BT has revealed its new Home Hub 3. The emphasis behind the Home Hub 3 is improving your Wi-Fi experience, BT tells us, and avoiding dropped connections. The problem, it seems, comes not from the proliferation of Wi-Fi devices, but the huge number of wireless devices that also use the 2.4GHz spectrum, like wireless security cameras or baby monitors.
If you’re a BT broadband customer you’ll know that they split out the modem part from their networking hub. What we have here is the new Home Hub part which is pretty much half the size of Home Hub 2, but finished in the same black plastics.
The arch nemesis that BT detailed and demoed to us today is the TV sender. Cheap and easily configured, TV senders are often used to get TV services into the bedroom. Unfortunately, they are rather brutal in their approach which often knocks Wi-Fi networks out, leaving you (the customer) with no connection, and BT (the ISP) with lots of complaints.
Where the BT Home Hub 3 steps in is in the way to configures its connection. The Home Hub 3 will scan the spectrum and pick a channel which offers the best performance using a feature called “Smart Wireless”. This isn’t then static, it will adapt and switch to a new channel if it finds its channel deteriorating.
BT said that it expects the process to take about 90 seconds, but in reality, the Home Hub 3 will find the best channel and should sit on that channel happily with no problems. If a new source of interference arrives - like you buy some other device - the Home Hub will automatically detect this interference and find the best slot for itself again.
Essentially it is hands-off operation and requires no intervention from the customer and no reconfiguration of anything connected to the Wi-Fi network.
BT is the only ISP to provide Smart Wireless at present. Of course, as supplier of both the internet connection and the hardware, it has a vested interest in keeping its customers happy and this is one such approach.
The new BT Home Hub 3 measures 106.8 x 185 x 62.2mm and certainly looks better than the overly large Home Hub 2. It is compatible with both ADSL and Infinity modems and features four Ethernet connections around the back, one of which is Gigabit, so should keep those with a media server happy.
The Home Hub 3 also features WPS so you can connect your compatible devices securely over Wi-Fi with the press of a button. The thing we especially like is that the Home Hub details are now included on a plug-in key that slots into the top of the device, so you always know where they are. When you want to add a new device, you can simply unplug it, wander over and key in the details, then return it to its slot - no scrabbling around the back for the password.
The new Home Hub has also been made more eco friendly than before, with reduced power consumption and smart features like turning off the power to ports you aren’t using.
The new BT Home Hub 3 will be rolling out to new customers from 28 February 2011. Existing BT Broadband customers will be able to upgrade to the new Hub for £46.
We're off to plug it in and see if we can interfere with it.