Virgin Media O2 this week launched a brand-new router, known as the Hub 5, with faster Wi-Fi speeds. The Hub 5, which is made entirely from recycled plastic, also arrives with support for 2.5Gbps speeds from one of its ethernet ports – that’s twice as fast as Virgin Media O2 currently offers, hinting that new faster broadband speeds could be on the horizon for the company. But best of all, the Hub 5 is available as a free upgrade for existing customers.
Until this week, the best router available from Virgin Media was the Hub 4, which was announced alongside the launch of its speedy Gig1 fibre broadband plans. This router, which has an upright design – not dissimilar to the Xbox Series X, was designed to support the 1,000Mbps speeds available with Gig1 plans.
Virgin Media’s Hub 4 supports Wi-Fi 5, also known as 802.11ac, and proactively checks your network connections to ensure that Wi-Fi speeds are being shared fairly between devices – boosting the signal to any devices that are further away from the router and might be struggling with speeds. Hub 4 supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
The all-new Hub 5 arrives with support for the latest standard, Wi-Fi 6.
Wi-Fi 6 is used across the industry. So, if you’ve upgraded your smartphone, tablet or streaming set-top box within the last few years, chances are, you’ll already have a couple of Wi-Fi 6-enabled devices at home. If so, you should immediately see the benefits of switching to a new router with Wi-Fi 6.
Combining the latest wireless standards with more Wi-Fi antennae than the Hub 4, Virgin Media O2 says its new Hub 5 is able to support more devices simultaneously, while also boosting the total area covered by Wi-Fi signal and improving stability.
Wi-Fi 6 is capable of faster speeds. In lab conditions, Wi-Fi 6 can achieve downloads over a wireless network at speeds of 9.6Gbps – that’s almost triple the ceiling on Wi-Fi 5, which topped out at a respectable 3.5Gbps. Of course, you’re unlikely to get those super-fast speeds on a single device.
However, that 9.6Gbps download speed is divided up across every device on your network. So, you should see faster speeds on every gadget connected to the router.
That’s especially useful since the Hub 5 can connect to more devices than its predecessor. As more of us fill our homes with internet-connected gadgets – from smart lightbulbs to Wi-Fi enabled thermostats, voice-activated speakers to streaming set-top boxes plugged into the HDMI in every telly – it’s easy to see why older routers are becoming overwhelmed with the sheer number of devices trying to connect to the same network.
To further boost connectivity, Hub 5 is designed to reduce interference from neighbouring hubs and devices, Virgin Media O2 says. That should be especially useful for those in apartments or terrace housing, where signals bouncing in from neighbours’ routers and smart gadgets could disrupt your experience.
As well as the boost to speeds, Hub 5 relies on next-generation WPA3 encryption to improve security. All in all, this looks like a very exciting upgrade for existing customers.
Speaking about the announcement of the Hub 5, Virgin Media O2 Chief Operating Officer Jeff Dodds said: “At Virgin Media O2 we don’t stand still and are constantly working to give our customers the latest and most innovative technology to suit their digital needs now and in the future. We are excited to give our existing customers first access to the Hub 5, powered by WiFi 6 technology, which will provide even faster WiFi speeds and help unleash the full potential of new devices from next-gen games consoles to the newest smartphones in their homes.”
If you want to get your hands on the Hub 5, you might need to be patient. Virgin Media O2 is offering the new hardware to existing customers right now for free, but it’s being slowly rolled-out across the country. Eligible customers will be contacted and given the option of upgrading soon, Virgin Media O2 told Express.co.uk, with a wider launch of the new Hub 5 in 2022. Presumably, that’s when new customers signing up to Virgin Media O2’s broadband plans for the first time will take delivery of the new hardware too.
Virgin Media O2 is the UK’s largest gigabit provider. By the end of this year, the broadband company will deliver gigabit-capable speeds across its entire network of 15.5 million homes.
And it’s not stopping there, the company is also pushing the limits of its current fibre network by delivering 2,200Mbps broadband speeds to homes in Edinburgh and Birmingham …which could explain why its all-new Hub 5 router has support for wired broadband speeds of up to 2.5Gbps – around 35 times faster than the average home broadband speed across the UK.