According to BT, its Whole Home WiFi system overcomes deadspots around the home to bring ‘super-fast, super-reliable WiFi' to attic rooms, basements and other hard-to-reach areas.
It’s particularly aimed at owners of larger houses. But should benefit anyone frustrated by sub-par WiFi coverage too.
So how do BT’s bold claims stand up to close examination? We put Whole Home WiFi through its paces to find out.
What is Whole Home WiFi exactly? How does it work?
BT Whole Home WiFi comprises three discs which, when hooked up to your router and positioned around the home, replace your WiFi network.
The discs talk to one another to create an intelligent self-configuring wireless 'mesh network', with each disco functioning as a de facto router. That means the discs are aware of the location of your gadgets and are continually reconfiguring and re-calibrating the network so you get the best connection.
To control the network, you use a dedicated BT app for iPhones and Android phones (it’ll work for handsets running iOS 8 or Android 4.4.2 or above respectively). BT told us that, in due course, there’ll be a version for Windows handsets too.
Want a more thorough explanation of how Whole Home Wifi works? Here's our one-stop guide.
Getting Whole Home WiFi up and running is pretty easy. Step one is plugging one of the three discs provided into your router (you don’t have to use a BT router) with the ethernet cable supplied.
Next, you need to position the other two discs around the home and plug them into power sockets. To find the optimum position for the best signal coverage, the BT Whole Home app guides you to the best spots.
Of course, you’ll then need to type in the new passcode into your internet connected devices. You’ll find this printed on a pull-out tab at the rear of each disc.
Then it's a good idea to adjust your WiFi settings to ‘forget’ the now-redundant Wifi network that was created by your router. This is because otherwise your gadgets may still try to connect to it. The old network may also impair performance too.
The whole process from unboxing the kit, downloading the app and being up and running took us about ten minutes.
Despite living in a roomy-but-by-no-means-vast, three-bedroom house, WiFi coverage has been perpetually patchy in some rooms, due to thick walls throughout.
The upshot was that phones would switch to 4G mobile internet in the bathroom and when venturing up to the attic. That’s no longer a problem. Signal strength with Whole Home WiFi is robust throughout.
We also used to have problems with TV streaming services in bedrooms, especially when we’ve tried to access them via notoriously flaky conduits such as the PlayStation Network. The good news is that’s now not an issue either.
To really put BT’s system to a really stiff test, though, we tried FaceTime video calling around the home with a pair of iPhones. Because streaming on video calls is ‘live’ and in real time, there’s nowhere to hide in the same way as there is with a Neflix video stream, for example.
Previously, the image was grainy and the quality was choppy, with regular awkward interruptions in conversation for buffering. With Whole Home WiFi, the picture quality is much more detailed and FaceTime video calls are buffering-free.
We were also impressed that when walking between rooms, the transition from one disc's signal to another was seamless and there was no interruption to the TV show we were streaming.
As for speeds, according to BT the Whole Home Wifi system supports speeds of up to 800Mbps. We've got the BT Infinity 1 service, which is advertised with a maximum speed of 52Mbps.
In practice, we found we got an average of about 35.4Mbps in rooms nearer the router. Speeds in rooms that were further away averaged just below that at 32.1Mbps.
The app works well for the set up process. But it's actually much more multi-functional than you might expect.
Walk around the house with the app open and you can check which disc you’re connected at that moment and which devices are online.
It also lets you shut off WiFi completely with a single button press, which will come in handy when your internet-addicted kids refuse to come downstairs for dinner.
And you can use it dim or turn off the ‘on’ light in bedrooms, in case it’s too bright when you’re trying to sleep.
With a clean, modern design, the Whole Home WiFi discs look good and live up to their billing as delivering WiFi to the parts routers cannot reach.
At £300, it's no-one’s idea of cheap. But Whole Home WiFi is every inch a premium product. If money’s no object and you fancy being an early adopter of genuinely new mesh network tech, look no further.