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Virgin Media to Extend Hub 4 Availability for WiFi Boost.. sort of UPDATE

Thursday, April 23rd, 2020 (9:48 am) - Score 91,799
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Sources indicate that broadband ISP Virgin Media UK are imminently due to start expanding the availability of their latest HUB 4.0 (ARRIS TG3492LG-VMB) router outside of the new 1Gbps network areas, which we understand will be marketed as a WiFi improvement. But there are other reasons for the move.

As present if you want to have one of the new HUB 4.0 (Liberty Global’s – Gigabit Connect Box) routers then you need to be both living within one of Virgin Media’s new DOCSIS 3.1 network areas and taking the operator’s latest 1104Mbps (Gig1Fibre) package (currently only live around part of the UK, but expected to reach their whole network by 2021 – here).

Despite this we began hearing at the start of this year, from usually credible sources, that VM intended to make their latest HUB 4.0, which is also backwards compatible with their old EuroDOCSIS 3.0 network, more widely available to those on slower packages (here). At present such users are limited to the HUB 3.0 (ARRIS TG2492S/CE) router, which has a chequered history due in part to some very high profile bugs (latency issues etc.).

At the time Virgin Media said there were “no plans for distributing the HUB 4.0 router more widely,” although they’ve used the “no plans” line before and often only to do a u-turn a few short months later. Despite this we now have multiple sources telling us the same thing and to expect the wider HUB 4.0 distribution to begin ASAP. We have asked for another comment and will report back if one arrives.

The current understanding is that the newer router will be marketed to selected customers on slower packages as a “free” upgrade for “improving your Wi-Fi” (the operator will call or text those they target), but as previously reported it appears as if they’ll actually be targeting this toward more vulnerable customers in areas of high utilisations (i.e. where local lines are being heavily used).

The reason for this is a bit technical but we’ll simplify. The HUB 4.0 can bond 32 channels together, while the HUB 3.0 can only do 24. In other words, the HUB 4.0 can be harnessed by those on slower packages to deliver an improvement, provided the operator supports the bonding change in those locations. At present it remains unclear precisely which locations will be targeted by the move, but it’s clearly about more than just better WiFi.

The idea behind all of this has been in the works for awhile, although we believe that issues with COVID-19, HUB 4.0 stock levels and unit costs may have delayed its deployment.. until now. All indications suggest that this will begin very soon. Separately we’re also hearing talk about another speed boost, but I won’t be writing about that until we have more sources able to confirm.

UPDATE 1:54pm

We’ve just had the following confirmation.

A Virgin Media Spokesperson said:

“We are offering selected customers in a small number of locations the opportunity to upgrade to a Hub 4 free of charge. We’ll be extending this offer later in the year so even more of our customers can benefit from our latest and most powerful router.”

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58 Responses
  1. Avatar Meadmodj says:

    My view is that VM would be better to offer a choice of Cable Modem/Routers. ISPs appear to be obsessed with moving the line between them and the customers network (predicated on support issue but practically more about brand and retention). This may be fine if they are providing TV box etc but if they really want to move their business to Broadband Only and increase their market share then presenting us with a branded monolith isn’t in my opinion what is required.

    I would like a discrete VM provided cable wireless modem/router (preferably slim, small and wall mounted) so that it can be easily installed out of sight and cabled to my home network setup which I consider should not change (unless I want it to) whether its is DSL, HFC or FTTP. This is not just of benefit of those specifically interested in UK BB but for most consumers it would now be better off them investing in a decent mesh setup for WIFI (totally independent of an ISP) on cost, change impact and use.

    1. Avatar Onephat says:

      Completely agree. I much preferred it when NTL provided a small cable modem and the user provided their own router. I know you can run the Hub 3 in modem only mode but it’s still massive. I also miss the flashing data LED.

    2. Avatar CarlT says:

      Not an option due to the regulations and need for a speed tester incorporated into CPE.

      DoCSIS 3.1 modems aren’t small things regardless of whether they’ve wireless functionality attached. They aren’t the coolest running things either.

      May I ask who supplies your current service, what CPE they provide, and what tier you’re subscribed to?

    3. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      @CarlT. My point was meant to be generic one, the same is happening with Mobile Routers. I haven’t had VM since 2016 but living in the Crawley area, myself and local friends obviously consider VM when comparing services at renewal. If FTTP is unlikely for some time and 3.1 comes in then the move to VM becomes more compelling.

      The impact of changing a BB service is based on many factors and the impact of installation is one of them. Whilst VDSL routers have also grown they are at least still currently low profile and 3rd party wall mounting brackets are available. I and probably others do not like unnecessary clutter in our living spaces and hence my dislike for oversized items requiring prime position, hogging a power socket and associated network cabling. The existing VM hubs are chunky but this one for me tips the balance.

      I don’t accept that a smaller unit cannot be produced, particularly if it is wireless. In the USA there is far more freedom regarding the customers choice of cable routers (including 3.1) from the likes of Motorola and Netgear which are slimline. Even the ARRIS SB8200 is less than 2 inches thick. VM has the volumes to specify such a device.

    4. Avatar Roger_Gooner says:

      Most people don’t know the difference between a modem and a router, so a hub which combines both makes sense. As for WiFi: a lot of problems are caused by overreliance on it especially the congested 2.4GHz band, and some more education needs to be done on using the 5GHz band or (even better) connecting devices with Ethernet cables if possible.

    5. Avatar CarlT says:

      You can refuse to accept it all you want. VM’s kit has to have enough CPU power to run gigabit+ speed tests itself rather than being able to use ASICs to forward traffic.

      The United States are a ‘special case’ due to laws there. Pretty much everywhere else in the world supply combined units that subscribers have to use.

      VM don’t really get much of a choice what kit they use. They’re a subsidiary of another company and received those CPE.

    6. Avatar Stephen Wakeman says:

      @CarlIT The limitation of having to use supplied hardware is a regulatory one. In Germany for instance a law was passed in 2016 preventing ISPs from forcing customers to use supplied hardware and this includes cable broadband products.

      There is a truth that for the majority of users a unified solution makes the most sense but it shouldn’t be that there isn’t choice in the matter – and it doesn’t have to be like that, clearly, because there are countries where it isn’t the case.

      The US is not an example we’d want to take from though. A disgusting cartel comms system offering the majority of customers absolutely no choice in service provider.

    7. Avatar dumdum says:

      @carlT and the query of
      “May I ask who supplies your current service, what CPE they provide, and what tier you’re subscribed to?”

      I think you will find he is BT, but he can not not tell you that otherwise his arguments about wanting a slim line device that is wall mountable will go out the window, considering the BT homehubs are some of the widest (in physical size) devices an ISP supplies and is not wall mountable either.

      But hey ho if its another excuse to bash a superior provider and service.

    8. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      Yes currently BT (but will not be). I am not bashing VM as in my opinion with a few changes they could increase their presence significantly and hold their own against FTTP. There are wall mounts available for the BT hubs (EE/Plusnet), Sky Hubs/Q Mini, etc or people can adapt or fabricate their own, such as with a simple hook and strap. This thing needs a shelf.

    9. Avatar dumdum says:

      The BT hub (from version 5 onwards) is wider in size than this is in height, so if anything needs a shelf its that thing not this.

      Also im not aware of any “”wall mounts”” for any device. Most modem/router devices that can be mounted on a wall have slotted holes in the back you put a couple of screws in your wall and the device (if it can be wall mounted) slots on over the screws.

      Ive no idea why anyone would want to buy a “wall mount” for a device or even consider the fact you have to buy a wall mount is a good thing or makes it better than having to buy a shelf. If you have to buy a “mount” or a “shelf” to place the device on how does one equal worse than the other.

      I guess it makes sense in a ‘oh a VM story attack, attack…. Cos BT is obviously better’ mind though.

    10. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      Wall mounts do exist and if using a ISP router a high position in a say a hallway can provide good WIFI coverage and those with with Sky Q multiroom have been grateful for me to position them discretely for walled TVs rather than have trailing cables.

      I have never said BT is best. There are pros and cons with all of them.

    11. Avatar dumdum says:

      Mounting a router or wireless device in close proximity to a TV is a bad idea regardless and generally recommend against. BT when i was with them years ago chucked my homehub behind my TV when they did the install the wifi signal would basically half whenever the TV was on. Id also argue a router in a hall way (depending on where you use the internet most in the house obviously) is never likely to give the best signal regardless.

      If people care more about a device being on a wall and do not want a cable showing then those people (id call them stupids) need to learn they are never going to get the best performance from their device.

      As to VM hub 4 or the ARRIS TG3492 if people are that desperate to wall mount the thing that they would go to the lengths you describe then they can undo 4 outer screws and 4 inner screws on the device, drill 2 small holes in the outer shell, reassemble and then screw this to the wall, no purchasing of your wall mounts, shelves or your install skills needed.
      http://bbs.ntpcb.com/simple/?t119873.html
      (yes i know thats a different coloured version, same device though)

    12. Avatar Leex says:

      You know you can just enable modem mode from the router menu, in any case you need 1 modem and a WiFi router if you want a separate devices (as I have done)

      Unlike the USA we don’t charge to use the ISPs router of in some cases some broadband providers in the United States charge if you want to use your own router (there excuse is people who own there own routers call us more for problems)

    13. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      @dumdum.
      Yes WIFI routers should not be directly behind a TV. As for the Sky mini I used the word “near” but on one occasion it was behind the TV and the performance was fine to the Q box in the next room. Much depends on the TV model/type, property layout and the circumstances. If people are renovating or specifying AV in a new property then appropriate cabling and ducting can be provided.

      I would never recommend customers opening or modifying ISP routers. VM especially, but also Sky and now BT who retain ownership of the kit.

      Technology constantly changes and so my recommendation currently would be a 3 point mesh WIFI solution but not everybody wants, or can afford. to buy additional products. Expecting an ISP router in a corner of the lounge to beam to the other side of the property is optimistic even if WIFI is the max power allowed and the ISP claims include passing helicopters. If the user is in a small flat or bungalow a centrally positioned ISP Router suffices and in practice a high position avoids obstacles such as furniture in adjoining rooms (tested). As always every situation is different (BB entry point, type of broadband, build materials, access, decor etc) but the more options there are for installation then it is more likely to meet an individual’s needs.

    14. Avatar CarlT says:

      ‘I am not bashing VM as in my opinion with a few changes they could increase their presence significantly and hold their own against FTTP.’

      I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate that across their organisation Liberty Global have people that know their jobs better than any of us and the things we find perplexing can be explained away with the extra information and insight they have.

      Anyone can draw up a wishlist of how they think things should be. Now scale it nationwide within budget, organisational and resource constraints.

    15. Avatar Meadmodj says:

      Indeed. Same for all the main players but this excellent site allows us to comment when, in our opinion or practical experience, we feel their strategies are not totally correct.

    16. Avatar dumdum says:

      “I would never recommend customers opening or modifying ISP routers. VM especially, but also Sky and now BT who retain ownership of the kit.”

      MOST of the time they will not give a damn, with regards to the modification i mentioned to mount it, as long as at the end the thing is returned to them.

      My white Openreach modem which i returned years back (otherwise they were going to charge) had a cracked case on the top and at the side vents (id dropped it once and the dog yanked a cable pulling it over at some point) They did not care as long as it was returned. I imagine its the same for VM.

      I will agree though some may be more fussy, though i suspect that is more down to if you get a jobs worth rather than policy as a whole from the companies you mention.

      Expecting any equipment you have had for potentially years (even more so as many mentioned are now making contracts 24 months long) In as new condition is unrealistic.

  2. Avatar Onephat says:

    Personally I’m subscribed to VM’s 500mb/s package (synced at 575) with a Hub3 in modem only mode and a TP-Link doing the heavy lifting

  3. Avatar Matt says:

    I was wondering this morning, if the Samknows is going to become Virgin’s port of call for Speed indexing, so if a customer is complaining of speed on home network, Virgin will only work with data supplied from Samknows.

    I’ve got a Hub 4 with Gig1 hence the thinking.

    1. Avatar CarlT says:

      They already are. 🙂

    2. Avatar David Heard says:

      Was on samknows with virgin they scrapped the scheme unfortunately David

    3. Avatar David Heard says:

      But you can use samknows own router with them David

    4. Avatar aa says:

      The Hub 4 supports SamKnows but only on Router mode, if I recall correctly.

    5. Avatar Matt says:

      So what would be to say stop providers doing this and providing a priority route to the SamKnows test.

      For instance SamKnows claims to be testing to a London server but I’m not seeing anything near half a gig with anything London way…

      Actually currently I’m not seeing much above 100/200mbps in the UK, specially with ThinkBroadband yet testing outside of UK such as Europe shows me much better speeds….

      Such as this morning, multiple devices across household could only achieve 20-30mbps upload but SamKnows able to hit 52mbps everytime…. seems suspect.

    6. Avatar Matt says:

      Might I add, the upload test this morning was to Virgins own Speedtest server local too me.

    7. Avatar CarlT says:

      There is no ‘priority route’ to Samknows. The Think Broadband test never seems to play well with VM.

    8. Avatar Matt says:

      Hi Carl,

      How can you be so sure of that, not that I’m saying there is but potentially could be abused.

      Also as mentioned above, testing to Virgins own servers, like I did on M350… I gave up on ThinkBroadband tests a long time ago.

      Matt.

    9. Avatar CarlT says:

      Easy. The congestion on VM’s network is right at the edges facing the customers so some kind of priority route across the core would be pointless.

      It would also be illegal and fraudulent.

    10. Avatar Matt says:

      Well only had it a week so far, I’m not yet complaining, giving myself headroom was the target to achieve and so far I believe I’ve done that,

      I hope to see some more upstream bandwidth come around but guess the upgrades for US side are a ways off yet.

    11. Avatar lexx says:

      if you mean edges as when it goes from Virgin to big internet pipes

      some streets have problems with upload congestion still but very rare with 3.0 DOCSIS now

      most of our street left virgin when it was DOCSIS 2.0 as 1-2mb ADSL was more reliable then having 50-100mb of 50% packet loss on the upstream on Virgin DOCsis (and india virgin tech support was making the problem worse by giving free upgrade to faster speeds witch also give more upload to make the problem worse)

      once more people get onto DOCSIS 3.1 congestion should be the thing of the past

      one bad thing with virgin witch causes all these problems with upstream congestion (witch seem to be the same World wide with DOCSIS use) Lack of bloody QOS on the Upstream if they put in place an automatic global street level QOS so when utilization is getting to 50% it should automatically start limiting upstream and notify virgin that the FTTN node is overloaded (as DOCSIS upstream is like wifi past 60% it falls apart and rapidly hits 100% due to packet resend and then leads to high packet loss

      the above does not happen on openreach network as each person gets efectialy a dedicated line (FTTP/VDSL) and the Fiber backhaul has QOS built into it so it limits speed once it nears capacity without dropping packets

  4. Avatar Dave P says:

    Hopefully this is sign that they plan to push Gig1 to more areas soon, While I understand Virgin have their problems in some areas my service over the last 10 years has been excellent and I have always got what I paid for.

    1. Avatar Matt says:

      From what I recall, Virgin plans to upgrade nationwide by end of 2021.

      When they turned my area on in March, it was listed as Birmingham and Coventry however they added so many other areas also, quite a large area IMO so we could see big activations when they come around.

  5. Avatar Aaron says:

    I hope they replace the crappy Business Hitron hub soon, they can’t offer 1gbps business speeds using it, so a replacement must be on the cards… maybe this?

  6. Avatar David says:

    VM Emailed me to say I’ve been upgraded to 100Mbps. So done speedtest on it and only got 35-40Mbps Not working so asked them to downgrade me to 50Mbps. Reduced bill. Speed tested it again and got 40Mbps so they still cannot achieve 50Mbps let alone 100Mbps. Very disappointed with VM.

    1. Avatar dumdum says:

      New legislation during these times dictates no connection from any provider shall exceed a persons IQ. Unfortunately in your case this means you will never see 100.

    2. Avatar Matt says:

      Damn what a

    3. Avatar Tony says:

      The upgrade to 100Mbps is free. Happened to me and I’m chuffed – getting well over (like 110). The downside with Virgin was the days it took for an engineer to visit if there was a problem. But overall the actual service is first class. Don’t like the Hub 3, however. I’m using TP Link mesh off the hub, but the hub is huge and, in modem mode, has a horrible big red light that gives the impression of a fault. It’s also incredibly slow to boot up.

    4. Avatar Chris says:

      @David, where you connected via an ethernet cable to the modem or wireless?

      If wireless you will likely not get over ~50Mb/s using 2.4ghz band, you will likely get the full bandwidth in 5ghz band using wifi ac aka wifi 5. wifi n (aka wifin 4) should get you over 40mbs too again in 5ghz, 2.4ghz has limited non overlapping channels and is often congested, 5ghz has far more channels available and in and wifi 5 in auto mode is more likely to steer away from congestion improving speeds.

    5. Avatar dumdum says:

      Hes never been with VM he comes on every VM news item just making sh1t up in his over active mind.

  7. Avatar Kevin randle says:

    Great here come the scam phone calls ! . Good morning I’m calling from virgin media to update your system. If I could just ask you to confirm a couple of things first !!!!

    1. Avatar dumdum says:

      Yes because potentially offering people a new device for free if they have problems with an old device is a Scam… obviously!!!

      Is Covid20 out already and does this variant cause brain cancer?

    2. Avatar Matt says:

      Sthu! DumDumASS ….

      And yeah I feel ya Kevin, I think all companies need to work on alternative verification methods, like two step maybe.

      Asking customers for account information when they call the customer is stupid.

    3. Avatar dumdum says:

      A legit call they will not ask for details. If you are stupid enough to give out financial info or more over the phone then you are the dumdum.

    4. Avatar Matt says:

      Hey Dumdum,

      I think you’ll find that companies such as telecom do still call asking for some form of details and this is often enough when abused to get asccess to accounts and details…

      For example EE call me near enough every month about my bill not getting paid within the 7 due period, they ask me to confirm certain letters of my account password, normally this is fine as they seem to ask the same two digits/letters everytime, but that call being made 2-4 times could decipher a full account password.

      This matched with information leaked around the internet over the years can lead to access to further information or online accounts when information could be abused.

      Aka. getting access to an online EE account could lead to the email address being accessed, that could be a google account where passwords and card details could be access using google chrome data….

      I think its unfair to put the responsibility of being tricked on customers all the time, responsibility has to be taken by companies aswell as End Users.

    5. Avatar dumdum says:

      Ive never had any real ISP asking me to confirm any details like my name, date of birth etc. Scam calls from fake support scammers yes, direct calls from VM or any ISP asking for that info to offer a new modem/router errrrrr NOOOO

    6. Avatar Matt says:

      Well that’s the joy of the world.

      Everyone’s experience varies.

    7. Avatar dumdum says:

      Great so you agree experience varies but you also agree with the initial post that a phone call from ISP legitimately offering new device equals a scam. If you say so.

  8. Avatar Carpetburner7 says:

    I cancelled my VM broadband end of 2019 due to latency issues with the hub 3. They never offered a hub 4 or hiltron or other as a replacement. Gave them a pretty stingy customer survey rating as well as other to the point emails. Don’t think I will be getting a call. He he.

    1. Avatar dumdum says:

      Im sure they will miss your imaginary custom.

    2. Avatar Matt says:

      You wouldn’t of seen too much improvement with the Hub 4 in that reghard so probably made the right move.

      I would always recommend people with a latency requirment to go for a DSL product over DOCSIS.

      I personally can cope with the tipsy topsy latency currently, however my area isn’t too bad for it.

      If/When I require laterncy I generally get a seperate DSL connection and use it solely for one device/purpose.

  9. Avatar DumdandDumber says:

    dumdum, are you the resident troll?

    1. Avatar dumdum says:

      Are you the from the village missing its idiot?

  10. Avatar Philip Hardman says:

    I’m on 350 Mb and gave up on the Hub 3.0 for wifi because it was so poor. I just use it in Modem mode and use an ASUS Rog GT-AC5300 Tri-band router to do the wireless, the difference is amazing, at least double the wifi distance, super stable and top notch speeds around the house.

    I think Virgin should offer a modem only option and knock some off the bill for those that use their own router, I don’t think the Hub 4.0 will be any better than a decent dedicated wireless router and I won’t be using it for anything other than a modem if I get offered it (I’m in a 1 gig area).

  11. Avatar pierre says:

    I predict, I wont get this router.
    I predict I will move to gigacity/vodafone
    I predict they will miss out big style by putting their bloat onto netgear (originally) hardware that, as a consumer of their products, know they are ropey at best.
    They wont test them, they will have the usual response of reboot/replace.

    We should be in an era of upgrades where I can turn this into or receive a modem to do the internet traffic and pick abasic, better, best optio thats subsidised for the router side.

  12. Avatar Terry says:

    I am with Virgin Media and I asked if I could have the hub 4. They have told me it’s only for the Gig Fibre. It will not work below 1Gig Fibre. I am very annoyed. Is this article fake or misleading?

    1. Avatar James White says:

      The Hub4 is backwards compatible with DOCSIS 3.0, so it should be able to be used on non Gig1 packages. I don’t think Virgin Media are freely offering it outside of Gig1 currently. Possibly whoever you spoke to could be misinformed around the fact it only works for Gig1 tech wise. Other than it being the only gigabit capable modem in their network, it should work fine on any DOCSIS 3.0 config, regardless of package/speed.

      It sounds like Virgin Media may be offering it to some customers, but they will likely call you and won’t just give it to anyone who asks for it at this time.

  13. Avatar Jack says:

    And heres me stuck on a Superhub 2ac with 24 Down and 2 Up on a 200 package thats meant to be 200d/10-12u.

    1. Avatar JitteryPinger says:

      Not ideal but still the best Hub Virgin have ever had on there network.

      Hub 3 is woeful and currently Hub 4 is very unreliable too.

      Your speed issues are most likely caused by localised congestion or a fault.

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