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A Look at Virgin Media UK’s Future HUB 4 Gigabit Connect Box Router UPDATE

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019 (12:01 am) - Score 37,384
virgin_media_hub4_router_gigabit_connect_box

The forthcoming rollout of cable broadband ISP Virgin Media’s new 1Gbps service (here) – expected to cover the whole of their UK network by 2021 – will be accompanied by a new DOCSIS 3.1 compatible HUB 4 router (aka – Gigabit Connect Box / Connect Box v2) and here’s everything we know about the new device so far.

Liberty Global, Virgin’s parent operator, has already launched their new DOCSIS 3.1 (cable networking standard) powered Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) and Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based Gigabit speed broadband service in several other European counties before the United Kingdom (e.g. Poland and Germany). As such we have a fairly good idea of what to expect over this side of the channel. But first, a recap.

The existing DOCSIS 3.0 based Hub 3.0 router, which is merely a re-branded version of Liberty Global’s Connect Box router (based off an ARRIS TG2492S/CE), has of course had its fair share of problems (e.g. the Intel Puma 6 latency bug) and so subscribers will be keen to move on to its replacement (initially only those on their DOCSIS 3.1 plans will benefit but it is backwards compatible so we can see it filtering down eventually).

NOTE: In Europe the DOCSIS standard is more accurately referenced as EuroDOCSIS.

The replacement, which we first touched on last year (here), seems likely to be the Gigabit Connect Box (aka – Connect Box 2) but this will be rebranded to the Hub 4 and coloured black/red for its launch in the United Kingdom. Until recently we only knew that this device featured 4 x Gigabit LAN ports, 2 x Phone ports (handy for Virgin’s VoIP service) and we understand that the theoretical WiFi peak speed via 5GHz and 2.4GHz combined is over 2100Mbps (not yet confirmed but we know the 5GHz band alone can do 1.3Gbps+ at peak).

gigabit connect box router liberty global uk

Since then we’ve been able to confirm that this is in fact based off Arris’s Touchstone TG3492 Telephony Gateway router, which in the United Kingdom has been given the model code of TG3492LG-VMB. The unit is a custom model and so you won’t find it listed on Arris’s website, which has made it difficult to know what the exact specifications are (Virgin won’t say) but we do have a few new details beyond those mentioned above.

So far as we’ve been able to confirm the Hub 4 also features an Intel Puma 7 (CE2752) CPU, can handle 32×8 bonded channels on DOCSIS 3.0 and 2×2 OFDM and OFDMA on DOCSIS 3.1, supports 3×3 MIMO on 2.4GHz WiFi (802.11n) and 4×4 MIMO on 5GHz (802.11ac Wave 2 – 1.3Gbps), 512MB of NAND flash memory and 1GB of DDR3L random access memory. Apparently it has a total of 10 or 11 internal antennas (we’ve seen both figures stated).

Judging by these specs the Gigabit Connect Box (Hub 4) is a very close match for Arris’s TG3442 router (except for the inclusion of a USB 3.0 port and a few other smaller differences – design etc.), which is in the public domain.

NOTE: The Gigabit Connect Box has an idle power consumption of 12.0 Watts and 15.3 Watts under standard load. Dimensions are 205 mm x 116 mm x 91 mm.

At this point we note that Liberty Global in Germany did in fact launch two DOCSIS 3.1 routers – AVM’s similarly featured FRITZ!Box 6591 Cable router (2533Mbps WiFi speed – Intel chipset) and their Gigabit Connect Box. However this only occurred in Germany because of a law that requires some extra flexibility in router choice and, so far, our sources have only seen the black Gigabit Connect Box being tested in the UK.

One other bit of new information that might be interesting for our readers is that Virgin’s 1Gbps tier will come with an upload speed of just 50Mbps (seen in UK testing), which is in keeping with elsewhere in Europe. Virgin have recently been upgrading their sub-500Mbps plans to a 10:1 ratio of download to upload speed (here) but they’d probably struggle to do more than 50Mbps right now on the new 1Gbps tier.

On the whole this is an improvement over the Hub 3 but we’re disappointed to see no USB ports on the back. We should point out that the Puma 7 chipset was also affected by that aforementioned latency bug from 2-3 years ago but it’s extra performance made this easier to resolve (in theory this shouldn’t be a problem any more for the Hub 4).

UPDATE 5th August 2019

We’ve had an indication, albeit as yet very tentative, that Virgin Media may be opting for a router design closer to that of the TG3442 (i.e. this has similar rectangular styling to the SuperHub 2AC / Hub 3.0) than the custom designed TG3492 (pictured above) for their business customers (biz users currently get an unimpressive Hitron router). We hope to have more details soon.

One advantage of this, if confirmed, is that they might be able to retain a USB port. The current GBC design opted to sacrifice it.

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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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46 Responses
  1. Avatar mrpops2ko

    I wish they’d roll this hub out to everybody. The Intel Puma 6 bug hasn’t been fixed, because its a hardware based defect. All they did was simply mask it, via offloading the DNS requests to the wifi chip. You can still observe this issue (large latency jitter) on TCP/UDP connections.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Interesting. I’ll try it out.

      They haven’t rolled it out to everyone as it’s pointless and would cost too much. 3.1 kit is still expensive.

    • Avatar Roger_Gooner

      I hope I don’t get this hub soon. My connection is rock solid and I can get 500Mbps with no need for higher speeds, so a new hub cannot make it better for me but might even cause problems.

    • Avatar Ag1el

      i wouldn’t hold your breath mrpops2k I just got my Hub 4.0 today and its nothing to write home about. it does have a fan in this Hub and for good reason its super hot I mean really hot the fan does not move air and the way its made means that hot air is not being got rid of. I had a “pop” and the heat increased alot when going from router mode into modem mode. My speed is now running under 200mb on a 1Gb network. It does look like these chips are running super hot and a case like this is adding more issues.

  2. Avatar ProtaJay

    I’m very disappointed with the routers specs, thinking back to previous devices and Virgin have usually had the latest technologies incorporated into new hardware (Dolby Atmos, 4K with HDR from the TiVo V6 Box for example and latest WiFi versions on the routers.)

    So knowing this router will likely be the only one for the next 4 years, why does it not have WiFi 6 (Aka 802.11ax) for realistic 1Gbps WiFi Throughput and the genuinely revolutionary new features it introduces that drastically improve WiFi.

    You should consider WiFi v1 through v5 as WiBetaFi with V6 being the first real stable version.

    WPA3 (Finally a version that should remain Uncrackable, WPA2 is fairly easy to break these days)

    Virtually No Latency and No Jitter with Stability Matching a Ethernet Cable (Gamers will be demanding WiFi 6 pretty soon)

    Real World Throughput Shockingly High even at significant distance with objects in the way (1-2 out of 5 Bars Signal with 500Mbps Stable Throughput)

    These are just a few reasons to want WiFi 6, my other expection was to at least have 2.5Gbps Ethernet although I knew that wouldn’t be likely.

  3. Avatar Onephat

    As long as it can be put in modem only mode I’ll be happy.

  4. Avatar Slow

    Considering the current V3 boxes have their own problems – mine can’t even maintaintain Wi-Fi to a Windows 10 laptop sat right next to the router – the V4 specs seem underwhelming enough for me to get a router, and run it modem only mode!

    • Avatar Alban

      I have the same problem. We keep losing WiFi connection for all our devices. Their v3 is such rubbish.

  5. Avatar Marty

    There should be a law to give users of a cable service (Virgin media) more choice of routers just like in Germany. They have been getting away with too much while giving the customer a lackluster service. Why would you want to put up with that?

    After reading the article I feel this is another disaster waiting to happen many years down the line.

    • Avatar SimonR

      They seem to have got away with the unofficial advice on v3 of “put it in modem mode and buy your own router”.

    • Avatar Mike

      If you don’t like it, don’t use them.

    • Avatar Marty

      @Mike Easy for you to say when other’s have no credible alternative. And anything is better than something with the puma chipset crap lodged in.

    • Avatar Seb

      You know… it’s a EU law that enforces member states to gradually introduce free modem choice… oops.

  6. Avatar Mark

    1Gb down and 50Mb up? Is that 50Mb even fast enough to send back the acknowledgement packets? I thought one of the biggest features of DOCSIS 3.1 was symmetrical download/upload speeds.

    • No D3.1 is asymmetric with a peak downstream of 10Gbps and upstream of 1-2Gbps. In order to get symmetric speeds you need to adopt the much newer D3.1 Full Duplex standard and Virgin Media’s network will require a lot of costly changes to make it ready for that, which isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

    • Avatar Simon Heather

      Modern operating systems don’t acknowledge every TCP/IP packet anymore – they use cumulative acknowledgement instead which substantially reduces the upstream bandwidth required.

  7. Avatar Archie

    Not happy about this puma chipset b’locks. If it’s a hardware defect then it’s not been solved has it? Virgin should allow people to use their own cable modem!

  8. Avatar Chris

    1Gb down and only 50Mb up is shocking. I’m annoyed as I was seriously considering this (live in Southampton) but the paltry upload and probably high cost is a bit of a joke.

    • Avatar Archie

      Considering they talked about 10:1 recently. 100 up would be 115, which wold be great. I can live with 50 (57.5), but it’s mental how far behind we are other developed countries in this respect!

    • Avatar Dan

      In 2015 I had to move from 1Gbps optical fiber FTTB in my country to 150/15 Mbps in UK. At that time we had same cable modem on 500mbps/20mbps and we didn’t call it fiber and the price was 10 euros. Is not that I really need to have 1Gbps download speed but I do miss the 3ms latency to majority of the sites and of course the high upload speed. Since the beginning I used the virgin hub in modem mode and never Had issues when they are pushing firmware that bricks the hubs very often.

  9. Avatar Mr Chips

    Mark you will need to correct this:

    “supports 3×3 MIMO on 2.4GHz WiFi (802.11n) and 4×4 MIMO on 5GHz (802.11ac Wave 2 – 1.3Gbps)”

    If it really supports 4×4 on the 5ghz band then this means a max speed of 1.7 Gbps, not 1.3 Gbps. Otherwise if the 1.3 Gbps is correct, then the 5ghz band will be 3×3 stream since each wifi stream is 433 Mbps.

    • This is the difficult part as we’ve had conflicting reports on the performance from PR folk, as well as from the statements made in Poland and Germany, despite it being the same router. Consequently peak WiFi performance is the one area of uncertainty. I’m 99% sure it’ll be over 2000Mbps peak but this is where we see differences of +/- c.300Mbps in the information.

  10. Avatar Cameron Swaby

    The one question thats on my mind about this is mainly whether the range of the wifi will be increased, stay the same or possibly even decrease?

  11. Avatar SimonR

    Have Virgin Media suddenly woken up and realised the world is moving on? Seems like every other story is about them.

  12. Avatar Sean

    I don’t like change superhub 4 too much light!

  13. Avatar William Hook

    Elsewhere in the world and even in some parts of the UK, you can get connections with 1Gbit down and 1Gbit up…yet VM are sticking to 50Mbit up? What a joke. ‍♂️

  14. Avatar Lee

    This hub 4 are the worse ugly one! I rather someone’s else to buy their own cable modem but sadly virgin media no longer accepting third party own modem because of hacking config on it pretty easy – could have broadband cable for free!

    • Avatar -

      It’s not related to that at all, you’re forced into the company provided hubs so they could accurately monitor your usage & use their diagnostic tools to ensure that if you do face a fault they can try diagnose it with you over the call rather than trying to figure out third party specs & reliability.

  15. Avatar Ciaran

    I seriously hope the bugs are ironed out with latency, I hope the puma 7 chooser can handle gaming unlike the hub 3. I’m at wits end with it. The fact virgin won’t let us use our own equipment when they know there are still problem’s is shocking.

  16. Avatar Paul Briggs

    Great we should be able to use Fritz!box 6591 here in the uk and do away with the vm box.
    I’m using a fritz box on my bt home and the fritz has great features.
    Or will VM uk lock it down??

  17. Avatar Andy

    I just want to know if it will work consistently with online gaming without getting kicked all the time..so frustrating this has been an issue for years that VM just don’t seem to fix even knowing that it’s a huge issue.

  18. Avatar Arthur

    Avm Germany do a great cabel modem no chance of virgin letting customers use their own modem
    Same for Sky using their crap modem router

  19. Avatar Jeff

    So docsis 3.1 supports up to the speed of 10gbps but virgin ain’t going to be using the full 10gbps, Yeah alright what a waste of an upgrade.

  20. Avatar Clive C

    It hs previously been reported that Virgin Media will still use DOCSIS 3.0 for the upstream, which will be a limiting factor here.

  21. Avatar Hercules

    My mum wants to keep Superhuman 3 is better than just fine doesn’t matter if because good thing. I’m sorry I didn’t want to New Superhub 4 is too much lights a not good need little bit low small business owners job search Virgin Media.

  22. Avatar MM7

    I still use the 2ac hub because I refuse to change to 3 or the next hub 4 because of the puna chipset. I do have my 2ac in modem mode connected to a Netgear R7800 Router.

    I figure my current R7800 that I have just now will still outperform their future HUB4 going by some of its spec.

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