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back to article BT's mobe interference claim laughed off air by ad watchdog

BT misled consumers with a TV ad that wrongly claimed that mobile phones and radios caused interference with wireless networks, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled. A voice-over in BT's commercial crowed that such devices, alongside other household gadgets, caused "no end" of disruption to Wi-Fi internet connections in …

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Anonymous Coward

and claims that this HomeHub is "better" than other devices has also been shown to be bunk in comparative tests with other routers.

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I've noticed...

...that every BT advert just recently has a little bit of bullshit in it. This time its "interference", last time it was the "only router with dual-band technology", the time before that was giving the impression that they used FTT[H/P] with their little light streaks (representing the fibre network) entering peoples homes, and so on.

Okay, so all network providers aren't angels when it comes to their advertising but I find BT to be worst offender, repeatedly... I can't remember the last time I didn't mutter something to myself about the bull in their ads (with other people looking at me like I've gone mad!). However, the most annoying part is the toothless ASAs standard response of "The advert must not run again in its current form". Whats the motherflipping point of that? The adverts done its job and its done its run anyway! The ASA should be given more powers to actually ban or vet adverts beforehand on something like a 3 strikes rule - Get 3 advert complaints upheld and you're banned from advertising for six months or your adverts are pre-vetted before being aired.

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When we f'ibred' up, BT gave us a BT Hub Wireless Business Router. It kept on dropping the line to various PCs & Android devices. So I replaced it with a Netgear router. No roblems since. Conclusion: the BT router was rubbish. I'd be interested to know if others have had problems with BT Hub Routers.

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Unhappy

My sister got an "upgrade" to a separate white ADSL router and black hub/wi-fi point and it is utter rubbish. Often it fails to boot properly (left instructions about how to power cycle the damn thing in sequence to get it working, as they are not technical) and frequently drops both wi-fi and wired Ethernet for no obvious reason.

And while we are ranting about BT Internet's incompetence, twice they have changed the log-in settings for email and given fu*k-all notification of the change, and in the recent case (couple of weeks ago) their web site still had the old=wrong settings on it, only found out from a Thunderbird forum post what was up.

In summary, a bunch of useless idiots with more money & influence than they deserve.

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Hub 3

with myself and my clients, I've found the BT Home/Business Hub 3 a reasonable router: Probably the best "Pack-In" Router, apart from possibly Sky's new FTTP Box - Yes, if you buy a decent router, you can do better, but it adequately covers the basics, unlike some of the TalkTalk/PlusNet/Orange routers they've used in the past.

They seem pretty reliable - don't get many blown power supplies or box failures. On stable lines, they don't seem to drop out more than I'd expect.

About my only complaint is their WiFi connections don't support 128-bit WEP, and the Port/Services logic is a bit convoluted to set up.

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Home Hub 2

I had an HH2 and had no problems with it for a couple of years, then suddenly the wireless signal disappeared, even with a laptop or phone right next to the hub. Cabled connection was still working and wireless would work for a time if I rebooted the hub. So I phoned BT's help line.

It was a tense conversation as the agent insisted the problem was signal strength, rather than the absence of a signal at all. He wanted me to change the channel to 11, from automatic, but couldn't explain how this would help. He refused to supply a new hub. In the end I agreed to do the channel change and, to my surprise it worked. However, after 2 weeks it was back to losing the signal again and no amount of channel changing would help.

Meanwhile I found out online that losing wireless is a common problem with HomeHubs and is often due to a failure in the power supply. I had the choice of going back to BT and arguing for a new Hub, buying a new power supply for about £8 in the hope that was the problem, or buying a TP-Link router for £35 from Amazon. I went for the latter, it was very easy to set up and has been working well ever since.

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Anonymous Coward

I don't know what level of computing experience you have, but your wording makes me believe it's not that high. I don't mean to be rude, but Quote 'It kept on dropping the line to various PC's & Android devices.' Dropping the line means your router isn't connected to the internet. Wi-Fi dropping out is a completely different matter and I think what you were alluding too.

Based on this, I suspect the problem was more likely that the channel you picked was already in use locally and by replacing the router, the channel changed and the problem went away.

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Facepalm

Hub routers are crap, I am on my theirs HH3 this year, i have a box full of HH2 routers as I had to keep getting replacements...

Only reason I keep them is if there IS a problem, BT tech support are too dumb to understand if your using a non BT router.. last one I returned because it kept freezing, I could not even get to the admin page yet the 'technical support' on the other end of the line talked about changing the filter....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hub 3

Agreed: since getting the Hub 3 we've have very few issues (and 70MB/s internet too!). Since January when we had it installed, we've had to reboot it about 4 times tops.

This is in contrast to the Hub 2 before probably required rebooting about once a week (sometimes more!)

Moreover, the wireless range seems great (better than Hub 2), and all devices seem to connect without issue (except an iPad that disconnects all the time since stupidly putting iOS7 onto it)

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Re: Hub 3

David Austin wrote:

"apart from possibly Sky's new FTTP Box"
Perhaps my Google-Foo is slipping but I can't seem to find any evidence that Sky has a FTTP product? As far as I can tell Sky have even admitted that their only option is FTTC and won't be rolling out FTTP any time soon.

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Mushroom

Have been running a hub3 for 6 months and have only had to reboot it once (which was a day after install).

It's surprisingly robust and very good range for the WiFi.

I'm far from a BT apologist but until this thing goes pop, I don't really have any complaints.

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I removed the silly black BT router and connected my Apple Airport Express directly to the white VDSL adaptor. You need to enable PPPoE on the WiFi router. Works great.

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Had lots of problems with HH2's for various friends

Win 7 laptop / iPhone / iPad can all access internet fine individually but as soon as win 7 and ios device on at same time, win7 gets full speed whilst ios device got a couple of Kbps to Internet (but still full speed on internal network). Very odd

Interim fix was to connect a separate WAP to HH via Ethernet port and separate wifi access between ios and win7 onto separate WAPs (all got full speed then)

Long term, HH's replaced with different hardware.

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Anonymous Coward

Had the exact same problem with the last generation homehub, would drop wireless to both laptops and mobiles multiple times a day - replaced with an airport extreme, not one drop since.

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Main problem was WiFI dropping but it also happened on wired ethernet (using 'adapters' through the mains: I forget the exact term). I tried changing the wireless channel but i didn't help.

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Re: Hub 3

I sympathise with those having to support older kit but dropping WEP was probably the best thing BT did. Having one of the UK's most common routers set by default to use the worlds most easily broken encryption would of been a fail of epic porportions.

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Silver badge

BT partly right

Wireless congestion in urban areas is caused by ISPs like BT giving out wireless routers like candy.

Where I live, surrounded by young singles and couples in bedsits, it isn't uncommon for me to detect anything up to 30 SSIDs -- no doubt located within feet of the laptops etc to which they are connected by wireless.

Perhaps typically, a friend's tenant had his desktop machine within inches of a wireless router, where it could have been connected by cable for better results (and less interference for neighbours).

The situation is getting critical with the advent of smartphones, as users can save by connecting via router wireless rather than 3G -- and tablets which only have wireless connection (which is usually always on, no doubt adding to the problem).

The ISPs don't help by setting the routers to automatically detect the "best" channel -- which I guess just means they avoid vying with the strongest channels nearby. This doesn't help when they are nearer my PC than our router and switch to and interfere with "our" channel (the one I found gave best reception for me).

Have had to daisychain a second wireless router -- which boosts signal -- but inevitably adds to local congestion.

The choices made when the current system was agreed must have been based on typical suburban usage and no expectation of today's popular hardware. The interference overlaps between all but three of the (up to) 13 channels means the system is approaching unusability in urban areas today.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: BT partly right

"ISPs like BT giving out wireless routers like candy."

Glossing over the fact that people are paying for wireless service and it's not just being given out, are you saying that an ISP should come round and assess how far away from a wall you're likely to use your laptop and only give out wireless routers to deserving cases?

Or is it just that you think only you should have it?

Don't blame the ISPs - BT in particular in this case - because something is useful, which makes it popular.

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Re: BT partly right @AC 09:26

I think I rightly laid the blame on the inadequacies of the 802.11 wireless system -- and the fact that some people who use wireless would actually be better off using an ethernet cable.

Obviously, it is not just me that is being affected by this, so I don't see why you need to personalise your comments.

Something I didn't raise, but should, is how so many wireless routers end up in the trash as tenants on "assured" shorthold tenancies are often forced to move annually and tend to dump the router on the correct assumption that they'll get a new one when they change address and supplier.

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Re: BT partly right

>it isn't uncommon for me to detect anything up to 30 SSIDs

Number of SSIDs isn't a reliable indicator of the number of physical APs...

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Re: BT partly right

Roland 6 wrote:

"Number of SSIDs isn't a reliable indicator of the number of physical APs..."
Indeed. BT, for a while now, have been pushing out three per router (as well as the normal SSID there is the BT Fon and OpenZone stuff). VMs SuperHubs have the ability to push out three too, the normal SSIDs and two guest SSIDs. Conversely, there's APs that have SSID broadcast switched off too, which don't appear during a scan but still take up space.

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Re: BT partly right @Roland6

I didn't know that -- wondered why there were so many BT SSIDs out there.

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Bronze badge

Do BT actually know the frequency that mobiles and radios use? Nowhere near wifi frequencies.

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Bronze badge

Parts of it do

We are talking about marketing here and they have their own rule book that defies any technical ethics that one may refer them to.

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Given that they have a shaky idea of telephony, and none at all about IP or networking, I'm going to guess that as far as BT are concerned anything that is wireless is a form of black magic and can easily interfere with any other black magic in the area...

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Anonymous Coward

Oh the irony. The BT HomeHub has been cited by amatuer radio operators as the cause of much radio spectrum interference, partially due to the use of ethernet over power.

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@ AC 09:23

"Oh the irony. The BT HomeHub has been cited by amatuer radio operators as the cause of much radio spectrum interference, partially due to the use of ethernet over power."

Oh God, those power line adapters that BT gave out -- completely unusable as well as interfering with nearby audio equipment.

Along with the current topic which displays the technical ignorance of whoever briefed the ad agency, one has to wonder what is going wrong at BT's broadband operations.

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Anonymous Coward

the use of POE is the governments fault, if they mandated all homes had networking installed as default, or at the very least must have conduit ready for network cable, it would make things so much easier...

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no but yes but no

POE (power over ethernet) isn't the issue - that simply allows you to easily stick network equipment somewhere where there's no mains power.

Ethernet over mains wiring is an abomination, though, and yes, mandating wired network cables in new builds would be marvellous, but (a) that would take years to solve the problem, (b) requirements are still evolving (who wants to say "640kB 100Mb/s is enough for anyone"?, and (c) it doesn't help with existing houses, or (d) with the growing number of phones, tablets and laptops lacking a network port.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: no but yes but no

Doh, was supposed to be Ethernet Over Powerlines... not POE...

Downvotes gratefully accepted!

One thing that would be nice is ducting in all homes, so it was easy to re-wire,i've had to stick trunking on the walls to run cables for my office, not the prettiest things in the world...

I have stuck in Cat6, my network gear supports 1Gb/s, in theory the cabling can cope with 10Gb/s I think, and if not I can always replace it with fibre when the time comes...

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Anonymous Coward

BT & wireless... hahahahahahahahahaha.

The BT Home Hub (version 3) I have wipes out the 2.4GHz spectrum in my house. The moment you enable the wireless on it some devices refuse to connect to anything at all... I think they called it "Smart Wireless" in the marketing blurb, I figured they meant it was smart enough to stop you using 2.4GHz wireless products from other suppliers.

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Anonymous Coward

I know what you mean, after getting a Home Hub my microwave oven wouldn't work due to the interference. Apparently they use the same frequency and the Home Hub was cancelling out the microwave signals (must have been sending them in 180 degree phase.

I had to get a dual-band microwave oven from Currys just to cook my food, but when my microwave switches to the 5GHz band to avoid interference my food is always cool in the middle. Although eventually I found one with a combination cook feature, however it takes about half an hour to cook with that turned on.

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Anonymous Coward

I know what you mean, it's damned annoying when your wifi router stops your microwaves connecting with your food.

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Anonymous Coward

Talking of wireless pollution...

Presumably the situation isn't helped by every BT HomeHub advertising 3 SSID's, your own, plus BT Fon, plus BT Openzone.

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Bronze badge

Re: Talking of wireless pollution...

Depends on how the hub is doing this. Round me each BT hub uses the same channel(s) for all the various SSIDs, so no additional radio interference/channel congestion, is caused.. However, it does make the available networks list longer.

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Bronze badge

Android can help

A quick search on Google Play will reveal several free Wifi scanner Apps. It is dead easy to check the frequency space around you for the best channel.

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Gold badge

"They seem pretty reliable - don't get many blown power supplies or box failures. On stable lines, they don't seem to drop out more than I'd expect."

The bad routers don't usually have problems with blown power supplies -- generally, they have awful firmware that just cannot keep it together. Rather than slowing down or dropping a few packets, it'll pack up and require a power cycle. Over and over.

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