VOIP socket unavailable on Three 4G router

(16th September 2021)

Just in case anybody has taken Three up on their  excellent value £14 a month unlimited 4G Broadband offer which includes the ZTE 286D home router there is a snag if you wish to use the built-in VOIP phone socket(s),  Three has removed the VOIP settings option and replace it with a diagnostic option instead.

When you delve in to the advance settings to add you VOIP details (usually just a server address, username password) Three has removed the VOIP settings panel and replaced with a diagnostic settings option instead.

When I asked Three why they had removed this setting they said they didn’t want to get involved with supporting VOIP, but, to be honest most VOIP companies provide set-up instructions or point you in the right direction such as a forum or Social Media group.

There are work arounds including plugging in an external VOIP handset or adaptor such the popular CISCO & Linksys device, about £25 on Amazon but this seems rather pants that you can’t make use of the phone sockets on the router itself and have to rely on third party hardware (another potential point of failure and something requiring support)

Not tested but I suspect you can plug a convention phone to the RJ11 sockets (with a suitable RJ11 to BT system adaptor) as you can with Huawei 4G routers on Three with SIMS that have included minutes.

One solution would be to buy an unbranded new unlocked ZTE 286D on eBay (circa £100) and subscribe to SMARTY who ironically are owned by Three and even use Three’s 4G Network infrastructure. Slight more expensive (£18 a month + the cost the router) but a 30 day rolling contract and you can often get the price down to £15 a month on Black Friday. They also have a referral system where you also get £15 every time you refer someone so 8 referrals would pay for the router anyhow.

With the demise of the UK PSTN by 2025 I’d have thought VOIP is going to fast become a hot potato, especially as you can port BT & Virgin numbers over to VOIP and scrap the landline all together.

Just though I’d put this out there for anyone who is scratching their head, perhaps Three are trying discourage VOIP so they can sell their own calls?


Windows 10 1809 fail – a workaround

install fail.jpeg


The problem

You’ve just bought mini PC with a small solid state main drive (say 32GB) or you’re trying to run Windows update on an older version of Windows 10 but the later 1809 update fails.

The problem is often because there isn’t enough space on the drive, it needs at least 20GB free.

Phil’s fix Summary:

Step 1 – Relocate the folder where Windows installs updates to a USB stick or external drive that has 20GB free

Step 2 – Temporarily disable Windows update

Step 3  – Use the Window update assistant tool to do the patches for you


1) Move the Windows update folder on your PC – instructions

2) Optional but if you can Right click on the existing c:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution folder, if it’s over 1GB you can safely delete the files. You may find you’ll need to again Temporarily disable Windows update to delete some of the larger files.

3) Download the Windows update assistant  – download link

About 1/3 of the way down page look for
How to install the Windows 10 October 2018 Update with Update Assistant

As far as I know, past patches are bundled in the 1809 update.
When I get time I’ll update this with step by step instructions & screenshots.