Virgin Broadband issues

Frank Smith

Active Member
Hi all

I've had enough of Virgin Broadband but before I switched I wanted to make see if others have had a bad experience, if other providers are much better or even a fix that may work.

The main issue is the range. I have a small house, two floors and the internet is very poor upstairs to a point I can no longer work as my computer struggles to maintain a connection. I've purchased a WiFi dongle for my computer and a WiFi extender and still having problems, and this is across multiple devices (though most noticeable on the laptop). Before I moved into my house I had the exact same issue in the previous place I was staying. I also have the latest hub (the third one I think).

Do others here have a similar problem? Are the likes of BT any better?
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
In your mindset you need to de-couple "Internet Service Provision" and "Wi-Fi" - the two are distinct and separate. Thusly, if your Internet provision is otherwise satisfactory, there is no need to change ISP to "fix" a Wi-Fi coverage problem (and no reason to think changing ISP would "fix" Wi-Fi coverage either as we shall explore.)

Wi-Fi transmit power is limited by law and most kit is, and always has been, at of close to the permitted max. (It's deliberately weak by design.)

Wi-Fi is a two-way radio "conversation" like walkie-talkies, not a one-way radio "lecture" like television. Thusly, both parties in the conversation need to be able to hear each other well enough to maintain the conversation.. Fundamentally, if either party cannot hear the other, then we need to either get them closer together, remove and physical obstructions between them (walls, doors, air,) or both. It's generally inconvenient to talk down the walls of a property and may not be convenient to go sit next to wherever out router is located. So to "fix" Wi-Fi coverage issues the only option remaining is to deploy additional Access Points (AP) closer to where the client devices spend most of their time thereby also creating a "cellular" coverage pattern of multiple hot-spots. On big sites we put up dozens/hundreds.

The "trick" with Wi-Fi is how one establishes the "backhaul" connection between all the AP's and the rest of the (wired) network - including the link to the Internet facilitated by your router.

The fastest and most reliable backhaul is achieved using "proper" cabled ethernet links. If installing such is not possible, next best is probably using Powerline/HomePlug technology to "tunnel" the data over the mains electricity circuit. However the performance of HomePlugs/Powerline is highly dependent on the state of your mains circuit - some people have excellent results, some have terrible ones and everything in between. It is also possible to use Wi-Fi for backhaul which is what a lot of "repeaters," "extenders" and so-called "mesh" and "whole home" type systems do. However, the backhaul (Wi-Fi) links in such systems use exactly the same technology as Client-AP links and thusly the outpost Repeater/mesh nodes need to be "in range" of a good signal from each other and/or the base router/AP they are repeating. Also, Wi-Fi is fundementally an "only one thing at a time can transmit" technology so in most systems using Wi-Fi backhauls, the backhaul transmissions have to compete for some "air time" with all the Client-AP transmissions which could be a big deal if "speed" is your thing.

So, it may be that you can fix Wi-Fi coverage issues with better positioning of your "Extender" if it's really a Wi-Fi "Repeater" under the skin. It may be that you need more AP's closer to where the clients are. It may be that you'd benefit from better backhaul provision - if getting out the drill and installing some ethernet cabling isn't possible maybe try a HomePlug kit and see if they work well for you. There's an FAQ about HomePlugs pinned in this forum. I don't use them, but received wisdom seems to be to buy them from somewhere with a good returns policy in case they don't perform well over your mains circuit.

Changing ISP is highly unlikely to be the silver bullet for fixing a Wi-Fi coverage problem. There might be other drivers for shifting ISP but "fixing" Wi-Fi coverage isn't one of them. It could also be better VFM to try a HomePlug kit - it's a one off purchase that doesn't need you to sign up to a new ISP contract (and endure the hassle of changing ISP.)
 
Last edited:

Frank Smith

Active Member
Thanks for the reply and I expected that it was more the router than the ISP but that's partly my problem. My mum lives in a 3 floor house and has EE Internet I believe which covers the entire house. In the same house she also has the same virgin router as me (my brother uses it for gaming) and that similarly has issues. Hell, the kitchen struggles with Internet and that's right next door to where my router is.

BT promotes guaranteeing WiFi in every room. I've called Virgin on plenty of occasions and the only thing they do is say I need to reset the router. Is BT's hub much better than Virgin? Is there guarantee to have WiFi in every room no different from a home plug set? Or all this just marketing talk?
 

neilball

Well-known Member
You don’t mention if you have near neighbours and other competing local wifi networks visible. If you do, then another problem for you may be interference from these other networks. Lots of competing 2.4GHz wifi networks may mean performance in the band will always be poor as there are only three non-overlapping channels, and many people have routers/APs that swap automatically in an attempt to find the “best” channel.

If you gave 5GHz capable equipment then this offers many more “clear” channels, but range is much less as the radio signals do not penetrate obstacles as easily as 2.4GHz. This is both good, as your neighbours do not affect you as much, and bad because you need to deploy additional access points around the house to ensure sure good coverage.

So it sound like you would get a better result from adding more wifi access points (and using 5GHz where you can) but this means either running ethernet cables to where you want the new APs, or using Powerline adapters, or wireless extenders/mesh systems.

Ethernet deployment gives you a guaranteed gigabit backhaul that sends and receives at the same time at full speed. The others can only send or receive at any time, and their speed is variable depending on local conditions and interference.

For simple setup using Powerline then Devolo Magic is straight forward and the app makes it easy to see how everything works. But if you have noisy electrical cabling then powerline performance will be variable, and you cannot tell until you try it.

For wifi based solutions then tri-band systems offer the best performance as they use a dedicated 5GHz radio for their backhaul, so avoiding the extender traffic competing with client wifi traffic. However the 5GHz backhaul means you may need more of them to reach all areas of your house.

For powerline or wifi based solutions you need to try them to see if they work for you. For that reason you may want to buy from a retailer who offers a no quibble returns policy in case you have to send it back should it not perform.
 

bubblegum57

Well-known Member
I wasn't impressed with my hub 3. I have a few homeplugs scattered around & an extender.

Virgin suggested I changed the 2.4 & 5GHz channels to fixed less crowded ones. This seems to have helped.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
BT promotes guaranteeing WiFi in every room. I've called Virgin on plenty of occasions and the only thing they do is say I need to reset the router. Is BT's hub much better than Virgin? Is there guarantee to have WiFi in every room no different from a home plug set? Or all this just marketing talk?

I don't know what BT's offering is, but one suspects it's either additional Wi-Fi Repeater(s) and/or some kind of "whole home" or so-called "mesh" systems which is basically a fleet of Repeaters that employ some additional automation to do things like set up the channel plan, steer clients to the "best" AP, pre-stage some of the roaming hand off and so on. However, without seeing the spec. of any particular offering I couldn't say.

What I can say is such systems don't possess any voodoo that generates some kind of magic "different" Wi-Fi trasmissions than everyone else's - it's all using the same Wi-Fi standards and has to obey the same laws about transmit power (albeit that there is a huge variety of "options" in the Wi-Fi standards, so there's plenty for any vendor to choose between in what they include or omit.) There's some clever stuff that can be done with antenna design and phased arrays, but you generally find that in after-market kit and pay for the privilege. Even then, it tends to achieve better "rate at range" (speed in a given location) rather than any radically large coverage area improvements.

I'm not quite cynical enough to think this is all just "marketing hype" - I think it's more that the ISP's are recognising that "one AP in the middle of the house" doesn't cut it for increasing numbers of people and they are bringing forward multi-AP solutions to address this and appease their customer base. IIRC they gifted one of my relations a Repeater (A Repeater is effectively a Wi-Fi AP that uses Wi-Fi to estabilsh it's backhaul link to another router/AP.) What we are seeing is the percolating down to the SOHO realm of something that enterprise Wi-Fi builders have known forever - if you want good Wi-Fi coverage and performance, you need lots of AP's deployed as near as possible to where we expect the the clients to be. The "hard" part is the backhauls as discussed previously.

Unfortunately comparing one locale to another is pretty meaningless when Wi-Fi planning. One just has to be a bit "zen" about that and accept it. Sometimes with some of the best planning tools and expertise in the business, when we turn it on it just doesn't work how we thought it would and we have to investigate and find a solution. Wi-Fi, I'm afraid, is "just like that" - there's no silver bullet product that's guaranteed to work every time every place. Though plenty of us "in the busniess" have our favourites.

By way of example, I live in a very modestly sized property of about 40 square meters and have only two Wi-Fi devices and that should easily be serviced by a single AP (built into my router.) But to get from my bedroom to my router entails 4 (stud) walls and a bunch of water tanks and it's lousy. So I've got Repeater half way between the two. Worse still, I live in flats and as such have to compete with all my neighbours Wi-Fi as Neil has discussed, so there's no chance of me finding a (radio) "channel" all to myself and we have to "play nice together." It'll work fine for weeks then for no reason at all someone's router will re-tune itself and the whole lot falls to pieces for a few minutes. Again, unfortunately, Wi-Fi is "just like that."
 
Last edited:

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
BT promotes guaranteeing WiFi in every room. I've called Virgin on plenty of occasions and the only thing they do is say I need to reset the router. Is BT's hub much better than Virgin? Is there guarantee to have WiFi in every room no different from a home plug set? Or all this just marketing talk?

BT will send out WiFi "discs" to cover each room which guarantees 10Mbps in each room. 10Mbps is not enough necessarily to stream HD or UHD but would be ok for most purposes. However it is still well below what a decent system should be capable of.

To build on @mickevh already detailed response, from an ISP point of view if VM offer 100Mbit, 200Mbit and so that is what you will get at your house at your router. Others like BT on FTTC will top out at 76Mbit and may be considerably lower depending on the distance from the green box in the street. By moving to an Openreach provider (e.g. BT, EE) you might end up with a worse service. I can only get 38Mbps on Openreach or Gig 1 on VM (1200Mbps)...
 

GuitarGuy

Distinguished Member
I had this issue and implementing a tenda mesh wifi system made it immesurably better, averaged 2mb/s in many corners of the house, now its over 70mb/s almost everywhere and much further into the garden and driveway either end of the house as well

tenda mw6 3 pack i got. virgin router is just in "modem mode" now
 
Seems to be so many words for what is an easy solution.

Buy a new router.

The Hub 3 is trash. I get about 20mbps in my bedroom with the virgin hub. My own router - a now very old netgear 2700 - I get 200mbps.
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Or like the last person we could check the settings and work out they are wrong. Changing one value fixed the issue, SH not to blame in this case... :)
 

Frank Smith

Active Member
Seems to be so many words for what is an easy solution.

Buy a new router.

The Hub 3 is trash. I get about 20mbps in my bedroom with the virgin hub. My own router - a now very old netgear 2700 - I get 200mbps.

Spot on. Just got a TP Link router and so far, it's night and day between the two. Hell, even my colleagues are commenting on it during video calls without me having to mention it.
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Spot on. Just got a TP Link router and so far, it's night and day between the two. Hell, even my colleagues are commenting on it during video calls without me having to mention it.

Glad you resolved it.

Did you, however, check the bandwidth settings on the 5GHz and 2.4GHz networks on the VM SH, this seems to be a common fault or issue. It is basically to provide backward compatibility and set to a much lower value. Change it to the correct one and they will generally perform like a comparable new router (which will have it enabled).
 

The latest video from AVForums

Star Wars Andor, Woman King, more Star Trek 4K, Rings of Power & the latest TV, movies & 4K releases
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom