December 19, 2015

Not so super Superhubs

I recently took a call from Virgin offering a 'free broadband assessment' at my home. I said yes as I was a little disappointed with the reliability of the wifi around our house. The engineer was great; he identified the problem (my Superhub 1 was broadcasting on a congested channel in the area) and fixed it by configuring a Superhub 2 to use a less populated channel on 2.4Ghz and also activating the 5Ghz signal too. Instantly I was seeing speeds, during daytime at least, of 150mbps on all devices.
Sadly though, the wifi on the Superhub 2 proved unreliable, and a glance through various forums suggested that it's a very common and known problem with the Superhub 2 that the signals can drop for no reason. The solution is to either ask Virgin for the newer Superhub 2ac if you have devices that can take advantage of 802.11ac (ie from the last 18 months or so) or to add a 3rd party router.
I've now added the Apple Time Capsule, which centralises backups for my whole house (we're exclusively Apple) and the wi-fi has been super reliable and blisteringly fast across the board.
I post this as it may prove useful to others struggling with Virgin's wifi, but also to ask a question: why do Virgin undermine the promise of their class leading broadband by dishing out sub-standard hardware? Surely that's self defeating, and good routers are cheap as chips these days.


matthew smith said...

I've heard from a lot of Virgin media customers that they're not happy with the super hub. We use the super hub 2 at home and I can say I've always been happy with it. I pay for upto 152mbps but our download speed non peak times is actually 164mbps (via a gig Ethernet with a CAT 6 cable) So very pleased with that. A couple of things people can do, like what you commented, is to change the wireless channel, having it on auto will make the super hub change to a less congested channel from time to time increasing speed and range. Also putting the 2.4ghz wireless mode to 144mbps. that would be better for range. Enabling the 5.4ghz if you have devices that can pick up that signal will increase download speed but it dosent have a great signal range.

It also depends on where your super hub is situated in the home. We have ours in our hall way in the middle of the house where the 2 wifi signal isn't impeded by as many walls and to make sure no other radio device is broadcasting close to it.

If people have a lot of devices in the home like pc's/laptops/macs, consoles like Xbox one and PlayStation 4 I certainly recommend using an Ethernet cable to get the best bandwidth to that device. Most laptops though not all only have ethernet sockets up to 100mbps so don't be pissed if you don't get the full bandwidth you pay for. If you connect a lot of Devices there only 4 sockets on the back of the super hub so you'll need to get an Ethernet switch. You can get them for about £20 on eBay for a decent one and of course separate Ethernet cables for each device. Preferably a cat6 cable and you can get them in all different lengths from 0.5m to over 50m.

Mark said...

Just to state the obvious, Virgin's broadband and TV hardware is provided by manufacturers who have a long standing contract with the cable company. It's impossible for Virgin to go out and buy new kit (despite them being "cheap as chips") without expensively extricating themselves from the previously mentioned contracts.

Chris Till said...

I didn't realise there was an updated AC compatible superhub 2. Thanks for that info. I'll ask about it.

Nik Green said...

Regardless of the Superhub I've always had issues with reliability and configurations I wanted to make. As the Superhubs are essentially NetGear routers which are normally OK I believe it must be the custom firmware (software that runs the hub) that is partly at fault.

The Superhubs often lack the functions normal routers enjoy. To that end I always put the Superhub into Modem mode and connect my own router.

This is easy to do and simply means you then have control to use whatever router you wish wit the settings that best suit your environment.

Enabling and disabling modem mode on your Virgin Media router