UK ISP Virgin Media is expanding its public Wi-Fi network by co-opting customers’ home routers as hot spots. Only the most recent router design (the SuperHub v3) will be recruited at first, and customers can opt-out from the program if they wish. Virgin says the change will have “no impact on customers” because affected homes will be allocated extra bandwidth.
The data available to the public is also kept separate to that running through the home connection, and the company states in an FAQ: “A Virgin Media WiFi user can’t see anything on the home broadband network they’re connected to. Likewise, someone using the home broadband network will not be able to see if anyone is connected to the separate connection in their Hub, or what they’re doing.”
The project is identical to what BT has done with its public Wi-Fi service, which also co-opted home routers. In both cases, the public hot spots are available at no extra charge to paying subscribers. Virgin Media’s hot spots aren’t available to non-subscribers at all, while BT’s can be accessed by customers from other ISPs for a small fee. If you’re a Virgin Media subscriber, you’ll be able to access the public hot spots (where available) by downloading the company’s app for iOS and Android.