either. (Though routers with the aforementioned phased arrays can help with that a bit, though it can introduce as many problems as it solves.)

Besides, it would be best to uncouple your mindset a bit and regard "new broadband" and "better Wi-Fi" as separate issues to be addressed. Shop around BB providers for a broadband service that you like. Fix Wi-Fi separately with a Wi-Fi solution, if what the ISP provides doesn't cut it in your locale.

IMHO, choosing your BB provider based on "how good their router's WI-Fi is" would be like buying a car based on how good the stereo is. A good car (engine, gearbox, handling, etc.) with a crap stereo can be "fixed" by changing/enhancing the stereo and will still be a good car. A crap car with a great stereo is going to be a crap car forever, no matter how much we screw up our faces and squint (or turn up the stereo) and try to kid ourselves that we didn't make a poor choice of vehicle.
Thank you @mickevh for the full and concise answer. Your "how good the stereo is" example made me smile and take your chastisement on the chin.... Good point. I will, as you say, first of all get a BB provider I am happy with (at least from the research I can do) and then address any wifi issues I may or may not have then. One step at a time.

During trying to educate myself in this wifi/BB/mesh etc journey I came across a post by you, that ended with a simple but sensible comment. It went something like ....."instead of having an idea that you then try to shoehorn into a solution, it is better to ask yourself what you actually need first and begin there"......I'm sure I butchered that a bit but you get the gist. It is easy for me to miss the main thing searching out details.

Anyhow thank you for the advice and I'll be back when I've made a bit more progress, left sky and moved to some other BB provider and then if my wifi etc is giving me any issues.....
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Thank you @mickevh for the full and concise answer. Your "how good the stereo is" example made me smile and take your chastisement on the chin.... Good point. I will, as you say, first of all get a BB provider I am happy with (at least from the research I can do) and then address any wifi issues I may or may not have then. One step at a time.

LOl - I wasn't intending to chastise, but I hope the analogy would perhaps illustrate a better way to go about the decision tree. So when I'm shopping around for a new BB provider (not that I've done so for ages) I'd be looking at the BB service offering - e.g., how fast, how reliable, what's the customer support like, what's the cost, how long is the contract, when can they get it done, etc. etc. I wouldn't be worrying about the Wi-Fi facilities in the router they supply. If it's good (enough for my needs) then great, but if it's not I know I can add an alternate Wi-Fi solution to "fix" it (though that's an additional cost of course and some extra kit.) I wouldn't be turning down an otherwise good BB package because someone said the routers Wi-Fi was crap - unless I was myopically focused on only having one device.

Incidentally, one "benefit" of (effecticvely) decoupling the BB and the Wi-Fi is when we do change BB providers, the Wi-Fi is completely unaffected. In the sort of corporate businesses I work, we would not dream of having to change out the installed Wi-Fi solution just because we changed out Internet service (or our switches and routers.) Of course, one can argue that this is all a bit OTT in the SOHO use case, but hopefully it illustrates BB ad Wi-FI are not "joined at the hip" and can be procured separately.
 

examiga1990

Standard Member
I`m with TT (FTTC) and thought I`m going to splash out on my own modem/router so I have a
ZYXEL XMG3927-B50A as my main Gateway/router/modem connected to two (2) TP-Link Archer AX50`s via cat5e and cat 6 cable and both set in Access Point mode. This is working great and is a great setup for me. I use the parental controls via the Zyxel and this is the main workhorse all through my home network. I get great wifi coverage via this 3 way setup and great wifi speeds. The free ISP routers are ok to start of with but a 3rd party router beats them pants down for better all round use. (ok costs money but I have no problems)
 

spile

Active Member
A better router for many (most?) really means better wireless performance is required, in which case, I’d keep the isp provided router, disable wireless and add a dedicated wireless point.
 

ashenfie

Well-known Member
So in my area Vodafone is £19.50 for 63mbs and I had issue with the Openreach and I called them not expecting much they tested the line and say you lines no unto speed and the next day the open reach guy turned up. It took two further visit and it go sorted. All in far more that I was expecting, no fob of or excuses. The kit provided is fine and does the job, but none of the advanced feature the TP-link I use.

Router wifi coverage wise. if you have issues think about the location of the router and wall construction type. Rather than under you tv it need to be as central/high as possible. If you have brick walls, I found it best to use a powerline adapter to supply wifi to the bad rooms.

A bit of fiddling and help for Vodafone with the bad line and great wifi for £19.50 a month.
 

examiga1990

Standard Member
I just thought hell with it and bought my own Gateway/router/modem a ZYXEL version XMG3927-B50A and linked it to two (2) TP-Link Archer AX50`s routers as wanted better all round wifi. The performance has been great and had no more wifi issues. Yes it might seem over the top (price wise) but if you never get anymore internet problems and the kids/wife moaning its well worth it. I`m on a FTTC connection with TalkTalk. I use the parental controlls on the ZYXEL and it works great on all/any devices i set timers for. I could not do this with my freebie TT router
 

Pogg

Member
I am currently with sky for TV+phone and BB (63mbps). I am cutting the cord, I now need only BB. I have had virgin BB before so the cable is still there to be used.

I'm looking at the different BB providers and with the different deals at present (Oct 2021), it looks as if Virgin (100mbps) or maybe Vodafone 63mbps will be my choice. Both virgins cable and the BT line which Vodaphone would be using for my BB are at the corner of my house and with my floors downstairs being all tiled I can't really move the access point/cables to the middle of the house. So in the past all the BB providers I have had understandably struggled to push the wifi to the backend of the house.

Now to my question (at last:)) Who has the best router of all the main BB providers for wifi coverage? To begin with, I will just try the supplied router from virgin or Vodafone or whoever I choose and see how the wifi works and if its not good enough, this time with the savings from my cord-cutting I was thinking of buying a Home mesh set-up with 3 hubs (maybe these TP-Link Deco E4 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System £85) to help with my wifi coverage. But before I do that is there any difference in the supplied routers from the main BB providers? I have heard mixed reports about Virgin's super 3 hub and don't know anything about Vodafone or the others..

Any help or advice would be appreciated.

PS: FYI......I have Sky Entertainment + Sky Q Multiscreen pack + Sky HD = 3 x Sky Multiscreen (for my 3 tv's so 1 main skyq box and 2 x mini boxes + 63mbps BB + landline. This all costs me £102 per month or £1224 per year.....yikes...:eek: I know I could ring sky and plead for money off but I am fed up needing to do this every 18mths or so. So I'm leaving. And whilst it will not be a like for like comparison with skyq, nevertheless, for BB @ say £25 per month = £300 + £100 for a mesh set up + £100 for a couple of Rokus it still only adds up to £500 for the first year saving me £724 and the next year £900+ of savings as the mesh and Rokus will be one-off purchases. Anyhow, again thanks for taking the time to read this novel, and I welcome any constructive criticism and advice....
There is an excellent Router with class leading performance from Netgear. It is the flagship Netgear Nighthawk for £400. Also an equivalent Router for about same price from Asus is superb.
 

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