Virgin Media has started to convert customers’ home routers into public WiFi hotspots in a bid to expand its public WiFi network.

The move follows a similar approach used by BT with its ‘BT WiFi with Fon’ network that allows anyone with a BT account to get online away from home.

According to ArsTechnica.co.uk, “more than 100,000 Virgin Media customers have been automatically opted into the move by default. However, the internet service provider insists that download speeds are unaffected and that customers can opt out at any time.”

The company also promised that the bill payer and any users piggybacking on their connection won’t be able to access each other’s data. That’s because the home network is being kept completely separate from the WiFi traffic.

Experts presume that any customers on a 200Mbps package will effectively be connecting at 220Mbps, with the extra 20Mbps set aside for public WiFi users.

In terms of security, it is likely that Virgin’s Super Hub creates a separate VLAN for the public network. Similar to how BT’s equivalent works. This means that, in theory, there should be no cross-talk between the two networks, keeping all data on the network private.

A statement from Virgin Media clarified the situation. It reads: “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.”

Any Virgin Media customers can exclude themselves from the service by logging into their ‘My Virgin Media’ account and unsubscribing in ‘My Profile’.

Author: Jonathan Lawton

With almost a decade’s experience of successfully, supporting, designing and delivering innovative web development projects worldwide I now focus on providing leadership to help customers shape business and technology strategy.

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