Friday, 12 June 2009

Dodgy Firmware for BT HomeHub 2.0

It appears that the long awaited firmware update for the BT HomeHub 2.0 is about as unreliable as most BT software. Several users are reporting problems on the support forums and many of those are suffering from losses of sync when doing big ftp file transfers. However, the problem seems to be more widespread than that.

The firmware that is causing all the problems is 8.1.H.G (Type A) which BT rolled out towards the end of May 2009. Unfortunately, BT have not yet provided a way of rolling back the firmware for the HH2.0 to the earlier version - which at least worked after a fashion.

Worse still, because BT have not published the scripts necessary to compile and install custom firmware to the HomeHub, apparently a contravention of the Linux GNU GPL, competent firmware writers have been unable to write alternative code which might have prevented yet another embarrassing failure.

UPDATE 1: Jarviser, the broadband guru, has noted that this happened before when BT updated earlier versions of the HomeHub in 2007. At least then, says Jarviser, BT provided a way of undoing the update. No such luck now, so it is much more serious.


Jamie Holman has just found the following work-around originally proposed by Andrew Jackson on the BT Broadband Forum:

"As with many, I started noticing this problem at the weekend, shortly after receiving the 8.1.H.G firmware. Downloads of any size weren't a problem, and I could upload files of any size if connected to the hub through an ethernet cable, but could not upload wirelessly any file over 2-3MB. Since it works fine through the ethernet cable it was obviously something to do with the way the router handles wireless uploads, so I went into the hub settings and changed every setting I could think of looking for a change; turning off WPA, the firewall, changing channel, etc. Nothing made a difference.

So I talked to the BT support people, who were actually quite helpful. It turns out they have had a flood of calls over this problem and admitted that there's a fault with the firmware and that a fix (newer firmware) should be available by the end of June. She offered to change my router, but I refused on the basis that I can wait for two weeks for a fix (showing some faith in BT here!). Besides, her explanation of how a new router would work is that it would contain the older firmware (not 8.1.H.G) when I receive it, but my thinking was that surely it would update itself as soon as I connected anyway, so what was the point?

The workaround I mentioned was actually on Adam Jackson's post of 29 May (thread 'ftp upload causes homehub to restart'), so credit to him for finding it. His suggestion was to download something simultaneously while uploading. Instead of finding a file to download I tried it playing an internet radio station (in my case, through iTunes) which effectively keeps a download connection active. It worked. Whereas I could not wirelessly upload a file of 3MB before, I successfully wirelessly uploaded a file of 315MB yesterday evening whilst having a radio station on. Happily, having the internet radio on didn't have a detrimental effect on the speed of the upload either. I will continue to use this workaround until the new firmware is available, hopefully at the end of the month.
Apart from this, as I said, it also seems to upload fine if you connect through the ethernet cable instead of through wireless".

UPDATE 3: New firmware has been promised by BT for 26 June 09. Time will tell if it solves the problems or introduces more!


Mr Bernardo said...

Well, the 26th of June came and went. Im still unable to upload. I'm starting to think I should withhold payment, It's been like this for months.

Palantir said...

Sadly, I'm not surprised it hasn't arrived yet. If only BT allowed open access to the hub firmware - some enterprising individual might have written some decent code for it.

Anonymous said...

So I'm guessing this hasn't been fixed yet?
I noticed that ethernet cables are a workaround. Only now I've heard of the download streams. Typically what I found to work is to limit the upload speed via an application (or in the application if you can) and that works.

I can still upload to rapidshare at full speed with no crash, other sites however often still cause crashes, nothing I'm all that happy about.

Palantir said...

No, as far as I know, it's not been fixed as of 12/07/2009, so yet again, BT have failed to deliver on their promise. More off behaviour of the latest firmware seems to be cropping up on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

This is just horrible... I don't have to upload as much as I used to, but now, everytime I do, a crash is expected...

If you could just post here whenever the situation changes, that would be great.

Palantir said...

Happy to post again - if and when anything changes!

Anonymous said...

Just to say that I found this blog and the advice of Andrew Jackson very useful. Have been suffering the BT Upload Blues since May and have now managed to get big (100+meg) files to successfully get up there by simultaneously listening to BBC 1xtra radio, and heard some cool new stuff too. No excuse for B.T. though, useless tossers. Cheers. Si

General Disquiet said...

You are welcome - though all the credit is due to Andrew Jackson!

Still no sign of an update yet - another few days and it will be a month late!

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I'm not even surprised.

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.