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Firmware Update Causes Problems for BT’s Whole Home Wi-Fi

Monday, March 26th, 2018 (1:41 pm) - Score 32,899

Customers of UK broadband ISP BT who purchased the Whole Home Wi-Fi solution, which uses three 165mm circular (disc) shaped repeaters in an effort to deliver “completeWiFi network coverage around the home, are suffering connectivity problems after a firmware update (v1.02.04 build10).

The update began to rollout toward the end of February 2018 and this introduced a change which, according to one of BT’s support agents, was intended to ensure that the discs were “checking the best connection more often and will also prefer daisy chain in more cases.”

Unfortunately what customers actually experienced was a variety of internet connection problems, which could often be temporarily resolved by rebooting the system a few times. A post on BT’s Community Forum and a report on The Register help to illustrate how this has affected their service (sample below).

BT Customer DavR0s said:

“You can add my name to the list of people experiencing problems. Been running 4discs fine for 3 months and did the latest upgrade – big big mistake. Endless problems. Been tearing my hair out having spent nigh £400 on this kit and only just came to this thread. Sounds like BT know there is a problem and given the likelihood of no imminent release astonished they are not prepared to rerelease the previous firmware. I’ve now down the factory reset of everything and one disc is now red lighting so no idea what to do with that. If it continues much longer I’ll be sending the whole lot back as I purchased this to solve my wifi problem.”

BT Customer richdavies1950 said:

“My problems seem to be similar to everyone’s. All devices suddenly stop working. The system shows as working but there is no internet connectivity. Tried system reset, changing channels etc, firmware is up to date, discs still need rebooting at least twice daily. I was in touch with someone at BT by email but this communication has now stopped. I suspect there are 1000s of customers with these issues. The product should not be for sale if it does not work properly. Come on BT sort it!!”

BT Customer JWinBirmingham said:

“I too have 4 discs which operated perfectly for months before this latest firmware update. Since then internet connectivity is always lost within a few hours, with otherwise happy blue light discs. I have found that I can keep connectivity up & running by limping along in ‘repeater mode’, i.e with just the master disc and 1 satellite disc turned on only. This of course defeats the point of a mesh network and leaves me with very poor coverage.

As many contributors have suggested BT really should take the unusual step of rolling back the firmware to it’s previous functional but buggy build until such time they can get it right. It is really unacceptable to leave so many customers hanging like this.”

Disgruntled customers suggest that there are currently two temporary workarounds, which you can try when the crash occurs. The first is to simply turn the master disc off and back on again (unplug it for a minute or so before powering back up) and the second is to turn everything off except the master disc.

The problem will usually return again within a day or so and officially BT doesn’t expect a firmware fix to drop as soon as some would like.

Dan-O, BT Devices Expert, told customers:

“We’re working our hardest on a fix for the issue you and some other customers are experiencing and to release an update as soon as possible, following our release process. There is no definitive answer on timescales at this stage but it will not be in days. I would suggest in the meantime to contact the helpdesk who can provide options.”

Separately another spokesperson for BT stated that only a “small number of customers have been having problems with their Whole Home Wi-Fi,” although the term “small” should be taken in the context of a provider that has 9.3 million broadband subscribers. Sadly there are no official statistics for how many Whole Home Wi-Fi systems the operator has sold or what proportion of this have been affected.

So for the time being it looks as if BT’s claim of the system being able to offer “superfast, super-reliable Wi-Fi for every room” (as per the Amazon Product Page) isn’t quite accurate for everybody.

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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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21 Responses
  1. Phil says:

    And this is why forcing updated firmware is a double-edged sword – yes, you’ll roll out security fixes to everyone as quickly as possible, but by taking control out of users hands, and not allowing them to roll back (as they can with many other router manufacturers) leads to a PR nightmare like this.

  2. Fiona Gregory says:

    Talk talk is great. Change now.

  3. Mike says:

    Typical BT gear… costs hundreds, performs like it cost a few pence.

  4. Lorraine Zheng says:

    Vodafone is the same NO INTERNET no matter what I do what they do still can’t get internet although WiFi is fine !!! So changing to talk talk

  5. A.Murawick says:

    Had problems now for some weeks been on to BT many times they say there’s know problem with my line.now they can eat there words

  6. Joe says:

    I’ve tested a few of this ‘Whole Home Wi-Fi’ type systems and tbh can’t say i’ve found any that work that much above and beyond that a quality wifi device provides. Perhaps others have.

    1. Phil says:

      The Netgear Orbi is meant to be very impressive, for when you have a larger property.

      I’m using a Netgear R7800 (running LEDE/OpenWRT) which covers about half of my house, I’ve then got a Netgear X4S mesh wifi extender that has a dedicated 5Ghz band for backhaul, and then dedicated 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz bands to provide coverage for the other half, which works very well and gets 350Mbps between the main router and farthest corners of the house, which is pretty damn good for wifi.

    2. Joe says:

      Good wifi speed. I’ve a lrge house but old stone walls so perhaps I’m a bad test case in that the signal just won’t go that far with whatever tech I try. Keep hoping the tech will get better!

    3. Phil says:

      In that case Joe, you’d be better off seeing if you can run ethernet through the house and then grab a bunch of Ubiquiti UnifiAC’s – it’s not cheap, but it’ll blow any consumer gear out of the water.

  7. Les Day says:

    I’m having problems with the BT superhub 6.
    Very slow anyone else ?

    1. AndyC says:

      A factory reset after the last firmware update solved all the issues i had.

      Im not saying it will fix your problems as it could easily be the device your connecting to the router with but it could be a good place to start.

  8. Dave Meadmore says:

    Surely this is about the wisdom and risk of firmware updates. I rather think BT is courageous to issue an update to this product even if they had the appropriate assurances from their manufacturer. Whilst other manufacturers sometimes have updates they are buried away in support pages where only the brave venture. There are many examples where products have ended up as bricks. BT must have judged that the upgrade was beneficial rather than ignoring the issues and launching a new product. It is not clear whether the issue is regarding users with BT Hubs or other.

    Ideally all firmware updates should have a reverse feature but that is not always practical. Also they should be pull not push so that any change does not impact just when that important task needs doing.

    As for WIFI Mesh I am personally against them. They promote the continuous transmission of WIFI 24/7 (like the latest ISP routers) whether its needed or not in your house, or your neighbour’s. I prefer targeted Access Points with low output that can be turned off when not required. Also many of these mesh products do not appear to recover well from power outages or being turned off.

  9. chris conder says:

    I like the bt mesh. I also like the tenda nova mesh. I prefer my apple extreme access point on a cat6, but all three work great in my house. (I am trying them all for testing purposes) Very old house, very thick damp walls. Haven’t had any trouble with the update on the bt mesh yet, so have it all plugged in for testing and will comment again if it goes bad.

  10. Zrinzo Ludvic says:

    Yet another BT cock up. I am also experiencing problems after the latest update. You pay good money and get terrible service.

  11. Forthay says:

    Still no fix after 8 weeks. BT offered to replace discs with an older firmware and a different set of bugs.

  12. Joe says:

    I’ve found that I’ve had no issues with the original three disk set I installed. It appears the additional of another separate disk has caused my issues. This new one is now powered off and the original mesh works fine. I have a weak signal now in the kitchen but the rest of the mesh have been stable for about two weeks now.

  13. John says:

    Two disk system here with all sorts attached, including security cameras, smart home items etc. Daily drop-outs that need both disks power cycled. BT support is a disgrace. First line know nothing and second line probably know little more based on the pace and quality of response. I get the feeling they’re stumped by this and won’t fork out for experts who know what they’re doing. I also get the impression that it works well for basic wifi access, e.g. standard streaming etc., but can’t handle smart devices such as thermostats, security cameras etc. Avoid like the plague is my advice.

  14. Colin Munro says:

    My three disc system appears to be working, but I can’t access through the whole house app, which is red instead of blue and states there’s an internet fault. Sometimes it turns blue for just a moment then back to red.

  15. peter moyes says:

    My two diskWhole Home system has the same problems

  16. Dave Smale says:

    My four disc system is doing the same, i am furious, too much money spent for such poor service. an absolute disgrace. Come on BT sort it out.

  17. cloudy says:

    Control is merely Abandonment whenever Pro is struggling with Its Con. Truth is that which is applied to ALL whereas The Truth that is applicable to some is called Gambling/2nd-Guessing and when Gambling is “On-the-Cards”, Malevolence, aka “The-Devil”/”Evil”, is then able to call this form of Abandonment, “Gambling Responsibly”. Jest like Poisoning self responsibly.

    Unless self is Of-Perfection, do NOT wrestle Control from The-Other otherwise that form of Control-Freakism is merely Abandonment “Running –Amok”. Yes, “BT”, you damn lousy Control- Freak, you. “A Small Minority” ? How Small is then “Small”, eh? NOT when those damn things cost approximately £200 “a-pop”. The “Details”/Fixed-Costs working for “BT” might be taking-home their paychecks with abandonment but what about the small guy stuck with having to “readjust” his “WholeHome WiFi” at least once EVERY DAY. Eh? “Confucius”/Master-Kung has a “stanza” which goes, “Do NOT to Another, that which you would NOT have done to yourself”.

    The Devil Nevah, Evah, has to face The Abandoned, leaving that small-problem to “The-Details” because A Moment will arrive when Da Bigge Boss at BT will jump-ship at another “Port”, leaving the problems to The Details. Hands up those who do not realise that this problem is merely Greed-Fear Running Amok.

    As such, let Others have control of their Destiny. This is because NO Human is perfect enough to determine Another’s destiny. Just because many are ONLY interested in “Gosipping”, “Sophistikating”, “Truthing”, “Moralising”, “being-Seen”, and other Frivolity & Nonsense, does not mean self has the free reign to determine Another’s Destiny. After all, Reality is Of-Self whereas Relativity is Of-Another. You know, when “Enuff” is enough.

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