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UPDATE UK ISP BT Suffers 3rd Night of DNS and Website Loading Woes

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017 (8:02 am) - Score 3,769

Customers of BT’s Broadband service should be able to load websites and other Internet servers normally again today after the ISP was last night struck by another sporadic problem with its Domain Name Servers (DNS), which mostly appeared to hit IPv4 connections (i.e. many IPv6 sites were fine).

The DNS is a key component of the Internet and broadband providers’ use it to covert IP addresses (e.g. 123.45.53.89) into human readable domain names (e.g. examplewebsite.uk) and back again. However various issues, such as bad peering / routing and admin errors, have been known to throw a spanner in the works. Related problems can result in websites becoming slow to load, higher latency or even failing to load the desired server completely. This appears to be what happened on BT’s service between around 7pm and midnight yesterday.

All ISPs will occasionally suffer DNS issues and they tend to have a wide, albeit often quite sporadic, impact. Normally people on other ISPs can circumvent such faults by simply changing the ‘Primary‘ and ‘Secondary‘ DNS server settings (numbers) on their routers to use the free OpenDNS or Google Public DNS ones instead, but BT’s subscribers don’t have it quite so easy.

Unfortunately BT, not unlike the odd other ISP, locks down most or all of their bundled routers (e.g. HomeHubs) and prevents changes to the DNS settings, which means you either have to disable DHCP and setup your network / LAN IPs manually (painfully tedious) or change the DNS settings on each device / computer connected to your network. At this point some subscribers may run into a second problem with BT’s approach.

One of the reasons why BT prevents DNS changes is perhaps because their BT Web Protect and BT Parental Control (network-level filtering) services require the ISP’s own DNS in order to function properly. As a result some of those who try to circumvent the fault by switching to OpenDNS or Google Public DNS on their devices may run into errors (completely disabling the two aforementioned services usually gets around this).

Most ISPs usually only suffer a serious DNS problem once every blue moon, although some like BT and Virgin Media appear to be much more prone to them or perhaps we just notice those more due to the higher volume of impacted subscribers. Never the less we hear about fewer such issues from the other major players.

Some customers are currently still reporting similar problems, but these may or may not be related to last night’s fault. A quick computer and router reboot (power off, wait a couple of minutes and then power back on again) may sometimes help to clear up any lingering issues, but don’t do this repeatedly as your connection may interpret that as an unstable line and drop your speed.

UPDATE:

A faulty router or router configuration inside BT’s network appears to have caused the problem.

UPDATE 5th Jan @ 6:41am

The same problem appears to have reoccurred during more or less exactly the same period of time last night and has now been resolved. Clearly there are still a few gremlins left to squish in BT’s system.

In fact BT appears to have been suffering from night-time DNS woes for the past few days and not just the last couple of nights. A similar issue also cropped up on 3rd Jan.

The stock response from BT is that these only impacted a “small number” of customers, but “small” for an ISP with over 9 million broadband subscribers is still likely to be rather big.

Leave a Comment
7 Responses
  1. Avatar smithywozere says:

    Nope. Still happening. Trying to work from home and access is incredibly intermittent and v painful.

  2. Avatar hmm says:

    change your dns temp google 8.8.8.8 8.4.4.4

    1. Avatar Kevin says:

      And turn off BTs net protect crap to allow other DNS services to function properly.

      I suspect reading the news item this is a typical BT blunder and will be an ongoing issue where one minute it seems fixed the next it goes wrong again.

  3. Avatar cyclope says:

    The issue seems to be causing problems when trying to run a TAP3 test the DNS cannot resolve the TAP3 page

    1. Avatar Kevin says:

      Running any test at http://speedtest.btwholesale.com/ with a DNS other than BTs results in an inability to view the final page of info at least it does where i work. (IE the one that compares you speed test to your profile speed/band). Instead you just get a speed measurement page and the message…
      “Your speed test has completed and the results are shown above, however during the test an error occurred while trying to retrieve additional details regarding your service. As a result we are unable to determine if the speed you received during the test is acceptable for your service. Please re-run the test if you require this additional information.”

      Its been like this for ages, there are post all over BTs forum with others getting the same issues. Another example of a borked filtering system. Glad im not with em.

  4. Avatar cyclope says:

    BT retail don’t know their asses from elbows when it comes to networking

  5. Avatar kds says:

    is some one tell BT to turn it off and on again

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