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BT HomeHub 5 Broadband ISP Router Struggling to Support IPv6

Monday, February 26th, 2018 (10:15 am) - Score 14,066

Generally speaking the deployment of IPv6 (dynamic /56 prefix) across BT’s consumer ISP network in the UK has gone well but one key area where they still appear to be struggling is with adding support to their venerable HomeHub 5 router, which is widely installed across the customer base.

At the end of 2016 BT confirmed that “all broadband lines” (back then this excluded older IPstream connections) were now capable of using the Internet Protocol v6 (IPv6) addressing standard (here), which is being adopted because the old IPv4 address space has been depleted (IP addresses are used to identify your connection online and communicate with other internet servers etc.).

The news was widely welcomed, although like most of the major ISPs BT has faced some challenges in updating their older routers to support the new standard. Initially only the provider’s more modern SmartHub (including the latest G.fast supporting SmartHub X) router fully supported IPv6, while the widely installed HomeHub 5 was promised to follow during “early 2017.”

Fast forward one year and customers with the operator’s HH5 (type A or B) router have yet to see full IPv6 support on their devices, with the firmware remaining stubbornly IPv4. Similarly a recent meeting of the UK IPv6 Council saw BT’s Senior Network Architect, Nick Heatley, confirm that 25% of their consumer broadband users (and growing) now use IPv6; this figure would be much higher with HH5 support.

Speaking last week BT’s MD and Chief Architect, Neil McRae, responded to a comment on the matter to confirm that the ISP has had “some challenges with Hub 5 and it was looking unlikely that we can enable V6 for it.” Apparently the problems are “outside [BT’s] control” (hardware issue?) but they “haven’t given up” on trying to find a solution. We will update again if BT are able to provide us with any extra info. this week.

In the meantime it looks like the only way to get IPv6 on BT is to either adopt a third-party router that supports their /56 approach or get the newer SmartHub (either at cost or via a package upgrade). One interesting point is that the spec sheet for Plusnet’s Hub One router (here), which is based off the HH5A, was originally touted as including “IPv6 support” but the ISP has yet to adopt it (possibly they just assumed the Hub would support IPv6 as that was the plan).

Still at least BT is considerably further along than Virgin Media and TalkTalk. The former looks set to launch IPv6 this year, while TalkTalk is still non-committal.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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37 Responses
  1. Joe says:

    Be interesting to see the numbers. One suspects that by the time they fully enable IPv6 many subscribers will have upgraded anyway and the remainder may be not that expensive to just give new routers to. The work to ‘fix’ the hh5 might not be worth the candle.

    1. Mike says:

      BT have never given upgrade routers for “FREE”

    2. Joe says:

      ‘free’ with new contract yada yada…

    3. Mike says:

      NO not with a new contract. The only way to get one free is if you are a new customer or if you are a customer upgrading from ADSL with BT to FTTC with BT. Otherwise for existing customers its £65 and £9.99 delivery.

    4. Joe says:

      They certainly offered them for free before if you negotiated around renewal periods. I know some ppl with almost the full set of BT routers that way.

    5. Mike says:

      Made very clear here
      “Exclusive price for BT customers only. £65”

    6. Oleg says:

      OMG £65 for that heap LOL

  2. Simon says:

    so use the 6 it works fine

    1. JustAnotherFileServer says:

      Considering it’s still going to be a few years before IPv6 is fully used on the internet as well as network devices, it doesn’t warrant paying for the Smarthub just for that reason (if it isn’t broken, why try to fix it?)

      Though I’ve had the SmartHub since it’s release and I’ve not had a problem with it, like I have with the other BT hubs.

    2. Joe says:

      The only Issue I find with the hh6 is it doesn’t like multiple wifi extenders.

    3. Ethel Prunehat says:

      Depends what, if anything, “fully used” means. If IPv6 connectivity is available, it will be used by endpoints. Facebook and Google account for >90% of the traffic in my house and they’re both IPv6. If v4 stopped working it would take a while to notice [although ispreview.co.uk wouldn’t work].

    4. James Blessing says:

      Mmm, time for a campaign to get ISPreview on to v6? 🙂

    5. JustAnotherFileServer says:

      @James Blessing We are talking about home internet connections here, not mobile connections (which the 50% is from). Please read things before posting next time.

    6. Mark Jackson says:

      @James. I’d love IPv6 and keep pushing for it 🙂 . The problem is we have a managed server because I’d never find the time or money to keep ISPr updated/developed and run the server admin/upgrades side too. The downside of this is that I have to wait for the web host to shift but I know it’s coming because other servers can already add it.

    7. Alex says:

      1&1? I wouldn’t hold out too much hope — all of their v6-enabled sites are broken over v6 on any connection with an MTU lower than 1500, due to a misconfiguration that they either don’t know about or just don’t care about fixing.

      (And it’s been that way for at least a year and a half so it’s hard to believe that nobody has reported it to them in that time…)

    8. Rich says:

      Aaaand this sort of issue is why I’m happy just staying on IPv4 for now. I don’t need an extra layer of issues to troubleshoot.

    9. James Blessing says:

      @Mark – me points at https://www.mythic-beasts.com/ I’m sure they might be willing to provide a decent option…

    10. James Blessing says:

      For those wondering why I recommend them… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXbA7OWi49U

  3. btipv6pfsense says:

    I run my own modem and pfsense. No issues with BT infinity and their flavour of IPV6.

  4. Mr Mal says:

    Business Hub 5 supports it, just get one from eBay.

  5. Chris Dell says:

    OpenWRT has 100% support for HH5A and supports IPv6. Pain to install though, requires soldering, but can bought off eBay.

    1. Mike says:

      LOL and would also require a new modem anyway as that will only give you router options on a HH5. May as well just buy a new decent AIO.

    2. Alex says:

      According to the OpenWRT wiki, the DSL modem on the HH5A is supported so you should be able to just use that.

    3. Mike says:

      NO according to OpenWRT its FTTC on it supported (nothing about ADSL) and you have to set specific fixed tones meaning things like bitswap do not work. You would get better, quicker and easier results with a better device rather than waste time.

    4. Alex says:

      So not exactly required then.

      Also it says “ADSL1/2/2+ (G.992.1/3/5) Annexes A, B, I, J, M, L” for the modem in addition to VDSL, and I see no mention of support being limited to one or the other. It’s true that nobody has posted explicit instructions on “how to use with BT ADSL in the UK” but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work.

    5. Mike says:

      The quote you make reference to here…
      Is the top of the page which is covering nothing more than the hardware in the device, try looking further down the page specifically from “Installation over serial” and downwards.

      Snippets include the device will run very slow, why you would want that i dunno. Also its technically a LEDE install.

      There is a post here explaining why things run slow and why its better at one function than the other…
      and a whole thread here…

      Sure if you want to go through the hassle, soldering and messing around to have a slow running buggy device go ahead, id personally just buy a new device considering you can now get VDSL modem/routers for under £30

    6. Alex says:

      The projects remerged so it’s back to “OpenWRT” now.

      I can’t find anything in that section about ADSL not working. I did find this page: https://wiki.openwrt.org/doc/hardware/soc/soc.lantiq which says “ADSL and VDSL are generally supported” which sounds good. There’s a bit in the HH5A article about the device running really slowly during installation, but that only applies during installation.

      There are pre-flashed HH5As on eBay for around £22 if you don’t feel like bothering with the flash procedure (which to be fair is somewhat involved), and if you’re okay with paying double the price.

      Really the main issue with the thing is the 50-60 Mbit/s routed speed limit, but that’s not so much of a problem if your internet connection is slower than that. If you have a suggestion for a faster device that has two Atheros radios, .11ac, Gigabit ethernet, a decent amount of flash/RAM, USB, a DSL modem and OpenWRT support for ~£11 then I’d definitely be interested.

    7. Mike says:

      Again very clear on the “Installation over serial” and downwards. Section of the link i provided. Specific tones only. Also the device will be dog slow. Why would i want to pay £22 for junk on ebay when i can buy a brand new third party device for under £30

  6. Alex says:

    It’s too slow.

    I’ve been pondering buying one of these routers and sticking OpenWRT on it, because they have decent Wifi hardware, a supported DSL modem and they’re cheap and all over eBay (amusingly enough I found this article via a search related to that, not because I happened to visit the site a few hours after it was posted). Here is the warning from the top of the OpenWRT wiki page for it:

    “Due to lack of hardware NAT support [in OpenWRT], the WAN to LAN throughput is restricted to ~62 Mbps speeds (~52 Mbps for wifi).”

    The hardware NAT (which includes routing) will obviously be v4-only (because why bother making a feature that’s critical for decent speed actually work with the current internet protocol) and 50-60 Mbit/s without it is too slow for some of BT’s lines.

    It’s quite possible they’re facing other issues too (proprietary software with glaring v6 bugs?), but even if they got those issues fixed they’d still have the speed problem.

  7. Vince says:

    Well maybe McRae needs to tell the support team that – because I’ve had my router replaced more than once because I cannot get IPv6 to work… guess which router I have.

  8. Simon says:

    I don’t understand how a global brand is able to put out soft/firmware that is worse than the free offering of openwrt.
    The software they use is based on a Linux distribution called open-rg. Yes that’s the same Linux that’s has ipv6 working since the late 90’s.
    They’ve actually had to take the support out before releasing it!
    Why. For the love of god why?

  9. Patricia Phelps says:

    I have a hub5 and have no problems why fix it if it’s not broken, I have had my hub for a year now the only problem I had was the phone line but that was out side I’m happy with my set up. Thanks BT

  10. Drofwood says:

    BT are not the company they used to be,their customer service is a joke,the answers they give you are read off a piece of paper in front of them,there is no loyalty to long term customers,you get a better deal if you switch to another provider then back again as a new customer & as for their so called partners out & about fixing problems on the road Openreach….it’s gone beyond a joke,it’s not funny any more.
    I know of a BT customer who lost Broadband connection when they lost power during a quick passing storm at the beginning of February this year,….24 days later it still hasn’t been fixed.To start with it was the wiring in the house,then the router,might be one of the lines outside,to now being wired up wrong,cables in the wrong place in the main hub & it’s still ongoing 24 days & counting.

  11. Phil says:

    The HH5a find slower than normal when installing over serial because the CPU clocks down to 125mhz instead of the normal 500mhz. Once LEDE/OpenWRT it’s installed tho it runs at full speed.

    Having set up a number of them on both VDSL and ADSL I can tell you that they are more than fast enough to support full 80/20 speeds and transfer data over the LAN at gigabit speeds without issue. I’ve also not had an issue with them being ‘buggy’ with them all only restarting if I need to do it manually.

    Obviously if you want to spend a little more on a product that doesn’t require any messing around to get working then that’s up to you. But I’d rather spend less, spend 10 mins soldering and have a far more configurable router.

    1. Mike says:

      “…transfer data over the LAN at gigabit speeds without issue.”

      Perhaps you could inform the people that actually know about issues including developers on how you solved them…
      I wont hold my breath waiting for your post on there.

  12. julia says:

    The router is a very important thing for doing internetwork. It helps in increasing the speed of internet through WiFi, People who are facing the connectivity problem can contact

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