Virgin Media has announced what it claims is a “game-changing” Wi-Fi service that will give millions of customers the UK’s fastest widely available broadband speeds in more areas of their home.
The new service is being launched at a time when Virgin Media has seen record-breaking levels of data consumption in 2020 driven by an increase in smart-home devices in households, remote working, streaming, video calling and online gaming.
Virgin Media said more than half of Brits have experienced poor Wi-Fi in at least one room of their home, with bedrooms said to be the trickiest place to get a reliable signal. That research finding would not have carried much weight a year ago, but as the UK gets to grips with its third lockdown, bedrooms are now de facto offices.
And with millions of people now adopting remote working, many have said they would prioritise faster and more reliable speeds in the areas of the home where they work to keep them connected.
Virgin Media’s Intelligent WiFi Plus is claimed to improve in-home coverage in hard-to-reach areas and is particularly beneficial for those in large households with lots of connected devices. It combines a suite of new, automatically deployed features on Virgin Media’s Hub 3 and Hub 4 routers with new Intelligent Wi-Fi Pods designed to improve and extend wireless connectivity reach and speeds throughout the home.
Virgin believes the technology will transform in-home Wi-Fi by combining faster speeds with more reliable connectivity, claiming that it will give customers Wi-Fi speeds up to three times faster in more locations in the home. The Wi-Fi Pods, developed by Plume, create a Wi-Fi mesh bespoke to each household, the first time the operator has offered such capability to domestic customers.
Virgin says this will ensure optimal in-home coverage, with connected devices making use of the strongest possible signal, all the time, regardless of where in the home they are being used.
The new technology also sees Virgin Media’s existing Intelligent WiFi features, such as channel optimisation, band steering and airtime fairness, receive significant upgrades. More channels have been included in the existing channel optimisation technology, which is designed to keep gadgets out of Wi-Fi traffic jams, with more 5GHz channels, mostly used by newer devices, available.
Adaptive band steering analyses Wi-Fi use continuously and adapts device connections to ensure they are on the right Wi-Fi frequency at the right time.
“Intelligent WiFi Plus is our most advanced and impressive Wi-Fi service to date that will help remove broadband blackspots and bring faster and more reliable speeds throughout the home,” said Jeff Dodds, chief operating officer at Virgin Media. “Whether our customers are working, streaming, browsing, playing or keeping connected online, the combo of new hub features and WiFi Pods provides a step-change in connectivity.”
Virgin plans to bring gigabit broadband to its entire network of more than 15 million homes by the end of 2021, helping to deliver more than half of the UK government’s longer-term broadband ambition, which would see the country have national full-fibre access by 2025.
To date, more than seven million homes across the UK have access to the gigabit network in areas including Southampton, Manchester, Reading, Birmingham, Coventry, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leeds, Bradford and Glasgow.