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Update on the State of Modem Mode for Virgin Media’s Hub 5x UPDATED

Tuesday, Apr 23rd, 2024 (9:43 am) - Score 15,240
1_Virgin-Media-O2-UK-Hub-5-Router

The recent launch of Virgin Media UK’s new 2Gbps full fibre (FTTP / XGS-PON) home broadband package was a welcome development (here). But one notable caveat was that it shipped with a new variant of the Hub 5 router, the Hub 5x, which lacked a functional Modem Mode, although this is planned to be introduced.

Customers of Virgin Media have long learnt to expect a Modem Mode option, which switches-off some of the bundled router’s networking features (e.g. WiFi) and makes it easier for users to essentially connect a second router to handle their local network / WiFi connectivity. Advanced users often like to do this in order to get around some of the limitations of Virgin’s own kit.

NOTE: The Hub 5x is different from the Hub 5 in that it only supports their XGS-PON based full fibre connections (no more DOCSIS / coax) and replaces the 2.5Gbps LAN port with a 10Gbps one. This is currently only available to those in their Nexfibre areas.

However, for reasons unknown, and despite the Hub 5x being cosmetically almost identical to the prior Hub 5, customers who received the Hub 5x soon found that it lacked Modem Mode as an option (here). Several months have now passed since we first saw people using the Hub 5x and little has changed, although the odd user of the 5x did recently claim to have seen the option appear and then disappear from the device’s menus.

The official line from Virgin Media is that they “have nothing to say on this at this stage“, which is about as informative as we’ve come to expect from the operator. Some rumours from customers have previously indicated that it might launch this spring, but we’ve never been able to confirm those.

ISPreview’s own sources have indicated that the tentative plan is to introduce Modem Mode to the Hub 5X by the end of the year, which means those taking Virgin Media’s new XGS-PON powered packages (e.g. 2Gbps) may have a bit of a wait on their hands. Clearly something about this familiar feature is proving to me more tedious than usual to implement on the 5x.

UPDATE 12:26pm

We’ve received an indication, from somebody with the experience to know, which suggests that the reason could be because – on the new XGS-PON network – Virgin Media may struggle to conduct monitoring of their network / Hub when Modem Mode is enabled. At least on the nexfibre build, VM don’t own the Optical Line Terminal (OLT), which makes implementing a solution via their wholesale arrangement a bit more complex.

If this is the situation, which we don’t know for sure, then it should be something that VM and Nexfibre can resolve. In other words, Modem Mode may actually work, but they might not want to implement it until network monitoring has been properly implemented first. But again, this is just informed speculation on our part. Take with a pinch of salt.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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33 Responses
  1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

    Amazes me how its been on the other hubs for years and they thought to launch without it on 5x, even though its very similar to Hub5 that already has modem mode. Probably thought they could start to mandate it and people would suck it up as full fibre and symmetric as an option, and customers would not complain.

    1. Avatar photo Vince says:

      Does it, the % of customers who use modem mode is tiny. Waiting to launch something that isn’t of interest to the vast majority of customer base is a insane commercial error if you made it.

    2. Avatar photo XGS says:

      They launched the original Hub without modem mode. They launched subsequent hubs without modem mode too, added in later software versions.

  2. Avatar photo GG says:

    Or …. the outside is the same, but the innards are completely different.
    It’s likely a different processor, IP stack, OS.
    If they’ve started again from scratch (and ditching legacy sounds like a good thing to me), then it makes sense they launched with MVP and add features later.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I’ve not had any solid details on the internals. What’s the model code they’re using?

    2. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      Modem mode was such a known feature on the hubs that to launch without it is questionable. A number of customers who would take the speeds offered by full fibre and those opting for optional symmetric uplift would likely expect it.

      VM did not inform customers that it didn’t have it; and many took up the service expecting (rightly or wrongly) that because it looked like the HUB5, and was on previous hubs over many years, that it would have a modem mode function. The Hitron routers on the business side also have modem mode.

    3. Avatar photo GG says:

      Just playing devils advocate. There will be lots of reasons for doing what they did, we’re all just speculating.

      Would be interesting if somebody has popped the top off a 5 and a 5X to compare, however.

      Me? When they finally get round to bringing fibre here I want a 10G SFP+ ONT, but I suspect you’ll get your modem mode before that ever happens….

    4. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Have to use your own, no-one offers it in the UK, GG. Really rare worldwide actually.

  3. Avatar photo Tony Hoyle says:

    Interesting to see if that is enough to get you out of the contract. VM have no termination fee cap any more, and they bill that at the undiscounted price, so if you signed up, received the modem then realized it had no modem mode you could be liable for over £2k in cancellation fees.

    1. Avatar photo NE555 says:

      Does the contract say that the service has modem mode and can be used with third-party routers? Then no, there is no get-out.

    2. Avatar photo Robin says:

      I think unless you ordered over the phone or email and the person said that it does have modem mode then probably not able to get out of it without fees

    3. Avatar photo mike says:

      All contracts have a cooling off period so if you discover it has no modem mode within that period there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to cancel

    4. Avatar photo greggles says:

      They do have 14 day cool off, so my advice is check all this kind of stuff within first 14 days of the service.

  4. Avatar photo Dave M says:

    Sooooo end of next year then?
    Literally how hard can it be, if you can’t make it work, just give us the option of supplying us an ONT, media converter or create support for a specific SFP+ module – but you won’t because that’s not “average user” enough. Fed up with waiting for this now and I’m calling in to cancel.

  5. Avatar photo GRIFF says:

    You’ll hear some people say well just put your mesh or other router in access point mode and turn off WiFi. Problem with that is that the performance is constrained by the device limits of the router. ISP routers are pretty terrible with multiple devices and throttle whereas mesh systems and dedicated routers often market their ability to handle dozens of not hundreds of devices. For me, I prefer access point mode because I have just 20 devices and don’t trust the security of my mesh which whilst performing very well is Chinese. For others with smart home devices…an ISP router without modem mode is useless

  6. Avatar photo Hugh_effo says:

    My guess is there is something in the 5x software that VM, don’t want turned off if you switch over to more mode. My guess it’s something around the side if I, so maybe backdoor WiFi sharing, which would be disabled in modern m mode

  7. Avatar photo Hugh_effo says:

    My guess is there is something in the 5x software that VM, don’t want turned off if you switch over to modem mode. My guess it’s something around the side if I, so maybe backdoor WiFi sharing, which would be disabled in modem mode

  8. Avatar photo GRIFF says:

    You’ll hear some people say well just put your mesh or other router in access point mode and turn off WiFi on the main router. Problem with that is that the performance is constrained by the device limits of the router. ISP routers are pretty terrible with multiple devices and throttle whereas mesh systems and dedicated routers often market their ability to handle dozens of not hundreds of devices. For me, I prefer access point mode because I have just 20 devices and don’t trust the security of my mesh which whilst performing very well is Chinese. For others with smart home devices…an ISP router without modem mode is useless

  9. Avatar photo Garry not oldman says:

    Is virgin media making a fundamental mistake by not doing a regular ONT? They’re also connecting their FTTP network using connectors rather than splicing and the customer is given a simple optical jack which they connect to the 5X hub, it seems an awful lot of points of failure for the network

    Whereas openreach and other altnets, all the fibre part is fed with splicing to an ONT, then that whole side of the network is never touched by the consumer, all they have to do is connect a router via ethernet, it also makes it easy running a longer ethernet to the router somewhere in the centre of the house, with the current virgin media approach you’re tied with the 5X hub being near the wall of the optical in-point (at least before modem only mode is turned on)

    1. Avatar photo anonymous says:

      Probably to do with replacing just the router over time vs router + ONT.
      When service is removed, customer returns router with inbuilt ONT and there is no additional cost if the same customer or another customer at the address wants the service again built the ONT is either too old or gone missing like if they have moved and taken it with them instead of leaving it. Maybe a future marketing ploy to say fibre all the way to the router (instead of ethernet from router to ONT).

    2. Avatar photo XGS says:

      It’s tricky. Nexfibre wasn’t in a position when VM launched to provide and manage an ONT, and VM were never going to provide an ONT and separate router, Liberty Global wouldn’t have allowed it even if they wanted to. In other territories Liberty provide a combined ONT/router, no chance of VMO2 getting to do something different.

      Maybe in the future Nexfibre will provide an ONT multiple operators may use but not at the moment or give the option for the customer to use their own kit but not right now.

    3. Avatar photo Kel says:

      I didnt know Virgin wrte rolling out FTTP.. i’ve got them installed, but it’s a minimal package for back-up use.. but this is interesting to watch!

      I do wonder though if it’s complexities related to other services – we have a small place in Spain with internet and TV through Movistar, they’ve a crazy setup where they’ve got different services split across different VLANs, and the only way to get it work is with the router they supply..

      I’ve read a couple of people got it working with some Unifi kit, but it required a few CLI hacks and a deep understanding of how Movistar talk to their set-top boxes etc.

  10. Avatar photo tech3475 says:

    I hope they get this resolved, modem mode with telephony support was one of the few things I could praise VM for compared to say BT.

  11. Avatar photo Smir says:

    Whats more weird is some people have it and some don’t, typical VM

  12. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

    Recently got a nexfibre install. No sign of it… had to put my mesh network in access point mode. Hope they sort it soon as while my mesh is a little slower wifi tech wise (wifi 6 vs 5) reach is a lot more limited as is the functionality on hub 5x.

  13. Avatar photo Jonny says:

    Only a company with the calibre of Virgin Media could build a brand new XGS-PON wholesale network and have absolutely no idea how to actually wholesale over it. Should have gone with an ONT.

  14. Avatar photo Hellsy says:

    Is is there, But its funky to get it running, what I had to do is setup your own router on its own IP range (192.168.1.0) with a submask of 255.255.0.0(this part might not be needed) with DHCP, disconnect everything the hub 5x, reset it, then login to the hub5x using wifi (i used a phone), then goto the hidden Modem page (192.168.0.1/?page=modemmode) where you be see the option to turn modem mode on, when the hub restarts (after the green light goes out the first time) connect your router to the first Lan port, once the hub fully restarts (white light for a minute then solid green) you should be able to see on your own router that the hubx has its own WAN IP and pumping internet to the router.

    No idea what happens if the hubx restarts, but its hardly customer friendly.

    Not sure what happens if say the hubx restarts. I feel this is why its not fully out yet as it would be a customer service nightmare. I’ve only had the service for a little bit, But will do more testing.

    Not using anything speical for a router too just an old netgear d6000, there is a good reddit post here:- https://www.reddit.com/r/VirginMedia/comments/1ah1boq/hub_5x_working_modem_mode/

    1. Avatar photo hellsy says:

      Also another bummer i forgot to say, is that it been reported it doesn’t work on the 10gb port (i didn’t try as i only have a 1gb switch)

    2. Avatar photo Aaron Johnson says:

      This only works 1 the 1gb lan ports so if like me you opted for the 2gb symmetrical then that’s a none stater. For now I’ve turned off wifi and dhcp and passed that over to other kit.

      There’s no option to have a voice line when I ordered. I could get 1 stream tv box (not exactly great for a household with 6 tvs in active use). So that’s just be relegated to the spare bedroom tv.

      It just seams products at VM tend to get launched before they are really ready, just one reason why I prefer using my own kit.

    3. Avatar photo Hellsy says:

      No I’m on 1gb thanks! be a tad pointless to go for 2gb with a 1gb backbone.

  15. Avatar photo Roger_Gooner says:

    It’s not clear to me what is the significance of nextfibre owning the OLTs. Yes, they and the rest of the network are owned by nexfibre but it’s all been done with VM’s build engine which, as some of you may recall, was available for use as Project Lightning was winding down when nextfibre was launched. And VM has to know about the OLTs in detail, otherwise how can broadband be provided with the OLTs connected to the VM hub sites at one end and to the combined ONT/router hub 5Xs at the other end.

    1. Avatar photo XGS says:

      VMO2 don’t have to know anything about the OLTs any more than Sky, Vodafone or TalkTalk have to know about the Openreach OLTs. The OLTs connect to Nexfibre equipment and VMO2 connect there. On the subscriber side Nexfibre provision an ONT with a serial number VMO2 provide onto the product VMO2 order and deliver it to VMO2 via VLANs same as Openreach do Sky, Vodafone or TalkTalk, difference being VMO2 provide the ONT not Openreach themselves.

      The Nokia OLTs are licenced to allow Sagemcom kit to connect to them, serial number is tapped into a PDA/phone and provisioned on the appropriate tier.

      Japan and the odd other place have ISPs bring their own ONTs. Doesn’t need any special access to OLT.

  16. Avatar photo Thackers says:

    Does the 5x suffer with the same Feb firmware update seen on the Hub 5 rendering the 2.5Gb port unusable due to the EEE glitch when using an unmanaged switch ?

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