back to article BT's Wi-Fi Disc ads banned because there's no evidence the things work

BT has been told to stop claiming its Wi-Fi discs work in “every room” of the home after complaints from rivals and the public alike. The one-time state monopoly’s headline ad claim, which states: “Only we guarantee Wi-Fi in every room. Clever new Wi-Fi Discs extend your signal to every part of your home” has been branded “ …

  1. DavCrav Silver badge

    "Implausibly, BT also claimed to have boosted download speeds from 6Mbps to 100Mbps+ on average during testing."

    It's fairly, but not entirely, implausible. I just put a mesh network (for that is all that this is) in my house, and 1) it reaches every room of my house now (as I put the disc-shaped objects in good places) and 2) I get massively improved speeds. For example, in my study, far away from my original router, I now get 109.3 Mbps using the network, as tested two minutes ago. Note that disc 1 of the mesh network is plugged directly into the router via cat6, so the (Virgin Media) WiFi is not used at any point.

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      "...It's fairly, but not entirely, implausible. I just put a mesh network (for that is all that this is) in my house, and 1) it reaches every room of my house now (as I put the disc-shaped objects in good places) and 2) I get massively improved speeds. For example, in my study, far away from my original router, I now get 109.3 Mbps using the network, as tested two minutes ago. Note that disc 1 of the mesh network is plugged directly into the router via cat6, so the (Virgin Media) WiFi is not used at any point...."

      Personally, I prefer not to use any ISP provided equipment and to that extent I run a Sophos XG and use three AP55 access points.

      The three give full coverage including the garden and the office in it. Anything that can use 5GHz tends to get the full 60'ish Mbps of the fibre.

      Any two of them could actually provide the same coverage.

      It handles all the PPPoE as well - interestingly when I first made the move (I'd had to stick with the original, truly awful, BT business business hub 3 for a good long while because of how BT did their static IP assignments) the connection speed jumped by around 15%.

      When I moved ISP, it was a simple matter to update the PPPoE settings and keep all my other settings intact.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Yeah. I put my verminmedia box into modem mode and run everything through a cloud managed switch with PoE to three wireless APs covering the lower part of the house, the upper part of the house and the garden (you can get some lovely waterproof outdoor WAPs nowadays, or even marine-grade aerials and separate WAPs to put somewhere less weathery). Victorian terrace with solid walls and laminate flooring (foil backed insulation underneath it all!)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You're obviously not the target market for this, though. This is supposed to be a plug and play product for people who don't have the technical skills to set up something "better".

        1. Claverhouse Silver badge

          How are they supposed to exercise these skills if they are never told of the 'better' options ?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I'd love to know why someone who just wants the TV and laptop to work is going to be teaching themselves the finer points of networking, buying expensive equipment and wiring their house to support it. Especially when the additional cost and hassle doesn't actually translate into a meaningful improvement for those applications.

            I get that this is a site where IT people congregate (I'm one of them) - perhaps those who are upvoting comments like yours need to take stock of the real world.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Same here. Mesh. Got three Tenda MW6 cubes (a shade over 100 quid), lobotomised the ISP router and plugged 'em in.

      Perfect signal everywhere and for bonus points, 2.4 and 5ghz devices work in parallel for the first time ever.

      1. matjaggard

        I've just sent my Tenda boxes back because I had to restart all of them manually once a week or so when the speed dropped to less than 0.2mbps.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Tenda?

          I had a few of those.

          Swapped the firmware for Tomato as I didn't trust it after getting my hands on them. Still don't trust that even with the firmware replaced it's not been backdoored in some way. Now sat vegetating in a box somewhere in the graveyard of tech under my bed.

    3. ExampleOne

      I wasn’t aware BT offered anything faster than VDSL, in which case streaming over 100Mbit/s is extremely implausible given the standard speed ceilings for that technology.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        They've offered 330Mbit over fibre to the premises for a few years to a select but growing few, and up to 330Mbit on G.fast for a couple of years as well.

    4. Wayland Bronze badge

      I fitted a TP-Link beam shaping Access Point to replace a standard router and access point set. Speed and coverage went from 8meg with poor coverage to 70meg with full coverage.

      A beam shaping Access Point is far better than a WiFi booster. It focuses itself towards the station drastically increasing power and sensitivity.

  2. TonyJ Silver badge

    Surely not?

    An ISP making claims of performance that couldn't be verified/live up to the hype?

  3. MatelotJim

    MikroTik for the win

    Backhaul is still over the wireless waves, the more users the worse it gets for everyone. I'm running a MikroTik router (RB4011) and a PoE switch to power a couple of MT wireless access points and using their CAPsMAN to control the whole thing, including a guest and "idiot of things" virtual SSIDs on their own VLANs. Even using powerline to run more access points would be preferable to WiFi repeaters.

    1. Joe Montana

      Re: MikroTik for the win

      Given how widespread internet access is, why arent modern houses built with cat6 cabling and consideration for the optimal access point location(s)?

      I rewired my older house and ran cat6 under the floors.

      1. MatelotJim

        Re: MikroTik for the win

        I've just bought my 1960s built house and am running powerline to connect APs at the moment but I've got to replace the central heating system (the lot!) so will take the opportunity to run some cat6a around the place while the floors are up.

        Mikrotik have a meshing system that uses an additional 5GHz radio to handle backhaul between devices, leaving the main 2.4 and 5 free for clients. I'm sure the other meshing stuff on the market use something similar, MikroTik are just quite open about it and allow their hardware to be completely re-configured if you want to.

      2. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: MikroTik for the win

        Some new builds down the road from where I lived nearly 20 years ago were networked end to end. Now, it probably all needs replacing as it will be out of date. Given how most households are quite happy with wifi, cabling is a waste of money for most people.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT. True to Phorm

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Only we guarantee Wi-Fi in every room"

    The comments here alone demonstrate that BT is overly exaggerating once again. WFi extenders have existed since the Internet came into our homes. BT is far from being the only company creating such equipment.

    On the other hand, it seems that BT doesn't have the requisite experience to make a good product, unlike many other vendors who've gotten the tech down pat since last millennium.

    Who'd've thought ? Oh, everybody. I see.

    1. Expat-Cat

      Re: "Only we guarantee Wi-Fi in every room"

      A matter or wording.

      "Only we guarantee Wi-Fi in every room" is not the same as "Only We have the tech for wifi in every room"

      Just offer 20 quid back, and only you have a guarantee, Weasel Ads ltd.

    2. rjsmall
      Holmes

      Re: "Only we guarantee Wi-Fi in every room"

      "WFi extenders have existed since the Internet came into our home"

      This makes me feel old as the internet first came into my home via a 14.4k modem. WiFi would have sounded like black magic back then.

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: "Only we guarantee Wi-Fi in every room"

        You're not that old, I started with a 2400 modem.

        1. BenM 29

          Re: "Only we guarantee Wi-Fi in every room"

          2400? 2400? My first modem was a 300 baud beast... 300 baud on a good line, 120 on a bad one (and back in those days bad lines were mmore common than not).

          It might have been slow but it would connect on lines that the more modern(at the time) 1200 baud devices wouldn't (even if set by switch to 300 baud)

          /me wipes away a nostalgic tear remembering happier, SARS-CoV-2 free, times

          1. Caver_Dave
            Holmes

            Re: "Only we guarantee Wi-Fi in every room"

            300 baud acoustic coupler!

            Now I do feel old!

            1. WanderingHaggis

              Re: "Only we guarantee Wi-Fi in every room"

              Luxury when I were lad we used homing pigeons according to https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2549 and though ourselves lucky.

            2. AMBxx Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: "Only we guarantee Wi-Fi in every room"

              At least you had 1s and 0s. We had to make do with just 1s.

              (with thanks to Dilbert)

              1. mrs doyle

                Re: "Only we guarantee Wi-Fi in every room"

                luxury. we had carrier pigeons.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: "Only we guarantee Wi-Fi in every room"

        "WiFi would have sounded like black magic back then."

        I actually INSTALLED a number of 1.6Mb/s (what would become 802.11 - not 802.11b) rangelan devices - did you ever wonder where the channeling came from - they wouldn't interfere with each other.

        You really don't want to know how much they cost (For that matter my first 14k4 modem's price was 4 figures...)

        1. Matt_payne666

          Re: "Only we guarantee Wi-Fi in every room"

          We started using wifi last millennium! I remember being at a trade fair, we were running Nortel kit with a similar 1mbs speed, even Apple weren't wireless back then!!!

          If I remember it was somewhere around £1.2k for the pcmcia card, the access point was a similar amount and also needed It's own pcmcia card!

          It was magic sharing a dial up modem over wireless at home though!!!

        2. Nick Pettefar

          Re: "Only we guarantee Wi-Fi in every room"

          I worked on WaveLan at NCR in Nieuwegein, Utrecht, Holland, back in the early 90s. That was fun and interesting. The very first WiFi boards I believe. The customer was Barclays Bank, I think, who wanted networking in their stone buildings without having to drill holes. I wrote software to test them to get the MTBF statistics. Pascal and assembler on NCR PCs.

      3. Tony W

        Re: "Only we guarantee Wi-Fi in every room"

        Of course the BT disk system is mesh not extender so it's a lot more convenient for the user. Although it's not quite like other mesh systems because the hub is part of the mesh so you might need only one extra item. They sent me the special hub plus disk to say sorry, after they had sent the wrong powerline extenders three times in a row. (The cock-up was pretty typical BT, I've found their support system extremely willing - but their organisation is obviously very dysfunctional.)

        The disk setup works superbly. I have had several goes at powerline systems and they were unreliable and far worse than the disk even when they worked.

        The hub is not so controllable for the user as many readers here would want. But it's not aimed at you.

        I have also used an acoustic modem and watched text appear on screen at the speed of a slow typist, but I am not particularly proud of it. Just another thing that comes with being quite old.

    3. I am the liquor Bronze badge

      When will BT ever learn

      The ASA has told them a million times to stop exaggerating.

    4. john.w

      Re: "Only we guarantee Wi-Fi in every room"

      I went to a lot of WiFi Alliance conferences when it was still called WECA and we used 16M PCMIA cards to hand around documents as the WiFi was there, but only in spirit.

  6. flingback

    Standby for downvotes!

    I use both BT Wholehome and Tenda Mesh WiFi systems at home and various relatives, generally into a Draytek router. As much as everyone loves to hate BT the Wholehome product is probably one of the best products they have ever stuck their brand on, and in my house where the single router/AP was dire, the four discs we have give us seamless coverage even into the garden. The devices that surprised me were the Tenda "cheap" MW6 - this is an excellent product for the price and works brilliantly.

    What is a little surprising is that the regulator could not justify that the BT Wholehome system was any better than any other offering (which seems to infer a single router/AP from VM, TalkTalk, etc.). This is total tosh as anyone who's installed a mesh or wired roaming WiFi network will attest.

    1. Shardik

      Re: Standby for downvotes!

      You can have an upvote from me. Been through many many routers, extenders, access points and powerline adapters over the past many years. Netgears, Drayteks, ISPs, TP-Links, etc... Moved house and succumbed to the WholeHome 3-disc bundle just to try mesh as the new place was too big with thick walls and I was going to need to buy new kit anyway.

      Been one of the best purchases I've made. Five of us in the house, one virgin router in the living room plugged straight to the first disc, second in the hallway and third on the upstairs landing and the entire place is covered. Had a few initial problems with earlier firmware but has been totally solid for the last 6+ months. Think I've had to reboot 1 disc once and nobody is complaining about speeds or accidental disconnections and eating up their data plans by accident. It just works. If I did want a performance boost I could wire the backhaul, but it's been totally unnecessary, even with 3 kids regularly streaming netflix / iplayer etc..

      I don't care if you can implement it all with a mixture of repeaters and access points and tweaking this that and the other to get a couple more Mb. I care that it works out of the box, life's too short to be spending evenings poking settings and nobody is moaning at me about speed and connectivity.

      1. Joe Montana

        Re: Standby for downvotes!

        These repeaters work by consuming twice as much of the wireless spectrum, causing even more congestion for those around you... Wired backhaul combined with localised low power access points would be far more considerate to your neighbours.

    2. Dabooka

      Re: Standby for downvotes!

      I got those Tenda MW6 and a triple pack of MW3s on an Amazon deala few months ago. I cannot for the life of me get the 3s to pair with the 6 as the primary node.

      Very frustrating as the 6 has a gig port and the 3s don't. I have tried everything and the online advice is rubbish. Have you had this problem

      1. Dabooka
        WTF?

        Re: Standby for downvotes!

        A down vote for positng a question?!

        This place.... WTF man. You didn't even attempt to reply.

      2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

        Re: Standby for downvotes!

        I don't think anyone minds a question, but the punctuation error was unforgivable.

        1. Dabooka

          Re: Standby for downvotes!

          Fair cop.

          I'm normally quite good with these things but occasionally I do type as if I have ten thumbs. I'd like to blame my cheapo screen protector (which has severely impacted the pickup of the screen) but I typed that at my desk, so no can do.....

      3. matjaggard

        Re: Standby for downvotes!

        To get the MW3 and MW6 to work, just pair them with the MW3 as the primary node then plug the MW6 to the router. As soon as you turn off the MW3s the MW6 becomes primary. Having said that, when I did this the whole network of them needed restarting once a week or so due to speed dropping down to under 0.2mbps.

        1. Dabooka

          Re: Standby for downvotes!

          Tried that but only once and I have plenty of time from next week to have another attempt.

          Apparently the MW6 firmware upgrade to v17(?) kills the connection up time, but as it automatically updates you can't really stop it. Hopefully it'll be resolved shortly as they know about it.

    3. Rathernicelydone

      Re: Standby for downvotes!

      I have a terrible Vodafone supplied router (the fibre service itself is very good) so I bought the BT Whole Home discs and had them all connected via cable back to the router and my wifi is both rock solid and with good coverage. My home is not large but still required 3 for good coverage (including the bedroom in the loft) but they are reliable and worked out of the box. A pretty decent product from BT.

      1. Horridbloke

        Re: Standby for downvotes!

        We just ditched Vodafone. Their routers are amazing, they last about six months on average. I just took a big bag of the ones we killed to the recycling centre.

        (I wanted to just buy a good router and swap it in but the person whose name is on the bill wouldn't let me.)

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Re: Standby for downvotes!

          Ha, we hit this at work a few years ago.

          Through various acquisitions, Vodamoan had ended up as the supplier of our leased line internet service - had started as Norweb Telecom, then Yourcomm, then someone else who's name I don't recall, then CLueless and Witless, and then Vodamoan. At each acquisition, knowledge was lost and service got worse. Anyway, Vodamoan told us that they were getting rid of that part of the legacy network - and no we can't transfer the public IPs to any other service with them (we had a /24 block running public hosting).

          Anyway, as we worked through the process of shifting services off that line, one thing we did was get VDSL lines in for several other businesses in the park who we'd split our connection with - and the boss decided to go with Vodamoan due to a deal they were offering in return for all the disruption they were causing us. Vodamoan were just getting back into the DSL market back then.

          We (the techies) weren't aware of the "you can only use our kit" rule until we asked for the PPPoE details for connecting customers' existing equipment to the new lines - you know, the sort of "proper" router that sensible customers use, with proper firewalls, proper port/address forwarding, VPN support, etc, etc. Initially Vodamoan just referred us to the contract terms - until we made enough noise with the account manager and they relented (no public change of policy, just allowed us to have the details). Oh yes, and they had a wonderful policy that you cannot (for any amount of money) have a static IP on the PPPoE connection - if you want a static IP, then you have to pay them for a /27 which is then routed via the dynamic IP. Another cost that didn't crawl out of the woodwork until we were into the "switch customers over" phase.

          This wasn't the end of it though - between them and OpenRetch, they really screwed up several of the installs. When I say screwed up, it was something like a year before I was made redundant and Vodamoan still hadn't got one of the lines working. By contrast (for what resilience we could achieve) we took a line with another provider, the same OpenRetch problem occurred, but the other provider got it sorted in a couple of weeks - had to cancel and re-order the line (due to a numbering problem with their provider), and then cancel and re-order the VDSL service, but they got it sorted where Vodamoan still seemed unable to grasp that there was a problem to be sorted !

          The problem BTW is that the building has cables coming in from two green boxes - some go to some units, others go to other units. So for a new line install, it's a bit of pot luck whether you get the right cabinet based on an address search when OpenRetch are doing the route planning. Not too bad for a phone line as the OpenRetch engineer could manage a re-provision via the correct green box - giving dial tone. But thanks to OfCon rules, he couldn't do anything with the VDSL service which was now provisioned on an inactive line in the wrong green box. It had to go back to the provider to order a "cease and re-provide", invoking another couple of weeks waiting time for the VDSL order to reach the top of the queue - unless you know that OpenRetch could do an expedited provide in these cases without charging for it, and guess what Vodamoan apparently didn't know !

          1. JimboSmith Silver badge

            Re: Standby for downvotes!

            Ha, we hit this at work a few years ago.

            Nothing like as bad as yours but i had issues whilst setting up a retail premises. There's a telecoms company I won't name who were appalling. They get bad reviews on the internet which I read thoroughly once on the project. Had I been around before the contract was 'signed' it wouldn't have gone ahead. What said telecommunications firm were asked was could they install three PSTN lines plus one DSL line? Yes they say they could ignoring the fact that BT/Openreach (can't remember which it would have been as I can't remember the date) would be doing it. We'll also need a PBX as there will be a need to transfer calls between extensions. They say they have a clever virtual way of doing that and no need for a physical box etc. Sadly the manager who signed up to this had no technical experience at all.

            So I'm brought in directly after my holiday to look at the situation regarding this and till points etc. before the shop opens. The company was very prompt at getting the bills sent out sadly not at customer service or satisfaction. I discovered that the three PSTN lines have been wired up one on each floor. So the initial call would be on line one which always came in to the ground floor. The first thing I did was ask how the calls were supposed to be transferred. It was an NGN and I'm told that if one line is busy the caller is transferred to the next line which will then ring. I said that's not a replacement for a PBX and they said it's not meant to be. So if a particular salesperson is needed and they're on the 2nd floor when the call was answered on the ground floor what happens then? Shouting or word of mouth seemed their best solution to that.

            There were mysterious charges on the bill that I could never get removed no matter who I spoke to. For example there was a charge for an antivirus package on our data line which did't appear to do anything. There were others that had been agreed to by the person who 'signed' the contract. When I asked to see the signed contract I was told it was verbal and they had a recording of it. When I asked to hear it I was told their equipment didn't allow them to do this - Sorry. They insisted they had powerful broadband which was true but sadly dismal equipment. Their modem/router was a the same as an ISP supplied for homeuse. It didn't penetrate through reinforced concrete very well and was useless except on the ground floor. So I went with powerline to reach the upper floors and a wifi point connected to that up there. I asked for the username/password one day so I could check the settings and change the wifi password. I wasn't going to get that from them apparently so I googled it. They hadn't changed it from the default which was nice and insecure.

            Then after opening they phoned up one day and spoke to the cleaner who was convinced that signing up to a call package would be a money saver. At over £50 when the calls were mostly incoming that was a bit rich. So I complained that an authorised person hadn't made the changes and we'd be cancelling our direct debit and taking legal advice if it wasn't removed. As soon as the contract was up we told them to bugger off

            1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

              Re: Standby for downvotes!

              When I asked to hear it I was told their equipment didn't allow them to do this - Sorry

              Missed a trick there ..

              The answer to that is "so you won't be able to use it in court then, and hence you have no evidence of the contract". I bet if you'd used that, then a recording would have miraculously been available !

  7. wolfetone

    BT.

    Beyond Truth.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "sheer bollockery"

    Most excellent. It's up there with "utter cockwomble"...

    1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

      Re: "sheer bollockery"

      Don't forget twatdangle.

      1. psychonaut

        Re: "sheer bollockery"

        Shitcunt ftw though

  9. Chozo
    Alien

    Parallel evolution

    You remember the episode of Deep Space Nine where chief O'Brian is convinced the stations Cardassian computer has an attitude and doesn't like him. BT hubs are exactly the same when you try to tinker with them.

  10. chucklepie

    I have them (3), and I can now use the Internet in a downstairs room I never used to, and can use my nintendo switch in the attic room.

  11. JDX Gold badge

    I don't buy that their hub will help much but the discs are just a Mesh Wifi setup. With enough discs I don't see how the claim isn't reasonable (we have 3 in a 3-storey sprawling Victorian house with all internal walls made of brick and it works everywhere, though disc #4 would be better).

    Now there are issues with the discs - sometimes one will stop working properly - but that's a separate issue.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "With enough discs I don't see how the claim isn't reasonable "

      WIfi is half duplex. Each time you bounce through a repeater you're going to take a performance and latency hit

      Getting wifi _coverage_ and maintaining _speeds_ in such a setup is difficult-to-impossible unless you're bandswapping or using other multi-radio techniques (latencies will still suffer)

      Plus, this is a solution which suffers the "tragedy of the commons" - if every Tom, Dick and Harriet along your street does it the WiFi fog is going to become a peasouper with most of these devices cranking out the legal maximum power

      1. Paul 5

        Presumably this sort of mesh will work best if you're not daisychaining them all. If your house and hub location permits a sensible topology, it shouldn't be that bad. And even if you have a couple of hops, it may well be better than power line adapters.

        Yes, Ethernet would be better, but she who must be obeyed may take a dim view of cables lying around, or holes being made in walls must so your gaming works better.

        As for interfering with every tom, dick or harry on the street - surely if the signal was that strong you wouldn't be needing repeaters in the first place?

  12. DrXym Silver badge

    Use a second wifi hotspot

    Buy a powerline kit - an ethernet adapter and a wireless hotspot. Attach one to the router and plug the other one in where the wifi is poor and set up a second hotspot. You have the minor inconvenience of two wifi hotspots to set up but it actually works unlike most "range extenders" or some questionable mesh system.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Dabooka

      Re: Use a second wifi hotspot

      Swing and a miss. Wouldn't work in my example as the house has multiple circuits and as you know powerlines don't like that kind of setup much. Device handovers can also be problematic.

      Mesh FTW. I cannot understand why you'd want powerlines over mesh nowadays.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Use a second wifi hotspot

        "Wouldn't work in my example as the house has multiple circuits and as you know powerlines don't like that kind of setup much. "

        You can buy RF coupling blocks for the mains board in such cases

        It's a bit more faff, but allows powerline to work.

    3. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: Use a second wifi hotspot

      Buy a powerline kit

      Noooooooo, just noooooooooooooooo

      https://www.ban-plt.org.uk/fuss.php

    4. jockmcthingiemibobb

      Re: Use a second wifi hotspot

      I can't understand all the downvotes. Ir's almost as if most El Rego readers don't understand how WiFi repeaters work....or rather how often they don't work or cause horrendous interference. Modern homes have a lot more wireless than WiFi routers.

      ISP I work for flicks dozens of powerline kits a week. They work excellently in 99% of homes. We pretty mutch ditched WiFi repeaters/MESH due to the huge amount if support calls they generated.

      1. Dabooka

        Re: Use a second wifi hotspot

        Is that not because power line are generally idiot proof whereas mesh may require a little more setting up? Obviously I don't know what kit you used or if it was pre-configured.

        100% mesh here now, wouldn't go back to power line.

      2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: Use a second wifi hotspot

        ISP I work for flicks dozens of powerline kits a week. They work excellently in 99% of homes.

        You selfish ****s. Yes, they do work - very well in most situations. But it's the equivalent of someone wanting to listen to their radio from the bottom of the garden - instead of taking a radio down there, they turn the one in the house up to 11 so they can hear it. Works great for them, but screws anyone else who wants to hear anything. Too much of this "works for me, don't give a sh*t about anyone else" mentality around.

        So unless you have no neighbours nearer than 1/4 mile away, just don't do it.

    5. AlbertH

      Re: Use a second wifi hotspot

      Unfortunately, the "powerline" wi-fi setups cause horrendous amounts of interference - practically from DC to daylight.

      Whilst in London, I had a neighbour with a powerline setup which wiped out any long wave, medium wave and shortwave reception for quite an area around his house. After suffering this for a few days, I invited him 'round and showed what data was being sent over his powerline system and received in my house and decrypted (trivially) through the spill into the street mains. I showed him the supposedly secure communications he'd had with his bank.....

      He's in litigation with both the suppliers and the manufacturers of the powerline rubbish, and there's no cloud of broadband interference around his house any more.

  13. Terry 6 Silver badge

    thinking the discs were battery-powered instead of needing a mains electrical connection.

    So not in the bathroom then.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: thinking the discs were battery-powered instead of needing a mains electrical connection.

      Could be exciting.

      1. KarMann Bronze badge
        Boffin

        Re: thinking the discs were battery-powered instead of needing a mains electrical connection.

        FYI, British bathrooms & toilets generally don't have mains outlets. At most, a little shave-only socket using the less-lethal 110 V instead of mains 230 V, and with a much lower maximum current. And physically, it's nothing like the usual outlets, so the British plugs won't work, and almost but not quite like the European outlets, so those might or might not quite fit in there. And many don't even have that one.

        In double-checking my reply, I find that technically, a mains outlet is allowed as long as it's at least 3 metres from tub, sink, shower, toilet, etc. I've never seen it yet, myself.

        1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: thinking the discs were battery-powered instead of needing a mains electrical connection.

          In double-checking my reply, I find that technically, a mains outlet is allowed as long as it's at least 3 metres from tub, sink, shower, toilet, etc. I've never seen it yet, myself.

          A Young 'Un I guess who doesn't remember the joys of mains powered bar heaters hugging the bathroom ceiling and will definitely never have seen an electric iron plugged into a two-way Bakelite adapter plugged into the light bulb socket.

          I believe the general rule for bathrooms was 'not where you could touch it and beyond where water would splash'. Hence why mains was present and we had a lot of rope pull-switches.

          Mains was usually through wired and fused connections rather than plug and socket but not always!

          Happy days. And hopefully many more reminiscences if the Zombie Apocalypse doesn't strike me down.

          The one with the 'bottle of piss' in the pocket for washing my hands ->

          1. KarMann Bronze badge
            Pint

            Re: thinking the discs were battery-powered instead of needing a mains electrical connection.

            Not so much young, as young to the UK; just crossed the pond about four years ago. Nonetheless, that's one well-spotted-Bruce* for you; I have not seen any of these bar heaters, but we do have similar light socket adapters in the States which I've (ab)used.

            * At least it wasn't Richard in that sketch.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: thinking the discs were battery-powered instead of needing a mains electrical connection.

          As far as the UK is concerned the shaver only socket in a bathroom can be 240v or 240v / 110v

          They are designed for a specific purpose and the two pin plugs have been around since the 1960's maybe earlier.

          They are not intended to power anything but a shaver or in more recent times a toothbrush charger

          I'd provide references and standards quotes but I'm self isolating and having to multitask aka feeding the cat

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: thinking the discs were battery-powered instead of needing a mains electrical connection.

            I believe they are also double wound isolated transformers too, and capacitative coupled for minimum noise transmission, which means that both terminals are floating with respect to ground (which is where your body is at). You could only get a fatal shock if you touched both legs, one in each hand, so the current runs across your chest, or if some bozo has wired one of the terminals to earth in the back box. You get a tiny current to earth if you just touch one of them - enough to trip the main supply incomer RCD I hope.

            DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. Your mileage may vary, and your insurance will be null and void.

        3. MatelotJim

          Re: thinking the discs were battery-powered instead of needing a mains electrical connection.

          It's not the voltage, it's the separation by txfr that matters. And it should be protected with a RCD or RCBO.

        4. Caver_Dave
          Flame

          Re: thinking the discs were battery-powered instead of needing a mains electrical connection.

          When ripping out the leaking water jet bath in my house just after we moved in, I found a trailing socket and plug for the water jets pump under the leaking bath! The socket was wired directly onto twin and earth back to the distribution board with a nail for a fuse!

          After the electrician electrocuted himself 3 times trying to sort out the wiring, we gave up and had the whole lot replaced. Some of the lights were on bell wire!

          [ICON] fire, as that was what we expected if we didn't replace the whole wiring

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: thinking the discs were battery-powered instead of needing a mains electrical connection.

            After the electricians electrocuted himselfthemselves 3 times trying to sort out the wiring,

            TFTFY

    2. graeme leggett

      Re: thinking the discs were battery-powered instead of needing a mains electrical connection.

      Unless you have a very big bathroom. I think about 6ft from the spray area of bath,sink etc is the mininum to have a socket within the regulations. Though still not necessarily a good idea.

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Craig McGill 1

    What is best for a house on three levels?

    Gah, this article has only muddied the waters for me. Currently on the hunt for what would be best for this house (five bedrooms/three levels) due to everyone WFH and three teens ready to be sent home from school. TP Powerlines don't work well due to crap electrics so I need something I can run that works with Virgin's truly awful Superb 3.

    I was always wary of kit like BT's because I was told it halves your signal power and what you can use? Am I being a dumb noob?

    All and any kit (routers/mess/whatevs) suggestions welcome though...

    1. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: What is best for a house on three levels?

      The best way is to run ethernet from the router to secondary wireless access points. You've not really described your home but I'd probably begin by putting a second WAP on the second floor assuming your router is on the ground floor, but if you are going to the effort of stringing cables through floors I would strongly recommend putting jacks in on the first floor at the same time and doubling up the cables, i.e. two runs to each floor - it's comparatively little extra work, costs very little in materials compared to the work involved and generally gives you the biggest bang for buck in terms of being able to easily extend the network in future.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: What is best for a house on three levels?

      "Currently on the hunt for what would be best for this house (five bedrooms/three levels)"

      Wifi penetrates lousily through modern walls (foil lined) and brick (high iron oxide content)

      It goes pretty well through ceilings and floors unless they've been foil lined as above. Some older buildings have _sand filled_ ceiling/floor voids for noise control and this tends to be iron sand or other high metal content sand - at which point all bets are off

      One of the best ways of solving this kind of issue (as a STARTING point) is to put the primary AP more or less in the middle of the middle floor and set the antennas to fire "up and down" rather than sideways.

      Meaning if it has "dipole" like antennas, lay them horizontal instead of vertical and if it's a wall mount type AP, lay it flat. Make absolutely sure there's no metallised/metallic surfaces above or below the AP

      (Yes, I know RF propagation is more complex than this and I'm oversimplifying. It's a starting point for improivinmg household coverage)

    3. Fred Dibnah Silver badge

      Re: What is best for a house on three levels?

      Although the speed in Mb/s might appear to be unaffected, inserting a repeater will halve your data throughput because each wireless frame now has to be sent twice (Host --> repeater, then repeater --> AP, and vice versa).

      FWIW I have an Edwardian house with three floors and all the walls are brick. Wifi comes from a UniFi ac LR (Long Range) AP, high up on the wall in the kitchen, roughly in the centre of the house. With just that single AP I get very good coverage and speeds on all floors and in the garden. 5G connections only work on the ground floor, but that's reasonable. I went for the extra antenna gain of the LR version because it was only a few pounds more.

      YMMV of course.

    4. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      Re: What is best for a house on three levels?

      As the others say, by far, by a very long way as in "all the other options aren't even in the same county, let alone the same game park", is one or more access points connected by cable back to the router. And turn off the WiFi in the router !

      Plusnet use the same router hardware as BT - just a different colour and with different firmware. My experience is that the wireless is utter crap - just generally unreliable, "works" if you get connected, but often get no connection.

      I now have a single AP (Unifi AC LR)* in the attic and get full strength, reliable connections anywhere in the house - and at the other end of a reasonably sized garden. 2 storey house, 1940's build with solid brick walls. Since I put it in, wireless has "just worked" and I can't recall any complaints from family or friends with it.

      * Disclaimer: I got this as a freeby from Ubiquiti. They had a problem with their first production run, and offered them to people who were active on their forums at the time. TBH I would have bought one (or the AC Pro) anyway having installed a lot of the AC Pro units, and before that, a lot of the Unifi Pro units for clients at work.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What is best for a house on three levels?

        "Plusnet use the same router hardware as BT - just a different colour and with different firmware. My experience is that the wireless is utter crap - just generally unreliable, "works" if you get connected, but often get no connection"

        Nope. Plusnet's flagship is equivalent to the BT Home Hub 5. BT flagship (the one that works with these discs) is a few versions ahead now.

        Said BT flagship seems to work perfectly well here. This is a device for the masses, which is something that Ubiquiti could not hope to emulate (I have an Edgerouter at my parent's place, and it is far from user friendly, even for network engineer me)

    5. katrinab Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: What is best for a house on three levels?

      Some Cat 6a cable and a drill. Some wives / girlfriends might insist on ethernet faceplates that match the other plug sockets in the room.

    6. Mike007

      Re: What is best for a house on three levels?

      Any "whole home wifi" system should be good. You can base your predictions on what coverage you currently get from the main access point in terms of what sort of range you get per unit.

      You put the first unit wherever the best location is and then put another one within range of that one. The unit can be placed in an optimal location on a shelf or wherever and being both stationary and having decent antennas it will get a far better signal than a mobile device on your lap on the sofa. It will then extend the signal the same distance from the starting point. You can put a third one at the edge of that one's coverage to extend it further. If you have an abnormally large house with difficult walls then you might need to go for 4 or 5 units to get the best results but it really is worth the investment once you're already splashing out on a system. If 3 units "just about provides coverage" then 1 extra unit will allow you to shift things slightly and take it from "good enough" to "works perfectly everywhere".

      They will self-optimise and figure out for themselves if they can directly talk to the main unit or of it is better to relay through an intermediate.

      If you base your positioning on rooms with a just about usable 5Ghz signal then performance will be more than adequate. They should be using 160Mhz wide channels (most of your devices probably do not have radios with that much bandwidth) so will easily achieve hundreds of Mbit of usable throughput. Even what we often classify as a poor signal might get 100-200Mbit for a stationary device near the edge of the usable range. Even if you halve this to account for the fact that packets need to be retransmitted then 100Mbit throughput is more than sufficient for most domestic wifi needs! (some more expensive systems have an extra dedicated radio for backhaul, but for a typical domestic user this is not needed).

      I used to have several cheap access points spread around to provide decent coverage in every room, but being independent APs this of course meant if I walked downstairs watching something on my tablet the stream would drop... mesh systems do not have that issue and the automatic configuration and seamless roaming aspects really did me reevaluate my entire approach to "being cost effective". I spent nearly £300 on the TP-Link Deco system "just to see how these things work" out of curiosity. I expected once I had played around with it for a bit it would end up in my spare parts collection in case I needed a quick wifi bridge or whatever, rather than intending to replace my main wifi network with it. It made me realise that I had been putting up with an essential thing I use all the time being utter crap simply because I had never known better...

      The TP-Link Deco apparently compares poorly with the competition, yet still wipes the floor with traditional independent APs. Even though I had wiring to some locations I still found myself using wireless backhaul to get better coverage where I couldn't run cables (they had no problem using wired backhaul for a location with existing cabling then wireless to an extra unit in my bedroom which previously had a "just about usable" signal due to powerline being next to useless).

      I eventually replaced the TP-Link system with a ubiquity setup, however that was because I run multiple VLANs which isn't supported on the domestic stuff. I splashed out on a ubiquity system because once I saw how well the main network performed I wanted to get the same level of coverage/performance on the additional SSIDs which were still running on my old openwrt routers... once you have had a decent WiFi setup you start to wonder how the hell you coped before! Anyone who uses dual monitors will know what I mean... :)

      1. psychonaut

        Re: What is best for a house on three levels?

        YMMV. but, here are my rules. ive done many a wireless install over the years for customers.

        currently using Ubiquiti Unify UAP-AC-LR access points (for low density client requirements, such as a residential house) . these are bonkers powerful. ive had whole house coverage off of just one, however, when you have more than 1 AP you have 1 seamless network providing you do some research. you need to use different channels for each ap, turn off mesh (if you have cat 5 backhaul), turn off wireless uplink, set min rss values, turn the power to what is appropriate for the cell size. also disable the wifi on whatever shit router your isp has supplied you with

        ok, i know there was some hoohar about the ap's phoning back telemetary stuff - im ignoring that for the mo. you could use ruckus/cisco instead. if you believe that they dont phone home and also are worth the premium

        the best way to do backhaul to connect these to your router is by cat5e or 6 of course.

        if you cant, you might get away with powerline. in this case i use solwise 1200mbs with mains filters. they dont always work due to peoples wiring.

        the AP's are PoE, so you dont need to have power source handy.

        the thing is, you can put these in your loft.

        if you can get just one cable from your router to your loft, up an external wall for instance,then through the soffit under the eaves, you are laughing. you probably have a power socket in the loft anyway, or maybe a lighting circuit, then you can put a small poe switch in there to run however many AP's you need, or you can do PoE from next to your router if needs be. heck, run 2 or 3 cat 5 cables, its all the same labour really to run 1 2 or 3. you'd need a very wide house to need more than 2 or 3 in the loft.

        mine are in the rafters in the loft. the ac-lr's are so powerful that they penetrate through the ceiling of my 1st floor, into the first floor, through the floor, and into the ground floor. i get about 80 Mb/s on the ground floor, some places its worse, some better. my source is 300mbs. on the 1st floor i get 300mb's on wifi. 80mb's downstairs is enough to do anything streaming wise. i could have put these in the ceiling of the first floor but after testing with them in the loft i couldnt be arsed to move them. i could also get better coverage by tweaking but again i cant be bothered.

        it really works. well worth a look. ive installed these in many houses now, with much success. one seamless network, no messing about with duplicate (well, fake really) ssid's from different access points , or different networks for different bits of the house. the AP's talk to each other and kick your device form one to the other automatically when you reach the limit fo their range(needs tweaking though with min rssi) ...it really is great.

        as has been mentioned, repeaters are shit , mesh can be usefull but its not desirable,

    7. TheMeerkat Bronze badge

      Re: What is best for a house on three levels?

      I have a Virgin Media router switch to modem mode connected to an Orbi mesh system.

      I was fortunate to ensure that I asked an electrician to run Ethernet cabling when rewiring my house, so I needed only one satellite device on the other floor connected to the main one via Ethernet.

      WiFi everywhere and the stationary equipment (like TV) having wired connection.

    8. TRT Silver badge

      Re: What is best for a house on three levels?

      An elevator.

  17. mickm

    Works for me

    I use the new BT router plus two discs in a three story house and it works well in all rooms. Its an Edwardian House and with only the router there is a poor signal on the first floor and appears to be caused by the sitting room ceiling (not sure why, foil insulation?). The router is in the sitting room, I have a disc in the dining room which is at the bottom of the stairs and one on the first floor landing. I would definitely recommend a mesh system and BT's works for me.

    All bought on Ebay as it keeps the monthly cost from BT down.

    Have already tried the power line with access points and it was a pain using different SSID's and poor quality 1970s wiring.

    1. Jay 2

      Re: Works for me

      Had a PlusNet hub thing for a while now since getting fibre. I don't like it much as it's a pain to use and the WiFi wasn't as good as the crappy Linksys that preceded it. Meanwhile the range extender that I had stopped working. I've got some powerline stuff, but I prefer not to have it on all the time.

      On one hand I could get some full-on Draytek unit to do loads of stuff, but I've got to the point in life where I just want stuff to work without me having to spend ages buggering about with it. So in the end I just got some of the BT mesh thingies. One attached to the PNHub and the other in the lounge to keep all the AV and armchair surfers happy.

      Overall they work quite well. No messing with different SSIDs etc and the reception upstairs is much better too. And the most important thing, no more complaints from the main sofa surer.

  18. zuzzyuk

    They do have some benefit

    Mesh networks obviously eventualy only serves to reduce throughput due to backhaul constraints but these discs do seem to remove some of the wobblyness of my wifi in some areas, and more usefully they also bridge to gig ethernet - yes I know I can buy a million devices that do that, but BT gave me discs for free (and my Hue seems to work flawlessly through one!)

    That Gig ethernet also can replace the wifi backhaul - to be honest they should have provided a powerline link to connect back to the router if their intent is to extend weak wifi....but I have one free now I'm using a disc for my Hue!

  19. Mage Silver badge
    Flame

    Repeaters and Mesh

    They inherently SLOW WiFi performance compared to Airpoints fed by ethernet. Basic physics and mathematics. Especially in an apartment block. I live at the edge of a village in an area with open spaces and widely spaced semis. No spare channels.

    A second Airpoint (really a spare router with everything extra disabled) makes coverage perfect. Their advert is dishonest.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Repeaters and Mesh

      The point of mesh systems isn't to provide wire-like performance, it's about improving coverage. Since houses are not universally blessed with structured wiring, and most people will not go to the effort to install it, there are going to be compromises and tradeoffs. That said, I believe the BT system can work over wired ethernet if that's available, so you then get the same performance as you'd get from independent access points.

      The theory is that any WiFi repeater will have superior RF characteristics (and can be placed in a better location) than your average portable device. It's not going to be 100% but that's not necessary for someone who just wants their Facebook machine or Netflix streamer to work in a location where it did not work before. That last bit is important to note - this is a consumer product after all.

  20. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    weird purple tendrils snaking through innocent people's homes

    Ooh err, missus. I've heard about that sort of thing in Japanese anime.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've...

      seen enough hentai to know where this is going!

      1. GrahamRJ

        Re: I've...

        And the answer is that those tentacles are going *everywhere*.

  21. heyrick Silver badge

    Weasel words

    "We guarantee that our Complete Wi-Fi customers will get Wi-Fi in every room. Unlike other providers we send our customers a new Smart Hub 2 and Wi-Fi Disc which gets a strong wi-fi signal to every room for the majority of customers across the UK."

    Or, to strip it down:

    "We guarantee customers will get WiFi in every room [...] a strong WiFi signal to every room for the majority of customers across the UK"

    The two halves of that contradict. They're guaranteeing and then saying a majority. Majority isn't everybody, thus the guarantee is clearly untruthful.

  22. Shaunt

    When I moved over to bt from talktalk the home hub 5 reached two extra rooms in the house instead of just one. Then I had two disks which then covered the whole house and now placing one in the loft covers the garden and garage.

    Bt is advertising it's halo offer where they will give you an extra coverage and doubles my data on my mobile.

    It also works in the bathroom as step daughter uses her Kindle in the bath.

  23. Aqua Marina

    "The ASA wants us to explain more clearly that we’ll also send customers £20 if they’re still not happy and we’ve changed our ads to make that more clear.”

    The ASA needs to also get them to point out, that even if they don't work, yes you get £20 back, but you are still stuck in a 2 year contract with broken Wifi.

  24. Pazzer

    Works great for me when connected to the main unit by ethernet cable

  25. Charles Smith

    The ASA needs to...

    All we need now is for the ASA to admit that BT's "Superfast" is not a true Fibre connection in advertisements. The term "Fibre" should be eliminated for any adverts for a FrankenFibre product. The ASA has stubbornly dug it heels in on its original wrong decision.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The ASA needs to...

      Will you be asking the ASA to do the same for all ISPs who do this, including Virgin who started it all?

      Is there an accepted technical definition (e.g. from a standards body) of what makes a service "fibre"?

  26. Andy3

    I don't know whether these BT devices work or not, but other boosters seem to work very effectively. Our house has several 'slow spots', two of which just happen to be on our favourite lounging areas. I took a look on my WiFi plotter app and it seems the wi-fi signals from some of our neighbours are considerably stronger than that provided by our TT-supplied router. So either our router is 'weak as p!ss' or our neighbours are running mega-watt systems....

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The trial was real, and involved both signal strength and throughput. And I can hold up my hand to say that went from 60% house coverage at full download speed to 100% at full rate, so I was happy.

    The rests were conducted multiple times, and at different times during the day, so interference was an implicit part of the test.

  28. sgt101

    Well I saw the research and data that drove that claim and I was utterly convinced by it. I know for a fact that that work was done and was pucker because I used to work next door to the responsible people and they asked me for help from time to time, so I am at a loss to understand how it is that this judgement was arrived at.

    The strategy for "when one disk dunna work" is to send another, and another - and if that doesn't work to do a refund.

  29. mediabeing

    "Ad watchdog puts telco on the naughty step over range extender promotion"

    WHAT DOES THAT MEAN???

    Be happy I'm not your boss. I'd sack you for that.

    I really would.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Are you British?

      I ask because I am, and I understand what it means.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      The ad watchdog -- the people in charge of verifying advertisements

      Puts the telco -- the telecommunications company

      On the naughty step -- in trouble

      Over (their) --- because of

      range-extender promotion. -- their promotion of a range-extender.

      I mean, it's really not that hard. And telco isn't really even a British word, we don't use that much, it's come from the US. The rest is just literal English words used to form slightly silly headline.

  30. mrs doyle

    BT white whole home mesh.

    Our community group helps people wifi their homes. We use netgear orbi, tenda nova mw3 and mw6, linksys velop and the Bt whole home. All work fine. The more you pay the faster they seem to be, but coverage can often happen with just two mesh nodes. Some houses need 4, the odd stately home needs 6. Wifi is a dark art, but of all the meshes we've tried the white bt whole home is the easiest to plug and play. We haven't tried the black ones as our community is on real fibre so has it's own router.

  31. tel2016

    BT TV boxes

    This is not surprising coming from the company that still doesn't include WiFi on their TV boxes - just an ethernet port. So the end-user has the choice of running a cable from the box to the router, or using their 'Wifi Kit',which are just those plug-in boxes the use the mains as a data conduit (and don't work if there's a consumer unit in the way - ie, between floors of a building). Lots of extra unnecessary/unsightly cables too.

  32. adam payne Silver badge

    “We told British Telecommunications plc not to claim that they guaranteed Wi-Fi in every room unless they held adequate evidence to support the claims,” concluded the ASA

    You seem to be telling them this quite a lot.

    Seriously though who believes these adverts anyway?!?

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