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back to article ASA rules BT Wi-Fi service works with invisible routers

The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that BT's Wi-Fi network does extend into open spaces, even if the router isn't visible in the adverts. Despite running adverts showing people happily surfing the internet in the open air BT has successfully argued that every one of them was within 25 metres of an OpenZone or BT Fon …

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WTF?

ASA have their own standards.

This sounds about right for the ASA - I once complained about an "unlimited" mobile broadband advert that listed a string of limits in the small print. The ASA's reply: It's fine to advertise a service as "unlimited" if it has limits as long as they are "fair use" limits.

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FAIL

The complaint has merit

BT are trying to pretend that access is everywhere in their adverts - in the same way that GPRS/3G access to the internet is (almost) everywhere since this is provided by mobile phone towers, rather than BT's kludge of nicking bandwidth off existing WiFi points.

WiFi is far more localised to the hotspot from which it is available, and as such, far less extensible into the 'open air' as the advert suggests (car parks, footie stadia, parks etc).

It is disingenous bullshit to say 'the hub is just out of sight' and BT know they are full of crap stating this.

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Unhappy

Yeah, and you really do not want Openzone near an apartment block

I stopped using Open(Bo)zone the moment they enabled it by default on all business hubs and new homehubs.

The result was that you go into your average business park with two car mechanics and 10 shops all of them on BT Broadband or near an apartment block and your laptop starts seeing 20 hotspots.

That would have been freaking awesome if these hotspots shared an address space. It would have been acceptable if they shared authorisation state. They do neither. So your laptop usually hops from one hotspot onto another before finishing its DHCP cycle and the connection is dead there and then.

The end result is connectivity that does not work at all, not just "does not work outside". So the mere "Openzone in front of an apartment block" should have been sufficient, accompanied by a proper technical demonstration.

Frankly, the complaint is worth resubmitting along with a suitable demonstation video and a screenshot of an average laptop seeing 20 hotspots at a time.

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Bronze badge
Thumb Down

Oh, well that's all right then...

Let's not let real world performance impinge on the artistic licence of an advert.

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Silver badge

Since when

has the real world EVER impinged on advert artistic license?

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HMB

Creepier if...

Well the advert would have been creepier if the BT gang were surreptitiously wondering onto strangers front gardens in the middle of the night in a bid to pick up wifi signals on their devices. :P

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FAIL

BT Fon != BT Openzone

As title, and agree with previous comments. Have the ASA reps ever tried to use the products as advertised?

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Anonymous Coward

Total carp.

BT said the pub's WiFi could extend into the car park. Well my WiFi at home doesn't even extend into a room across the hallway.

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Anonymous Coward

BT Openzone ? Not here.

I disabled it the second I got my router.

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Title

Why?

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Bronze badge

Why?

Maybe because he didn't want yet-another-WAP taking up the three (yes, count them) unique channels that a 802.11g wireless can occupy without interference for no reason, or BT OpenZone customers bringing down his wireless and Internet speeds by accessing his wireless router and using it for whatever they want while he's trying to use him home/business connection for himself.

Or maybe he just *didn't* want crap that's enabled by default that he, personally, will never, ever, ever use. The same way I disable WMM and uPNP on any router I have - because it's pointless as none of my hardware supports it, or dangerous because I *don't* want it enabled and there are security problems with it.

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Alert

Because I'm a tight arse ...

I paid for "up to" 20MB/s and got <2MBs. (Well, to be fair, my company paid for etc etc). Unfortunately for BT, my domestic BB is the cheapo VM cable package, which happily rips along at about 9MB/s, while their BB is <3MB/s (on a good day).

Given that, I don't see why *I* should allow BT to use *my* connection to help *them* make money.

Also, I have no idea how good or bad the Openzone sandbox is ... would you risk *your* data to it ?

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Grenade

Why...?

I wish more people would. I had one locally that interrupted my wireless 3 times when it strayed across the channels and into my 'spot' Its settled down now, but next time it gets wardriven...

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Grenade

Maybe...

The ASA decided that the prominently displayed BT logo's should provide sufficient warning that the service you receive will be below expectations?

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To be fair to BT

My phone picks up BTOpenZone pretty much everywhere in my home town, and many other places I've been including in the local park, car parks, and walking down the street in residential areas. SO I don't actually think this claim is particularly disingenuous.

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Anonymous Coward

Like Sky Christmas ads

Which clearly show Santa and his elves watching Sky, even though the small print on the Sky card says you mustn't take it out of the UK, never mind the lack of satellite coverage at the North Pole.

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Bronze badge

Hmmm I wonder

Has anyone been able to identify the locations used to see if there is any signal? Maybe that sort of evidence would get the ASA to think again. Then again though I seem to recall that one of the mobile companies had an advert with a farmer making a call from the middle of nowhere and they got away with it even though it was proved that there was no signal within miles of his farm.

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Works for me

I'm reading the article on a laptop connected to a public BT Openzone access point in Tooley Street, Southwark so I can't see the problem :)

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BT's words!

"The football ground car park, we're told, might be near a residential block of flats containing a BT Fon site, so users in every situation could reasonably expect Wi-Fi to be available."

"Might be"? Surely it MUST BE for that advert to tell the truth. If they are just saying this location might be near an openzone then they are selling a pig in a poke.

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Silver badge

N

Given that the BT Home Hub 2 is enabled for "N" class wireless, and powers a large proportion of the FON hotspots, coverage should be pretty good, at least for "N" enabled devices.

Disappointing to read AC's comment that there is no hotspot amalgamation. Instead of uniting into a superhot spot, all the routers in a locality merely offer a large number of very weak spots ? Weak.

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Headmaster

Superhot spot?

"Instead of uniting into a superhot spot, all the routers in a locality merely offer a large number of very weak spots ?"

WiFi doesn't work like that, it is not like how you can add extra light bulbs to a room to make it brighter. Your device connects to a single access point and your signal will only be the strength of whichever one you are currently connected to.

What can be done however, is that the all the access points can be aware of each other and pass you from one access point to another as you move around in a similar way to how cell phone networks work.

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Boffin

Theoretically a super-hotspot would be possible

If the 802.11n could aggregate multiple connections from different APs instead of just using multiple connections to a single AP.

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FAIL

BT Openzone and BT Openzone

My main gripe with BT Openzone is that not all hotspots called BT Openzone behave in the same way. With my O₂ iPhone package, there's supposed to be free access to both BTO and The Cloud. And for a while, BTO access was great - once I was authenticated once, my iPhone seemed to be fine across multiple hotspot locations and yea, the browsing was good.

Then BTO launched their FON boxes all across London. They use BT Openzone as their SSID, so the iPhone happily joins it. But the Fon versions do not seem to be part of the free access deal for O₂ - so if you're using Safari you end up trying to use the authentication pages, which don't work. If you're using an app, you don't see the authentication pages and your connection seems to be broken. You have to tell the iPhone to not auto-join BTO hotspots. I pretty much never get a working BTO connection now.

I'm fine with BT deciding that their deal with O₂ only extends to their BT Openzone operated hotspots rather than their Fon network - but FFS, don't call them the same thing if they are not.

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Anonymous Coward

Weird

All the ones I see are called either BTOpenzone or BT FON.

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Anonymous Coward

Weird?

Older home hubs (like mine) only broadcast BTOpenzone. Newer ones have both.

Re Graham Anderson's issue, it works both ways. Some Openzone hotspots aren't available to BT FON users.

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Anonymous Coward

iPhone

Graham - There's a known fault with iPhones and the hotspots which I think matches the symptoms you describe. Have a google or read the forums on bt.com to look for a solution.

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iPhone Fix

Graham - This is the fix (not my work - copied from the net)

1. Within the Settings->Wi-Fi Networks menu on your device, choose BTOpenzone.

2. When the device has associated with the BTOpenzone SSID, click the arrow next to the BTOpenzone entry. This shows the detailed settings for the connection.

3. Select the DNS section of the details shown. The DNS section will list 3 IP addresses "10.xx.xx.xx, 192.168.22.22, 192.168.22.23"

4. Scroll back through the list by dragging finger across the screen and then delete the initial 10.xx.xx.xx address.

5. Check the DNS section entry is set to "192.168.22.22, 192.168.22.23" (There should be no space at the beginning of the entry)

6. Return to the main screen and enter the Safari browser. Navigating to any Internet URL will redirect to the BTFON landing page. Follow the instructions to log in and connect to the Internet.

You don't need to worry about deleting that first DNS entry, it won't have any other effects on your connection."

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