Virgin Media has rolled out new features to customers to deliver a significant Wi-Fi speed increase – up to three times to some devices. Intelligent WiFi is a new update for the company's Hub 3 routers to enable better whole-home coverage, working alongside the Virgin Media Connect app to identify blackspots.
If you have problematic areas within your home diagnosed by the app, Full House or VIP customers can get a Powerline-based Wi-Fi booster for free. If you're not on one of those packages, it will cost you £3 a month – we'd say if you need to pay, you're probably better off buying your own Powerline adapters because of the rolling cost.
We saw the Intelligent Wi-Fi tech in action for ourselves and we have to say that it impressed in terms of its effectiveness at Virgin's large Wi-Fi test home – yes an entire house located within a top-secret test facility in High Wycombe – although the system may not be as good as a mesh setup for much larger homes unless you have a bunch of boosters.
The Connect app can test the strength of Wi-Fi from room-to-room so you can compare, say, your kitchen to a bedroom using a simple four-star rating. You're also able to manage devices connected to your home network; pause devices – handy when kids won't do their homework – and access in-app customer support to resolve any problems. If you do have deadspots, you can order the extenders through the app.
Virgin says it believes around 90 percent of customer issues can potentially be resolved using in-app help simply because many support calls are actually related to in-home Wi-Fi rather than the broadband connection itself.
The update uses three enhancements to provide better Wi-Fi on the 802.11ac-compatible Hub 3. Channel Optimisation helps ensure devices are using the best channel to alleviate overcrowding of the network. band steering auto-switches devices from the 2.4GHz to 5GHz band to improve performance while Airtime Fairness aims to evenly dish out bandwidth to devices – some older devices can slow down Wi-Fi speeds.