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UPDATE Bugs Delay Virgin Media Plans for Public WiFi Sharing

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015 (9:36 am) - Score 3,022
superhub v2

A few months ago we revealed that Virgin Media planned to turn their customers SuperHub cable broadband routers into public WiFi hotspots so that others could access the Internet when nearby (here), but nasty bugs have now delayed it to 2016.

The new service, which is similar to BT’s approach of embedding FON technology into their HomeHub routers, was originally supposed to be part of Virgin Media’s wider plans for extending their public WiFi coverage.

A trial was initially launched to some Virgin Media users in the Thames Valley (England) area, which at the time pledged that the service would soon “start rolling out across the UK“. Officials from the ISP later contradicted this by informing us that they hadn’t yet committed to do a full deployment.

The purpose of a trial is of course to test for bugs and normally what happens is that such problems are then resolved (i.e. the trial continues until a final product is suitable for deployment). But not this time, instead the trial appears to have been abruptly halted and the related firmware upgrade was then quietly pulled from routers.

Mind you even the firmware removal doesn’t appear to have gone quite according to plan because the public WiFi hotspot’s SSID can sometimes remain active (even though the service itself won’t work) and the only way to get rid of it is to do a hard reset of the router.

At this point the details become sketchy, although some trial users claim to have experienced a variety of significant bugs (e.g. problems with DHCP, unstable online gaming, the failure of modem mode etc.), which on some occasions even required Virgin Media to offer a free upgrade to their latest SuperHub 2AC device.

Early word on the grapevine was that Virgin Media had decided to stall the trial and possibly even to abandon the service entirely, although a spokesperson told us this morning that it had merely been pushed back to 2016. We have been promised a full comment and will update once one arrives.

UPDATE 5:45pm

A spokesperson for Virgin Media told ISPreview.co.uk: “We’re still committed to building a best-in-class public WiFi network. Our plans for Virgin Media WiFi are ambitious, including some network innovations and partnerships to bring access to hotspots in places such as pubs, airports and more. Creating a good customer experience is often a lengthy and difficult process.

In order to deliver the level of customer experience Virgin Media is renowned for, we have decided to extend the beta trial and push back launch into 2016. This has meant that we have reverted to the original firmware to ensure there is minimal impact on customers. We are in trial in Reading with some changes to network (and continue to monitor this closely) to test and improve the service until it meets our quality standards before launch.”

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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3 Responses
  1. Avatar M

    Slightly unrelated to the topic, but on the topic of the hardware, these ‘super’ hubs are complete trash if you ask me. As a 2AC user, the modem has been stuck on the same buggy firmware for the last year with DHCP RENEWAL FAILURE disconnections and now wireless initialisation issues causing soft locks on the modems HTTPd and hard locks on 5GHz WLAN, because you have to reset the modem every few days manually at a convenient time so you do not get the DHCP disconnection bug while you are working on time critical tasks and hoping the wireless intialises properly at the same timee.

    VM do not seem to care about ‘bugs’ and ‘glitches’ because if you call support about them they refuse to talk to you about it or even replace your hardware because your actual ‘service’ works and if you moan in the community forum, you get no response. Which also means that because your getting a ‘service’, there is no incentive to make a complaint because they will just laugh at you and pretty much tell you to suck it deep until your contract ends.

    Hurry up with my FTTC cabinet upgrade please, BTOR!

    • Avatar mrpops2ko

      I’ve never trusted any ISP router. They are all made with shoe string budgets, lacking in customisability and updates.

      Purchase a 3rd party router and never look back. The Asus RT-N66U is like 30 quid off ebay nowadays.

  2. Avatar Tom

    Their business hub is junk too. Regularly stops responding on the lan side.
    Then it factory reset itself at 10pm on Wednesday!

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