Marina Andrejchenko - stock.adobe.com

Virgin Media teams with Plume to support smart home service to all UK households

UK cable operator teams up with smart home services provider to bring the nation smarter Wi-Fi with advanced device security, in-home motion detection and sophisticated controls

As enterprises’ pivot to almost exclusive home working becomes the need to support hybrid working, the home network will remain as crucial to businesses as it has been over the past 18 months. To support these networks, UK cable broadband provider Virgin Media has teamed up with smart home services provider Plume to bring smarter Wi-Fi.

The need for smarter home Wi-Fi technology was revealed by research from Plume in July 2021, which noted that while the pandemic had accelerated and influenced some trends in the types of device and patterns of use in the smart home, many of these trends were in place before the pandemic and are expected to continue beyond the pandemic as consumers embrace the value of smart homes.

As well as the expected increase in smartphone, laptop and tablet ownership and usage, Plume found that deployment of internet of things (IoT) devices was rising significantly.

The new HomePass is designed to bring together smart home services with Wi-Fi boosting pods to allow users to transform wireless connectivity around their homes even if they’re not a Virgin Media customer. It is the first time Virgin Media has made Wi-Fi boosting technology available in non-Virgin Media areas.

HomePass works with any internet service provider (ISP) and uses cloud-controlled adaptive Wi-Fi pods to create a self-optimising Wi-Fi network throughout the home. This is said to ensure the best in-home coverage for all connected devices and applications, all of the time, regardless of where in the home they are being used and what they are doing. Pods can be placed throughout the home and will automatically optimise performance and speed in each room for each device.

The two companies said no engineer visits are required and setup takes minutes. HomePass also provides a number of smart home features, including motion awareness, and provides real-time alerts if unexpected movement is detected around the home. The system does not rely on “intrusive” cameras, but instead works by monitoring disturbances in the Wi-Fi signal.

HomePass is also designed to help keep users and connected devices safe from unwanted ads, hacks or threats, including what Plume and Virgin say are the seven most frequent types of cyber attacks. It will alert users when connected devices such as smart speakers, baby monitors or doorbells exhibit unusual behaviour, such as trying to connect to new unknown connections, and put at-risk devices in quarantine to keep customers’ home networks and sensitive information safe.

From the central HomePass app, users can manage all devices connected to their network, change settings and permissions, and create custom Wi-Fi passwords for guests. Users can also set up individual profiles and personalise the experience for everyone in the house, giving admin holders the option to freeze devices.

“By teaming up with Plume, we’re able to offer a smarter, faster and safer Wi-Fi experience to everyone – even people living in areas where our services aren't yet available,” said Sigrid van den Houte, director of products and propositions, fixed and FMC at Virgin Media. “With HomePass’s plug and play pods and host of smarthome features, we’re excited to be transforming Wi-Fi in homes around the country.”

Plume’s chief direct business officer, Christian Constant, said: “Plume is thrilled to partner with Virgin Media to bring the UK smarter, safer and more reliable home connectivity with HomePass. Now, everyone in the UK can benefit from whole-home Wi-Fi, intelligent device security, personalised parental controls, guest access and motion sensing, even if they are not Virgin Media broadband subscribers.”

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