back to article BT finally admits its Home Hub router scuppers some VPN connections

BT has coughed to a crappy glitch with its Home Hub 3A router that is blocking some VPN connections. However, the one-time state monopoly appears to have taken a long time to acknowledge customer gripes, which have been piling up for weeks. BT said it had taken a while to respond to individual complaints because it was …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Lionel Baden

    old news kind of ...

    Blocked them on homehub 2.0 as well :(

    1. Kevin Johnston

      Re: old news kind of ...

      I was thinking that myself.....worked for a couple of companies that had to supply a fix for accessing their VPN using a BT 'box' and that goes back 3-4 years

  2. Dangermouse 1
    WTF?

    4.7.5.1.83.8.94.1.37

    That's one hell of a version number!

    1. Brian Morrison

      Re: 4.7.5.1.83.8.94.1.37

      And no wonder that they can't keep track of which features are fixed/broken in such a labyrinthine numbering scheme.

      Maybe they could make it even worse using hexadecimal and colons...oh, no, that's IPv6.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 4.7.5.1.83.8.94.1.37

      There's us old fashioned people content with using

      {major}.{minor}.{revision}

      and they decide there's a need for 6 further levels of categorisation. Nice

      1. boltar Silver badge

        Re: 4.7.5.1.83.8.94.1.37

        >{major}.{minor}.{revision}

        >

        >and they decide there's a need for 6 further levels of categorisation. Nice

        {major}.{minor}.{revision}.{last minute bug fix}.{bug fix to fix bugs introduced by last minute fix}.{oh shit this isn't supposed to happen fix}.{er yes it was actually - check ptr #265476 revert fix}.{feck-this-I'm-off-home quick fix for overnight prod build}

        1. MrT

          Re: 4.7.5.1.83.8.94.1.37

          It's the new, easy-to-remember replacement emergency services number...

          Oh, hang on - as you were; the new number ends in a '3'...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 4.7.5.1.83.8.94.1.37

      They must be getting ready for the 'Internet of things'. If they ever have to issue a different firmware version to every insect and bacterium on the planet, BT are ready for it!

  3. Flawless101
    Happy

    Comedy gold

    "the one-time state monopoly"

    Never fails to make me chuckle.

    1. Dominion

      Re: Comedy gold

      Makes me chuckle as well. Don't you just love the factual inaccuracies of this rag?

      Ever been to Hull?

      1. localzuk

        Re: Comedy gold

        You don't understand the concept of a monopoly. BT were a monopoly, for everywhere except Hull, where Hull Corporation/Hull City Council were the monopoly, as they bought out the infrastructure there rather than being absorbed into the Post Office.

        Just because BT didn't have the entire country, doesn't mean they weren't a monopoly - customers in the BT network could only go to BT for service.

        1. Tom 38 Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Comedy gold

          You misunderstood which bit was "comedy gold" in "one time state monopoly" - it wasn't the "state monopoly" bit.

          1. localzuk

            Re: Comedy gold

            They certainly aren't a monopoly now... People can get telephone services from a long list of suppliers (including mobile telephony), internet services from plenty also. You don't have to have ADSL for internet, you can have satellite, mobile or cable in some areas.

            1. Tom 38 Silver badge

              Re: Comedy gold

              Downvote all you like, but you are plain wrong. In most areas, they have an absolute monopoly on fixed telephone lines which is why Ofcom can butt in on pricing access to poles and ducting.

              Take this market. Monopoly? Yep.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Comedy gold

                " In most areas, they have an absolute monopoly on fixed telephone lines"

                But that's like saying Ford have a monopoly on selling Fiestas.

                Virgin cover at least half of the country and the mobile networks nearly all of it. There's no need to give BT a penny if you don't want to.

                1. localzuk

                  Re: Comedy gold

                  Why isolate fixed telephone lines as the metric? Is there some magical difference between fixed and mobile telephony other than one being a cable and one being a tower?

                  Also, of course you're going to find the occasional area, usually isolated and rural, which still has BT only for fixed line services - no other company thinks they'll make any money there, so why would they invest? If BT hadn't been in that monopoly position, its quite possible they'd have no fixed line service at all!

                  In that area you linked to, they have potentially at least 3 different methods of getting internet connectivity also...

                  1. Tom 38 Silver badge

                    Re: Comedy gold

                    Why fixate on fixed line? Because of the USO, which propagates the monopoly position.

                    BT didn't invest in that area, the tax-payer did.

                    Another example, I just moved to a new house. The new house is pre-wired with BT infinity. In order to move my phone service and internet there I had to fight through the BT infinity sales team. BT use their USO to force me to at least discuss (repeatedly) that, no, I don't want your internet, thank you very much, just the phone line. Yes I'm sure. Please stop talking about BT Sport.

                    PS: In the area I linked to, you're lucky to get 2G service. There is BT, or there is nothing.

                    1. localzuk

                      Re: Comedy gold

                      Its quite funny that you see the USO as a monopoly when it is actually a cost to BT...

                      1. rhydian

                        Re: Comedy gold

                        The USO is BT's "payment" for its dominant position, as well as being forced to open up its infrastructure to other competitors.

                        And as far as the government was concerned the GPO was a revenue source. Investment wasn't a high priority.

  4. localzuk

    ISP provided routers

    Seem to be nearly always useless. I've had routers from at least 4 ISPs now, and every single one failed miserably. Orange's old wedge thing - crashed constantly. BT's original homehub - try doing anything with P2P and it basically stopped working, Virgin's 'SuperHub' - couldn't handle 3 people in a house using it so had to switch to modem mode and put my own in, and the new HomeHub - again, seems to crash all the time.

    My solution for this? My trusty little Zyxel router. Just keeps on ticking.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is there any danger of some technical detail about the problem? What kind of VPNs are broken (IpSec, PPTP, SSL, etc), how they're broken, what it is that's actually happening (someone's run some kind of debugging, right? Of the vpn client, or the vpn endpoint?), what's seen in packet captures, etc

    1. Roger Greenwood

      Er . . .

      . . we could tell you, but the snooper dept. won't let us.

    2. N2 Silver badge

      I suspect they may just need to set the correct MTU

      or chuck it & get a DG834

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The cost of simplicity

    My move from AOL/TalkTalk to BT went spectacularly well, thanks to the way the Home Hub 4 just popped through the letter box and worked when corrected. However, this serves as a nice reminder that I shouldn't throw away my old NetGear router. If BT can silently 'upgrade' my Home Hub, this could happen to me. It's an unfortunate cost of simplicity.

    1. Fink-Nottle

      Re: The cost of simplicity

      > thanks to the way the Home Hub 4 [...] worked when corrected.

      corrected: adapted, adjusted, doctored, fixed, modified, remade, remodeled, revised, updated

      Sounds about right to me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Erm, it really did just work

        Speaking as the poster of the comment you respond to, I can say it just worked*. I was working from home, having a critical Skype chat with beloved employer and a customer (not to mention, connected to a customer site via VPN), when AOL simply stopped working. I swapped the NetGear for the Home Hub and was back up in a couple of minutes. It might be the cheapest router BT could source, but it's proved to be a good bit of kit. I suspect as long as it's an ADSL2 connection (in other words, Huawei** equipment from end to end), everything should just work.

        * But the Three MiFi was at the ready, just in case the switchover went tits-up.

        ** And no, I don't like them any more than anyone else working in the telecoms equipment industry, but the kit is usually sound, at a knock down price.

  7. Lunatik

    MTU?

    I've had problems in the past with stingy default MTU settings in home routers. 1492 seemingly isn't enough for some VPN implementations and I've had to bump it up to maximum. Naturally, corporate IS support were hopeless and it was trial and error that eventually found the problem.

    Until then I had a furious wife who was blaming (correctly, for once!) "our crappy network". Funny, I don't recall ever taking on the role of network admin and desktop support, nor have I ever been paid for any work...

    In any case, I doubt it's as simple a solution here, but stranger things have happened (e.g. MTU shown in UI isn't saved/doesn't reflect applied internal value).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: MTU?

      "Funny, I don't recall ever taking on the role of network admin and desktop support,"

      Strictly speaking, you have taken on those roles if you're messing about with MTU settings.

      "nor have I ever been paid for any work..."

      You have my sympathies ;)

    2. Cheebamanc

      Re: MTU?

      Naturally, corporate IS support were hopeless and it was trial and error that eventually found the problem.

      How is it Corporate IS Supports problem when your home provided by you broadband has a connection issue?

      Do you expect every corporate IS support desk to have visablity of ever possible home broadband connection configuration or should they concentrate on keeping the corporations network and systems up and running instead which is there after what the are frigging paid for.

      If you have a problem connecting from your home broadband maybe you should take this issue up with the people you pay to provision the service.

      As one of the people that has worked extensively in corporate IS support I would like to say a hearty FUCK YOU to you and your ilk.

      1. Lunatik

        Re: MTU?

        Relax, friend, I'm sure it wasn't you who failed to do your job properly.

        Here's how these things work:

        - Corporate wants workers to have flexibility to work from home, airport lounges etc. to save money on head office floorspace and facilities, so rolls out VPN solution but expects staff to provide home connection (partially subsidised).

        - VPN solution works most of the time, but when it doesn't the users have to phone a centralised support number.

        - In an ideal world, this support function would provide credible suggestions of what to do to try and resolve the issue, including working with the user to identify any potential issues in the privately-provided but corporately-sponsored home broadband equipment.

        - In this case they failed to do that, a metaphorical shrug of the shoulders was all that was given.

        However, this doesn't help the user and certainly doesn't magically teleport them 20 miles to head office and make a desk and ethernet connection appear out of nowhere to allow them to start working again.

        This is not some resource-starved SME either, we're talking about an oil major here.

        From memory it was working fine for ages then some patch or upgrade was applied and it stopped working.

        Considering the nature of the problem (related to a hardware/software change), the size of the user base (>10 thousand) and the equipment used (a fairly common Linksys of the time), it's unlikely that no-one else had ever come across a similar issue, so this points to a) a lack of knowledge sharing and/or b) incompetence/inexperience on the part of the support staff.

        It certainly isn't the time to start the 'user blaming' that is so prevalent in large swathes of desktop support. You seem to hold your discipline in such high regard, putting it beyond criticism, but it's not the view shared many of us stupid and inconvenient people on the end of the phone.

        I've known many great women and men in support - dedicated, knowledgable and friendly people - but sadly for each of them there's been about three petty, unhelpful, incompetent jobsworths.

        Anyway, all water under the bridge now and precious little to do with the subject at hand.

        I hereby apologise for calling your personal commitment to excelling in all areas of support into question and wish all those suffering from lack of connectivity due to the Homehub issue a speedy resolution :)

        p.s. And thanks for the "FUCK YOU", I'll file it along with all the other online insults I've received over the years. I'm hoping to one day fashion them into a monument to my own ignorance and fallibility, to be titled 'My Ad Hominem Phenomenon', the base of which will feature a downvote appliqué.

  8. rhydian

    There's only really two kinds of people doing VPN...

    ...IT enthusiasts/pros and W**k From Homers.

    Both types should have the ability to buy and set up their own routers (or in the case of WFHers get their tech guys to do it). Heck, a Netgear DGN2200v4 isn't all that much from PisseyWorld.

    You don't even need the specific username and password for the connection, homehub@btinternet.com with no password works fine.

    Personally I'm still happy with my HH3. For what I paid (nowt) its simply done its job for the last two years with no issues. I might upgrade to a Netgear DGN2200v4 at some point as that router (like the HH3) does both ADSL and ethernet routing so will still be useful if we get our fibre rollout

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As an occasional WFHer

      I can tell you the corporate tech guys won't be coming within a mile of my place. The security of my home network matters to me!

      1. rhydian

        Re: As an occasional WFHer

        In that case you could always config the router yourself.

        And if you care that much about your network security you'd not use a homehub in the first place!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The security of my home network matters to me!

        And me, which is why my employer pays for a separate internet connection. My home network is Virgin cable, my work BT ADSL. Funnily enough the engineer that fitted the BT line (since we haven't had one since moving in in 2002) was very skittish seeing a VM setup .. he had to "check with the office" before he could finish the install (which he did).

        I didn't want a BT line. When our office closed, and the team became homeworkers, I wanted Virgin. I emailed them to ask for a quote, and never heard back. Their loss.

        1. rhydian

          Re: The security of my home network matters to me!

          We went over to a VM business cable connection in one of our offices when it became clear BT were not going to upgrade our cabinet any time soon.

          The business superhub is a bit of a pain though. There's no modem mode so you have to go for a range of 5 static IPs if you want your own router with no NAT.

          Another pain was even with its own public IP our netgear router's VPN still wouldn't route traffic. I found out in the end that setting the VM Business Superhub router's firewall to "Off" didn't actually turn it off. However setting it to low and allowing PPTP/IPSec through specifically sorted it right out.

    2. Jim 59

      Re: There's only really two kinds of people doing VPN...

      When sourcing their routers, I think ISPs generally go for the cheapest equipment on the market. As a business model that might be a bit out of date now. My HH3 is reasonable, and importantly, seems to be secure. However, like all ISP stuff, it has a collection of small drawbacks,

      - the wifi is slightly poor

      - DNS is unreliable and locked to BT servers, and has problems with CNAMEs

      - the HH often needs a reboot

      - the NICs are 100 Mb/s (in 2014 for flips sake)

      - BT keep certain ports open that you can't shut, probably for maintenance but they won't explain why.

      - the UI is clunky.

      - forget any advanced features

      The HH is obviously < £50. I would prefer something >£100, like a Billion router with 8 Gige ports. Many BT users do a swap out. Others, like me, buy extraneous switches and APs to work around the HH.

      1. rhydian

        Re: There's only really two kinds of people doing VPN...

        The only decent ISP supplied router I've seen was when Nildram offered netgear DG834s about 8 years ago.

        Every other ISP router is basically aimed at the "aunt Doris checking her email" level of service. I'd not expect an ISP to bundle a router that's cost them any more than about £30 wholesale at most.

        If your after port forwarding or anything else a bit more advanced then your always better off moving over to your own kit.

        1. flokie

          Re: There's only really two kinds of people doing VPN...

          I'm with Sky which provided me with a Netgear DG934G some years ago - which is OK but obviously a custom firmware limits what you can do: eg. you can't set it in transparent mode, it has to do NAT.

          Its main drawback for me was the lack of Gigabit ports, so I supplemented it with an Edimax router/AP.

          I've been offered upgrades since, but my setup works fine and I never had issues with VPNs when WfH so I'll leave this be for now.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There's only really two kinds of people doing VPN...

        I think most ISP go for something < £20 (probably about £10 after bulk savings and other ways to get money back from tax and things), there is no way any home router delivered here was worth more than £30, and none of them usually make the top 10 trusted brands any more

  9. bigtimehustler

    So, do BT block downgrading your router to an earlier firmware version? I know the process is usually automatic, but you can usually upload a firmware file too. Surely this would be better advice from BT than simply wait it out. If they have disabled downgrading, how stupid are they that they would block a back out route which could be used in precisely this case.

    1. rhydian

      The homehubs are all cuddly interfaces and "maintenance free". I don't think a firmware upload option is given, and BT don't make older firmware versions available anyhow.

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    FAIL

    So the standard Corporate cockup playbook

    1) There is no problem. Your just not using it right.

    2)There might be a small problem for a small number of users.

    3)There appears to be a bigger problem with a larger number of users.

    4)By larger we mean all users

    5)But we are planning a fix and will role it out real soon now.

  11. Bill 2

    I left BT for a very similar reason. Some new neighbours went with BT an got a HH4 and from the day it was installed we experienced drop outs and poor connections on our HH2. Phoned BT about it and they told me I would either need to buy a new router or they would send me one but only if I signed up to a new 12 month contract.

    Poor customer service winds me up to boiling point so I had to leave BT for the sake of my own dignity.

    1. rhydian

      It was probably just that both routers were on the same wireless channel.

      Homehubs are meant to find the least congested channel, but I find they all seem to default to the same one

    2. Bunbury

      Understandable that this wound you up. I imagine the problem is how do you go from your symptoms to identifying the root cause and fix and doing that for a cost that the ISP can afford? Without that, you don't know if a new router would fix your problem.

      When "broadband" first appeared on the UK PSTN in 2000, it was £39.99 a month for 500kbps. Since then the things that 80%+ people have bought on is more speed for less money. If there's less money per service coming in, and network investment to provide more capacity, there's a limit to the depth of repair service an ISP can provide.

  12. tony72

    Back when we were on ADSL at my workplace, BT rolled out a firmware update for the BT Business hub that scuppered our incoming VPN connections, and they couldn't seem to give us any kind of fix; we had to dump their router and replace it with a Draytek.

    When we got fibre, the BT engineer strongly advised us not to use the supplied BT Business Hub 3.0; we used it anyway, just so if there was any problem with the new connection, it couldn't be blamed on our 3rd party router. However after less than two months, the BT hub stopped working, just no WAN connection. So we had to dump it and replace it a Netgear.

    Seems like one way or another, BT's routers find a way to be junk.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Of course if you don't read the small print on BT's consumer T&Cs...

    You may as well not bother applying the fix, as you won't have seen the bit where BT basically reserves the right to completely screw up any VPN connection you do succeed in making by serving you adverts every time you get an DNS NXDOMAIN response. Let me clue you in, BT - NXDOMAIN is an Internet standard with a purpose, not an opportunity to shower your user base in a deluge of f***ing browser-based spam. Sure, you can use 3rd party DNS, but as usual, you shouldn't have to.

    1. Rasczak

      Re: Of course if you don't read the small print on BT's consumer T&Cs...

      If you want the NXDOMAIN response then just disable Web Address Help from http://preferences.webaddresshelp.bt.com/selfcare/. Takes just a few seconds and no config changing.

      Many of the 3rd party DNS providers also direct invalid domains to their own servers, so you need to do the same thing if they let you, I use OpenDNS and have it set to return NXDOMAIN for invalid domains.

      Of course I can change the DNS at the router as I don't use the BT Hub, and that is precisely because I understand the limitations of ISP provided kit.

      Simple rule to follow, if you use basic internet services only, ie web and email, ISP kit is serviceable. If you use anything that causes the ISP support desk to go, "let me check into that,", their kit is probably worth changing out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Of course if you don't read the small print on BT's consumer T&Cs...

        "If you want the NXDOMAIN response then just disable Web Address Help from http://preferences.webaddresshelp.bt.com/selfcare/. Takes just a few seconds and no config changing".

        That's useful to know but misses the point a bit. Services like OpenDNS pull the same manoeuvre, but you make a conscious choice to use those.

        The response is the same for each of your points there: Why should I have to do any of those things because BT are greedy and unethical and want to monetise a service I already paid for and hide the fact in the small print?

        "Simple rule to follow, if you use basic internet services only, ie web and email, ISP kit is serviceable. If you use anything that causes the ISP support desk to go, "let me check into that,", their kit is probably worth changing out."

        Or, just a thought (and I realise this is hilarious optimism on my part) a simpler rule still to follow would be for the ISP to supply a router fit for purpose given that that's a part of the service agreement, rather than shelling out for kit you shouldn't have to buy.

        1. Rasczak

          Re: Of course if you don't read the small print on BT's consumer T&Cs...

          <Quote>

          "If you want the NXDOMAIN response then just disable Web Address Help from http://preferences.webaddresshelp.bt.com/selfcare/. Takes just a few seconds and no config changing".

          That's useful to know but misses the point a bit. Services like OpenDNS pull the same manoeuvre, but you make a conscious choice to use those.

          The response is the same for each of your points there: Why should I have to do any of those things because BT are greedy and unethical and want to monetise a service I already paid for and hide the fact in the small print?

          </Quote>

          And you make a concious decision as to which ISP you use. If you blindly agree to a legal contract without being fully aware of all the terms of service, then more fool you. I suggest you watch Dave Gorman's Modern Life is Goodish (http://dave.uktv.co.uk/shows/dave-gormans-modern-life-goodish/watch-online/#2652189551001), especially the bit about being in the audience.

          Why do you assume that because you are paying directly towards part of the service that this covers the entire cost to the provider ? Do you expect newspapers to have no adverts in them and that the cover price covers the entire cost to the publisher ?

          Remember there is plenty of choice of ISP who don't use adverts to subsidise their customer price, although BT may be being forced to subsidise them but that's another discussion, however that may mean paying more up front. You pays your money, you takes your choice.

          <Quote

          "Simple rule to follow, if you use basic internet services only, ie web and email, ISP kit is serviceable. If you use anything that causes the ISP support desk to go, "let me check into that,", their kit is probably worth changing out."

          Or, just a thought (and I realise this is hilarious optimism on my part) a simpler rule still to follow would be for the ISP to supply a router fit for purpose given that that's a part of the service agreement, rather than shelling out for kit you shouldn't have to buy.

          </Quote>

          Fit for what purpose ? As I said they are usually perfectly serviceable for general internet use and that is what low cost standard broadband is designed for. Do you complain to the car dealer that the Ford Fiesta you bought when you went in looking for a town runabout is absolutely useless at off roading ?

          If you want something specialist, you need specialist kit, do your research before entering a legal contract, don't just go on price. FWIW I do reckon that there should be either some sort of discount if you don't want the supplied router, or a nominal charge if you do, so you can do the right research.

          1. rhydian

            Re: Of course if you don't read the small print on BT's consumer T&Cs...

            Great comment Rasczak. I'm sick and tired of people complaining that they can't run web servers etc. off a domestic grade router/connection.

            Everyone knows domestic routers are the most basic of devices the ISPs can get away with because 80% of users will never do much more than web and email with it. If you want full control of your router and one that does all you need, buy your own.

            The only times where complaints have been justified was when VM brought out the superhub which didn't work, but you couldn't use your own kit, and BT's insistence on using an absolutely mental "IP Alias" system on its static IP ranges on business connections.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Of course if you don't read the small print on BT's consumer T&Cs...

              "Great comment Rasczak. I'm sick and tired of people complaining that they can't run web servers etc. off a domestic grade router/connection."

              Just by way of a quick reminder, the original comment was about NXDOMAIN hijacking at the ISP level and its unhelpful consequences for users. It was not a discussion about running servers, not web servers, not VPN servers, not gaming servers, and more to the point it wasn't even about routers. Toddle on back to the cheerleader tryouts, and thanks for playing.

              1. rhydian

                Re: Of course if you don't read the small print on BT's consumer T&Cs...

                Other ISPs are available.

                Or are you under 18 and can't sign a landline contract?

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Of course if you don't read the small print on BT's consumer T&Cs...

                  "Other ISPs are available.

                  Or are you under 18 and can't sign a landline contract?"

                  Good grief. This is about NXDOMAIN problems causing problems for other people which I have to FIX. It's nothing to do with my choice of ISP, which would never, ever in a thousand years be BT.

                  1. rhydian

                    Re: Of course if you don't read the small print on BT's consumer T&Cs...

                    If your having to fix it then you should suggest that whoever's got the BT contract go elsewhere or get someone else to fix it it's causing you this much blood pressure.

                    Or the VPN software provider could of course realise that many ISPs do this and write their software to handle it?

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Facepalm

                      Re: Of course if you don't read the small print on BT's consumer T&Cs...

                      Again. One more time.

                      Nothing to do with our Internet connection. Absolutely nothing to do with VPN software (all of which, from every and any software developer would be affected by this issue). Everything to do with BT deliberately breaking RFC2308 (which is there for a reason) and the NXDOMAIN function of DNS to make more money. The fix is for BT to stop endangering and inconveniencing their customers (whether those customers are aware of the issue or not) by not doing it.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Of course if you don't read the small print on BT's consumer T&Cs...

            "Why do you assume that because you are paying directly towards part of the service that this covers the entire cost to the provider? Do you expect newspapers to have no adverts in them and that the cover price covers the entire cost to the publisher ?"

            Nice attempt to compare apples and space shuttles there - reading the adverts is optional from the outset and my newspaper won't usually attempt to interfere with my efforts to do stuff when I read it. That aside, if you're seriously trying to say that poor cash-strapped BT can't afford to offer me broadband service without advertising subsidies, why would the terms and conditions explicitly mention the ability to opt out? Surely they couldn't afford to?

            "Remember there is plenty of choice of ISP who don't use adverts to subsidise their customer price, although BT may be being forced to subsidise them but that's another discussion, however that may mean paying more up front. You pays your money, you takes your choice."

            If you're trying to instead say they're doing it to keep their prices competitive why are they one of only a handful of ISPs in the UK who do it, with examples of those who don't happening to include Plusnet, also part of BT and also offering consumer broadband?

            "Fit for what purpose? As I said they are usually perfectly serviceable for general internet use and that is what low cost standard broadband is designed for."

            I'm not even sure I can respond to all the things that are wrong with that statement, so I'll just settle for observing that your idea of general internet use is not closely related to reality.

            "Do you complain to the car dealer that the Ford Fiesta you bought when you went in looking for a town runabout is absolutely useless at off roading?"

            Oranges and battleships again. My car does not attempt to drive me to the supermarket and persuade me to buy stuff. It also doesn't unlock itself and offer the keys to thieves.

            "If you want something specialist, you need specialist kit, do your research before entering a legal contract, don't just go on price. FWIW I do reckon that there should be either some sort of discount if you don't want the supplied router, or a nominal charge if you do, so you can do the right research."

            There is absolutely nothing specialist about VPN in 2014, but even if we take your stance that it somehow is, I suggest you acquaint yourself with all the other problems NXDOMAIN hijacking and breaking Internet standards can cause.

  14. PNGuinn

    Here we go again. An upgrade. That breaks VPN. From Big Thief. Who have got Phorm. Is it just me or does my tinfoil hat seem a little warm today?

    Seriously, I've just had incompetance issues from Sky. They switched me over from the old BE network. Should have been seamless. First the interwebs died without warnig. Now on rare occasions the old Thompson BE box used to slow down and sometimes stop. Switching power off and on again used to fix it. Noticed the phone was dead as well. That came back within a few minuites. (Yes, I'm still with BT for the phone - I checked.) No internet. Checked my email via dialup and found an email telling me I had now been transferred to sky and all was hunkey dorey. LIved with it for a few days (to busy) and rang Sky, explained the problem. "Is the green internet light on?" "NO I've just explained..." It's on at my end...." "look I think I know what the matter is ... explain - slowly and nicely - about the power cycling bit and suggest that the "engineer" was probably trying to update the settings while the brute was without power and either he was to thick to notice or his softwaer was too stupid to warn him. Look - just give me the settings and I'll update it myself" "Oh we don't support the BE box - l'll send you out a new Sky Box. " Who makes it and does it have ethernet?" "Sky do" "Rubbish I doubt they make anything. Who makes it for them?" "Er... A .. or B." At least he was right about the ethernet bit. Lucky guess or script right for a change I guess. Arrived next day, and actually worked. So now I've got thes ugly no name box (well its got SKY plastered all over it) that I can't even hang on the flaming wall. Looks like some bit of multipurpose custom gear cooked up by a bunch of gibbons and built in the cheapest Chinese factory available. If anyone is interested - 4 ethernet plus wireless which can be disabled. And has been. Promised credit for time without internet has not materialised. Not a happy bunny.

    Thinking of jumping to Pussnet. Their website seems techie friendly, and they are upfront about the Technicolo(u)r modem they supply, and publicise the settings for bring your own. Yes, I know they are owned by Big Thief.

    I'd appreciate the Hive Mind of the Commentards on Pussnet, but more especially on recommended routers. I really don't like the idea of ANY isp - or anyone else being able to access my router from outside. I'm on ADSL not fibre.

    1. rhydian

      Plusnet seem OK in my experience, no better or worse than any other ISP.

      Personally I'd just buy a netgear DGN2200v4. Not that expensive, straightforward to set up.

    2. Eradicate all BB entrants

      The incompetance was likely part of ....

      .... all three companies involved in the switch, Be, BT Openreach and Sky. My girlfriend was moved over recently from Be to Sky on an LLU line. It seems the instruction to switch it off, move the service, switch it on was screwed up by Openreach as they dealt with it as two seperate work orders because it came from 2 different companies.

      I was with Be and took the offer to jump to Sky fibre not long after the buyout. I have to say that the service and the ugly little box (you mean the discrete little white thing?) have been in situ for almost a year now with no issues. I have rebooted the device twice in that time as sometimes I didn't play fair with what I throw at it (Apart from the usual home stuff I also have a VM lab).

      Heard many good things about Plusnet, but at the moment your ISP isn't the most important aspect of the connection. Many exchanges are now so oversubscribed that no matter the ISP or package, if it goes through one of them you will be lucky if you get a 512Kb connection. Two I know of are Chester and Harrogate.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The incompetance was likely part of ....

        "ut at the moment your ISP isn't the most important aspect of the connection. Many exchanges are now so oversubscribed that no matter the ISP or package, if it goes through one of them you will be lucky if you get a 512Kb connection."

        That makes no sense. ISPs either install their own backhaul or buy it from BT - so it's absolutely your choice of ISP that will determine throughput. If there's congestion, your ISP hasn't bought enough backhaul for the number/usage of customers.

    3. AOD

      Plusnet

      I moved from BE to Plusnet shortly before the $ky purchase of BE was announced.

      We've not had any downtime (running on one of their FTTC connections) and we're using our own router. The ISP supplied one is kept for fallback/trouble shooting purposes only.

      One the few occasions I've had to contact their tech support, they've been helpful, easy to get hold of and straightforward.

      1. Wild Bill

        Re: Plusnet

        I did exactly the same. Really pleased with Plusnet. They actually feel a lot like Be in its heyday did to me. Much better phone support than Be ever had as well.

    4. legless82

      I was in the same boat with BE / Sky.

      I jumped ship to A&A, and never looked back

    5. charlie-charlie-tango-alpha

      Take a look at Andrews and Arnold (aaisp.net).

      No-one, but no-one should use BT.

      1. rhydian

        "Take a look at Andrews and Arnold (aaisp.net).

        No-one, but no-one should use BT."

        I'm no fan of BT, but I did go for them when I moved in to my house two years ago for the following reasons:

        1: My exchange isn't unbundled, so everyone was charging pretty much the same (give or take the odd GB of usage)

        2: BT didn't charge to reactivate the line

        3: The £50 of free sainsburys vouchers kept me in beer for a good while

  15. Alan Brown Silver badge

    I'm more or less happy with the phone.coop - not the cheapest but decent customer service.

  16. Kay Burley ate my hamster

    Virgin Media

    VM regularly reset the 'Allow VPN Pass-through' setting to off.

  17. Avatar of They
    FAIL

    Ahhh BT.

    "Meanwhile, it would seem that BT is fighting to wrest the title of "SuperFail" from Virgin Media – which was previously regularly appearing in these pages in connection with its router woes."

    Given the Super Hub 2 is a steaming piling of donkey poo, it won't be long before they reclaim the crown.

  18. Miek
    Linux

    Virgin Media also interfere with VPN/SSH and probably a lot more, they have justified this to me over the phone by saying "Those are business technologies and your connection is a home broadband connection; we cannot support business technologies on your home broadband connection".

  19. martin 62

    Cant install firmware manually

    BT Home hub updates are handled by a company called motive HDM (http://www.alcatel-lucent.com/products/motive-home-device-manager) and updates cant be installed manually (to stop people messing with features and inexperienced users bricking their routers) This is the reason i use a TP-LINK router with my connection as it allows me to change all the settings and install custom firmware and NOT reply on BT or any other provider to update the firmware and can install custom firmware such as dd-wrt. Plus i know what features are installed and can open/close ports as i wish (the home hub has numerous ports open including port 4567 which allows remote management/ home hub updates by motive).

    1. Bunbury

      Re: Cant install firmware manually

      Seems sensible for someone who knows enough (and I suppose is bothered enough) to do this. Then if you muck it up it's you're own fault. I can't see how the bigger ISPs would allow users to manually update hubs though - for every person actually capable of doing an update/customisation job i imagine there'll be several who think they are capable but actually aren't!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One thing that continues to bother me is that an abnormal number of subscribers seem to think the router and hub are part of the same combined package and there is no other way, and thus think the connection from an ISP is rubbish when the router is even worse than the other providers. There isn't many ISP's who don't offer the ability to use a different router, and most of those that do lock to a type of device can be bypassed by a router that does spoofing.

    It is amazing how many people switch rather than plug in a slightly better router first going from a first rate provider (when it is all working) to an inferior one.

    And as for faults, virtually all ISP's rely on BT for that too, who always take ages and charge high fees to the ISP if it's not a real fault, hence the challenge of getting an engineer out from your ISP

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      @Maiakat

      "And as for faults, virtually all ISP's rely on BT for that too, who always take ages and charge high fees to the ISP if it's not a real fault, hence the challenge of getting an engineer out from your ISP"

      Yes I wonder how many people forget that their broadband "provider" is just piggy backing BT.

      33 years since BT's monopoly officially ended and yet.....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Maiakaat

      "It is amazing how many people switch rather than plug in a slightly better router first going from a first rate provider (when it is all working) to an inferior one."

      You've explained that in your first sentence. I do feel you're being a bit harsh on people who aren't all that interested in the ins and outs and just want to use the Internet. Ideally people should know all about things they're using, yes, but that's the way people are about some things. Especially if they're new to it.

  21. PeterM42
    FAIL

    BT =

    Bunch of Tossers

    End

  22. Dylan Fahey

    Hmmm...

    Do the router devs also work for the Dice Battlefield 4 crew?

  23. T I M B O

    After having been with BT for 7 years then gave them another go that only lasted 6 hours, i can only see one way to help improve your experience on the internet. Get another ISP!!

    The BT Hub 3 version A was replaced many years ago, you should be with Hub 3 version B. I have no idea if version B address the issue with VPN, but it was done to correct an error with seeing external HDD's

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019