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BT HomeHub 5 Broadband ISP Router Struggling to Support IPv6

Monday, February 26th, 2018 (10:15 am) - Score 13,291
homehub 5 bt broadband isp router

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.

Leave a Comment
37 Responses
  1. Avatar Joe

    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.

  2. Avatar Simon

    so use the 6 it works fine

  3. Avatar btipv6pfsense

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

  4. Avatar Mr Mal

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

  5. Avatar Chris Dell

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

    • Avatar Mike

      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.

    • Avatar Alex

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

    • Avatar Mike

      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.

    • Avatar Alex

      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.

    • Avatar Mike

      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

    • Avatar Alex

      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.

    • Avatar Mike

      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. Avatar Alex

    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. Avatar Vince

    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. Avatar Simon

    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. Avatar Patricia Phelps

    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. Avatar Drofwood

    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. Avatar Phil

    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.

  12. Avatar julia

    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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