After a delay from last year it appears as if Virgin Media’s newest feature, which turns existing SuperHub v3 cable broadband routers into public WiFi hotspots, is finally out of beta and starting to be deployed so that customers passing outside a VM home will be able to get online.
The new feature, which was first revealed in July 2015 (here) but then suffered a few teething problems (here), is similar to BT’s embedded and widely used FON technology in their HomeHub and SmartHub routers. The service was reintroduced as part of a beta trial last year, although it now appears to be rolling out to more widely.
Recently a growing number of customers have reported receiving an email from Virgin Media “to let you know that we’re expanding the network of hotspots that Virgin Broadband customers can automatically connect to through the Virgin Media WiFi app, by adding Virgin Media Hubs, including the one in your home.” A related Virgin Media WiFi FAQ Page has also been updated that includes additional info., including how to opt-out.
Once enabled the new feature creates a separate Internet connection to the Hub, which is offered to the public via WiFi and its own separate IP address. At the time we were told that there would be “no bandwidth impact on customers” because those who consent to use will have “additional, separate, bandwidth allocated” to their hub for the public access.
Statement from Virgin Media’s WiFi FAQ Page
Virgin Media WiFi uses a separate connection on your Hub to access the internet than the one used by your home broadband network. The data from your home network is completely separate from Virgin Media WiFi traffic, meaning the broadband connection you pay for is exclusively yours, and just as secure.
A Virgin Media WiFi user can’t see anything on the home broadband network they’re connected to. Likewise, someone using the home broadband network will not be able to see if anyone is connected to the separate connection in their Hub, or what they’re doing.
We’re adding hundreds of thousands of Hubs 3.0s to our growing network, helping you connect to WiFi in even more places. There are more Hub 3.0s to come.
Take note that the roll-out areas listed on VM’s FAQ page appear to be out-of-date because we’re now seeing the feature crop-up in plenty of other locations, which confirms that it’s being pushed out through a very gradual and phased deployment.
A Virgin Media Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:
“We have begun writing to some of our customers to let them know that we’re expanding our WiFi hotspot network which they can automatically connect to through the Virgin Media WiFi app. As part of this expansion we will soon switch on a separate, secure connection on Hub 3.0 routers.
In the letters customers are given a clear and simple option to opt-out if they do not want the Hub they use to join our WiFi network. There will be more news on this very soon.”
We understand that a more formal announcement is expected to be made in the next couple of weeks, after the Easter holiday. Customers who wish to opt-out can do so through their “My Virgin Media” account online.
At present this feature only works for those with the operator’s latest SuperHub v3 routers (Hub 3.0 if you prefer), although they are preparing an update for the older 2AC routers and plan to “ complete the rollout of our service later this year.”