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Virgin Media Start Deploying Broadband SuperHub Public WiFi Sharing

Thursday, April 13th, 2017 (12:21 am) by Mark Jackson (Score 3,576)
virgin media superhub 3 router

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 Mediato 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Take note that the roll-out areas listed on VM’s FAQ page appear to be out-of-date because we’re now seeing the feature crop-up in plenty of other locations, which confirms that it’s being pushed out through a very gradual and phased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.”

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23 Responses
  1. BuckleZ

    so unlike BT, the bandwidth used by others won’t affect the config of your line at all? it will have a separate bandwidth?

    • Yes that’s my understanding because VM’s network has more flexibility to do that.

    • MikeW

      There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch…

      Even if the bandwidth is totally separate from the subscriber’s connection, VM still have to allocate some spectrum over the shared coax part. That is spectrum that wouldn’t then be available if the shared 8/12/16 channels get congested.

      It sounds great: “no bandwidth impact on customers”; an easy sell. But it also means that the capacity reserved for wifi is never available when customers’ bandwidth is congested.

      And, of course, when someone is actually using that wifi hotspot, it will present wireless traffic in the local environment, interfering with any surrounding wifi on the same channel.

      So, yes, it does affect your experience, but in less visible ways.

    • Matt

      Give a little to receive a little…. don’t sound bad to me….

      Always the opt out of course!

    • CarlT

      No capacity is reserved for the WiFi sharing service. If it’s not being used it is available elsewhere.

      The allocation is not done at RF level either, there’s no frequency division multiplexing in use here, the Superhub 3 demodulates all available broadband channels, the allocation is logical.

    • CarlT

      Regarding the number of channels in use, nowhere is on 8, those on 12 will go up to 20 in the not too distant and are, finally, a minority.

    • alan

      Thankyou CarlT for the accurate explanation and info on how it does not affect capacity of the regular service.

    • MikeW

      So, Carl, you’re saying it works the other way around? That no capacity is reserved for WiFi sharing, and can be used by standard broadband services if the shared WiFi isn’t being used?

      That would suggest that use of the WiFi sharing component does indeed hinder the standard service.

      The service might not compete with the host’s single service (at 50, 100, 200 or whatever) but it does compete on the shared RF with all the homes on that segment. If the segment is congested, then a shared WiFi user will add to the congestion.

    • CarlT

      They can easily deprioritise the WiFi so that it only gets what left over after ‘regular’ users have drawn their bandwidth.

      I’m not privy to the specifics of the WiFi service flow though I’m afraid.

      Either way it’s a big step up from the solution BT Consumer are obliged to use due to the sweating of copper via xDSL.

  2. Mobeen

    What about if you use the Hub 3.0 in modem mode?

    • Matt

      I think it might be overlooked…. but then might not either.

      I know with BT you could have and and then use a different router and modem meaning you wouldn’t be broadcasting the hotspot…

      Could be similar with Hub 3s in modem mode, activate it in router mode then switch back.

      Have to wait and see.

    • arundel

      Has allegedly been enabled in my area (I can see myself on their coverage map), but no sign of anything from my Hub3 in modem mode. Seems a neat loophole for the moment as I’ve technically not opted out 🙂

    • CarlT

      Dunno. There is actually no reason why this can’t still work even in modem mode. It’s not a modem even in that mode, much as with the Openreach VDSL ‘modems’ it’s a router that’s bridging.

  3. James

    20 channels means what? More speed? better congestion handling?

  4. Chris P

    The channels refer to docsis rf channels used for the superhub to connect to the VM network, not wifi channels.

  5. Matt

    Had my letter today from them regard this, however might be giving Virgin tech a call about getting my SH2ac reconnected instead of the Hub 3…. getting rather annoyed with certain things on it.

    WiFi chipset on the SH2ac seems to be superior, my only worry is the obvious…. going from 16-24 downstream channels down to 8… but that’s a risk I’m willing to take in my area.

    • CarlT

      If you’re on 200 Gamer or 300 they should decline your request.

      Unless you have big problems they should decline your request. Discomfort isn’t a big problem.

      Should be okay if you play on the still not fixed Intel Puma 6 bug.

    • Matt

      I had it swapped over yesterday… technical team didn’t even hesitate to do it…. glad to say I’m seeing no issues with regards to speed on my 200meg package…. any reason why they would be less inclined to do the 200 Gamer service over SH2…. I can understand 300 of course.

    • CarlT

      It’s a policy thing mate. The more channels available via the modem the better it’ll perform if there is congestion, and 200 Gamer being shiny and new they want the performance to look as good as possible.

    • Matt

      Makes sense, suppose I’ll find out if I decide to make the change.

  6. My Hub3 Virgin Media has stopped working since around April 13-15th, I don’t know if it’s because they remotely flashed this FON style Wi-Fi sharing thing onto it, or if the Intel Puma chip crapped out. VM phone support though say they don’t think it’s the Hub3 so they won’t send me a new one, I have to wait for the technician to come next week. That’s 2-3 weeks without internet but they will only refund me 1 week. I don’t understand why VM would want to use Intel in this router. Seems such an unstable choice. Are many other ISP’s using Intel in their routers? I would expect that most don’t.

    I have nothing against FON style Wi-Fi sharing, I love the idea I was using FON for something like a decade. But hopefully it’ll auto connect nicely when you walk around the city it should auto connect to VM hotspots everywhere. But I don’t know if Smartphones are smart enough to auto connect without always messing up connection stability passing over from 3G/4G to these Wi-Fi networks everywhere. And I think BT and Virgin and Sky and etc need to be nice people and let their users interoperate on each others Wi-Fi networks, seriously. It’s called peering agreements, if Virgin has to pay BT something because Virgin users might use BT more than BT users might use Virgin, then let them pay BT some fair amount. And Virgin can try to counter-balance that by providing faster bandwidth, etc.

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