back to article BT FON fail: Telco CHARGES customers for FREE Wi-Fi usage

Telecoms giant BT has admitted charging a number of customers for the traffic racked up by its FON services, which uses a portion of each customer's Wi-Fi connection to provide hotspots accessible to the public. A few weeks ago The Register reported that bungling cops in the grim north of England didn't understand the idea …


  1. Callam McMillan

    I have a really simple solution. Take the BT router and deposit it in the bin (or the back of a cupboard) then plug a proper router in.

    Job done!

    1. JimmyPage
      Thumb Up

      Also works for Virgin ;)

      1. The BigYin

        "Also works for Virgin" You still need to use the Virgin kit, but just in modem mode.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      don't buy the cheapskate internet.

      I know a couple of people who did, and then moaned at large bills from BT.

      "Netflix counts?!?!?!"

      1. AndyS

        Re: or

        Why should netflix not count? Or did these people you know not appreciate how much bandwidth is used by streaming video content?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If you don't make the FON available on your home router then you can't use the bundled free WiFi away from home. It's saved me a lot of money on holidays, using free FON abroad and then using Skype on my mobile.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        FON enabling

        You can enable it whilst you're travelling and then disable it afterwards.

        BT don't seem to have taken that into account.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: FON enabling

          "You can enable it whilst you're travelling and then disable it afterwards.

          BT don't seem to have taken that into account."

          Ever heard of The Tragedy of The Commons?

          For you to have the WiFi to use away from home requires that other people don't behave like you do.

    4. Reading Your E-mail

      or just switch of the FON section, it's not difficult to do!!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Correct Term

    Any fule kno. The correct term to describe the number of customers affected by an outage - where the number affected represents between 0 and 100% of your customer base - is "Less than 1 percent".

    1. theblackhand

      Re: The Correct Term

      And never specify what the "less than 1 percent" was for.

      i.e. We are aware that some users were affected. This was less than 1% (of the worlds population).

      1. tony2heads

        Re: The Correct Term

        After all the UK population is less than 1 % of the world population

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Replaced my buggy BT homehub (which had all manner of problems with all manner of simple things) on my BT Infinity with a Asus RT-N66U

    The only thing that hates the N66 is the BT Vision box, so nothing of any consequence

    Everything else works dandy

    Took some research to find a router that would swap in so nicely

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Interesting to see your recommendation for the Asus RT-N66U. In view of the Reg review of 802.11ac routers, does anyone know if the RT-AC68U will replace a BT Homehub?

      1. Jon Egerton

        RT-AC68U? - probably

        My RT-AC66U works perfectly so would imagine the AC68U would be fine.

        TBH I've run a variety of routers on my infinity connection (Linksys, EdiMax and so on) with no problems.

        Only one that was dodgy at all was the home hub.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: RT-AC68U? - probably

          Why did they take wall mounting away from the RT-AC68U ?

  4. bitwise

    BT Hub has f/a QOS !

    Given that 1 device updating on my wifi, kills everything else - FON makes no sense, the router is just too poor.

    We had to turn it off, as neighbours using it killed connectivity, get some bloody QOS on your routers BT !

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Fihart

    Idiot Users

    Call from friend: "my internet seems to have disappeared. BT say the server must be down".

    This is the friend who had a desktop PC wired to an ancient BT router. But she then bought a laptop with wireless. When I asked if she had now got a wireless router from BT she replied that she didn't need one as she had internet from BT via wireless anyway.

    Next time I visited to fix some other bit of tech I saw that indeed she had BT wireless -- but she was clearly tapping into a neighbour's BT FON facility. She brushed away my concern that she should actually use the broadband she was paying for by getting a wireless router connected to her own ADSL feed.

    So when the call came the other day I sighed and explained that probably the neighbour whose service she'd been using unwittingly had gone on holiday and turned off the router.

    "But I'm paying for BT broadband, I don't understand."

    I think she still doesn't really believe me but has agreed to ring BT and ask for a wireless router.

  7. mrmagoo

    Insert title here

    I don't know if I have just been lucky but I have had 2 home hubs now, a v3 and a v5 on Infinity, and not had any of the problems I constantly see posted about them. My FON is on and we have 2 heavy internet users over 6 or 7 devices including the consoles. I can max out the connection downloading from Steam (though individual connections seem to go no higher than 1.5mb/s) without my flatmate even noticing and he gets very loud if his connection wobbles even slightly.

    That said I can understand the BT hate. Every service I have had from them, right back to the dial-up, ISDN or nothing days, has been absolutely terrible until Infinity.

    1. Lionel Baden

      Re: Insert title here


      I have to say the only ever Issue i had with a BT router was trying to play test Drive Unlimited, bt routers were throttling the P2P traffic.

      Otherwise we have 5 computers 2 laptops 1 tablet and 4 phones and 1 p and a now TV box.

      All the media in our house is streamed (no arial) and never ever had a problem, even when I am Maxing out on RS downloads, my wife is still able to watch Iplayer etc etc

      BT routers .. Ill stick with them till they cannot serve their purpose. Although It makes me laugh when ppl Bin their BT routers and go out and buy a thompson !!

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: Insert title here

        "All the media in our house is streamed (no arial)"

        That's what happens when you're under the sea.

        Under the sea!

        Sorry, it's been a long day.

        Steven R

        1. MyffyW Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Insert title here

          It's Ursula and those eels you need to watch out for :-)

          1. Steven Raith

            Re: Insert title here

            It's been so long since I've had any attention, that I probably still would. Even if it involved the eels.

            Steven "Not a ladies man" R.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The bloody router is inside my house...

    ... so I will bloody change the bloody password or the bloody name of the bloody SSID on it, so nobody else has even visibility of my bloody computers.

    Sanctioned freeloaders or not, nobody is riding on my setup for free. They will have to pry my D-Links and Netgears and whatnot routers from my cold, dead hands before getting free access that "won't be charged".


    Do you want to give free access, BT? So install your own bloody stuff on the telephone/electricity pole at my doorstep, instead of leeching my 'leccy.

    Yeah, free Wi-Fi is all well and ok, until someone hacks the bloody router (or the admin password locked away at some BT cupboard) and start hijacking my gear for botnet usage.

    No, I'm not a client of BT, but I wouldn't agree to my ISP making my home a freeloading wi-fi hotspot and promising "not to charge", no matter how hard they promise my stuff is in 'whole different network' of the freeloader wi-fi.

    It was bound to happen, and so it did.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The bloody router is inside my house...

      Or you just turn FON "bloody" off....

    2. Cynic_999

      Re: The bloody router is inside my house...

      Nice attitude that no doubt suits your present situation. But you will no doubt think differently when it is *you* who needs an Internet connection and all the other people who have the attitude of "It's my toy and I'm not sharing."

  9. Steven Raith

    I always share my wifi

    My neighbour loves the way she uses her hands when sh....oh, right, wifi, not wife.

    *puts away fruit bowl*

    Steven R

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon
      Paris Hilton

      Re: I always share my wifi

      I wouldn't share my wifey - totally rubbish

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: I always share my wifi

        I wouldn't share my wife either, because I don't have one.

        Or a fruit bowl. I'm Scottish, there are laws about that sort of thing. Eating fruit, that is.

        Steven R

  10. Zack Mollusc

    Free FON wifi

    Er, if you buy the cheapest and lamest internets from BT, what is to stop you connecting through the FON and using loads of data? Other than billing cock-ups.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Free FON wifi

      Certainly seems to be a flaw in the system!

    2. Jan 0

      Re: Free FON wifi


      You won't get loads of data, because the Fon stream is throttled.

      Back in the day when I was a Fonero with a real Fon, I used to get paid for sharing my wifi.

    3. Haku

      Re: Free FON wifi

      I just did a simple BTWIFI FON speed test using my tablet.

      Connected through my private home wifi connection I got 33mbit down and 18mbit up.

      Then I connected to the same router using the FON connection, 5mbit down and 11mbit up.

      But speed tests through a wired connection are in the 79mbit/18mbit area, so fast that I doubt I would ever notice if even several people were actually using the FON connection of my router and maxing out all of their given 5mbit download speed...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Free FON wifi

      Nothing at all to stop this. BT are happy for you to do it. It's a perk of their service.

      Only thing is that there's an app for android to log you into FON automatically. But I think not for windows OS, so you'd need to do it manually (web) each time. Oh, and not use wired connection ofc.

    5. Cynic_999

      Re: Free FON wifi

      You get a unique BT login and pw to use BT Wi-Fi hotspots, and I had assumed that whatever data you downloaded under your personal login would be added to your domestic data usage - so you would still be charged if logged on to your own hotspot. I have an unlimited BT Infinity account, so pay the same no matter how much (or little) I download, so I've never gone into it to find out for certain.

  11. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    I've had the same problem with BT for years. They keep asking me if I want their phone and broadband {cough} service. Nope. I got away from them years ago and never looked back.

  12. Chad H.

    When I was with Bloody Terrible, I mean BT (as they were the only ones who'd remove the dreadful sky LLU line for free), I enabled FON (to get the free access), then prompty disabled Wireless, letting another device handle it.

    Best of both worlds.

  13. Pypes

    7.385 million!

    for when 3 significant figures just isn't enough.

  14. Old Handle

    So do FON users get a separate IP address?

    1. Haku

      Yes they do, I confirmed this a short while ago when I did a speed test to see how much the FON connection is throttled by.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fon users get a separate IP address if it's done using the built in software on the homehubs, but that's not the case with Fon's own access points.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    20GB usage limit !

    Is this 1999 ?

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: 20GB usage limit !

      My back of the hand calculation indicates that you could use a 56k modem 24/7 for over a month and still not use 20GB.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 20GB usage limit !

        Sir spoon

        yeah literal, whatever

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT Cannot even filter out downloads for BBC iPlayer content on my Youview box on my Infinity account like they said they would in the advertising.

    This does mean that I pay for 20GB a month limit and download 200GB + and don't have to pay for it! as they cannot track iPlayer separately.

    Who ever said BT are cheap must be mad. I'm moving to PlusNet now and with the cashback I'm getting it is almost £0 for 76MB unlimited fiber for the first year just paying the line rental.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "I'm moving to PlusNet now"

      Also known as BT Yorkshire.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT Sucks

    Yeah disabled my Public FON straight away.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BT Sucks

      .don't get Crabby

  18. MyffyW Silver badge

    Game Theory

    When I first heard of the FON concept it struck me there was an inherent contradiction:

    - It's useful to be able to use other people's WiFi when out and about.

    - It's tempting to disable the service on your own kit to preserve all that bandwidth for yourself.

    So the utility of FON relies on other people being less intelligent (or less selfish) than yourself.

    Does that point to deep moral failings on my part?


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