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Review: Gig1 & Customer Service - Hub 4

JitteryPinger

Casual Member
So I've posted a review here regarding the upgrade to Gig1 and the outcome of woeful customer service and basically picking up the peices, and I'm posting here to review the Hub 4 and compare it to the Hub 3.

Earlier this year I upgraded to the Gig1 service, after receiving the Hub 4 and getting the service up and running I immediately found it not to be as expected and wanted to revert the account under the 14 day return policy, however at this point the country had gone into a state of lockdown and making contact with Virgin was proving impossible despite efforts being made via Phone, Text and also Web Chat.

I finally got the service reverted to M350 however changes that where said to be immediate then became a 30 day waiting period which has now cost me another £21.

Customer service have said that as no calls where logged for any issues that a credit would not be issued and further more said that Virgin no longer credits for partial losses of service.

I have since been told I can have the activation fee of £35 back and also that my contract will be removed from the account (which is ideal as Openreach start extending their Full Fibre FTTP towards me starting 22nd June.

After 10 years of being a customer I've finally had enough of this behaviour and thought paying £62 per month would finally see better service from them but that was wrong.

As of now the offered resolution still hasn't been applied to the account and an update may come following this review.

Hub 4 (Not Worthwhile Upgrading if under M500)

So what to say about the Hub 4, well briefly its a Hub 3 with a newer plagued Inter Puma chipset that serves a purpose for Liberty Global (Virgin Media) but not really the end user. (Details below)

So the build: Build is nice quality, probably better to Hub 3 as it has more balance but its not practical if you wanna put it away somewhere or mount it in a network cupboard, it also has vents in the top and bottom instead of the side so probably susceptible to dust ingress, the light bar around the top is adjustable via web interface but can't be turned off.

And now the modem: the modem built in to this is as mentioned above is run by Intel's Puma 7 chipset which although slightly improved over the plagued Puma 6, is still consider and testing as having the same issues with latency more here, the modem is DOCSIS 3.1 and and backwards compatible with DOCSIS 3.0 (Widely used currently) and as such can bond upto 32 Downstream channels 4 Upstream Channels,

So the Hub 3 could bond upto 24 Downstream channels and 4 Upstream, the extra 8 channels could be the difference between getting 350Mb/s and not in areas where utilisation is high, however I don't feel it would be a massive advantage.

Currently mine is connecting to 1 x DOCSIS 3.1 & 31 x DOCSIS 3.0 channels for Downstream purposes.

And now the router: so it seems to be same old configuration from the Hub 3 however does now sport 4x4 MIMO over the 3x3 on the Hub 3, however despite this upgrade it seems to work worse than the Hub 3 even with the bandwidth boost.

- Now theres no smart wireless feature on this hub, and that fine because I didn't see it doing much more than the average wireless router does to avoid overusing available wireless channels, however the band steering on this Hub 4 is terrible, mostly due to the fact that the 5Ghz band drops for no reason at all and devices are left scrambling for something, I've been running my Hub 4 with 2.4Ghz disabled, and that hasn't stopped the 5Ghz dropping but sure has stopped everything ending up on a band not capable of very much.

- When I first got the Hub I was able to acheive around 500-650mb/s over AC using a Samsung S10e within 10 feet, this has since dropped to 250-450mbs since a firmware upgrade.

- Despite the wireless being 4x4, I can not run bandwdith to two 2x2 devices simaltaniously, actually I can't do it off wireless either (more below)

- The router in this Hub seems to suffer with issues between the router and the wan (modem) where packet loss becomes an issue, this is rectified by rebooting but is something that hasn't gone away yet (firmware update)

So the hub on a whole: This Hub 4 seems to be more of an upgrade for the ISP's to enable rolling out Gigabit capable services and also move on from DOCSIS 3.0 (which has become and bottleneck) and not so much an upgrade for the customers,

The reason I say this is, the hub is made so it can receive Gigabit+ services (Virgin supplies nearly 1.2Gb/s to the modem) however they don't translate down to this customer through testing, the ethernet ports are limited to 1Gb/s (in reality upto 940Mb/s) and in testing I never got more than 830Mb/s, however an inbuilt tester which can be activated using SamKnows realspeed consistently gives speeds above 1Gb/s (this is the tester Virgin will point you too when complaining about speeds)

But it has wireless too and multiple devices could acheive over 1Gb/s.....: No, not saying it isn't possible but when trying to run muliple devices simaltaniously the Hub stuggles and ends up acheiving less, or failing.

- Test's I ran where various scenarios, 5Ghz Wireless and Gigabit wired device, 2/3 wired devices, 2x 5Ghz devices with 1x 2.4Ghz device and Wired.... (Devices used in testing where iPad Mini 4, Samsung S10e, Xbox One on CAT6, i7 Laptop, LeEco Le Max 2) however non of these combinations where able to get above 830Mb/s together, it was the Xbox One that was able to acheive the 830Mb/s when testing via fast.com on the Edge Browser and it took it around 4mins to acheive that result before dropping down to around 700mb/s.

Closing statement: The Hub 4 in my experiance has been nothing more than a Hub 3 with DOCSIS 3.1 capabilities and a new set of bugs for Virgin to contend with, the lack of atleast one 2.5Gb/s ethernet port is its main downside not to mention the fact they didn't upgrade the wireless chipset to a Wifi 6, with future firmware updates it could get better performance wise but during the time I've had it I've seen 1 firmware update and that uninstalls when the hub has to be reset to factory defaults and doesn't download immediatly afterwards (3 weeks in my case),

My position right now is awaiting the service to regrade to the 350Mb/s service and then most likely a request for a Hub 3 reinstatement, I'm yet to test the Hub 4 in modem mode and plan to do so in coming weeks, for those wondering about Puma Latency issues, the issues are still existing and still affect applications such as Online Gaming and Video Calling services.

My recommedations for those thinking or wanting to upgrade is, this Hub 4 will only help those with M500 and Gig1 services, (M500 customers will find the extra bandwidth at the modem helpful in acheiving better speeds in busy areas's)

Hopefully some more firmware updates can fix some issues but if Virgin want to sell products that have peak and average speeds of over 940Mb/s they need to look at alternative modems/hubs.

Thanks for reading,
JP.
 
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