A glimpse inside Virgin Media’s secret broadband testing home

Broadband, News

Virgin Media has built two large life-size houses inside a warehouse located in High Wycombe where it tests its latest broadband technology.

Fitted with a spacious living room, a kitchen and bedrooms, the homes are furnished and feature an entire plumbing system, which can impact WiFi connections, to provide a realistic testing environment.

Living room
Living room of Virgin Media’s wifi testing facility (Jamie Harris/PA)
Entrance to the testing home (Jamie Harris/PA)

The 450 square metre houses are at one of the company’s newest secret testing locations. They are three floors high and took 18 months to build.

A metallic composite is used around the facility to block any radio frequency signals from getting in, while a sponge-like material is coated on the inside to absorb WiFi.

Virgin Media has two testing homes in High Wycombe (Jamie Harris/PA)
Virgin Media's test house
The outside of Virgin Media’s test house (Jamie Harris/PA)

One of the bedrooms uses a metal mesh which turns the room into a WiFi black spot. Other interferences can be brought in to see how connections react.

A robot tunnel runs through the houses to see how wifi works as the person walks through the house. A trench also runs from each house to the other, allowing the robot to test connections further afield.

The kitchen of Virgin Media’s test house (Jamie Harris/PA)
Children's bedroom
Children’s bedroom inside Virgin Media’s test house (Jamie Harris/PA)

Engineers are currently looking at the possibility of a new robot solution that goes from room to room, so it can test upstairs too.

Chris Price
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