BT's latest router comes with automatic interference-dodging technology inside. We find out how well it works
There are an awful lot of things that can cause interference and slow down your network. Aside from neighbouring networks residing on the same or adjacent channels, other devices, such as baby monitors, video senders and microwaves can also disrupt your Wi-Fi.
The BT Home Hub 3 router has a solution: as well as picking the least crowded wireless channel at boot, it monitors general RF interference and can switch channels on the fly.
It works too. When we stuck an analogue video sender next to the router we saw it change channels within 30 seconds. However, it isn’t quite the panacea you might expect. In our tests, it didn’t always switch so quickly – sometimes not at all. And if neighbouring networks are causing problems, we’re not convinced it will help: when we surrounded it with five routers on the same channel, one streaming HD video, it didn't budge.
It’s also a bit skinny when it comes to features. It has ports for both ADSL and BT Infinity, plus a USB socket for sharing storage. But that USB port doesn’t support NTFS-formatted drives, just one of the four Ethernet ports is Gigabit, and the Home Hub 3 is a single-band 2.4GHz-only router. That’s surprising, as the we'd say best way of avoiding interference is to use the 5GHz frequency band.
In other ways, we like the BT Home Hub 3. Its web-based interface is easy to understand, and we particularly like that it comes secured out of the box, with credentials unique to each Home Hub. These are printed on a small removable fob you can remove from a slot at the top of the router too, so it's a doddle to add new devices to your network.
Performance is decent. In 40MHz mode, speeds peaked at 132Mbits/sec for large files transmitted from our test laptop at close range, with an overall average of 75Mbits/sec. At a range of 40m, speeds averaged 29Mbits/sec.
All-in-all, the Home Hub 3 is a solid product. The price is reasonable: it’s £46 as an upgrade from existing Home Hub and comes free with new subscriptions. Plus, the interference avoidance does work – to a degree. But we can’t help feeling BT could have done more with the rest of the package to make it more attractive.