back to article BT OpenZone: Is it or isn't it?

BT's decision to upgrade every BT Business Hub, enabling them to operate as OpenZone hotspots, has been controversial - the fact that the company seems unable to decide if users are being opted into or out of the system can only make things worse. The email sent to customers seems pretty explicit, stating clearly that "after …


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  1. Conor Turton
    Thumb Up

    A good idea poorly implemented.

    If you look at the home version of this, opt into Fon as a BT Internet user, you get access to other Fon hotspots as well as the BT Openzone ones using the minutes in your internet plan. Basically it gives BT internet subscribers a way of getting a comprehensive wifi coverage at little cost to everyone. For example, my town is a small one in the middle of nowhere with a population of 11,000. Looking on the BT Fon page, the amount of hotspots there are gives nearly full wifi coverage of the town. Handy for those of us with wifi enabled smartphones and netbooks.

    Sadly the implementation through the back door isn't exactly the best way to get people on board. As in the title of my comment, it's a good idea poorly implemented.

  2. Elmer Phud

    I wouldn't mind . . .

    . . . sharing my hub if they'd bung fibre in here first (for nothing)

    Share and Enjoy etc.

  3. Rob Beard

    Haven't they heard of Opt-In?

    I dunno, first Phorm and now this, it seems like BT are really loosing the plot somewhat.

    I don't see how they can have it turned off by default (but still send out firmware updates anyway) and ask their customers if they'd want to opt in?

    I can think of a couple of customers who are on slow connections but luckily for them aren't using BT Broadband. If they were on BT and their connections were made slower then they'd hardly have any usable bandwidth left.


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds dubious

    It seems (to me at least) that unless you're running an internet cafe or some such, you're not going to want to provide open internet access direct through your router, regardless of how low a priority it is.

    There are security issues, liability issues (what happens if the plods come knocking on your door asking about that load of kiddie porn that got downloaded the other day?), and in my experience, most companies that want to deliberately provide internet access as a convenience for their customers do so by linking the access point through their company firewall etc, so that their customers can't get up to things they shouldn't be, which is sensible. In fact, to contradict what I said above, you might want to do this even if you were running an internet cafe.

    All in all, this sounds like a very ill thought out and somewhat daft idea, leaching resources from their customers (who's paying the 'leccy bill?), all in the name of creating an "open" network for BT's own purposes and bottom line.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    No Probs here

    Not a problem for me, as I am with BT, but don't use their POS router!!

  6. Paul

    The only dithering they're doing...

    ... is the result of the bad press. They're hoping that just like Phorm, people will get upset and then after a while, will give up because BT says nothing.

    Whoever is running this company should be bought to task for their blatant disregard of customer privacy. Between their rolling contract schemes, to Phorm and now onto this it's disgraceful.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I highly suspect...

    ... that most of the poor unfortunate people using these BT boxes will be the kind of people who lack the technical knowledge to understand or do anything about it. Most people with a technically competent IT staff would probably be using another form of router/gateway.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Sounds Dubious

    "liability issues (what happens if the plods come knocking on your door asking about that load of kiddie porn that got downloaded the other day?)"

    Actually, that must be an awesome excuse. If this is sanctioned by BT and pushed out to punters, you cannot possibly be liable for *any* traffic that crosses your network any more, otherwise the whole exercise is utterly pointless and borderline illegal anyway.

  9. amanfromMars Silver badge

    And ....

    And if one has a monthly usage limit of 10GB/20GB does an anonymous leech eat into it, allowing BT to charge you ..... "We are also increasing our charges for over usage to £1 per extra GB for all customers who are not on unlimited products."

  10. censored

    Seems a like a great idea...

    I'm with Virgin. I'd happily have a separate channel on my router to enable other Virgin customers to get wifi, provided I could get wifi on all other Virgin customers' routers in return.

    Provided I get my full speed provisioned in addition to anything else the open channel might do, of course. And since everyone would be a Virgin customer with a unique wifi login (as BT Openzone customers are) there's no problem with illegals - they'll be logging who did what on it anyway.

    Surely it's the future of broadband? Everyone's connection works together to give us all a bit of connectivity away from home.

  11. Steve
    Thumb Up

    I think it's a good idea

    People will not opt-in, BT have taken the right decision, as long as there is no security problem, I think all ISP's should do this!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    minor correction

    But after we covered the story, BT got in touch to tell us a pack of lies

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Will it stay off?

    So, if they update the firmware and turn this on. And then the customer turns it off. Will BT then inform the customer of newer updates? I am guessing that those later updates will "accidentally" turn it back on again.

    Does anyone know if this is being done as a DMZ? i.e. kept off of the customer's own network?

    I can see this being a problem with a lot of my clients. Some of them use these "free" BT routers. I can see the questions now - "why has by wireless speed dropped?" "It's 'cos you have half the neighbourhood using it for their torrents...."

    And I am sure there have been attempts to nail file sharers \ pedos \ etc based on just the IP Address that is used to connect to the Internet. So does this mean that anyone with this Opensore thing left running will have an immediate get-out clause when taken to court?

    ARF - and the obvious one... will Phorm be able to tell the difference between the legitimate BT Customer and the Openzone user?

  14. simon maasz
    Thumb Up

    Not all bad

    I have this enabled in our coffee shop. BT offered the firmware upgrade a couple of months ago. For me it is something to offer customers that costs me nada. I did have to enable openzone within the router admin screen after the update (perhaps that has changed now?) I really can't see what the fuss is about as the openzone facility runs a separate SSID, a separate subnet mask, takes second priority to local traffic, and anyone using it is identified as a registered openzone user so the "stolen bandwidth for dodgy uses" angle is a non-risk as well. However, it does surely murk the waters for IP checking from people downloading music etc. Be interesting to look into the future and see the music co's asking who was using xyz IP at a certain time, only to find out it was an openzone hotspot......

  15. sleepy

    No respect for customers

    BT have no respect for their customers (like most telcos unfortunately); customers are just cattle to be milked of revenue as per the remit established by "government".

    This is indeed a good idea, but trust BT to strongarm the customer. High time for government mandated neutral pipes with no tied derivative contracts.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Truth

    I guess it is a case of deciding what to say which 'version' is the truth and going along with it.

    Of course they have been known to bend the truth somewhat, after being caught out about the early Phorm trial denials.

  17. charles blackburn

    I would be opn to the prospect if...

    BT would either cut my bill down to compensate me for ME providing a service FOR THEM or pay me directly..

    hey.. maybe I should create an invoice to BT for bandwidth used by their openzone hotspot that they didnt ask for :P

    i reckon 1000 quid a kilobyte is fair dont you? :)

    mine's the one with the blank invoices in the pocket

  18. Mike
    Gates Horns

    So, is it good or is it bad?

    On one hand, BT says that business users should not be concerned about the change, as OpenZone traffic is low priority, only a fraction of the available bandwidth, blah blah. OK so they're saying - our OpenZone signal is really crappy, don't worry about paying visitors bogging it down....wait....did I say paying? Paying customers being told that the OpenZone signals they will be paying to use are actually very crappy, low priority, blah blah... anyone see the irony here?

  19. Anonymous Coward


    10 x data multiplier.

    If your monthly download limit is low this could be useful... if, over a month, 50 MBytes is downloadad by their OpenZone customers, you get 500 MBytes added to your limit.

    FTTH would be better, but I'll be dead by the time it arrives (I'm over 40).

  20. Anonymous Coward

    I can't think of a single reason why...

    ...any business would want to allow this. The Wifi connection is bound to be on the "wrong side" of the firewall, i.e. on the LAN side, so any hacker with a BT Openzone account could go a surfing around the corporate network.

    We've just taken delivery of a shiny new BT router. I havn't seen it myself, as I work from home, but I've just issued an alert notice for my colleagues to read the article and take a decision. We have the necessary skills to make a decision if needs be.



  21. n
    Thumb Down

    "the law?...we are the law"

    BT openworld are out of control...

    while i was out I had 2 engineers break into my property last week, to "check" for an alleged line problem someone in another house was having. Left me with a broken lock and not so much as an apology. Guess what? Turns out they didn't need access after all...."there's nothing there, the junction box must be in a neighbours property" they mumbled to a neighbour when he questioned the halfwits.

    Suppose i should be grateful at getting off lightly with criminal damage, breaking and entering, and harassment.....

    they could have installed homehub.

  22. Steve

    Technical Details

    How does this work from a technical point of view?

    Does it use a seperate vLAN or subnet on the LAN side then pump the OpenZone traffic over the same WAN connection (e.g it's like having two LAN's merged into a single WAN routing table) or is it having 2 virtual ADSL circuits plumbed into a single router and therefore the traffic is completely split?

    Or more to the point, if I was to shove wireshark on the ADSL port would I see traffic from two seperate public IP's or just one? In terms of legality this is a point...

  23. Sillyfellow

    isp routers

    can never be trusted. because the companies providing them can never be trusted.

    i've been a BT customer since day one, using proper kit from a manufacturer (not isp). one day BT sent over a free shiny new router which i subsequently ignored. then few days later got a call from BT asking if it arrived, and then asking why i hadn't plugged it in. i told them why and said the thing they sent is still in it's plastic and they can come get it. several similar calls occurred over the following weeks where they tried to persuade me to plug it in. told them it'll never happen. eventually the calls stopped. the router is still here somewhere unopened...

    although many have probably had similar experience, it's interesting for others to know about just how much BT want their customers to use their dodgy kit. and also to know that it's better to use a proper generic router that you alone have full control of.

  24. Stephen

    Great idea, poorly implemented

    I think the idea is great but just poorly implemented. I wish people could read the BT FAQ on it before posting here.

    The openzone network runs on a completely different SSID and subnet, it will grant no access to the internal network. Secondly it does NOT eat into your bandwidth cap.

    I however don't really understand why anyone would want to do this. Home users sure but business users.. why?

    What would be absolutely great is if they could provide you with your standard 2mb and throw an extra 1mb on top. Limit the openzone bandwidth to 1mb. This way its a great incentive for businesses to signup and run this for BT... when no one's using the openzone you got a faster internet connection @ the same price, when people are using it then you're just running at your old standard speed.

    The only potential downside is WIFI bandwidth but no one should be relying on a wifi network in a serious business pushing data around.

  25. Stephen
    Paris Hilton

    Enabled as default

    BT FAQ:,427,1955&p_faqid=9797

    "As the hub’s default setting is for the service to be enabled, you need to disable the service again if you perform a factory reset in the future."

    Paris cos she's smarter than those posting here.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not really optional...

    After reading the story I checked our router's config website and it has indeed been updated with a pretty new interface and BTOpenzone turned on. It doesn't seem to have broken anything and we haven't noticed any degradation in performance.

    We had automatic updates turned on, but definitely haven't been told about the change, let alone given the opportunity to opt into the programme. In config website I do indeed have the option to turn it off, and I can see that I have one client connected out of a maximum of 13, though I can't alter any of those parameters.

    So, should I be a good host and let my client stay connected, or should I bolt the door?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    where next

    BT is at pains to point out that OpenZone traffic is low priority, and that OpenZone users won't impact on the customer's bandwidth cap;

    So if the business has an openzone account they get free broadband through there own router without affecting their cap?

    Bt is at pains to point out that traffic is low priority.. and low volume?? well until they get better coverage.. but do customers know its thier electricity being used to send out the openzone wireless data...

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Opt-out, opt-in

    BT really seem to be having a lot of trouble deciding what's opt-in and what's opt-out these days.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My neighbour

    One of my neigbours WiFi networks is showing as BT Openzone, an unsecured connection, so how has that come about? I wouldn't have thought he'd be a business customer running from a flat in a council block of flats.

  30. Mike Roantree

    What I would like to know is

    If someone is willing to share their BB connection to others who pay BT for access, whats in it for the sharer?

    Its not like if you share u get access to other peoples connections when needed, just allows the BT to offer more coverage with no outlay for them (unless I have missed something)

  31. Adrian Coward

    It is *supposed* to be Opt In

    Any router that upgrades should have Openzone disabled. It will be enabled if they choose to opt in, or if they factory-reset their router.

    At least that is how it's supposed to work.

  32. Dan Spencer

    It *is* to be Opt In

    My hub was upgraded last night, Openzone is disabled by default. The email BT sent also said that:

    "Offer public wireless access to your visitors

    You can now offer your visitors and customers secure, public wireless internet access using your Hub as a BT Openzone wireless hotspot. Rest assured that your private network will stay secure. Your visitors can only access the internet using their own accounts on the completely separate BT Openzone service.

    To set up the BT Openzone wireless hotspot, just follow these simple steps:

    connect your PC to the Hub via Ethernet or USB or wirelessly using the BT Business Hub SSID

    open your web browser and type into the address bar: http://home

    the first time you access http://home, set an admin password (if asked to do so). Once you’ve done this, click on “BT Openzone” in the “Quick Service Links” section and click “Enable” (if asked for the password, enter it and click “Enable” again)

    Your Hub will now broadcast the BT Openzone SSID, as well as the BT Business Hub SSID for your own wireless connection.

    Enable your Hub as a BT Openzone hotspot, then click here to enter our prize draw, and you could win an 8GB iPod Touch, or 20 x 1 hour BT Openzone vouchers!

    Click here for Prize Draw Terms and Conditions.

    If you don’t wish to offer public wireless internet access to your customers and visitors, please ignore the above steps. Your Hub’s default status will stay set to ‘Disabled’ for publicly accessible BT Openzone and will be available for your use only. "

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