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BT Launch New Smart Hub 2 Broadband Router and Complete Wi-Fi UPDATE

Monday, November 26th, 2018 (10:00 pm) - Score 34,626
bt smart hub 2 router front

After several months of trials UK ISP BT will tomorrow morning announce the launch of their new Smart Hub 2 (SH2) wireless ultrafast broadband router, which is complemented by a “coverage guarantee” to deliver strong WiFi signals across your home via the new “Complete Wi-Fi” solution.

The original Smart Hub launched in 2016 (here) and at the time it was quite an impressive piece of kit for a bundled device, boasting top theoretical wireless speeds of up to 1917Mbps (2.4GHz and 5GHz combined) via 7 antennas, Gigabit Ethernet (LAN ports) and various other features. Since then there’s also been a slightly different variant for FTTP subscribers and the Smart Hub X for G.fast users (here).

Similarly the new Smart Hub 2 router has been designed with the latest generation of “ultrafast broadband” (FTTP and G.fast) services in mind, although it’s WiFi speed at 5GHz is still 1733Mbps and thus akin to the SH1 (we don’t know the 2.4GHz speed yet). As you’d expect the new router also features Gigabit LAN ports and integrates an ADSL2+, VDSL2 and G.fast modem (like before there’s a different variant for FTTP that swaps one LAN for a WAN port).

On top of that BT has also chosen to ship it with an FXS port (phone), which will be useful for VoIP calling. The latter is particularly important in light of the imminent arrival of the wholesale SOGEA (standalone broadband) service, which is due to launch via Openreach next year. “The Smart Hub 2 and Wi-Fi Discs are future proofed to deliver Ultrafast speeds, Complete Wi-Fi and Digital Voice,” said BT.

bt smart hub router and complete wifi disc repeater

The new router is also being launched alongside a BT Complete Wi-Fi service that will be attached to their premium “BT Plus” packages (costs an extra £5 per month), which aims to “guarantee” you a strong WiFi signal “in every room” of your home by bundling the SH2 with a WiFi boosting Disc (like the repeaters you get with the BT Whole Home Wi-Fi kit).

The disc itself remains the property of BT but the Hub becomes yours to keep as soon as you get it. However if one disc isn’t enough to achieve the stated outcome then BT will throw in another one at no extra cost (up to a maximum of 3 discs) and if that doesn’t deliver coverage to every single room then a bill credit of £20 will be offered.

As a result of all this BT claims that a “four-bedroom home could see an increase in Wi-Fi speeds of up to 25% around the home with just one disc.”

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer Business, said:

“Strong, reliable Wi-Fi has never been so important in the home, with families using even more connected devices and wanting to make the most of every room in the home. We’re the first broadband provider in the world to launch a Complete Wi-Fi guarantee so customers can get online from every corner of their homes.

Whether it’s converting the attic into an online gaming room for the kids or making a spare room into a home gym where you can stream music or work out videos, our unique Complete Wi-Fi opens up a world of possibilities for our customers.”

BT Feature Highlights for the Smart Hub 2 and Wi-Fi Disc

• Intelligent design
o Smart Hub 2 includes 7 antenna uniquely positioned to maximise wi-fi performance
o Wi-Fi Disc features 4 antenna, able to run at 2.4GHz and 5GHz concurrently to deliver fast speeds whatever the device

• Best wi-fi tech – the latest wi-fi technology ensures more devices can get a superfast connection at the same time

• Smart channel selection – all your devices auto connect to the fastest wi-fi channel and frequency available on hub or disc

• Smart scan – continually scans to see how well your hub and network connection is performing and reboots itself if there’s a problem.

• The wi-fi app manager: Customers can manage their wi-fi network in the “Your wi-fi network” section of the My BT app to make sure they’re getting the strongest signal around their home. It’ll even work out where they should put their Wi-Fi Disc, and check the strength of their wi-fi signal in every room.

The new kit could in part be seen as a response to TalkTalk’s new Wi-Fi Hub (here) and Vodafone’s monster Gigafast Router for FTTP (here). Separately Sky Broadband is due to launch a new router soon and Virgin Media’s Hub 4.0 (likely to be based off Liberty Global’s DOCSIS 3.1 capable Gigabit Connect Box device) will no doubt follow in the not too distant future, although we don’t yet know for sure how they will compare.

Meanwhile anybody hoping to see bleeding edge support for the very latest 802.11ax WiFi standard (10Gbps capable) and WPA3 wireless encryption (here) will probably have to wait another year or two for the next major round of router refreshes. At present both standards are still in their infancy and most supporting (non-draft) kit won’t surface until later in 2019.

Complete Wi-Fi Discs & Smart Hub 2 Product Specifications

Smart Hub 2 Wi-Fi Disc
Fibre Support Yes Yes
Modem Type ADSL, ADSL2, VDSL2, G.FAST N/A
Access Methods supported ADSL, VDSL (FTTC), Ethernet WAN (FTTP), G.FAST Compatible with Smart Hub 2
802.11b support Yes Yes
802.11g support Yes Yes
802.11n support Yes Yes
802.11ac support Yes Yes
Stated speed Gigabit Ethernet LAN Gigabit Ethernet LAN
VoIP / DECT / Voice  Yes  N/A
Complete Wi-Fi Enabled Yes Yes
SECURITY
WPA-Auto Yes Yes
WPA2 Yes Yes
Firewall Yes Yes
WPS Yes Yes
PHYSICAL
Size 254mm width x 157mm height x 30mm depth 165mm diameter x 36mm depth
Antennas 7 Wi-Fi 4 Wi-Fi (simultaneous dual band)
2 DECT antennas
Internal/external antennas Internal Internal
Number of WAN ports FTTP Hub only (3 x GigE LAN, 1WAN FTTP) n/a
Gigabit Ethernet ports 4 x Gigabit Ethernet LAN 1 x Gigabit Ethernet LAN
Ethernet connection speed 10/100/1000Mbit/s 10/100/1000Mbit/s
Other ports USB 2.0, DSL, FXS (Phone) n/a
WIRELESS
Dual-Band Wireless (2.4GHz & 5GHz) Yes Yes
2.4GHz 3 x 3 MIMO 11n 2.4GHz 4 x 4 MIMO 11n
5GHz 4×4 MIMO 11ac 5GHz 4×4 MIMO 11ac
Smart scan Yes Yes
Smart wireless modes Yes Yes
Airtime fairness Yes Yes
BT Wi-Fi (Openzone) Yes  No
WPS Yes Yes
DECT CATiq 2.1 Yes No

UPDATE 27th Nov 2018 @ 2:37pm

BT has confirmed that the 2.4GHz band on their SH2 can deliver a peak WiFi speed of 289Mbps, while the same band for their Wi-Fi Discs will do 385Mbps. The Smart Hub 2’s chipset is also based on Broadcom’s 63138, 4366 and 43602 (i.e. slightly newer than the original SH1).

UPDATE 28th Nov 2018

As part of the new SH2 launch BT has also updated their WiFi speed testing data, which compares the new router against kit from their major rivals (here).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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51 Responses
  1. Mo

    I’ve got fttc connection with 75 down and 20 up, was considering to buy this for my fttc but since there isn’t much improvement from the 2016 version, no point of buying it, it’s also meant for ultrafast customers, so not me. Nice article.

  2. Brett Baker

    I wonder if it will have a guest wi-fi network? Most good routers nowadays do, but it has been lacking in the BT ones.

  3. Ben Jones

    The BT Whole Home mesh system supports guest WiFi, and this looks to be based on those so I’m guessing that guest WiFi would be available.

    • Anonymous

      They don’t have guest network.

    • Andrew

      Ananymous keeps saying that the Whole Home doesn’t have a guest network. Mine does and I use it.

    • Jim

      @Andrew Anonymous is saying that the new Complete Wi-Fi hub doesn’t have a guest network.

    • Meadmodj

      May have to wait to confirm. Apparently facilities such as blocking devices from accessing the web and setting up a guest password for your network will work on the BT Whole Home WIFI but not on this new disc. Possibly due to the proprietary software needed to support the auto setup to the hub and all WIFI access control may be via the hub. BT will say this keeps things simple but it is just proprietary lock down. The hub retains the BT WIFI/Fon functionality using what would be a guest option.

      This is aimed at the mass market and more about brand and marketing than technology. Anyone with a bit of knowledge will retain their Modem/Router near their external line and use their own ceiling WIFI access points or mesh at appropriate points.

      Decent WIFI access points have all the functionality needed including multiple SSIDs including Guest although I choose to have a specific guest AP which is on my red side and is turned off when not needed.

    • Jonny

      There’s BT’s FON public network, there’s not a configurable guest network isolated from your LAN.

    • Anonymous

      Ben, my smart hub 2 does not have a guest network. Is that better Andrew?

  4. Mark

    The Homehubs would be much better with SQM! https://openwrt.org/docs/guide-user/network/traffic-shaping/sqm

    Shame they didn’t think to use it here.

  5. NT

    Bt Hub is waste of money. It does not cover a small flat. I hope this one will improve on coverage. Only reason I m still with BT because of BT soprt. Otherwise long gone

    • Meadmodj

      Latest ISP routers are at full WIFI gain and in my opinion too strong as they are not focused and cause interference to others. They will cover an average house (and beyond) so if you can’t get it to cover a flat then its more likely it’s positioning, wall material, plumbing etc or what the neighbouring flats are doing. Being on the same channels or weak signal areas cause issues for most of these built to cost, do everything, routers.

    • Anon

      I think the point in this is that it guarantees good WiFi! It’s the first product I know of to do that and means if 1 disc doesn’t do the trick they’ll keep adding additional discs (upto 4) until you get good signal everywhere. They’re based on the whole home WiFi which are about £200 for 3 discs alone and review very at that price. Having worked in consumer telecoms this is going to be an invaluable tool to sell to customers who have the miss guided notion that your isp owes you good WiFi in every room which no-one else does. It’s a good ISP.

    • Jordan

      Anon it will cost you £66.99 a month (£803.88 a year) for the privilege of having this new complete wifi system. It would be cheaper to go with another provider and buy 4 discs outright (2 packs of whole home are currently on offer at currys for £95).

    • Meadmodj

      @Jordan
      If they were paying £66.99 a month yes but currently existing customers can get Superfast Fibre Plus for £44.99 . People must review their package regularly and take the opportunity of the contract offers. BT are always the most expensive and are the benchmark for other ISPs pricing. But you have to consider their other included extras. If you can’t utilise them then yes go elsewhere especially if you are a technically aware consumer.

    • GD

      I strongly disagree. I’m in a medium sized flat, with a single first version Smart Hub, and I get 72-74mbps in all rooms, and the Hub is in the back corner of my lounge. Doesn’t matter where I am I can stream perfectly in HD, and UHD through Apple TV.

  6. Joe

    So are we going to be able to get a ‘free’ upgrade with renewal as has sometimes happened in the past or is the difference so small they won’t bother…

  7. Tom

    Shame you cant use these with other providers. Waste of electronics when you leave BT.

    • circuit

      You *can* use BT hubs with other providers. It’s just a matter of changing the login details.

      Source: I’m a BT Tech

    • Jonny

      There’s a limited list of RADUIS domains that the hubs will accept. I have no idea if this is just a JavaScript limitation or baked into the device.

      From memory the list is every domain BT have used, as well as Plusnet (and the ISPs they acquired).

    • Anon

      The discs Remain the property of BT and you rent them. Only the hub is yours and that will work with others of you change some settings

    • Tom

      Got it to work with Plusnet. That’s about it. Talk talk was a no go. Doubt sky would work either.

  8. Mr T

    Just read the article and called BT on 150. Ordered the new BT hub called Sh2 and it will arrive tomorrow. They have also doubled my mobile data per month as well all for £5 !

    • Naims.net

      I wonder if you are in a new annual contract as a result of their generosity ? That is BT’s normal ploy ..

  9. Meadmodj

    BT comparison view: https://img01.products.bt.co.uk/content/dam/bt/storefront/pdfs/smart_hub_claims_substantiation.pdf

    BT Complete WIFI is exclusive to BT Plus customers and configuration of BT Complete Wi-Fi is through the new My BT app further building on “whole service” offering BT wants to move to.

    All this reaffirms the prevailing view of the general customer that the WIFI to the device is a responsibility of the ISP. Strange but certainly BT are responding and other ISPs may now need to follow.

    It is mesh, not extender (e.g Talk Talk) and good value within any initial offer contract but longer term the disk rental mounts up like other costly BT add ons. BT may review this going forward though.

    • Meadmodj

      Correction. Smart Hub 2 and Complete WIFI disk included in BT Plus which makes it an even better option if that is what you have got particularly as BT Plus has no price rises in contract whereas the standard BT product does.

      As always unless you fully utilise BT extras there are cheaper offers and you can buy additional kit if needed.

    • Joe

      The ongoing cost is the killer. I have a mesh wifi system as although upfront its more expensive than BT it was a one off cost…

      looks like a little extra speed @ 5Ghz but not much else.

    • Meadmodj

      Agree I don’t like these routers, my preference is dedicated devices for the purpose but for the uninitiated it is a simple turn on mesh which will meet most customer needs and as I say if they fully utilise the other BT extras its not bad. Those opting for BT Plus for whatever reason also get this for £9.95 P&P. This is more about reducing the percentage of calls and time spent regarding customer WIFI issues.

      The new Smart Hub 2 may become available to others but is not who it is targeted at. People should keep their own ISP supplied router as they will increasingly be integrated into their service offering but if people don’t like what they are given they should purchase a superior 3rd party one or lock the ISP one down and add WIFI APs.

    • Joe

      “This is more about reducing the percentage of calls and time spent regarding customer WIFI issues.”

      Given customers blame ISPs, often unfairly, for speed issues when they are often customers fault (bad wiring or building walls blocking wifi) I think the sell a mesh plan is pretty wise as it both upsells and it cuts support costs: win win!

      (My mesh is cat5 powered & waterproof so I can put them outside for super long range in my various buildings – very handy)

    • GD

      Excellent information, thanks. I was going to take the plunge to the new SH2 from SH1, but I don’t think I’ll bother. I’m already averaging 73mbps
      In a second floor flat with the original, I highly doubt the additional cost will bring me any further benefits as I don’t use the cloud storage, or their mobile phone services, so Plus does not make a difference to me, other than to simply cost more.

      From what I could see from that test info, SH1 outperformed the SH2 in many tests.

  10. Mark

    Not much difference to the original Smart Hub, lets hope it can actually get and stay locked into an IPV6 signal this time? No seem to have lost mine on my Fraytek model and Google Wifi..

  11. Geronimo

    On longer Vdsl lines the SH2 does sync at slower speeds than the SH1. Mine lost about 15% on a line length of 700m. It is impossible to know if this is due to loss of vectoring due to resyncs or if speed will recover.

  12. Andrew Mark Robinson

    Will it be better than talk talk because that is totally awful

  13. AksSharif

    I’m paying £32.99 for superfast fibre 2 with BT Plus and have just ordered the new BT Smart Hub 2 with one disc for only an extra £5 a month. If you call up BT and say you’re thinking of leaving they tend you offer you a good deal. Only went for the BT plus as it doubles the data on my mobile, but £5 extra a month for the new smart hub. I can’t go wrong!

  14. David Haverty

    What’s the DECT for?

  15. James Edge

    So it’s just an upgrade to the WiFi then? So no point getting this if you already have a SH1 and use a standalone access point, meh.

  16. Ironworks11

    So, Wi-Fi aside, is it any better than SH1 which I happily use? Better DSL performance or better firewall, more secure, anything?

  17. Kenny

    Does the disc that comes with the new SmartHub2 need to be connected to the SmartHub2 with an Ethernet cable, or does it connect to the Hub wirelessly to create the mesh network ?

  18. john

    What I want to know is will it maintain an internet connection as none of the other BT routers I have had HH4, HH5, HH6 can ever stay connected to the internet for more than 4 or 5 hours.

    • GD

      My Smart Hub 1 is significantly better than any of the HH’s, as you can no longer get SH1 I would say SH2 would be a noticeable upgrade for you.

  19. Chris Huggett

    Just got it and set it up, had BT highway hub before. It provides slightly SLOWER speeds both up and down, and the disc is useless as it cant connect with the main hub in rooms where I previously had problems. It’s going back.

    • jack

      Did you connect the disc to your Ethernet plug on your network in that room with poor signal or did you connect it using the WiFi hub to WiFi disc ? as if it was WiFi hub to WiFi disc how can you expect it to connect at full or partial speeds if its weak in that room.

      If you have problems in that room with normal WiFi then the disc would have the same problems and would not improve anything as you then would need to connect the disc to a Ethernet cable in that room to your hub to gain better WiFi coverage.

      that’s how it works and that is why there is an Ethernet port on the disc just in case the signal is to weak between the hub and disc for wifi to wifi connection.

  20. Simon

    Frankly, every router released by BT has sucked. Getting a standalone modem and retail router imho is the only way for a better experience.

  21. bob

    Utter junk only a 300Mb capable N device. Lower end for AC wireless also.

  22. Ceejay

    Is it known whether Smart Hub 2 can run with 802.11b compatibility on the 2.4GHz band and 802.11ac on the 5GHz band?

    I have some legacy 802.11b devices but to use them the restricted WiFi options only permit ‘Mode 2’, which is 802.11b/g/n on both bands.

    If I could have different modes on the two bands (802.11b/g/ac on 2.4GHz and 802.11n/ac on 5GHz) this would be a worthwhile upgrade.

    • Ceejay

      Sorry I meant 802.11b/g/n on 2.4GHz and 802.11n/ac on 5GHz.

      Smart Hub 1 does not allow this combination. If you choose Mode 2 then you only get 802.11b/g/n on 2.4GHz and 802.11n on 5GHz.

      In mode 1 it is 802.11g/n on 2.4GHz and 802.11n/ac on 5GHz.

  23. Meadmodj

    As stated on the SH2 speed article if you are already on BT Plus then the new hub and free mesh disk is well worth the £9.95 P&P. Note customers are not paying £5 per month just for the Discs. BT Plus includes other benefits and therefore as always it is the customers choice whether these benefits outweigh the extra cost. In my view it is not worth investing in this solution otherwise.

    If you are on another ISP then for the majority of customers they are best to stick with their ISP router for support. This router is not for the technically demanding customer.

    The setup of the Hub/Disk is very simple which is their support aim and as expected the BT Smart Hub 2 is heavily locked down.

    The Disc is initially set up by joining them together with the Ethernet cable that comes with the Hub and will continue to work this way if cabled together so the Disc can be positioned in an out house or similar. In practice I did not find a location in my house where the Disc would not connect and provide full coverage so cabling via Ethernet isn’t really necessary. The Disc is controlled via the Smart Hub 2 via the web interface (My discs menu) or via the BT app and is not autonomous. If you switch off the WIFI on the hub it turns off the WIFI on the Disc. The Disk behaves well on a mains time switch so it can be turned off when not required and can be hung on a wall (13 amp socket nearby of course).

    Aesthetically they look good

    Performance will vary depending on the layout and building materials present in your house. The latest ISP routers all provide very good coverage but the addition of this Disc will cover any not-spots not covered by the Smart Hub 2. My view is that this will be plenty for most BT Plus customers and BT will supply more disks if pressed. Initially BT are up-selling to BT Plus to get the Disc(s) but the Router will be the default for new BT Customers.

    The guidance infers that FTTP will soon have a smaller ONT with a network single port. The BT Smart Hub 2 has a socket functionality for “Digital Voice”.

    It hasn’t changed my view that a simple cabled ceiling WIFI access point is the best solution for most houses for performance, cost and control and cabled back to the router as any physical barrier causing issues is likely to affect with the mesh connection in the same way as the WIFI coverage from the Router. However as a solution for BT Customers it is very good.

  24. Trevor Blagg

    I requested a SH2 today to replace my SH1. I was advised that it was a waste of time as they provide the same thing. I was advised though to wait for the NEW version of the SH2 as this would benefit customers like me with “Fibre to Box”. Apparently SH2 currently only favours customers with “Fibre to Home”.

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