back to article BT comes clean on Infinity modem 'upgrade'

National telco BT has been sending letters out to its Infinity broadband customers saying that it will swap their modems for a better version for free, but failing to mention that the real reason for the generous offer is because they could be faulty. The letter to customers, which was forwarded to The Reg by a concerned …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Indeed, I thought they were upgrading my router to the new fancy 'n' router, very disappointed.

    1. Endymion

      Suggest you get a type B Home Hub 3 from ebay... from about £19 on fleabay.

      I've got to say I like it a lot - very stable (for the first time I have uptime exceeding 8 weeks), and good RF performance. It's also got a GigE port, which is great for performance on my GigE home LAN.

    2. LarsG

      DO BT FAVOUR....

      their own customers with regard to broadband speed? I'm always suspicious of this when during certain hours I have significantly reduced speed yet my neighbor who is with BT appears not to be affected.

      I too have unlimited up to 8 which apparently is the max line speed here.

  2. Colin Wilson 2

    Power supply

    They really need to change the power supply too. Both the old, and new 'even better' Openreach modem that you get with BT Infinity say '700mA' on the back. The ultra-cheap 'wall wart' power supply they provide with it says '600mA'.

    And they wonder why they're not reliable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Shouldn't that fail CE marking or fire safety or something like that even if it doesn't actually burst into flames?

  3. AndrueC Silver badge

    PR/marketing bullshit from a large company. What a surprise. Sad to think that they preferred that to an honest explanation.

    1. Tom Melly

      Indeed. I presume BT pay their PR people and don't just crowd-source them or something. How do large companies keep making the fundamental mistake of thinking no one will find out?

  4. squilookle

    It's wrong for them to put this forward as they have, as if they're doing something great just because they can, but at least they're doing something.

    I just got a "Superhub" from Virgin Media, and I have had loads of problems wireless connections dropping randomly - all of the issues I had appear to be common, but VM seem to be doing nothing about it.

    To be fair, though, after fighting with the thing and playing about with just about every setting I could find, I have had no problems for 2 days, so fingers crossed.

    I think ISPs throwing in cheap and nasty hardware to keep their costs down is the current trend.

    1. DJ Smiley

      Hmmmm do you perhaps define doing nothing as 2 or 3 firmware upgrades, plus a revision that allows users to put it into bridge mode as requested?

      Yes, virgin seemed to screw up the superhub too - but they have at least been attempting to put it right and afaik haven't lied about it either.

      1. squilookle

        @DJ Smiley

        Fair point. However, there are still issues with Superhubs running the latest firmware. I withdraw my claim that they have done nothing, and argue instead that they have not done enough.... The issues have been going on for some time, I see no end to the issues, and they are still providing new customers with the affected equipment.

        1. CD001

          One issue I have with the Superhub is that the "auto-detect channel" setting is worse than useless. It's _supposed_ to pick the least crowded channel for WiFi (I live in a flat, there's a lot of WiFi networks within range) ... however it seems to do the absolute opposite. "Ooooh, 6 networks using channel 6, let's go with that!"

          So I was getting something like 3Mbs over wireless on my PS3 and about 28Mbs on my PC wired into the Superhub... switched to channel 10 on the router and I was able to get about 12Mbs on the PS3 - still less than ideal, but better than it was.

          1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

            CD001 this is far from a common problem. Many APs and routers with auto detect seem to have a default channel that they always go to when set to auto-detect. I have a router that always goes to channel 1 no matter how many wireless networks are already on that channel. I've taken to manually selecting a channel.

            And bear in mind that on 11g you only really have three non-interfering channels, so if somebody picks, say, channel 4 that can interfere with 1 through 7. This makes it even harder to find a non-congested channel. Oh and those who would tell me that 11n is a lot better; yes it is, but unfortunately there are many among us who still have 11g kit.

  5. Ashley Adams

    I wonder if the issue affects people like me on TalkTalk's FTTC product which also uses BT Openreach modems. It would be nice to get a real upgrade... the whole setup of an Openreach modem that I "mustn't touch" for at least a year hooked up to a firmware modified old TalkTalk ADSL router seems a little shoddy. So far not had too much trouble with it though.

    1. Jelliphiish

      openreach hardware

      AKAIK the bt router is openreach property. if it gets hot/causes grief, speak to TalkTalk and get them to have Openreach replace it as they're your supplier and BT/Openreach won't deal direct.

    2. micksea173

      I had to basically send an e-mail down to the CEO of Talk Talk as their second line FTTC customer service would not change it. I basically had to send the link down from BT's website about it being changed as they wanted some prove that it was getting recalled.

      What get's me is when I was contacted by Talk Talk CEO's office that mine was not one of the affected ones, but they are still gettin Openreach to change it.

      Which basically sounds like they are BSing about it and it is one of those that is affected.

  6. Mike Tubby

    Huawei HG612 replacement?

    Are we talking about the Customer Premises Equipment (CPE), i.e. the Huawei HG612 VDLS2 modem?

    If so mine gets rather warm and the connection drops out from time- to- time, but I'm with Zen internet - I wonder who will replace mine...


    1. Endymion

      It woule be openreach, but Zen would have to request replacement on your behalf

  7. ajax2061

    Had this just before xmas, they 'temp' fixed it by turning profile down, when I complained at the loss of speed another open reach guy came out and replaced the modem saying that the the chip probably cooked itself. Profile was then returned back up and I was happy again.

    Shame on them for pretending its upgrade

  8. Endymion
    Thumb Up

    It doesn't really matter that it saves BT money in truck rolls and that the replacement units are probably free from Huawei. It's called standing behind your product.

    Well done BT for biting the bullet and saving your customers from downstream problems.

  9. Simon B
    Thumb Up

    I''m not with BT but at least they're fixing it. Why make a fuss about the reason? Stop bloody moaning! lol. At least BT ARE doing something sabout the modem, and they're just making the best of a bad situation by hyping up the replacement. It's done all around by many others, nothing wrong with it.Nice one BT.

    1. CD001

      Ye-es - but why do they feel the need to patronise people by lying (by omission perhaps) about it?

      Surely if they just came clean and said, "yeah, we've recently found a problem with some of our earlier modems, would you like a replacement where we've fixed it" - the response would most likely be "really, oh well, shit happens I guess, sure, I'll have a replacement, thanks".

      I've had 3 recalls on my car since I bought it, which has to be worse PR for the manufacturer than a faulty chip in a modem that BT didn't even make - yet you don't get letters from Vauxhall saying "Hi, would you like a FREE UPGRADE for your car! *coughs brake pedal bearings*".

    2. David Unsworth

      Exactly, I don't know why it's even being reported. Openreach own that modem anyway, I guess they have to say for 'free' to stop the hoards of people phoning up asking how much it's going to cost. Also, it will save blind panic when people get a letter telling them that their modem can overheat.

      Well done BT for doing something about it pro-actively and not just waiting till it breaks.

    3. Mark Honman

      the fuss

      the fuss is that up til now BT have not been taking responsibility for the problem or being pro-active about it. In Oct our FTTP modem failed, but we first had to go through a ritual with the ISP (PlusNet) and BT technicians who fiddled with wiring in the DP thus changing an intermittent problem to a hard fault. Then as our phone services are purchased through a 3rd party we have to contact *them* to get BT to send a technician to fix the wiring - after which we were back to an intermittent brandband fault (well more like intermittently working). Eventually we were lucky enough to be assigned a BT technician who was aware of the root cause and simply replaced the modem.

      The whole thing took about 3 weeks from start to finish and I've very glad we had additional broadband links to fall back on (supplied by Be). It wasn't the nature of the fault, it was the run-around that was so galling and we are now trialling a bonded Be service as a possible replacement.

      Much better for the company and customers to send out a £20 router and save N site visits and unhappy customers.

    4. Wize

      If your car had problems with its breaks, would you rather...

      1) The car company told you there was a problem with the breaks and that they would be fixing them free of charge.


      2) The car company said they were giving your breaks a free upgrade to an even better set than you have at the moment, then fit the same type, but ones that don't fail.

      Ok, so the car example is a bit more extreme due to the risk to life, but still...

  10. Sir Adam-All

    BTO Modem

    Mine ran warm and connx dropped out.

    I mounted it on the wall using the 2 keyhole screw holes on the back. worked fine after that.

    Kelly (the company not the guy) came round before crimbo and replaced it. I asked him why they were replacing it, and he told me its to make it work faster !!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Anyone who has been involved in the procurement process with BT (or VM) will realise that they treat their CPE equipment with the same respect that they give to ordering toilet paper. They use a reverse auction to screw the supplier price down to a minimum and eliminate the higher quality suppliers who make profit to invest in their people/supply chain/R&D.

    BT are not a pleasure to do business with in procurement and I am not surprised that they have screwed up here. Doubtless the money saved in procurement will not be spent on this truck-roll but the failure in the procurement process won't be recognised because it works just fine for saving money procuring stationary.

  12. Wanda Lust

    I wanna tell you a story....

    Spin, spin , spin. Since when has BT's retail operations ever been straight on anything.

    I get my broadband from a provider who wholesale FTTC from Openreach & I got an email before Christmas informing me of this, kudos to that ISP.

    "Why are we (BT) doing this?

    We have recently found a problem with a handful of modems that could cause connection problems with broadband in the future. Although you might not have noticed anything wrong, we don’t believe in taking

    chances. So we are working to replace the current modem with a new one to make sure your service keeps running smoothly now and long into the future"

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The hidden semiotics of "New and Improved".

    Remember, folks, that every time $BIGCORP tells you their latest product is "New and Improved", that necessarily implies that what the bastards were selling you before was "Old and Crap". Funny how keen they are to publicize the former compared to how unlikely they were to have mentioned the latter at the time they were selling you the old and crap stuff.

    For more information on marketing, please refer to the late Bill Hicks.

  14. Oninoshiko

    Strictly speaking

    from "not working consistently" to "working correctly more often" does sound to me like an "improvement."

    So their original statement was correct, although maybe not complete.

  15. No such thing as an Anonymous Coward

    I had a feeling that they were fibbing...

    My FTTC kit worked for the first day, but would start to over heat as well, haven’t used the new home hub, (what a pile of crap, it would stop working at 32 degrees c, while the FTTC box was still going - my upgrade was done during the heat wave (if you could call it that), last year).

    I did the same thing I did with my old Netgear router. I put the thing on it's side to allow the heat to escape properly. Never had a problem since. For the old model that was replaced or the new one that is currently in use.

  16. Joe Montana

    ISP Supplied Equipment

    As someone else pointed out, service providers source the absolute cheapest equipment they can find.

    I was stuck with one of those horrendous alcatel frog modems back when DSL was first rolled out in the UK, i replaced it with my own router just as soon as such devices came on the market and never even considered using isp-supplied garbage after that...

    Unfortunately the trend with FTTC and Cable is to move back towards forcing you to use the provider supplied garbage.

    I have the same issue with sky, their sky+hd box is huge and power hungry compared to comparable receivers available on the market and yet they insist on locking you in to their device.

    It's as bad as the old days when you had to rent a phone handset from BT... Ofcom needs to force these providers to open up and allow customers to choose their own equipment.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT is an ethical company?

    Maybe el Reg could do another gentle nudge and get an answer from the horse's mouth.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could it be the wireless chip was too powerful?......


    Our neighbours had a BT Home Hub 3 installed after an infinity upgrade. I then noticed weird tingling up my right arm and a weird warming feeling in the side of my head if I sat in my living room with my right-hand side to their router.

    After several hundreds of £ of EM Paint, fortunately the symptoms have gone away.

    We don't have any other wireless equipment as we don't want pulsed microwaves in our home.

    It seems unfortunate that as a home owner you have no choice about your neighbours wifi 'invading' your space other than to spend money yourself. Why can't providers fit directional antennas that keep the signal in the householders home and not the neighbours?

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