After several months of trials UK ISP BT will tomorrow morning announce the launch of their new Smart Hub 2 (SH2) wireless ultrafast broadband router, which is complemented by a "coverage guarantee"To deliver strong WiFi signals across your home via the new"Complete Wi-Fi"Solution.
The original Smart Hub launched in 2016 (here) and at the time it was quite an impressive piece of kit for a bundled device, featuring top theoretical wireless speeds of up to 1917Mbps (2.4GHz and 5GHz combined) via 7 antennas, Gigabit Ethernet (LAN ports) and various other features. Since then there's also been a slightly different variant for FTTP subscribers and the Smart Hub X for G.fast users (here).
Similarly new Smart Hub 2 router has been designed with the latest generation of "ultrafast broadband"(FTTP and G.fast) services in mind, although it's WiFi speed at 5GHz is still 1733Mbps and then akin to the SH1 (we do not know the 2.4GHz speed yet). As you'd expect the new router also features Gigabit LAN ports and integrations an ADSL2 +, VDSL2 and G.fast modem (like before there's a different variant for FTTP that swaps one LAN for a WAN port).
On top of that BT has also chosen to ship it with an FXS port (phone), which will be useful for VoIP calling. The latter is particularly important in light of the imminent arrival of the wholesale SOGEA (standalone broadband) service, which is due to launch via Openreach next year. "The Smart Hub 2 and Wi-Fi Discs are future proofed to deliver Ultrafast speeds, Complete Wi-Fi and Digital Voice, "Said BT.
The new router is also being launched alongside a BT Complete Wi-Fi service that will be attached to their premium "BT Plus"Packages (costs an extra £ 5 per month), which aims to "guarantee"You a strong WiFi signal"in every room"Of your home by bundling the SH2 with a WiFi boosting Disc (like the repeaters you get with the BT Whole Home Wi-Fi kit).
The disc itself remains the property of BT but the hub becomes yours to keep as soon as you get it. However if one disc is not enough to achieve the stated income then BT will throw in another one at no extra cost (up to a maximum of 3 discs) and if that does not deliver coverage to every single room then a bill credit of £ 20 will be offered.
As a result of all this BT claims that a "four-bedroom home could see an increase in Wi-Fi speeds of up to 25% around the home with just one disc. "
Marc Allera, CEO of BT's Consumer Business, said:
"Strong, reliable Wi-Fi has never been so important in the home, with families using even more connected devices and wanting to make the most of every room in the home. We're the first broadband provider in the world to launch a Complete Wi-Fi guarantee so customers can get online from every corner of their homes.
Whether it's converting the attic into an gaming room for the kids or making a space room into a home gym where you can stream music or work out videos, our unique Complete Wi-Fi opens up a world of possibilities for our customers. "
BT Feature Highlights for the Smart Hub 2 and Wi-Fi Disc
• Intelligent design
o Smart Hub 2 includes 7 antenna specifically positioned to maximize wi-fi performance
o Wi-Fi Disc features 4 antenna, capable to run at 2.4GHz and 5GHz concurrently to deliver fast speeds whatever the device
• Best wi-fi tech – the latest wi-fi technology ensures more devices can get a superfast connection at the same time
• Smart channel selection – all your devices auto connect to the fastest wi-fi channel and frequency available on hub or disc
• Smart scan – continuously scans to see how well your hub and network connection is performing and reboots itself if there's a problem.
• The wi-fi app manager: Customers can manage their wi-fi network in the "Your wi-fi network" section of the My BT app to make sure they're getting the strongest signal around their home. It'll even work out where they should put their Wi-Fi Disc, and check the strength of their wi-fi signal in every room.
The new kit could in part be seen as a response to TalkTalk's new Wi-Fi Hub (here) and Vodafone's monster Gigafast Router for FTTP (here). Separately Sky Broadband is due to launch a new router soon and Virgin Media's Hub 4.0 (likely to be based off Liberty Global's DOCSIS 3.1 capable Gigabit Connect Box device) will no doubt follow in the not too distant future, although we do not yet know for sure how they will compare.
Meanwhile anyone expecting to see bleeding edge support for the very latest 802.11ax WiFi standard (10Gbps capable) and WPA3 wireless encryption (here) will probably have to wait another year or two for the next major round of router refreshes. At present both standards are still in their infancy and most supporting (non-draft) kit will not surface until later in 2019.
Complete Wi-Fi Discs & Smart Hub 2 Product Specifications
|Smart Hub 2||Wi-Fi Disc|
|Modem Type||ADSL, ADSL2, VDSL2, G.FAST||N / A|
|Access Methods supported||ADSL, VDSL (FTTC), Ethernet WAN (FTTP), G.FAST||Compatible with Smart Hub 2|
|Stated speed||Gigabit Ethernet LAN||Gigabit Ethernet LAN|
|VoIP / DECT / Voice||Yes||N / A|
|Complete Wi-Fi Enabled||Yes||Yes|
|Size||254mm width x 157mm height x 30mm depth||165mm diameter x 36mm depth|
|Antennas||7 Wi-Fi||4 Wi-Fi (simultaneous dual band)|
|2 DECT antennas|
|Internal / external antennas||Internal||Internal|
|Number of WAN ports||FTTP Hub only (3 x GigE LAN, 1WAN FTTP)||n / a|
|Gigabit Ethernet ports||4 x Gigabit Ethernet LAN||1 x Gigabit Ethernet LAN|
|Ethernet connection speed||10/100 / 1000Mbit / s||10/100 / 1000Mbit / s|
|Other ports||USB 2.0, DSL, FXS (Phone)||n / a|
|Dual-Band Wireless (2.4GHz & 5GHz)||Yes||Yes|
|2.4GHz 3 x 3 MIMO 11n||2.4GHz 4 x 4 MIMO 11n|
|5GHz 4 × 4 MIMO 11AC||5GHz 4 × 4 MIMO 11AC|
|Smart wireless modes||Yes||Yes|
|BT Wi-Fi (Openzone)||Yes||No|
|DECT CATiq 2.1||Yes||No|