back to article Virgin Media's blighted SuperHub NOW comes with extra squeal (oink)

If Virgin Media's SuperHub could speak it might well be saying: "Please put me out of my misery, Mr Boss Man". And now the modem/router combi networking box has indeed started to whine, whistle and squeal – perhaps about its inadequacy – to the telco's long-suffering customers. The company has admitted to The Register that there …

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Mine does this, and has done since day one

If the telly and radio are off, I can easily here a high-pitched whine from the SuperFlub. Sounds exactly like a transformer on the way out. I'd really prefer to connect my own router rather than have to rely on this sack of crap.

Will VM ever relent and approve some other routes for connection? Why can't I just connect a standard cable-type router/modem - is there some deep technical reason?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mine does this, and has done since day one

Stick it in modem mode, connect your own router, job done!

I did this as soon as I got the damn thing (before it had modem mode there was a set of steps on the forum on how to make it behave as a modem) and I can't say I've noticed any problems.

Many wall wart PSUs are crap, in Germany they tested a lot of them and quite a significant number failed safety tests or weren't able to deliver the current they claimed. It's a problem you can have with any DC powered device. Perhaps if EU CE testing rules weren't so strict then more devices would use internal power supplies of a decent quality.

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Re: Mine does this, and has done since day one

It's still going to make noise in modem mode

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Meh

Re: Mine does this, and has done since day one

Agreed, we can use modem mode but that still means we have paid for this lump of electronic crap. VM may say is comes free when you upgrade beyond a 20Mb/s service (the limit of the old Motorola cable modems) but we still had to pay for it to be "activated" even if we installed & configured it ourselves and there will be something factored into our bills to cover the cost as well.

With the TV service VM give us the option to having a simple digital STB or paying extra for a Tivo so for our broadband give us the option of a small-footprint low-power modem that will run at 100Mb/s+ or paying extra for an all-in-one modem-router-switch-ap.

Assuming the rumours are correct that VM execs are mulling this over does anyone know the best place to comment to have a small chance of influencing this decision?

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FAIL

Re: Mine does this, and has done since day one

does sticking it in modem mode mean that you don’t need a noisy power supply anymore?

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@AC Re: Mine does this, and has done since day one

FFS, I wish people would shut the hell up about "Modem mode" as if it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. It's still going to be running, it's still going to be making a noise, it's still going to be drawing power and it's still going to shit it's little pants because it it UTTER CRAP!

I do not want to use their garbage, I want to connect my own modem/router. Is there some technical reason (and I do mean "technical", not "business") that VM do not allow this?

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Re: Mine does this, and has done since day one

Mine does it, sounds like a capacitator is going to explode in the PSU. I put up with it as my superhub is in a cupboard under the stairs, but I do wonder what would happen if it did decide to explode... it's about a foot away from my fuseboard and 3 feet from my gas meter!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mine does this, and has done since day one

"VM may say is comes free when you upgrade beyond a 20Mb/s service (the limit of the old Motorola cable modems) but we still had to pay for it to be "activated" even if we installed & configured it ourselves"

Not anymore ... when I checked to see if the speed doubling had reached our area at the time they predicted (it had) I found a message on my VM account page offering me a free SuperHub to access the new speeds (I'd been a holdout on 20Mb XL due to the issues I'd read about SuperHub). No upfront cost at all - and no activation fee.

N.b. first thing I did was to put it into modem mode and connected it to my existing router!

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Meh

Re: Wall what??

You have warts on your wall?? WTF? Actually, I love these 'merkinisms. After all, it's so confusing and lengthy to say PSU.

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Meh

@The BigYin

"it's still going to shit it's little pants because it it UTTER CRAP!"

Maybe you think this because you haven't actually used modem mode. Modem mode uses less power and hence is less likely to stress the PSU (I certainly haven't noticed any noise), it does work a LOT better and in my experience never requires any form of intervention (caveat: I haven't actually had mine running till the end of time but I've not had to reboot it or do anything to it since I got it and immediately put it in modem mode).

Yes, it is still just a workaround for the POC that is the SuperHub but it is a viable workaround.

"I do not want to use their garbage, I want to connect my own modem/router"

BT fought and lost the same battle about letting people plug any old rubbish into their network. Until Ofcom force VM to allow it VM won't, primarily because they'll have to harden all their nodes against potentially dodgy hardware that doesn't conform 100% to the spec as VM run it.

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Re: @The BigYin

"Until Ofcom force VM to allow it VM won't, primarily because they'll have to harden all their nodes against potentially dodgy hardware that doesn't conform 100% to the spec as VM run it."

Like the Superhub.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mine does this, and has done since day one

You're probably a bit late now if a final decision is actually going to be made at this meeting

However, the best way to ensure it is noted as another dissatisfied customer is to submit a formal complaint and a notification to Ofcom.

You can send the complaint to:

Complaints

Virgin Media,

PO Box 333,

Matrix Court,

SWANSEA,

SA7 9ZJ

or by using the form at contact.virginmedia.com making sure you click the "Complaints Code of Practice" option and type "Formal Complaint" as the first line of your message.

Let Ofcom know at https://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/tell-us/formal-phone-company but make sure you tick the box allowing yout "details [to be] disclosed to the phone company or Internet Service Provider"; you don't care about Ofcom knowing, but you want the fact that you've told Ofcom to make it back to Virgin.

That'll make it into the official statistics given to the management team.

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Their engineers hate the NotSoSuperHub

I had some issues with my cable service recently. Both engineers who came out to sort it (both excellent), we quite surprised that not only was my super hub not the cause of my problems. but that I didn't have any issues at all with it.

Both said that the SH accounted for at least 50% of their callouts, normally due to its woeful WiFi performance in many older houses (which we have a lot of here in Bath). I seemed to be unusual in having a good signal.

They need to ditch and replace them all ASAP, it must be costing them a fortune in callouts and helpdesk time, and it ruining what is (at least for me) an otherwise excellent service.

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Law
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Re: Their engineers hate the NotSoSuperHub

Ours has poor wifi performance... it's an old house (110 yrs old).

Other than that, it's been not a bad experience with the superhub. There was a spate of updates resetting my wifi settings in the beginning, but since then not much. :)

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Unhappy

"...customers may be able to hear a subtle noise whilst in use"

Love the use of the word "subtle", rather than "infuriating" or "suicide-inducing".

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I think just about all power supplies do this, but at different frequencies and different volume levels.

Both my last two laptops have audible power supplies - when they are used you can actually hear a fizzing / buzzing from them. If you increase power usage (e.g. run a game), it raises in volume. But literally, I have to have my ear next to them to hear it, it's so low-level.

And almost all electrical appliances do the same, even without considering things like fridges with moving parts. TV's buzz, hum, chirp, whistle, click, and thrum. So do DVD players even without a disc. So do games consoles. So do mobile phone chargers. It's just a matter of whether you can hear it from your usual usage position or not.

Personally, this is one of the reasons I lock electronics away out of sight. Because I *can* hear those sounds if I listen for them. They are actually my principle point of diagnosis. I can remember phoning up an engineer years ago for a Sparq drive (a sort of Zip drive, but 1Gb and much faster) - we spoke for ten minutes discussing which sounds were different so he could narrow the problem down. You feel a pillock but it's a large part of knowing how a machine works.

And power supplies, I *know*, make buzzing sounds. Some cheap ones even reflect individual disk actions in their sounds (so when your disk is busy, you can have a changed pitch which sounds like a hard disk clicking coming FROM the power supply as it's current changes). You'll know if you use a lot of machines that a lot of cheap laptops actually pick up even mouse-motions from the display on their sound card (I have a model in the room next to me connected to a projector and speaker system that DRIVES ME MAD because as you move the mouse around the screen, you hear a FFffrrrrppp sound on the speakers).

Power supplies buzz. Maybe the buzzing has changed with the firmware update, but they have always buzzed. I'm just amazed that anyone in this day and age has a house quiet enough to hear it without their ear next to it. I have what is possibly THE quietest house I've ever lived in, with double-glazing and zero internal noise, and I do hear my laptop power supply but ONLY when it's by my ear (the plug socket is behind the sofa and the power supply rests on the top of the back of the soda).

I don't doubt it buzzes. I just doubt that it's actually a problem for anyone at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Careful, you'll be claiming to be able to sense WIFI next and have that banned.

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Flame

Let me paraphrase your lengthy post; "I've heard a quiet buzzing noise from power supplies, and therefore it's completely and utterly inconceivable that any power supplies anywhere could possibly buzz significantly louder that the ones I have personally experienced. The fact that people are finding the noise from their SuperHub supplies a big enough problem to complain to VM can't possibly mean that some power supplies might make a lot more noise than I have personally experienced, so therefore those people must be complaining about nothing."

I'm not going to tell you what I think of that, because I don't want to be rude, but I think it speaks for itself anyway.

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Coat

That's nothing, he can hear pudding!!!

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Boffin

Hum

All but a truly perfect transformer will hum/buzz/squeak/make noise to some extent, it's fundamental electromagnetic physics of how they work:

http://www.aip.org/pnu/2004/split/690-1.html

The linked article relates to large transformers (power substation-types) but the little ones in the power supplies will have the same basic effect, just scaled down (in size and volume).

But of course there will also be some element of build quality coming into play. Depending how well the thing is put together and anchored, plus also how much other magnetically susceptible material is close by that could get attracted/repelled by the changing magnetic field then all sorts of noises could probably occur. If the frequency causes bits in the supply to vibrate, then it'll sing merrily to itself and anyone who is nearby.

And if the current draw changes, then so will the current flow in the transformer, hence it's electric and magnetic fields thus also the noise it makes.

So VM could be using a cheap or dodgy batch of transformers which may not be adequately mounted or secured. What are the chances of that? :)

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TRT
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Re: Hums

Maybe it feels good about working for Virgin?

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It depends on how good your hearing ability is because these power supplies make my ears really sore and painful, even if it seems low in volume level. I always try to spend more on better quality and higher rated supplies to avoid this problem. However the worst offenders for severe ear pain in seconds are mechanical IDE, SATA or SCSI hard drives, followed by CRT TVs and monitors which operate on the same frequency as those teen dispersal mosquito alarms!

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Holmes

there also exists the possibility that your hearing is shit and perhaps other peoples hearing isnt as shit.

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Totally agree with everything you have highlighted as I have exceptional hearing ability too, maybe because I have been more aware of the need to protect my hearing from loss with ear plugs etc. The sounds you mention from those devices often cause serious pain and soreness of your ears, and within seconds from some devices like hard drives. So I have bought plenty of hard drive silencing enclosures and everything else goes in cupboards, or as far away to the back of shelves that I can manage without causing them to overhear and die.

I know what you mean about interference being picked up and fed through your soundcard; as a long time musician and private home studio owner it drives me crazy hearing those sounds. I guess much of today's hardware is not properly grounded and shielded from interference, and computer manufacturers probably do not give a toss about such matters; I also suspect that the majority of the public have smashed their hearing to pieces with nightclub noise; home TV systems at full blast; personal media players pumping high volume dance music direct into their earphones and a whole lot more.

Oh and WiFi devices like my internet radio pickup interference from my PC hardware, which is more of a buzzing scrambled sound rather than a high pitched whine. Not sure what I can do about this if anything, apart from moving the radio well away from my PC gear.

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No not at all because I can point out certain sounds and the people around me shrug their shoulders and say they cannot hear it. I can still hear those frequencies above 15K to around 17K I think (need to do another test as last time was a couple of year ago). I also put this down to having better trained ears, due to years of listening very deeply into multitracked mixes of songs. You have to be able to do this to identify sounds or problems, that occur when certain frequencies and sounds overlap. This is both a blessing and a curse because being able to hear everything, means you hear both the very good and the very awful! Most people do not listen that intently or deeply to music to hear everything going on in the mix, plus it depends on the quality and setup of both their audio system and their listening environment.

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Re: Hum

It's interesting. Large transformers for dropping AC voltage do hum to a greater or lesser extent, especially if they are rectangular in shape (it's the way that the core is laminated). But this can be significantly reduced by careful design, or almost completely eliminated using toroidal transformers.

But this should be irrelevant in these days of switch-mode power supplies which do not use transformers to step down the voltage. All electrical power supplies should really be switch-mode supplies nowadays, because they are significantly more efficient.

I know it would technically invalidate the guarantee, but if it was bothering me, I would probably buy a better quality stabilised switch-mode supply from any number of suppliers, and use that in place of the one provided.

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Vic
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> And power supplies, I *know*, make buzzing sounds

A modern switch-mode supply should be as close to silent as makes no difference.

There is a little circuitry at the front end running at mains frequencies - but a decent design will keep the noise from that to a minimum.

After that, it's all at *very* high frequency, and you won't hear the fundamental. I've got excellent top-end to my hearing[1], and if I can hear a PSU, I know it's shite.

So any noise you hear will be something vibrating in response to excitation from the fundamental - i.e. at a sub-harmonic. And that usually means something's physically loose, which is one of the principle signs of it being utter shite.

Vic.

[1] Shame about the mid-range. It turns out that I didn't know more about the effects of big speakers than my elders after all...

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Vic
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Re: Hum

> I would probably buy a better quality stabilised switch-mode supply from any number of suppliers

It sounds like you could buy a better-quality PSU from eBay for £3...

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

Typical Americanism

"...these units are correctly powering the SuperHub and not impacting performance".

How about the standard, "not AFFECTING performance"?

I *hate* Americanisms.

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Flame

Re: Typical Americanism

Be glad they said "impacting", if an American had tried to be standard they'd probably have said "effecting" which is far, far worse than (ab)using "impacting".

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Coat

Re: Typical Americanism

Be glad they said "impacting", if an American had tried to be standard they'd probably have said "effecting" which is far, far worse than (ab)using "impacting".

No, I think you'll find that stating that the flaws in these devices are not effecting performance would be surprisingly accurate...

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Re: Typical Americanism

Can't argue with that :)

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This post has been deleted by its author

When they started upgrading our area to 100 Meg I was under the impression that I'd need the superhub to 'get the best out of it' Never got round to asking for one, but seems to work fine with my old moden and Belkin router anyway. Lucky I was so lazy I guess!

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My power supply has a audible hum too.. but as its in the next room i dont get irritated by it.

The superhub's are failure in a shiny box. Which is amazing as every other netgear router I have owned has been faultless.

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That's interesting. Every bit of Netgear kit I've ever bought has been crap. That's only a sample of about 3 or 4, 2 routers and a few WiFi cards/dongles, but enough that I won't buy any more.

Mostly it's been erratic failures, that act like over-heating, but could equally be software bugs or other hard to diagnose stuff. Although my cards/dongles just seemed to stop working after a few months.

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I am using an old adsl router for my wireless, which has not been power cycled in months.

I have never used there dongles or cards.

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ACx

Never had any problem with my superhub. Nothing.

Seriously, Yeah I get weirdo outages, but thats further down the line. I have many problems with VM shitty support, throttling, etc. But never the superhub.

Part of me feels left out....

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Mushroom

Haven't heard anything from my Superhub, and I'm well acquainted with the power supply on my Superhub as I have to unplug the bloody thing every other day to get anything that resembles a usable connection.

Definitely the most frustrating bit of kit I have ever encountered.

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Coat

"in some instances customers may be able to hear a subtle noise whilst in use"

WWWWWWWWWWHHHHHHHHHHRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

IS IT ON? I CAN'T TELL!

IT'S WHISPER QUIET!

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Netgear...

Every piece of Netgear kit I've ever owned (either coming free from a broadband supplier or, to my detriment, being paid for out of my own pocket - SC101 I'm looking at you) has either failed within 6 months or been woefully inadequate to do the task it was bought for.

I am a Virgin broadband user, but thankfully as I'm only on 10mb I've not had to endure the SuperHub, as soon as I'd heard they were Netgear products this kind of news piece was only a matter of time.

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Re: Netgear...

In my experience Netgear make ace network kit. As someone else commented the fact they make this SuperHub and that is not very good is somewhat surprising.

Their "business" kit in metal boxes is superb, but even the consumer stuff I've tried has worked flawlessly.

"been woefully inadequate to do the task it was bought for."

- is that the fault of the product, or the person who bought it? Netgear publish detailed specs on their website and their stuff tends to do what it says it will.

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Re: Netgear...

Well, my experience is the same as the OP above. Although I've never bought professional networking kit. Both the Netgear domestic routers I've had, have needed regular reboots to make them work - and seemed to suffer from erratic problems that required reboots (either heat or bugs). Both the WiFi dongles/cards I've had from them have died in under 18 months. I guess I had all this stuff 5 years ago, obviously I've not touched their stuff since. With such a small data-point bad luck is obviously possible.

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Joke

Re: Netgear...

Maybe the problems are my own fault, I must have missed the line in the instructions for my Netgear Rangemax router that said 'Even when the device is placed in a well ventilated area, please reboot the device at least once every hour as failing to do so will cause the WiFi radio in this model to stop working.'

Or the instructions for my SC101 that must have said 'While we market this product as a Network Attached Storage device, please be aware that any file transfers to this device over a wired or wireless network that are larger than a single mp3 will likely fail'.

:-)

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FAIL

Customers have a bigger worry than this

All the crappy adverts with Inane Dolt in them do nothing for their image. Our PS has always done that, I don't really care - but I'm seriously fucked off with no broadband upgrade even though they're selling 100mbps on my road (and can't deliver it)!.

Their network engineers are laughing behind the scenes as the real debacle is which cost centre will pay for upgrading all the remote cabinets. Turns out the take up rate on their HD cable has been so high that 1st and 2nd generation remote cabinets is more than a year behind.

What you as the punter, ahem mug, ahem customer see is that Broadband AND Video are on the same local switch. This is why we've just received out FIFTH in 10 months delay to 100Mbs letter & email. Virgin has to upgrade to latest generation cabinets so that video can buffer and 100Mbps can be delivered.

Until then, committee by committee and team meeting by team beating is happening on many levels one would suspect. "Flubber Hub Crap Sub-Committee" and "Home Less not-so-Broadband Sub-Committee" meetings with plenty of tea and biscuits but no action will continue.

I'm at the end of my 18 month contract on Virgin, and seriously considering my next move. Our problem is where we live in Area 31 (usually known to their engineers as Area 51) is right on the edge of BT's POTS and we're unclear if they've upgraded FTTC or not.

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I hate the Superhub, even in modem mode it cuts the router off quite frequently. My 50MB is less than 0.5mb wireless in the next room of a fairly new flat, even in router mode. It's funny I live in a block of flats and the signal from the next room turns up near the bottom of a list of 20 signals sorted by strength

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Windows

Simple thing to improve your VM Superhub

It was a right pain when I first got mine - reading forums and alike I've now put the power supply on a timer, so that the thing has a 30 minute break every morning at about 5.00am... And I've now got a mini-hub hanging off one of the UTP cables providing wifi in the house, with the SH wifi switched off... It's a bit of a mish-mash of a solution, and I shouldn't really have to do it, but I'm happier with both speed and wifi, which I wasn't for the first 3 weeks of owning the thing. The previous CableTel modem & minihub worked for the best part of 11 years without an issue...

"Don't make them like they used to..."

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Coat

I heard a constant whine in the corner...

...which confused me as I don't have Virgin.

Then I realised it was the Wife.

Hey, someone had to.

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