Thursday, 24 October 2013

As Predicted, Some BT Routers Won't Download Maverick

Well,  last night I disconnected my trusty 2-Wire 2700HGV BT Business Hub and replaced it with a simple Draytek Vigor 120 broadband modem.  Other than the appalling download speed here in the depths of rural Wiltshire (actually, according to the Highways Agency, our corner of this green and pleasant land is actually a vibrant metropolis) , the download worked.  It only took 11 hours to download all 5.31 GB of OS X Mavericks.

So if you've got a similar hub, you are going to have issues.   I'm now trying to download an iPhoto update of 1.44GB and am wondering if that too is going to stall.   At the moment, only 7.2Mb downloaded.  Hang on though, 30 minutes ago it was at 900Mb and counting.   Here we go again!


An Anonymous respondent advised that the issue with large file downloads may be caused by Content Filtering in v6.3 firmwares. v6.3.9.41 has a known 2GB file limit issue. v6.3.9.63 'might' have a 4GB file size limit. 

The same person provided the following link that might be of use to folks who don't have the luxury of being able to swap out their router.

I should add that I haven't tried this "fix" myself, but I have hacked earlier versions of this router firmware using instruction from this same site and they all worked.  I'm currently using firmware version (Look on the Settings>System Info>Summary page to check yours.

For my own part, it takes me a matter of a minute or two to swap out the routers when needed.  It would take much longer to alter the settings on the 2-Wire - which for me would need to be reset again at the end of the process.  But nice to have an alternative nevertheless.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Apple's OS X Mavericks Seems Set to Confound Some BT Routers

When Apple Introduced OS X Mountain Lion a while back, some of the BT Homehubs and Business Hubs threw a complete hissy-fit and refused to download the upgrade.   The symptom was that the download would stall repeatedly at 53.25 Mb.

Despite BT protestations to the contrary, it turned out to be very much a BT-generated issue and the fix was to replace the BT router with anything else, even temporarily.

Well is seems to be happening again with OS X 10.9 Mavericks.  This time, the download stalls repeatedly at 995.5 Mb.   Looks as though I need to swap routers again overnight.  Such a shame as the 2-Wire BT Business Hub I use on a domestic line is one of the few routers that will hold on to ADSL on a rural, aluminium cable!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

BT"s 53.25 MbDownload Bog-Up Continues

It beggars belief, but the BT 53.25Mb download bog-up continues.  It's now a few weeks since Apple released their Mountain Lion update and it became blindingly apparent to Mac-owning BT customers, both business and a few domestic ones, that something was wrong when they they tried to download it and it and the process stuck at 53.25Mb.

As ever, folks -me included- contacted BT to get their bog-standard initial and I suspect mandatory scripted reaction:  "It isn't our fault - contact X, it is their software/hardware (delete as appropriate) causing the problem."  In this case X was Apple.

It soon became apparent that similar problems were being encountered by Mac users in the US and Australia.  That suggested that either BT might be right in their assertion, or there was a common global cause - but one that only affected some BT users in the UK, but seemingly few, if any using other ISPs.  

A little digging uncovered the fact their was a common link between BT customers in the UK and those in Australia and the US - they all were using the 2-Wire 2700 HGV router - known in the UK as the BT Business Hub.  On BT 2-Wire routers, the issue was quickly shown to be linked to the firmware and a limitation on download sizes.  In fact, the problem wasn't specific to the Mountain Lion download and had been referred to BT months ago in a different guise.  

Overcoming the problem is as simple as replacing the 2-Wire, even temporarily, with another router.  You can even use a HomeHub 2 - possibly the only thing it has ever been good for, other than a doorstop!

Given that the 2-Wire didn't have this problem when it came to downloading Lion last year, it must be a new glitch in the firmware.   It seems that BT have told some users that they can upgrade the router firmware, if the customer provides them with the 2-Wire serial number - although I have yet to see any evidence that this has been done - and worked.

Others have been advised by BT of a series of steps to adjust the router, temporarily, to allow the download - followed by a factory reset to restore the 2-Wire to its former settings.

Still others - BT Business Broadband customers - have been sent BT Business Hub 3s to replace their 2-Wire routers.

The issue and potential solutions have now been well-aired on the BT Domestic and Business Forums. So, given all the above, I was stunned to discover that BT are still telling confused customers that the problem isn't a BT issue.  Writing on the Apple Forum today, welshman07 observed:

"...Only one hour ago I was told categorically that it was impossible for the BT router to be the problem. Then 30 minutes later I spoke to a different guy who was very helpful and admitted it was a BT problem and that it can be solved. I am now waiting for an engineer to phone me back with a solution..."

Isn't it about time BT got its act together?

Firstly, BT need to get their collective heads round the concept that when a customer reports a problem, that there is a problem - until proved otherwise.  

Second, BT's primary working assumption regarding a reported fault, having ruled out simple "customer cock-up," needs to be that there is some sort of BT equipment failure - until proved otherwise.

Third,  BT Group (and independently, Retail, Wholesale and Openreach) need to aggregate and data-mine fault reports - looking for temporal and spatial similarities to rapidly identify issues that are affecting groups of customers or specific locations.

Fourth, when a fault has been shown to be related to BT equipment or processes, BT should admit to it, both to the individuals reporting the fault and if it is a widespread issue, publicly on their own forums.  They should also publicise the remedial action they are taking and the time-scales of the corrective action being taken.

Fifth, BT MUST inform their call-centre staff of all issues of this type that affect multiple customers - to stop them misinforming customers about the nature of these faults.  At best, the current situation all too often smacks of ineptitude... worst, deceit.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

BT's 2-Wire Woes

It seems that the BT 2-Wire 2700HGV Business Hub fiasco continues.  I first recognised there was an issue when I tried to download the Apple Mountain Lion OS X upgrade over a week ago - and like many others,  ran into problems.  If the upgrade began to download, it stalled at 53.25 Mb.

The immediately successful fix was to replace the 2-Wire router with something else, in my case a trusty old Netgear DM111P modem.  However, perhaps as might have bee anticipated,  BT have been making something of a meal of it - at least according to the emails I have received.  BT adopted the usual first stance of sticking their heads firmly in the sand and claiming they didn't have a problem;  "it was all Apple's fault".

The second response, at least according to one individual who contacted me, was that BT began to send out new routers (type unspecified, but I assume it was a BT HomeHub) at the rate of 400 per day to allow customers to download the upgrade.   Clearly an expensive and ultimately unsustainable fix.

Then it was suggested that if business users sent their router serial numbers to BT, a provisioning server would fire off a firmware upgrade.

Now we hear that BT has begun to listen to those of its customers who'd done a little bit of digging and discovered that BT,  in common with a few other telcos around the globe who use 2-Wire routers, who had asked for the firmware and GUI of the 2-Wire to be "locked down" to such an extent that many of its more desirable features were inaccessible to the user, were suffering from similar issues.  In fact, the problem is Apple agnostic and would occur with any download bigger than 2Gb.  It was clearly caused by a firmware/settings issue.   It was the ubiquity of the Mountain Lion download issue that had flushed out the issue.

BT now seem to have accepted this and come up with a fix.  I hear that by changing a few router settings and turning off the firewall, the 2-Wire can be forced to download files bigger than 2 Gb - and then reset to its original settings afterwards - a bodge of classical proportions.  A permanent firmware fix, and one that doesn't diminish the value of the 2-Wire firewall, is needed pretty swiftly.

The really sad thing about this is, if BT had retained the open architecture of the original 2-Wire firmware, instead of trying to lock it down so only they could tweak the router.  Some enterprising BT customer would have spotted the issue, possibly even before it had arisen, and come up with a better and more permanent fix, perhaps even an improved firmware variant.   BT and other UK and global ISPs should really start to ask themselves why many customers consign the ISP-provided routers to eBay or the dustbin, or, why these same customers rave about Netgear DG834 series routers, or those from BiPac, Vigor, etc.  It is simply that these customers understand much more about broadband than their ISPs appreciate, they like to monitor their connections and improve them.   Above all, they have the ability to do this.   We might begin to get things turned around when BT and the other ISP's understand that "crowd-sourcing", if sensibly controlled, could simplify their business and cut costs. Whether it is is improving router firmware, or putting fibre into the ground, a crowd-sourcing approach may have much to offer - selfish self-interest is always a good way to move things along.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Problems Downloading Mountain Lion

There have been several reports of people having problems downloading the latest vesion of the Mac OS - Moutain Lion.  I've had the same problem myself with my own and other MacBooks, an iMac and a MacMini. 

There seem to be two discrete issues when it comes to downloading the upgrade.   The first is an App store message that says:

"We could not complete your purchase.  The product distribution file could not be verified. It may be damaged or was not signed."

It seems that this may be caused, at least in some cases, by Intego Virus Barrier X6.  You will need to remove the antivirus completely, try the download again and now it should begin.  If it does, reload your antivirus.   DON"T FORGET THIS BIT!

The second issue happens when you are happily downloading the upgrade and it gets to 53.25 Mb and stalls.  

This is bit harder to get to grips with, but here is the solution.

Although I am a domestic BT Broadband user, I have a BT 2-Wire business hub which copes with the the dreadful rural telecoms infrastructure in my neck of the woods.   It seems that the 2-Wire is the problem.

Following a lead I found on the internet, I've just replaced the 2-Wire with a Netgear router and the problem has gone away.   The download is now well passed the 53.25 Mb level - 302.46Mb and counting.

Pity it is going to take an estimated 22 hours to complete the download though!

 Bottom line. If you are a Mac using BT Broadband customer, with a 2-Wire BT Hub, running Intego Virus Barrier X6 - you are probably a very unhappy bunny at the moment - unless you have found your way here!

Non-UK readers may wish to know that the BT Business Hub is a 2-Wire 2700 HGV as shown at the top of the page!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Forum Follies

In the last post, I mentioned that the BTCare Community Forum had changed. Whilst there were some encouraging signs that the new forum format might be an improvement on the old, there were also some worrying developments that did not bode well for the future.

My particular concern was the somewhat heavy-handed and immoderate approach being taken to moderation, of what is meant to be a peer community. Two weeks on and it seems clear that those early concerns were well-founded. Dissent and controversy are frowned upon, criticism of BT, however legitimate, is regarded as little short of a capital crime.

This has all been brought to a head by the emergence of several fairly complex issues surrounding the BT HomeHub and its firmware. Whilst these somewhat esoteric points may be beyond the average forum user, they are of considerable interest to those who know a little more about broadband - particularly those issues that relate to security and safety online. Sadly, the knee-jerk responses to a lively and robust debates have been very unfortunate.

A fair number of the longest serving forum members have become disillusioned with the way things are going. It seems that at least one may have been banned for expressing his views on a subject that had clearly gone way above the heads of the forum moderation team. Others have been warned. Still others are preparing to turn their backs on the forum for good. Remember, these are folks who are kind enough to offer their time and know-how to help out other BT customers, whose problems, by and large, BT have failed to diagnose or solve. What is happening amounts to little more than censorship of which Henry Steele Commager, the famous American historian once wrote: "The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion...".

Until the BTCare Community Forum puts its house in order, I no longer feel I have much to contribute there. Nor can I, in all conscience, recommend that BT customers try to use the forum to solve their broadband or telephony problems. Better, perhaps, to go to forums such as that run by Kitz and the FileSaveAs Forum, where the advice given will be independent and non-partisan.

I hope that BT will look again at the forum and how it is run - it has the potential to fill a real customer need and save BT a not insignificant sum of money. The haemorrhage of talent and expertise away from the forum can be staunched, but a lot of goodwill has already been lost or driven away - mine included. It can be won back - with sensitivity and common sense. But it will need winning!

Sunday, 31 January 2010

BT Community Care Forums

Last Wednesday, BT launched its revamped peer to peer support forum as the BT Care Community Forums.

Aside from a few minor teething problems and a growing wish-list of features that need adding or revising, first impressions are rather pretty good. I'm sure many of the niggles will be sorted out and, given a few weeks or months, the forums will be much more usable than their predecessors. So BT are to be congratulated on something of a success.

If you've never visited the Forums before, you might want to do so now. If ever you've had a question about your BT Broadband, it might be the place to find the answer - there are some very sharp folks around with a wealth of experience.

Less pleasing have been the early responses on the Forums to some very legitimate customer concerns about unwanted targeted advertising, tracking, back-doors being left in the BT HomeHub firmware and privacy issues in general. The locking of threads and constant references back to the forum's Terms and Conditions has a horrible resonance of the Phorm debacle that ran from 2007 until last year.

I really, really hope we are not going back to the bad-old-days. I suppose the next week or so will tell.
Having had some major problems with my own broadband service, I understand how others struggle to get help from BT.

There is a lot of good information out there, but it can be hard to find. So this blog is an attempt to pull some of it together, in one place.

It's a blog that really shouldn't be needed - if only BT and possibly other ISP's in the UK, provided useful customer support.