We recently swapped our Internet provider from TalkTalk (was Tiscali) to VirginMedia. The speed of the TalkTalk connection had remained pretty static at around 10Mbps for the last 10 years or more but the cost per month had crept up from around £10 to over £26 a month. Adding to cost was that this contract gave me a telephone line that I no longer used and the extra cost of paying BT for the line rental.
My Netgear Modem/Router provided Wi-Fi coverage in every room and supported both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz and had proved 100% reliable.
VirginMedia Hub 3.0
VirginMedia provided my with their modem/router. This was connected to their (up to) 108 Mbps optical fibre broadband. Our road had been wired for years but VirginMedia had only connected it to their network a year or more pearlier. I was now paying £33 a month having just missed the £27 a month promotion….
This was originally only configured for the 5 Mhz locking out all of our older connected devices. We found that the coverage in the house was now very patchy and subject to dropouts. I tried using a range extender to boost the signal in some of the rooms. The signal from the extender was just as unreliable. The Netgear router could not be reconfigured to be an extender which would have been my most favoured option as I knew it could cover the whole house (and garden) with Wi-Fi.
Looking at my options I came down to two mesh systems one from Netgear (the Orbi) and one from Google. The documentation for both is pretty patchy for connection to VirginMedia unless you dive into forums. It is possible to turn the VirginMedia box into just a modem and that seemed to be the favoured solution if using the Netgear Orbi. However, the number of unfavourable reviews on Amazon definitely gave me lots of concerns especially the reports of firewall breaches.
The Google Wi-Fi Home System offered a simple connection to the VirginMedia Hub using a LAN connection. Amazon lists two packs with either two or three Wi-Fi points.
The Wi-Fi points are connected using 2×2 Wave mesh. The points are dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4 gHz and 5 Ghz) and support IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac TX beam forming. They are backwards and forwards compatible to everything we have (or will have) using Wi-Fi.
Google WiFi-Home System
This came in a well packaged box that was delivered from Amazon by Royal Mail with no outer packaging.
Inside the three WiFi points sat on a tray over their USB-C power adapters.
The next step was to download the Google Wi-Fi app onto my phone and follow the simple step-by-step setup. The first point was connected to the VirginMedia Hub using the provided LAN cable.
Using the app I set up the Wi-Fi mesh name and password.
The app follows the same easy setup principles for Google Nest products and I took each of the other Wi-Fi points to where I thought they would be best for coverage. After connecting power I simply scanned the QR code under each point and let the app do its work.
I did find in the rooms that had had previously limited coverage even with no other Wi-Fi point connected I was getting a strong signal. After each point was connected the app tested the mesh and I only had to re-position one of the points after it was unable to connect. This last Wi-Fi point is hidden behind photographs now.
No impact or changes were required for the VirginMedia Hub 3.0.
I did decide to make the VirginMedia Hub’s 2.4 Ghz network no longer discoverable and to leave all our legacy equipment using it.
All our portable devices we connected to the mesh and we now no longer have dropouts or having to worry which network to connect to.