UK ISP Virgin Media is escalating its public Wi-Fi network by co-opting customers’ home routers as hot spots. Only the most current router design, the SuperHub v3, will be drafted initially and clients can eschew the program if they are inclined to do so. Virgin says that the transformation will not have an impact on customers because involved homes will be allocated additional bandwidth.
The project is the same as what BT has completed with its public Wi-Fi service, which also co-opted home routers. In both situations, the public hot spots are offered at no extra charge to paying subscribers. Virgin Media’s hot spots aren’t accessible to non-subscribers at all, while BT’s can be accessed by customers from other ISPs for a small fee. If one is a Virgin Media subscriber, then one can access the public hot spots, where on hand, by downloading the company’s app for iOS and Android.
The information obtainable to the public is furthermore kept separate from the data running through the home connection, and the company states in an FAQ that a Virgin Media WiFi user cannot see anything on the home broadband network they are connected to. Similarly, someone via the home broadband network will not be able to see if anyone is linked to the separate connection in their Hub.
Additionally, while BT customers must share their ADSL or VDSL bandwidth with any public Wi-Fi users, Virgin Media promises that the home network is entirely separate from Virgin Media WiFi traffic, the gist of which is that the broadband connection paid for is secure and exclusive.
Security-wise, the Super Hub in all probability creates a separate VLAN for the public Wi-Fi network, just like BT Wi-Fi with FON. In conjecture, there will be no cross talk between the two networks, guaranteeing all data that flows across whichever network stays confidential.
Seemingly, when a client’s Super Hub is added to the public Wi-Fi service, it links to the local DOCSIS network at a somewhat higher rate. One residual issue, though, is that there will be further local Wi-Fi jamming.
For now, no more than Virgin Media customers with the latest Super Hub 3 (Hub 3.0) are being decided on for the new public Wi-Fi service. Virgin is conducting tests on an update to the older Super Hub 2ac routers, too. The ISP says it will add “hundreds of thousands” of hubs by “later this year.”
Virgin Media clients can choose to opt out of the service by logging into My Virgin Media and going to My Profile. When the service was first tested in 2015, those who opted out of giving out their own router were then excluded from using other Virgin regulars’ hotspots.