A short while ago Three.co.uk started offering a HomeFi wireless home router which delivers unlimited 4G to 32 devices for £22.00 per month. I had to check that was correct, as compared to other providers unlimited internet access for more than 30 phones, laptops, smart speakers, CCTV and alarms seems phenomenally good value. I was assured by the sales assistant that yes, it really was unlimited and, as he signed me up he checked all the ‘unlimited’ boxes on the form, which made me phenomenally happy!
Now, this package isn’t designed for a small business running their entire internet service via this one little Huawei device. You could try to connect 32 computers all streaming movies all day all month, but it’s only a little box which works on a GSM network so the connection just isn’t built for for that kind of data usage, so ‘unlimited’ actually means ‘unlimited depending on the speed and quality of the phone reception you’re receiving’. But if you’re not able to consume huge amounts of data due to the limitations of the phone network, what is it good for?
While you can’t realistically use it to run your SME’s data network or use it to open up your own internet café what you can do is use the device to create a handy Smart Home network without the bother and extra cost of having a landline fitted. Ideal if you live in a rented home, you’re a student on a tight budget, or you simply don’t want a land line and all the problems that brings with it. (It’s not unusual for people getting a new land line to get a recycled phone number, so expect a lot of marketing, debt recovery and sales calls for the former user for the first few months.)
Unlimited Data You Can Take With You Every Time You Move
While it’s not battery operated, it will plug in anywhere, so you can move it around the house, or, if you’re a student, you can take it with you each time you move, meaning you don’t have to sign up to new contracts, cancel old ones, and go through all the associated credit checks, financial history and so on. Another small downside it has is that it only has one Ethernet port. It’s not hugely important, it just means that you’re limited to using one computer which isn’t wireless enabled. Which brings us to the actual point of the HomeFi system.
Your Smart Home network relies on having a WiFi connection in order to operate. Most devices will only use a tiny amount of data in their day-to-day operation. You say ‘Alexa, turn the lights on’ and ping, a few bits are sent and received. However, if you’re casting a movie, listening to the radio, watching TV and sharing photos then your data consumption is going to mount up really quickly. If you have a family, all using computers and Smart devices then that consumption explodes.
No Unexpected Bills, Outages Or Interruptions
HomeFi isn’t the first product which gives you wireless internet without a phone contract, but other systems have a variety of limitations: some limit you to 5 separate devices or have data charges which become astronomical if you want to watch movies or play games online with friends. So again, if you have a family of teenagers wanting to keep up with friends on social while listening to music an streaming a film all at the same time as doing their homework HomeFi will still only be £22 per month.
Another benefit of unlimited data is that it isn’t just for entertainment, it’s great for security too. If your home CCTV or Smart alarms can’t work because you’ve exceeded your data limit then you’ll be vulnerable for the rest of the month until your data allowance is restored. While other Smart devices don’t consume a great deal of data to run, CCTV cameras, especially those with HD need a strong, stable, generous data supply. You could adjust the resolution to keep consumption to a minimum, but if you’ve ever seen Crime Watch and been astonished that anybody is able to make out any distinguishing features from the footage they capture you’ll know how important it is to get good quality footage if you want to secure a conviction if anybody is stupid enough to break into your property when you’ve got cameras pointed at all the doors and windows.
When Your WiFi Works, Your Whole Smart Home Network Works
Door monitors and access control would also be compromised in the same way should you run out of data. If you’ve installed a Smart door monitor you did it because you don’t want to get up and go to the door every time it rings, or you may use it to keep an eye out when you’re away from home, at work or on holiday. If there’s a break in wireless service then your access control becomes useless. Other devices such as Smart plugs, light bulbs and thermostats all equally fail should you exceed your data allowance, so while they don’t consume much themselves, they are dependent on having data available at all times.
So, while we’d recommend a cable installation to any homeowners who enjoy the benefits of the Smart Home revolution there’s no reason those who rent property, people who move home regularly or don’t want the hassle of phone contracts there are increasing numbers of adequate alternatives giving you unlimited data available on the market.