Good news if your broadband is with Virgin Media – it's announced a new series of WiFi updates that allow your network to automatically improve itself.
Called 'Intelligent WiFi,' Virgin's system sounds a lot like the Plume adaptive WiFi product that TalkTalk has recently started offering its customers. The tech rolls out today to all VM customers wtih a Hub 3 router, and promises "a smart cloud-based, adaptive system that is continuously evolving and ingeniously tackles many of the problems that can hold people back from getting the best performance from their WiFi."
So what does that mean in practice?
Well, firstly it means you'll need to download Virgin Media's new app, called Connect. It acts as a control panel for the Intelligent WiFi system. It's free, obvs.
From there, you go through your home testing the WiFi strength in each room, while the app looks for weak spots. If it can fix them, it will, but in "rare instances" you might need to order a WiFi booster. You can do that within the app, and it's free for customers with Full House or VIP status. For everyone else, it's £3 a month.
Virgin says their testing shows Connect can increase your WiFi speed by up to three times without using a booster.
The new app can also manage all the devices connected to your network, including 'pausing' them -- for instance if you're torrenting something completely legal and want your speed back for a bit, or your kid is on their Xbox while they're supposed to be studying.
Intelligent WiFi also handles some of the more technical aspects of improving your signal, including automatically optimising WiFi channels to reduce interference (300,000 times a day, apparently), band steering (aka moving your devices between the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies to improve speed), and airtime fairness, which handles how much WiFi allocation each device gets based on its usage and the speed it's capable of.
Richard Sinclair MBE, Executive Director of Connectivity at Virgin Media, comments:
"Intelligent WiFi will allow our customers to make the most of their broadband while also helping to easily overcome any connectivity conundrums around the home. With families using more devices than ever before, it’s vital they can all be online whenever needed.
Whether it’s streaming UHD movies on Netflix, playing the latest games online or video conferencing, Intelligent WiFi has your back."
The new system will be offered as standard to all Virgin Media customers, which means unlike TalkTalk's offer, you won't have to cough up any extra to enjoy better WiFi. There's more info here if you need it.