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UK ISP BT Publish Speedtests of their Smart Hub WiFi Router vs Rivals

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016 (1:44 pm) - Score 4,233

BT has published a number of WiFi speedtests for their new Smart Hub broadband router, which pitted the kit against rival hardware from TalkTalk, Sky Broadband, Virgin Media, Plusnet and EE. The results appear to support the ISPs claim that their router “provides the most powerful wi-fi,” at least in comparison to the kit bundled by their rivals.

Apparently the testing, which only examined the data transfer performance of their wireless network (latency wasn’t considered), was based on the IEEE802.11T WLAN Test Methods and also took into account previous Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) rulings, such as related guidance on making WiFi performance claims (several ISPs have fallen foul of these, including BT – examples here, here and here).

The testing itself, which examined performance under both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands (using a Macbook Pro with 3 antennas and a Samsung Galaxy S4), took place both in a lab and around 10 “real homes” that were apparently “fully furnished and of different construction types.” The results of the latter appeared to support BT’s own lab testing.

Below we’ve published a summary of the results from BT’s test house at their Adastral Park research facility, which we’ve selected because it’s the only one that also includes some of the newer rival routers like the fairly new Sky Q Hub and Virgin’s SuperHub 3.0. Otherwise you can read the full report here.

The scores are presented in the form of Megabits per second (Mbps) across different rooms in the test house. Note that the Sky Hub SR102 doesn’t produce anything for 5GHz because the kit only supports the 2.4GHz band. Sadly BT didn’t test their other HomeHub 5 router, although Plusnet’s Hub One is based off the same hardware and may be a fairly close match.


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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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27 Responses
  1. karl says:

    655.7Mbps best result on 5ghz……. What a load of BS. There is not even a router reviewed on smallnetbuilder that reaches that speed and some of them cost over $300. Oh and are most definitely better than BTs brick.

    1. Ignition says:

      There seem to be quite a few routers on there with 4×4 5GHz radios that have throughput well above 655.7Mb downstream. The AC2350-class kit, packing a 4×4 MU-MIMO 5GHz radio, seems quite capable.

      The Asus RT-AC87U, Netgear R7500 Nighthawk X4 and Linksys E8350 all manage it.

      What confuses me more actually is that the device is listed in the earlier ISPR article as having a Broadcom 43602 SoC – this is a 3×3 5GHz chip, not 4×4 – while the same article cites specifications claiming a 4×4 5GHz radio.

      Whether it does 400Mb, 600Mb or 800Mb wirelessly isn’t really a major issue though, given 99% of those using it cannot purchase a BT connection of more than 1/5th – 1/10th of that bandwidth and of that 99% about half cannot get higher than ~50Mb.

    2. Bob2002 says:

      The original ISPReview coverage of the SmartHub said it was using the following chips – Broadcom 63137, 4366, 43602. The Broadcom 4366 is indeed 4×4 –


    3. karl says:

      I can not find any Ignition, those you mention seem to manage around the 400-500Mb mark for actual downlink…
      and 500-600Mb max for the downlink profile…..

      The Nighthawk x4 as an example manages 587Mbps (SEE POSITION SIX IN THE SECOND LINK ABOVE) thruput as its best on a 5ghz downlink, actual review and wireless….

      Sorry but i doubt some free BT brick can beat a good as £200 Netgear, and not by about 70Mbps on 5ghz wireless, not even on the Netgears worst day.

      Time for Sky, Virgin and TT if they could be bothered to get the ASA to remove BTs nonsense ads, much like BT whinged about Sky and Virgin. Only difference is i spose those companies have better things to do with their time.

    4. Evan Crissall says:

      Now THAT is the Karl we all know and love – the one calling out BT for its relentless advertising bunkum!

      And yet another hiccup discovered by AndyC in the lemon-like BT SmartHub — assigning the same IP address to multiple client devices. Another novel bug!

    5. FibreFred says:

      Sounds like you and Evan need to get a complaint in karl

    6. Steve Jones says:

      If you are so convinced the that BT are telling lies about results from their lab tests, I suggest you get a complaint into the ASA Karl.

    7. wirelesspacman says:

      BT tell lies? Now, who would have thought it?? 🙂

      How about this one: “provides the most powerful wi-fi”

      Now, unless I am mistaken, the power of a wifi signal is still regulated and thus if BT’s claim is true, then they are exceeding the allowed eirp. 🙂

    8. Steve Jones says:


      That’s a pretty disingenuous accusation isn’t it? Most powerful WiFi can mean a whole lot more than simple transmission power density which is, indeed, regulate. It can refer to throughput, but more particularly to the use of the advanced MIMO techniques using multi-path propogation in 802.11n (which is, indeed, what is being used on more advanced WiFi nodes).

      Again, if you have trouble with the claim, then take it to the ASA. Personally I doubt that most customers will have the foggiest notion about the technical definitions of EIRP and will care most about the ability to maintain speed, especially throughout a property, penetrating walls and so on.

    9. karl says:

      “That’s a pretty disingenuous accusation isn’t it?”

      Id say his comment unlike the BT testing is more fact than accusation.

      “Most powerful WiFi can mean a whole lot more than simple transmission power density which is, indeed, regulate.”

      “It can refer to throughput,”

      Thats the claim BT are making is it not with their shiny Mbps figures?

      “but more particularly to the use of the advanced MIMO techniques using multi-path propogation in 802.11n (which is, indeed, what is being used on more advanced WiFi nodes).”

      Unless its a AC5300 device or one of the even newer AD7200 devices then technically its not best in that regard either.

      “If you are so convinced the that BT are telling lies about results from their lab tests, I suggest you get a complaint into the ASA Karl.”

      Hopefully other ISPs who have had to put up with BT whinging to the ASA about their wireless claims will do that instead. I do not have to be convinced they are lying, they clearly are unless you think a homehubs wireless performs better than hundreds on devices tested, some of which are so cutting each the tech is only a matter of months old and others that sell for over £200.

      This is the bit where you make excuses, tell us BT tests are more accurate, a homehub is worth a similar £200+ or whatever next stupid bit of excuse making you can come up with to defend their absolute lies.

    10. karl says:

      “How about this one: “provides the most powerful wi-fi”

      Not only that but it manages to beat higher spec devices on the market distance wise and magically receives data faster than them all……..

      All that without even an external antenna in sight…… OMG if only we could perform that Paul Daniels magic trick for TV and Radio. No more satellite dishes or TV aerials on our homes and we can get rid of all the towers. One has to wonder who at times BT think they are fooling.

    11. Steve Jones says:


      Not a single thing that you’ve listed is actual evidence that the tests were performed either fraudulently or wrongly as you appear to allege. What it amounts to is that you simply don’t believe the results based on (unreferenced) throughput reports on devices that weren’t tested by BT very probably under different conditions.

      These stats claim to be comparison reports between different retail ISP products in a controlled enviroment. I’ve no doubt that they will be nothing like the actual throughput in a real-world environment subject to heaven knows how many uncontrolled factors. Benchmarks rarely do. However, what this is meant to be is a comparison under these particular test conditions, not an absolute prediction.

      Now it may be that the other ISPs will claim foul. We will see.

    12. karl says:

      “Not a single thing that you’ve listed is actual evidence that the tests were performed either fraudulently or wrongly as you appear to allege.”

      Please then explain why a homehub can download on 5ghz at a higher rate than any device on smallnetbuilder including the very latest AD7200 tech. Let me guess all their testing is wrong and BTs is right huh?

      ^^^^^^^^^^ I doubt that will be answered.

      Smallnetbuilder even go as far as to test the device under ideal circumstances in a chamber to prevent outside radio interference so results should be higher, than real life, BT reckon they just shoved the devices on a wooden shelf in a normal house and it was faster than every AC5300 device on smallnetbuilder….. Yeah right!

      My god BTs device is only an AC1600 device and we are spose to believe its better than £200+ quid AC5300 and even newer AD7200 gear……… Do me a favour, theres advertising and then there is BS BT.

    13. FibreFred says:


      BT have put together a set of test results that prove what it can do

      Can you provide proof it cannot?

    14. karl says:

      You mean the same way TT put together a report on what their device could do and which BT complained about…

      I like BT do not have to prove anything especially to someone as insignificant as yourself. I can just make accusations and leave it to someone else to decide if i so wish, just like BT. I propably will not though as unlike BT and yourself i have far better things to do with my time than write love letters to the ASA.

    15. FibreFred says:

      “No I can’t”

      Would have worked just as well

    16. karl says:

      I have as much evidence as BT had when they complained about Talk Talks device. So if you wish to call that none im glad we agree BT make complaints with no evidence.

    17. Steve Jones says:


      Show your evidence is a reference to a report where the ASA upheld most of BT’s complaint? The TalkTalk test had no reference to a fully detailed report (just a consumer summary) and was limited in scope. The BT claim does appear to be supported with a technical report.

      The HH6’s 4 antenna 4×4 802.11ac would, in theory, allow for up to 1.7Gbs although that would require a suitable client device of course. It’s also not a figure that will be seen in practice either, but the claim (under the least arduous conditions) was about 40% of that.

      Not that I think absolute throughput limits are what really matters. In practice, I’m more interested in the ability to penetrate walls and maintain reasonable throughput in more demanding situations.

    18. karl says:

      The Talk Talk device underwent testing and had a full report…
      Probably more valid than BTs considering it was done by a third party and not the organisation itself.

      The HH6 is an AC1600 device 1300Mbps on 5ghz and 300Mbps on 2.4ghz. There are hundreds off devices on the market higher in spec than this yet BT claim their device performs better in their so called tests.

      Carry on defending their absolute nonsense claims though and bashing every other providers.

    19. Steve Jones says:


      The ASA’s view of the TalkTalk tests do not concur with the idea that the report or scope of the tests was adequate for the claims being made.

      The BT report does, at least, give the methodology and standards used. There is an annex showing the test environment and facilities used (one of which was in Germany). Now it may be that it is challenged, we will see. If challenged then BT will have to support the claims they make to the ASA. We will see, but I rather think that they will have been extra careful on this given the history.

    20. karl says:

      “The ASA’s view of the TalkTalk tests do not concur with the idea that the report or scope of the tests was adequate for the claims being made.”

      I doubt it will for BT either. Test methods for one do not represent real life. Both the German and UK test facility were free of wifi interference. The router in both case was place in the largest room possible, which allows the signal to propagate and emit easier. Devices were placed on a wodden turntable. How many people place boththeir laptop and router on a wooden turntable of specific size?

      Oh and when it came to later tests i quote…
      “At the time the testing was commissioned the Virgin Media 3.0 and Sky Q routers were not available. The results from this test facility fully align to those from BT’s Adastral
      Park test house”

      So they do not even know in all cases how the Virgin hub 3 would perform, but BT still decided to claim they have the “Best wifi” eh.

    21. FibreFred says:

      You’ve put so much effort into your responses karl you might as well write to the ASA or have you already done so and will refer them back to your posts here?

    22. karl says:

      As i am none of the ISPs concerned with a device BT claim is inferior i have no reason to write to the ASA. It will be interesting if any of the ISPs concerned do though. So far they have not bothered neither for the HH4 or HH5 and the dubious “best” wifi claims they also both had. Given BT have previous reported claims about the other organisations devices though i would not be shocked if they say enough is enough this time around.

  2. FibreFred says:

    The full report seems quite conclusive I guess some would have to see it first hand to believe it though

  3. AndyC says:

    I agree that it is fast when it works properly and the range isnt to bad when that wants to work, its just a shame about all its other flaws. after suffering with the so called “static” ip address option coninstantly assigning differant ip addresses i get home from work on tuesday after a message from my beloved saying that the sky on demand, smart tv, laptop and main pc were not working. after logging in i find the router had assigned EVERY network device with the same ip. hopefully BT’s “hub team” will get it fixed some point before the hub 7 comes out. im just so miffed that im now paying £12 a month more for my internet because i honistly beleaved the hub6 would be better then the hub5a it replaced which in someways is and others isnt.

  4. Matthew McLaren says:

    I’ve had 3 of these things, all had same issues with 2G WiFi dropping consistently and just generally giving up and crashing 1-5 times a day and getting stuck on green light… worked with BT to try fix and identify issues their hub development team came up empty handed and told me oh well send it back if its that bad…

    Just waiting for returns packaging…

    PS, added insult, charged twice for them, ended up with super high bill this month…

    Thanks BT, hope you enjoy my creative changes to the hubs box.

    1. karl says:

      Throw it in the bin where it belongs and buy something that actually works and been subject to honest testing.

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