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.

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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.