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UK ISP BT Launches Whole Home Wi-Fi System for People with Deep Pockets

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017 (11:44 am) - Score 4,298

BT has launched a “first of its kind in the UK” Whole Home Wi-Fi solution for broadband users, which claims to deliver “completeWiFi network coverage in every room of your home and to “eliminate dead spots” by using three 165mm circular (disc) shaped WiFi repeaters. Sadly it costs £299.99.

Apparently each repeater packs a dual core CPU, 1 x auto sensing 1000Mbps Ethernet LAN port, four built-in 2.4GHz and 5GHz (dual-band) antennas (AC2533 = 1733Mbps + 800Mbps) and “intelligent self-configuring wireless network” technology that switches the user to the fastest, strongest and most reliable wifi signal when they move from room to room.

Technical specification

AC2533 (1733+800Mbps)
Dual-band concurrent Wi-Fi
IEEE® 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz–256QAM support
IEEE® 802.11a/n/ac 5GHz–256QAM support
Self-configuring network for maximum coverage

2.4GHz – 4 transmit/receive 5GHz band – transmit/receive

Wi-Fi roaming: always connect to the best disc
Wi-Fi roaming – IEEE® 802.11k/v
Wi-Fi Band steering

Powerful dual core CPU
1 x Auto sensing 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet WAN/LAN port
Wireless network settings card

App features
Wi-Fi location mapping tool
Pause the internet
Network status and topology
Self-diagnostics and troubleshooting tips

Smartphone software requirements
iOS 8.0 and above or Android 4.4 or above

Product dimensions
3 x 165mm diameter discs

The system even comes with its own App for Smartphone and Tablet devices, which apparently gives the user “complete control over the system” and helps them to position the repeaters for the best signal. The App also shows how the home network is being used and who is online, as well as giving you the ability to temporarily “pause the Internet” (they mean the local network connection, rather than the Internet itself.. obviously).

Erik Raphael, Director of BT Devices and Wi-fi, said:

“We all know how important it is for people to get a great wi-fi experience at home and how annoying it can be when you don’t get that.

Whole Home Wi-Fi is the first product of its kind to be launched in the UK. Its contemporary design will look great in any home and it leads the way in wi-fi technology and performance.

The three discs create an intelligent network to extend your wi-fi to all corners of your home. And the app puts you firmly in control of your home network.”

Alternatively you could spend £124.99 on something like the TP-LINK TL-WPA8730KIT, which can be used as a WiFi extender and is also able to harness the latest AV1200 Powerline technology. Granted it probably won’t reach the same top speeds as BT’s kit or match its coverage, but you also won’t lose quite so many plug sockets and would save a lot of money.

Similarly if attaining the top WiFi speed isn’t so important (not everybody has a router that works at AC2533 or faster) then there are a lot of budget extenders / repeaters to be had for way less than £50 a pop. By comparison BT’s solution is clearly more of a premium option and £299.99 is a heck of a lot to spend in order to get good WiFi.

BT’s kit can either be purchased directly from the operator or via your local Currys or Maplin stores.

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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.
Leave a Comment
29 Responses
  1. DTMark says:

    Or you could live in a very tall, narrow house with the router on the ground floor, and it will work the way it does in the BT advert with the bloke hanging onto the helicopter.

    1. Chris says:

      Indeed, what is the need for this when BT provide such an impressive WIFI experience with their Home Hub router?

      Kind of a premium priced product that I can’t imagine many people buying. How many people have clients with AC 2533? I did however spend £250 on my router….and that only has wireless N. There are plenty of extenders on the market but I have noticed there are few wired access points with AC. Of course you can use almost any router as a wired access point by disabling DHCP.

    2. Mike says:

      The need is people with large houses that a single router can’t cover

    3. Peter says:

      @Mike is totally correct.
      I know of people with large houses who want seamless wi-fi connection in it together with a proper commercial grade handover between access points and no ‘hanging on’.
      No one sole router unit is ever going to cover these places.
      So currently they go and buy some decent kit from the like of Ubiquiti who sells this stuff precisely for such purposes.
      So yes – there is a market.

    4. Chris says:

      I have a house where a single router can’t cover it so I use wired access points. Sure, it does not auto hand over between access points but that is not something I would pay a premium for.

    5. Jonny says:

      Roaming starts to matter as more voice and video applications are used – walking around the house streaming a TV show, making a FaceTime call, your mobile provider supporting Wi-Fi calling etc.

    6. Chris says:


      You got me there, being an old fart I tend to sit in one place to watch video on my sitting room TV (albeit using Plex). Video on the go is not something I have tried yet. I think maybe I am dinosaur from a bygone era.

    7. Kevin says:

      “Or you could live in a very tall, narrow house with the router on the ground floor, and it will work the way it does in the BT advert with the bloke hanging onto the helicopter.”

      Agreed those that think this is needed and think BTs claims about there homehub are true must have a damn big house to need something that covers more than 200 Metres….
      Or more likely that claim like this new one is typical BT BS.

  2. MikeW says:

    I guess 3-node mesh systems are becoming all the rage nowadays – Amplifi, Eero, Hivespot, Google WiFi, Velop, Orbi.

    All seem to be similar (high) prices, but they are bringing enterprise features with them – roaming, steering, beam-forming etc. Definitely more functionality than just adding an AP or converting an old router, and something you’d perhaps need to go for serious commercial APs (such as Ubiquiti Unifi) plus a separate controller.

    One key aspect to check for is whether the nodes form their mesh using a separate “private” radio from the “public” radios used to connect to your devices. Having AC2533 on this “backhaul” might be useful.

    1. Bob2002 says:

      Orbi seems to be the leader in performance from the tests I’ve seen …

      Powerline can be a bit unreliable – really the ideal situation is wired. In my case I’m installing PoE APs(Ubiquiti) in the loft, above the areas to be covered. Where there does need to be a wire/fibre(one instance) it’ll be hidden in some D-Line trunking.

  3. TheManStan says:

    Plenty of small properties have steel mesh lath for plastering… ultimate Faraday cage signal blocker…

  4. MrWhite says:

    I think it’s a good idea given the need for good wifi across the house to serve multiple devices. However, these ‘disc’ repeaters would seem more at home on the ceiling or high up on a wall where I doubt many will have power sockets available. This will add quite a bit of cost to get power to the discs (couldn’t see any PoE references) so may need to add another couple of hundred to the overall cost unless people start tacking power cables up the wall.

    1. MikeW says:

      If you can get the E to them, so that PoE delivers power, there’s no need for a mesh WiFi.

    2. Rog says:

      Just like they have in Hospitals then?

  5. Jim Weir says:

    Not sure I’d describe a £299 retail product as premium at all.

    Investing in properly installed Home networks both wired & wireless with accompanied certification from the installer is an important & growing market.

    This is an entry level solution & will sell very well.

    Consumers should realise that the freebee routers provided by most ISP’s aren’t great & that wifi extenders & powerline adapters work to a point – as Broadband speeds increase over the next 2-3 years, these flaws are highlighted everyday. You can’t beat properly designed & installed & certified CAT6 supporting decent Access Points – it isn’t expensive & should be standard in new home stock.

    1. Rog says:

      I bought Hive which is useless sometimes and cost just as much, so I see your point there

  6. Doctor Colossus says:

    Hardly the first of its kind, and with just a single LAN-port in each repeater it would be a big no-no for me. Having set up an Orbi kit at my in-laws, I have to say I was rather impressed with the jump in performance – and the consistent coverage. Too bad their broadband connection is still rubbish 😀

  7. Jonny says:

    It’s more than a little strange how it’s a completely separate network to the one already broadcast by the Hub. Can we assume the next version of the Hub will mesh with this and management of the network and firmware updates for the repeaters will be handled by the Hub?

    It’s very non-integrated for something that an ISP are looking to push.

  8. Paul says:

    I live in a town house and have struggled with wifi issues for years. I created a wired network with relative ease and have a wifi access point on my middle floor. This does the job, mostly quite well, it could always be better though.

    I’m guessing (if it states I missed it) that you can connected these up wired so you don’t lose throughput by repeating the signal?

    If these came out a few months back, before I got my AP I would have been tempted.

    1. MikeW says:

      With some of these new style of meshed device, you don’t lose throughput by repeating the signal, even without being wired. That’s because they connect to each other on a different radio from the one used by your devices.

      I don’t know if that is true of these particular BT devices. However, at £300 for 3 nodes, they are competing directly on price with models that *do* do that.

  9. James says:

    Does anyone know if more than three AP’s can link to cover a very big house ?

  10. Ken says:

    Cough cough… cisco has been using the same technology for at least the last 8 years….

    1. AndyH says:

      Seeing as AC wireless kit has only been on the market a few years, I don’t see how Cisco has been using it for 8 years.

    2. Chris P says:

      wireless n has been doing mimo since the standard was approved in 2009, but MU-MIMO has only been around since ~2015. The MU piece alongside the separate radio for backhaul are the main bit that provide the increased throughput.

      this tech is heading towards ~7gbps


      i’m eagerly awaiting Apples offerings on this.

      the BT product is so far the cheapest from currys but does lack some features, the orbi has more ports, but Linksys has reviewed well.

      This time next year these sytems will be much cheaper. No word though if they interoperate with other vendors to extend each system.

  11. 1 says:

    Spending so much on routers makes no sense. Even that £125 router. Better to buy something of order £50 and simply flash it with LEDE or OpenWrt… More features for less price…

  12. Carter says:

    I hope it performs better than the BT wifi plugs they were offering users and also made ridiculous claims about a year or so ago but were utter garbage.

  13. Chris c says:

    I would spend £300 – but hey what’s the point when bt guarantee a minimum of 1 mb and I can’t even get 500 bts!! Dreadful service dreadful customer care

  14. Gadget Boy says:

    I bought one – street price is £200 – and it’s fantastic. I’ve a large house and tried various routers and power line combos with varying degrees of success. I’ve now got 150MB/s – 200MB/s pretty much everywhere. It just works. Expensive, but definitely worth it.

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