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Specs for the NEW Virgin Media SuperHub 3 Cable Broadband Router – Adds VoIP

Thursday, November 5th, 2015 (10:29 am) - Score 138,903
superhub3

Liberty Global, which owns Virgin Media in the United Kingdom, has today confirmed that they’ve started the roll-out of a new cable broadband router (SuperHub 3), which can also act as a VoIP based telephone gateway, to their European and UK operators.

The first hints that a new router might be on its way to Virgin Media’s customers came in September 2015 (here), although we now suspect that the pictured “Connect Box” device was a COMPAL unit and one that will probably be used primarily by the operators business customers (some home users may also get it, but this is unclear).

More recently Virgin Media’s domestic cable (EuroDOCSIS 3.0) subscribers, specifically those taking part in the not-so-secret Hardware Trial, have also been receiving what appears be a re-branded version of the ARRIS TG2492S/CETouchstone Telephony Gateway“. A few crates of these have already been imported by the ISP (here and here).

In terms of basic specification, the ARRIS unit is nearly a mirror of the COMPAL and neither of those a million miles from Virgin Media’s top SuperHub 2AC device, but there are a few key differences and improvements.

Basic ARRIS TG2492S/CE Specification
* Euro / DOCSIS 3.0 (24 Downstream and 8 Upstream channels)
* 4 Gigabit Ethernet LAN Ports
* 2 x RJ-11 Telephone Ports
* 802.11 AC WiFi (2.4GHz + 5GHz)
* Download Speed of up to 1 Gbps (ignore this, you won’t ever get that on VM until DOCSIS3.1 arrives)

The addition channels would make it easier for Virgin Media to introduce a 300Mbps package to their home subscribers, which is likely to mirror the recently announced plans to launch a similar package for their cable-based business customers in Q1 2016 (here). Readers might recall that we had long expected the ISP to introduce a 300Mbps package, so it came as a surprise when they only jumped to 200Mbps in September (here).

But by far the most interesting addition is the strong Voice-over-IP (VoIP) support, which is helped by the addition of two RJ-11 telephone ports. This is a potentially very significant change as it would give Virgin Media the possibility to move away from providing a more traditional phone service, which might also save consumers some money in the process.

Until now we weren’t sure if Liberty Global would push down the VoIP path until DOCSIS 3.1 started to arrive later next year, but the operator’s latest announcement makes a point of referencing the telephony side and confirms the use of both COMPAL and ARRIS kit.

Doron Hacmon, Liberty Global’s Managing Director of Products, said:

Our next-generation WiFi and telephony gateway enables us to maximise the impact of our high-speed fiber networks across Europe by giving our customers a better, faster and even more reliable internet experience. Our customers rightly demand seamless WiFi connectivity both in and out of the home, and we will continue to focus relentlessly on providing them with a best-in-class experience, wherever they happen to be.”

According to Liberty Global, the new WiFi and telephony gateway is now available to customers in Belgium (Telenet) and Romania (UPC). After that it will be introduced by the rest of their operating companies in Europe over the “coming months“. This will also be the first time that Liberty Global has designed a universal, locally-branded broadband product to be rolled out across its European and Latin American markets.

Otherwise the router, which uses WiFi optimisation software from Celeno, has been designed with ease-of-use in mind, featuring a “simplified LED display and an install wizard that enables our customers to set up and customise their home WiFi service quickly and easily“.

Separately Liberty Global states that they’ve so far deployed a network of 6 million public WiFi spots throughout their footprint in Europe and this will reach more than 10 million WiFi access points in 2016, which is reflected by a lot of the related work that we’ve seen in the UK from Virgin Media (here); not that such things have always gone as planned (here).

At this point Virgin Media itself has been a bit slow to confirm their UK plans for launching the new device (we’ve been asking for more than a week), although we have been told to finally expect a reply today. Otherwise we’ve generally expected that the VM branded version of the new kit would surface during Q1 2016 when their new 300Mbps product tier arrives, although we don’t yet know for sure if that speed will also be made available to residential subscribers.

UPDATE 12:46pm

A spokesperson for Virgin Media informs ISPreview.co.uk that they intend to make their own branded version of the above kit available in the “coming months,” although they added that the capability to support VoIP is primarily in place to meet the needs of their sister ISPs in Europe (many of whom use VoIP as their primary telephony network).

Gregor McNeil, Virgin Media’s Managing Director for Consumer, added:

As we roll out our Vivid services with speeds up to 200Mbps across the UK we’ll be future-proofing customers’ connections with a new home router launching in the coming months.

The operator was also kind enough to supply us with a close-up picture of the device and we note that the file name(s) all referenced “Hub3” (likely shorthand for the expected SuperHub3 name), albeit much the same look as September’s Connect Box news. Obviously this is not the usual glossy PR picture, but it’s still direct from the horses mouth.

superhub3

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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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17 Responses
  1. Avatar MikeW

    “as it would give Virgin Media the possibility to move away from providing a more traditional phone line rental service”

    No.

    It allows VM the possibility to move away from a traditional phone service. To a VoIP service. A fundamental change in the technology underpinning the service.

    But what happens on the billing side, and what the itemised labels are called, is totally disconnected from that. Line rental doesn’t have to be charged on traditional phone services; it is just a name for a fixed monthly component to a bill. It could be charged on a VoIP package (labelled, perhaps, as “phone number rental”).

    In the end, everyone is best looking at the total bill per month, and not getting hung up on what the individual labels are.

    • Avatar Sean

      Free broadband for 18 months*

      * With VoIP at £19.99/month

    • Avatar mr x

      at least this allows virgin to offer 600mb broadband with the 24 downstream router

      virgin still are only using 2 channels for max upstream 12mb even thought it can do over 50mb with 2 upstream channels, so until they can use 4 upstream at the modem end and have more upstream line cards at the FTTN cab end, until then we not get 20mb or higher yet, or we run into problem with high utilisation again like what happened last time

      technically it can do 1.2gb as its 50mb per channel ,but you be overloading the DOCSIS channels like what happened last time when they gave people 100mb when the FTTN cab did not have extra line cards to handle it yet(the upstream was overloaded), as ones you get past 70% utilisation per channel it starts to fall apart (especially on the upstream from the customer side as DOCSIS on virgin for upload is like Wifi on each channel)

  2. Avatar Jazzy

    I used to have orange home adsl a few years ago and that came with VOIP built in, if anyone can remember. I was flat sharing in Edinburgh and it was brilliant. I offered to have the broadband put in as it was free on my phone contract and myself and the homeowner shared the connection and you could plug a normal phone into the back and I had my own private telephone number and he used his own home phone as normal. Gave us both complete privacy.

    They didn’t charge for the VOIP either and it has a 0131 number. I only ever used it for incoming calls. It was brilliant. I hope this is simlar.

    • Avatar DTMark

      Our 4G modem does the same, you just plug a phone into a socket on the back and configure a SIP account which provides a ‘landline’ number that relatives can call at standard rates.

      Separately, as regards line rental and from what I recall, The Netherlands is predominantly cabled and so packages don’t have ‘line rental’ as such, split out as a separately chargeable item, there’s simply bb speed option + tv package option + calls options so it’s much easier to understand.

  3. Avatar dave

    I would like to have seen them include 2 more ethernet ports dedicated to VOIP, that way people could enjoy better audio quality using modern audio codecs like Opus for audio. I wonder if voip support means that new houses that are being connected to virgin’s network will not get a phone line copper cable laid and will instead use virgin’s thick coaxial copper cable. It would reduce the installation cost.

  4. Avatar Matt

    With the new modem supporting 24 downstream and 8 upstream channel bonding this could reduce the impact of peak time utilisation issues for Virgin customers, I will be very interested in taking Virgin Media new hub for a trial run when its released.

    I live in an area that has has many issues with capacity due to the heavy usage at peak times, but sharing 8 downstream channels with many others is mainly the reason for this and tripling that figure can only be a good thing.

    I’m currently running FTTC but have been looking recently at getting cable back as a failover in the even of a line issue… I may well give Virgin another chance when this hub is released.

    • Avatar Craig

      Just reading you’re comments I have this new router but the sneaky installation guy took the box and manual. So I was searching for the manual and came across you guys.

  5. Avatar Richard

    I moved from SKY to VM finally after they stopped the download caps during the day (I am disabled and watch a lot of on-demand tv) I kept the SKY TV, had been with O2/Be* for 10 years or so, but got fed up as we lost Annex M when migrating to SKY although we still had static IP’s. Anyway, the engineer fitted this router, it’s nothing to shout about, I put it into bridge mode to utilise my own faster 11ac wi-fi router (I have upgraded all of my equipment previously for 11ac). This router is only capable of 300 Meg download unless bonded (600 Meg) and won’t be allowing speeds faster until DOCSIS 3.1 is installed, which I can’t see VM doing anytime soon – I am just waiting for their traffic management to whack me, but so far it has been OK streaming HD films. The test will be when UHD starts to hit the networks. There are 2 VOIP ports on the back of this, but useless in the UK, and still only 4 10/100/1000 ethernet ports (I use a 24 port switch anyway with all my gadgets) but for some 6 ports would be ideal like on the newer Netgears eg Nighthawk X8. The engineer had never seen one of these routers before, I had to set it up for him, lol. btw I am on Vivid 200, and averaging 216 Meg down and 12.1 Meg up.

  6. Avatar Paul Ingles

    I just had one of these installed at a house I’m moving into (having everything setup/installed before we move). Although I’m paying for Vivid 200 multiple speedtest.net reports over the weekend showed it maxing at around 90mbps.

    I phoned VM and they reported I was in a high congestion area, apparently the cabinet equipment is being upgraded at the end of the month so fingers crossed! Pretty annoyed/frustrated if they’re overselling capacity quite so significantly.

    Wifi performance seemed pretty good from the small test I ran although once I move it’ll be in modem mode and hooked up to my Asus AC68U router.

    Bring on the improved network and >200mbps connections!

  7. Avatar Andy Wilkinson

    Virgin Media are supplying the CH7465LG modem for their new 360Mbps service here in Ireland. As suggested this is currently running in DOCSIS 3.0 mode, but I presume that is switchable through firmware as the box prior to the obligatory firmware “upgrade” the menu was showing DOCSIS 3.1. Also many of the firewall features and IPv6 support were also removed as part of the “upgrade” 🙁

  8. Avatar Johnny

    My WIFI scales won’t connect to this device. Says it needs to be 2.4GHz. Can you log into this router and change settings etc?

  9. Avatar Mike

    The user interface for settings is buggy, please use with caution.

  10. Avatar Simon

    General Virgin Media fibre question – am I guaranteed to get the erratic upload and download speeds I have heard plagues fibre? In real world practice is that a problem?

  11. Avatar jerome dent

    terrible response times on the admin page very slow.also no way of having ssid for 2.4 and 5 ghz channels so no idea if the devices are connected in either 2.4 or 5ghz because of this i dont get to decide how to connect to devices.
    would love to have me super hub 2ac back crap interface very slow no control silly thing is you can set guest network up but but no separate 2.4 or 5
    cant check firmware upto date

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