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!
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.