Since writing the below guide, Virgin has now launched a new 360Mb/s service and that now offers an alternative solution to fixing wireless problems with Virgins 240Mb/s service. If you sign up to the new 360Mb/s service, Virgin will supply you with a new router that supports 802.11ac wireless and seems to have far better wireless performance, performance far closer to the C8 I recommend below and thus should fix most peoples wireless performance issues (assuming their wireless client devices can also handle it).
The advantage is that it is a less complicated solution and you benefit from higher speeds. The disadvantage is that you need to pay more for this service.
So I'm going to leave the below guide here for the many people who decide to stay on the 240Mb/s service.
For those who do decide to upgrade to the new 360 service and already have their own third party router (e.g. C8, etc.) the good news is that the new Virgin router has semi official support for bridging right in the admin interface. So you can continue to bridge and use your new router.
Now with the new Virgin router supporting 802.11ac there is less of a performance gap with third party routers, so it isn't needed by everyone, like they were for the 240Mb/s. However third party routers will often support a lot more advanced networking features then the Virgin model and also may have faster processors and memory and thus can better handle a large umber of networking devices connected to them. So still a good option for power users IMO and now much easier to setup
Guide - Getting the most out of your high speed Virgin/UPC 240mb/s service
Many people are currently upgrading to Virgin/UPC's very high speed 240Mb/s or 120Mb/s service, but finding that they don't seem to be getting the full speed.
This guide explains why this might be so and the changes you can make that will help you get closer to the full speed of the service.
Note: While this guide specifically pertains to Virgin's service, which are currently the only widespread residential service offering more then 100Mb/s, a lot of the information contained here is pretty generic and can be applied to any 100Mb/s+ service that might appear over the next few years such as ESB or Eircom FTTH
Table Of Contents
- Why aren't I getting full speed (120Mb/s, 240Mb/s) ?
- So, how do I properly test my broadband connection?
- Ok, I'm only getting about 30Mb/s, why?
- Ok, I'm only getting about 70 to 100Mb/s, why?
- Woohoo, I'm getting close to 240Mb/s wired, but much slower when I do the speed test over wifi, why?
- 2.4GHz versus 5GHz Wifi?
- OK, I'd like to buy a better wifi router, what should I get?
- Can you recommend one?
- Ok, so my new router has arrived, how do I set it up with UPC?
- Optional Extra steps
- What about this bridging I hear about?
- I'm still not getting the full speed from wifi?
Why aren't I getting full speed (120Mb/s, 240Mb/s) ?
In the past, the internet speeds we got from our ISP's were relatively slow and the existing wifi, networking gear and PC's we owned were often far faster then the speed our ISP delivered, so there wasn't an issue.
But now Virgin has launched super fast 240Mb/s broadband. This is really an incredibly fast speeds. However unfortunately now people are running into issues where their PC's, networking gear and wifi simply aren't fast enough to keep up with such fast service.
Wifi is a particularly bad culprit, it is often the case that the Virgin modem is in fact delivering the full speed to your home, but your wifi connection is the bottleneck that is stopping you from getting that full speed on your PC.
This guide will teach you how to first off all properly test the speed you are receiving and then fix the issues you find.
So, how do I properly test my broadband connection?
1) Connect your PC directly to your Virgin router via cat5e or cat6 ethernet cable.
2) Turn wifi off on your PC
3) Test your speed on http://speedtest.upc.ie
- You shouldn't use wifi to do a proper, initial speed test. If you do use wifi to do the test, then you are only testing the wifi's performance and not the performance of the UPC service.
- Make sure there aren't any other devices (hubs, switches) connected between your PC and the UPC router
- You can use other speedtest sites like speediest.net, but note that they often aren't capable of fully delivering the top speed to very high speed broadband services like these, so you may not be getting an accurate reading.
Ok, I'm only getting about 30Mb/s, why?
Note: If you haven't already signed up to the new 120 or 240 packages and are currently on 30Mb/s, then it should be noted that you need to agree to a new 12 month contract to upgrade and you may need to pay €60 to get a new modem which supports speeds greater then 30Mb/s. The following advice assumes you have already signed up for one of the high speed packages.
First of all turn off your Virgin modem for one minute and start it and do the speed test again. If you are still only getting about 30Mb/s then follow the next steps.
This happens because of two reasons, both of which mean you should call UPC support and they will be able to quickly fix it for you:
1) You have an old UPC modem that only supports DOCSIS 2.0 and thus speeds of a max of 30Mb/s. Call UPC and they will send you a new UPC modem that supports DOCSIS 3.0 and thus speeds up to 240Mb/s
2) You have a DOCSIS 3.0 modem, but you are still on an old 30Mb/s profile. Call UPC and they will change you to the new 240Mb/s profile. It may take a day or two for the change to take effect and you might need to restart your modem for the change to take effect.
Ok, I'm only getting about 70 to 100Mb/s, why?
This usually indicates that one of the pieces of equipment you are using isn't capable of gigabit ethernet (10/100/1000) and is limited to only 100Mb/s ethernet (10/100).
- Check that you are using a Cat5e or Cat6 cable, Cat5 cables (notice no 'e') are limited to max 100Mb/s.
- Check the ethernet port on your PC, it may only support 10/100 which means your PC can't operate at higher speeds.
If this happen, you might be able to sort it by getting a new PCI or PCI Express card for a desktop PC or a ethernet to USB adaptor for your laptop or alternatively getting a new PC or laptop that supports 10/100/1000 (almost all modern PC's do).
Nope, I'm still getting speeds significantly less then 240Mb/s and neither of the above apply to me, what now?
While very rare, this might indicate a fault on the UPC cable coming into your home. Contact UPC support, they will be able to check your power levels and if there is an indication of a fault they will normally send out an engineer to fix it.
Woohoo, I'm getting close to 240Mb/s wired, but much slower when I do the speed test over wifi, why?
Yup, unfortunately Wifi is extremely variable and a lot less dependable then ethernet. You need to use ethernet to get the full speed.
The problem with wifi is that it uses unlicensed radio frequency that cause a great deal of interference and thus reduce reliability.
This interference can come from many, many places. Your neighbours wifi, bluetooth devices, DECT phones, baby monitors, Microwave ovens, etc. And not just these devices in your own home, but these devices in your neighbours home too! No wonder wifi is so limited.
But don't loose hope. There are ways that you can boost the performance of your wifi.
2.4GHz versus 5GHz Wifi?
First thing you need to understand is that wifi can use two different frequencies, either 2.4GHz or 5GHz and there are pros and cons to them.
The advantage of 2.4GHz is that due to it's lower frequency it can travel much further then 5GHz and it is better at travelling through walls and floors.
The disadvantage is that it is far noise frequency then 5GHz and thus suffers from far more interference. Also it supports smaller bandwidth channels then 5GHz which means slower speeds!
So the general advice for most people living in a normal sized house or apartment is to use 5GHz.
Now the Virgin routers normally ship with 2.4GHz enabled and you can switch them to 5GHz which will normally see your speeds jump from an average of about 40 to 50MB/s to 70 to 80Mb/s
But one problem, the UPC routers can only do either 2.4GHz or 5GHz at the same time, not both simultaneously. If you switch to 5GHz, then you might find that some of your wifi devices will stop working.
This is because older (and even some new devices like the PS4) only support 2.4GHz, thus a catch 22.
But not all is lost. Most high end wifi routers that you can buy online support both the 2.4GHz and 5GHZ simultaneously, thus eliminating this problem.
Also a high end wifi router will also support much higher speeds then the Virgin router, close to 200Mb/s over wifi might be possible. Over double what the Virgin routers can support.
The good news is, that if you do buy a new high end wifi router, you can plug it into the Virgin modem and use the wifi on your new router rather then the Virgin box to get the most out of your Virgin service.
Of course that means buying a new wifi router. I think it is a good idea to do this to get the most out of your Virgin service, but that it up to you.
OK, I'd like to buy a better wifi router, what should I get?
NB: Before you do buy a new router, please read the caveats at the end of this guide. You will only get better performance if the wireless radios in your laptop or PC also support higher speeds.
At a minimum I'd recommend a 802.11n model that supports dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) and dual radios. At least a N750 or N900 model or even better an AC1750 model.
Many many of these exist on amazon.co.uk, PC World, etc.
However make sure you get a model that is a router only, with a WAN port. You shouldn't confuse it with a model that is both a router + a ADSL/VDSL modem. Virgin use a totally different technology, DOCSIS 3.0 and an ADSL/VDSL modem won't work with Virgin.
Can you recommend one?
Yes, I highly recommend the TP Link Archer
NOTE: I was previously recommending the Archer C7v2 which is still an excellent router and highly recommended. But people are reporting that Amazon and some brick and mortars stores are still selling the buggy C7v1 models! So to avoid this, I've now changed my recommendation to the new and slightly more expensive C8 model, so people can avoid this issue. If you like you can still buy the C7 and send it back if you get the C7v1 model.
This is a 802.11ac router that supports dual band, dual radios and is backwards compatible with all current wifi standards (802.11a/b/g/n)
This is one of the top rated and reviewed routers, while being significantly cheaper then other big name brands, so fantastic value for money.
Lots of people here on this boards.ie forum, including myself use this router with Virgin and all have great experience with it.
One thing to be careful of, there are two versions of this router, C7v1 and C7v2. You will want the C7v2 as the v1 has some bugs in it that cause disconnections with Apple gear (iPhone, macs, etc.). If you order from Amazon you can't tell which one you will get, but it is more then likely a v2 model. However you should check when it arrives and if it turns out to be a v1 model then I recommend returning it to amazon. Amazon are normally very good about doing free returns, so it shouldn't be a problem.
You can avoid this issue completely by getting TP Links newer models the Archer C8 or C9, which are just as good as the C7, however you will pay a €25 to €50 premium for these newer models over the C7 and I'm not sure it is worth that.
Ok, so my new router has arrived, how do I set it up with UPC?
Note: These instructions are the steps I used to set up my Archer C7, however they should more or less apply to all similar routers.
1) Power on your new router, but don't connect it to the UPC modem yet.
2) Directly connect by ethernet from your PC to the new router.
3) Connect to the new routers admin interface, usually either 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1, username: admin password: admin
If your router is different then the details will normally be either on the underside of your router or in the manual that came with it.
4) If the IP address of your new router is 192.168.0.1 continue to the next step, otherwise jump to step 8
5) In your new routers web admin interface, change the IP address of your routers LAN port to 192.168.1.1 (Under Network -> LAN on the Archer C7)
6) Under DHCP, change your router to issue IP addresses in the range 192.168.1.x
for instance on the Archer C7, under DHCP Settings:
Start IP Address: 192.168.1.100
End IP Address: 192.168.1.199
7) Save your changes and reboot the new router
8) Connect an ethernet cable from any LAN port on your UPC modem to the WAN port on your new router.
9) You should now have access to the internet via your new router.
10) Connect to you UPC routers web interface:
192.168.0.1 Username: admin Password: admin
11) Disable wifi on your UPC router, this reduces interference caused by the extra unnecessary wifi point. You should use the wifi on your new router instead.
Note: Your new router will be broadcasting two wifi networks, one on 2.4GHz and the other on 5GHz. You should connect all your devices that support 5GHz to the 5GHz network for better performance.
Optional Extra steps
If you are going to be running servers or playing games, it maybe a good idea to also implement the following optional steps:
12) Connect to your new routers web admin interface
13) Set the "WAN Connection Type" to Static IP (found under Network -> WAN on the Archer C7).
14) Then enter the following:
IP Address: 192.168.0.2
Subnet Mask: 255.255.255.0
Default Gateway: 192.168.0.1
15) Click Save (you may need to reboot the server
16) Connect to the UPC modems web admin interface
17) Add the address 192.168.0.2 to the DMZ
18) Save the changes and reboot
What about this bridging I hear about?
Bridging is a special mode that turns off all the routing features on your Virgin router and runs it into a simple and dumb modem. Thus allowing your router take over all routing functions.
This is good as it avoids issues with something called double natting, which can cause problems for people running servers or playing games.
Unfortunately only one Virgin router, the Cisco EPC3925, supports this in it's web interface.
The Thomson and Technicolor don't support this by default, but there is a way to "hack" them to do it via SNMP commands.
However this is highly technical and doesn't always work. So i recommend it only to people with good technical experience and comfortable with playing with technology. However if you do decide to try it, you can find the details here:
I'm still not getting the full speed from wifi?
- Remember you'll only get the best from wifi when in the same room as the wifi router. Move a few rooms away and the speed drops. However even then it will still be much higher then with the wifi in the Virgin router.
- Also remember you PC and other devices might not support the full capabilities of your new wifi router and therefore you might not get the full speed.
- Generally you should expect to get 1/3 to 1/2 of what the specification says. So if the radio in your laptop says it supports 300Mb/s, then expect between 100Mb/s and 150Mb/s, probably closer to 100Mb/s