Virgin Media launch Intelligent Wi-fi

13 March 2019   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

Virgin Media's latest update aims to improve the wi-fi performance of its flagship router through a series of enhancements.

They have also released a new app for iOS and Android devices to help customers better manage their home wi-fi systems.

Only customers with Virgin's Hub 3.0 will benefit from the update, however, with the 25% of customers using old routers unaffected.

Virgin's upgrades are the latest attempt by a broadband provider to differentiate themselves from their competitors by improving hardware and reducing wi-fi issues.

virgin media super speed
© Virgin Media

Improvements packaged together

With these enhancements, Virgin are aiming to improve wi-fi performance through channel optimisation, band steering and airtime fairness.

Channel optimisation works to switch devices to wi-fi channels which are less crowded, reducing the amount of wi-fi interference. Virgin claim that 18% of households will experience less interference with this update.

Meanwhile, band steering allows devices to switch between frequencies to optimise performance, and Virgin have improved this ability on the Hub 3.0 to allow seamless switching to enhance speeds.

The final update to the Hub 3.0 involves airtime fairness - i.e. sharing wi-fi fairly across connected devices.

Alongside these router updates, the new smartphone app Connect allows householders more flexibility in the management of their wi-fi networks.

This includes the ability to quickly share the wi-fi password with friends, pause devices and access support from Virgin in the app, plus test the strength of their wi-fi connection in various locations in the home to detect blackspots.

Completing the jigsaw of improvements from Virgin are the wi-fi boosters that are available for customers who have detected a blackspot in their home, and these can be ordered through the app.

Boosters will add £3 per month to a broadband bill, with additional ones costing £2 per month. However, they're free for customers taking Virgin's Full House or VIP TV packages.

What does this mean for customers?

These are all welcome improvements to the customer experience by Virgin, although much will depend on how the enhancements perform for customers themselves.

It's worth noting that a key side-effect for Virgin Media should be a reduction in the number of calls to their support desks as customers will be theoretically able to solve more issues either automatically or via the Connect app.

This might cut costs for Virgin at the same time as improving wi-fi performance and therefore helping them retain customers in a crowded marketplace.

In our recently-updated guide to the best fibre broadband packages, we pointed out that Virgin were top for the speeds on offer but that BT had the best speed-boosting router.

Further details on the best routers offered by providers can be found here, but it's clear that Virgin have branded their improvements in line with how other providers highlight their wireless technologies to differentiate themselves.

Consumer choice increasing

All broadband providers are actively trying to improve their offering to attract new customers, but they also need to keep as many existing ones as possible by providing an effective service.

For instance, TalkTalk rolled out a new Wi-Fi Hub in June 2018 and, in November 2018, BT introduced their Complete Wi-Fi Guarantee in conjunction with their latest Smart Hub 2. This was also assisted by a smartphone app to help customers eliminate blackspots.

Earlier in 2018, however, Virgin Media lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) arguing that BT's claim of the "most powerful" wi-fi was misleading. ASA upheld the complaint.

It's clear that broadband providers are committed to improving their hardware and software to better compete against each other and, while this is welcome, it may also lead to customer confusion about what's on offer from each provider.

Read our review of Virgin's Vivid 350Mb package here or search for broadband deals here.

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