BT has announced its new BT Home Hub 3 broadband router, which is available now on all BT Broadband packages, including the super-speedy BT Infinity option.
The new router features what BT calls Smart Wireless. Unlike other routers which can just detect channels without other Wi-Fi networks, the Home Hub 3 can detect unclean wireless signals – such as from kit like TV senders, baby monitors and other radio devices – and the router's firmware will auto-adjust the current wireless channel to move away from the interference.
"We believe it's unique to our routers at the moment," said Mayuresh Thavapalan, General Manager of Consumer Broadband at BT, to TechRadar. "We've worked hard with the wireless radio suppliers to enable this.
"[The technology] allows us to scan the spectrum for interference. We know there's a profusion of wireless devices and some of these are quite unfriendly in what they do to wireless networks. The [Home Hub 3] allows customers to have a worry-free existence…with less wireless problems."
During a demo at the BT Tower, TechRadar was shown how this would work in action as BT engineers pitted the video streaming from the Home Hub 3 against streaming from a Virgin Media box.
A Wi-Fi scanner clearly showed the Virgin box was unable to recover from the interference caused by a wireless TV sender, while the BT box took a while to scan, adjust channel and begin the stream again. It took a minute or so to do this, but as was pointed out, it's likely the Home Hub 3 would do the adjustment when it is first set up rather than in the middle of a video stream you are watching.
The 350g Home Hub 3 is half the size of its predecessors (107 x 185 x 62mm) and uses "around 25 per cent less plastic and consumers would [probably] save around a third" of energy consumption versus the older model.
The unit has four Ethernet ports, one of which is a Gigabit Ethernet port, but the router can power off those ports not in use. Wi-Fi Encryption is turned on by default – with one-touch WPS push-button if you prefer – while there's a handy plastic pop-pout piece of plastic with your wireless key written on, rather than you having to write it down elsewhere.
The antenna technology is produced by Atheros and Broadcom in different units.
Existing customers with an older Home Hub can upgrade theirs for £46, but it's free for anybody taking out a new BT Broadband or BT Infinity contract.
The Home Hub 3 UK release date is March.