Virgin Media has announced its “Intelligent WiFi”, which the company promises will revolutionise its customers’ home Wi-Fi connections. Virgin seems particularly confident in the tech, stating that it could improve the speeds of Wi-Fi in certain parts of the home by up to three times.
That’s certainly a bold statement, but perhaps what’s most interesting is that Virgin Media is achieving “Intelligent WiFi” without new hardware.
Instead, the update will rollout free of charge to Virgin Media customers with a Hub 3 router.
How it works
Getting a boost to Wi-Fi performance for no additional cost, and with no extra hardware needed, sounds a bit too good to be true. Virgin explains how the “Intelligent WiFi” system works, which mainly concerns itself with optimising customers’ existing Wi-Fi to make sure it is reaching areas and devices it needs to.
So, Intelligent WiFi will use channel optimisation to ensure that customers’ Wi-Fi is using less congested Wi-Fi channels. The more devices using the same channel, the slower the Wi-Fi performance can become, so by switching your home Wi-Fi to an emptier channel, there will be less interference and therefore better Wi-Fi performance.
Of course, many modern routers include channel optimisation. Virgin is claiming that Intelligent WiFi could benefit up to 18% of homes.
The Hub 3 will also use band steering to switch gadgets between the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies to help optimise Wi-Fi connections for every device that connects to your home Wi-Fi network.
There’s also ‘airtime fairness’, which helps make sure every device get the Wi-Fi they need, and can help prevent older devices from slowing down the network.
The key to Virgin Media’s “Intelligent WiFi” is the new Connect app. This is a free download that users can install on their mobile devices, and allows them to test the strength of their Wi-Fi in every room of their home.
It also monitors any areas where Wi-Fi signal struggles to reach, allows customers to manage devices connected to the network, and to pause the internet connection for devices.
Customers will also be able to order a Wi-Fi booster through the app that will help extend the range, which will be free for Full House and VIP Virgin customers. Customers signed up to other bundles will pay £3 per month.
Cleverly tweaking the router to maximise its customers’ Wi-Fi networks is a sensible way of going about things, and it’s great to see Virgin is evolving its broadband offering for no extra costs to its customers. Intelligent WiFi will be rolling out to customers from today, March 12. Whether or not “Intelligent WiFi” will bring such noticeable results will remain to be seen.
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Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.