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Openreach UK End Firmware Updates for VDSL2 Broadband Modems

Saturday, September 8th, 2018 (7:09 am) - Score 13,108
openreach bt fttc broadband modem

It’s been over two years since Openreach (BT) withdrew its own VDSL2 modem as an option from their Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) installation service, which many ISPs initially provided to customers before self-installations and all-in-one routers became the norm. Now future firmware updates are also due to end.

Some ISPs weren’t particularly pleased when the operator originally stopped supplying the devices, not least because being able to use Openreach’s own VDSL2 modem made support easier (i.e. a familiar / shared platform, quick to update firmware and easy to replace faulty kit). On the other hand technology must move on and you can’t keep supporting the same kit forever.

The final nail in the device’s coffin has now finally dropped, with a short update to announce that “we will no longer provide modem firmware upgrades to Openreach provided VDSL modems from 4th March 2019.” Obviously this may raise some concerns among the last fleeting supporters of the modem, although arguably they’ve already continued to support it for much longer than originally planned.

The good news is that in today’s market there’s no shortage of cheap alternative routers with an integrated or standalone VDSL2 modem (examples). The vast majority of those should do a better job than Openreach’s kit, which hasn’t been a mainstream ISP choice for quite a few years.

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Mark Jackson
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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32 Responses
  1. Avatar ComicBookAssassin

    Strikes me as this will create more issues that Openreach can’t fix! Had Openreach out for a speed issue on a VDSL2 connection running the Openreach modem on a purpose built router. I got told the Openreach modem was the problem as they didn’t hand them out anymore without testing Jack! Plugged in a smart hub 6 and it was the exact same results as my router.
    So ruling out the routers then got told the line couldn’t handle the speeds even though complaining before about speed an engineer done a network fault fix which resulted in much higher speeds for 2weeks without drops the engineer couldn’t explain it and said it wasn’t possible even though he was looking at the past history results seeing it for himself, all that he wanted to show me was sync speed which is no way the same as throughput, even though showing him the results on BTwholesale speed test proved that the line throughput was low he was sticking to the sync speed. So what im trying to say is that there is likely to be a lot of erroneous charges/wrong diagnosis of equipment and that the isp or customer will be charged for wrong diagnosis. Due to all the different amounts of VDSL2 routers/modems. If Openreach can’t sort out speed on old tech like VDSL2 then G.Fast is going to be a minefield with the customer losing out in long term. Openreach’s/engineers approach to faults where speed is concerned is not a systematic approach to the problem. Wasn’t meant to turn into a rant but as one that has had speed issues and able to diagnose the house and my own equipment from Openreachs network I can counter arguments of charges, something that less tech savvy people just won’t be able to do.

  2. Avatar Walkerx

    They just need to get rid of FTTC and Adsl and make all Fttp, problem solved. I never used BT or Sky router unless fault to prove not my hardware and instead use hg612 with pfsense. I also have a samknows box which I can prove my connection speeds if they say I can’t obtain 75mbps which has happened before.

    • Avatar Mark

      We can all dream.. the government is far too busy blowing our money on useless train sets and ‘foreign aid’
      I wonder how much of the estimated 100 billion for HS2 would be needed to fit FTTP to the entire country? 10% 20%? I certainly know which would be more beneficial!

    • Avatar Brian

      I’ve often thought how much rail capacity would be freed up if good broadband was used to reduce the need to travel and more home working.

    • Avatar Mike

      It’s not really foreign aid its more along the lines of foreign bribes and kick backs for our corporations. The train set being another kick back.

      This really isn’t the governments obligation though, repeal the fiber tax and let the private sector handle it.

    • Avatar Fastman

      ridiculous statement circa 500+ of the 530 + service providers don’t offer any form of FTTP and I think circa 300 don’t offer any FTTC — and only want LLU and cheap Copper
      that’s the much bigger issue and is not going to go away any time soon

      the comment about HS2 is also ridiculous

    • Avatar tonyp

      And the train sets are built by foreign owned companies too! Lots of new train factories in the UK but all from overseas owners.

  3. Avatar Mark

    That’s a shame, I’d definitely argue about their being better modems out there! The only one hat gets decent reviews by owners is the Draytek Vigor, I use it, it works but it only has one Ethernet port unlike the HG612 so to diagnose anything you’ve got to unplug the routers.
    I have an HG612 as backup which I don’t use as it gets pretty warm and was second hand, but for diagnosing problems it can’t be beat.

    • Avatar dave

      Netgear DM200 is a VDSL2 modem, costs ~£35.

    • Avatar ComicBookAssassin

      Yeah I have a DrayTek 2860 router only as I have access points all around the house, I have been seeing lots of drops with the router connected on modem only mode running on 3.9.1 firmware, early days it was unbeatable, but now the firmware seems so flaky. Hence why I built a PfSense Box to replace it, I say a box but it’s a big computer which lives in the loft so is never seen lol but it may look like I’ll have to go back to the DrayTek to keep stuff patched on the modem side seen as support under Openreach modem is stopping.

    • Avatar Edmond

      Assuming your Vigor gives out IP address 192.168.1.1/24, you can configure a route for 192.168.1.0/24 pointing at the gateway IP (192.168.1.1), that way you can access the vigor even when a PPPoE connection is established.

      This is possible with Mikrotik routerOS, your mileage might vary with other routers!

    • Avatar AlexS

      The TP-Link TD-W9970 router gets good reviews and can be used in VDSL modem mode.
      Less than £40, has a Broadcom chipset and supports G.Inp & xdb feature if you’re lucky enough to be connected to a Huawei FTTC cabinet.

    • Avatar tonyp

      I also have a Vigor 2860 (wires only, no WiFi) and like it. It was bought for eventual change to VDSL but sadly there is no prospect of getting anything better than the miserable 2.7Mbit/Sec at 3.9Km from the exchange. I do not have any Router problems with my Vigor apart from the awful routing to between subnets attached. If, before I pass to the great cloud in the sky, I get something better from OR or other infrastructure provider then I’m likely to choose the ISP’s option and use it as a modem. The statistics on my router are available to me though probably not to my ISP and just make me depressed reading what most folk take for granted. Thus I cannot lament the demise of the OR provided device of the subject line.

    • Avatar Mark

      @edmond Yeah I’ll try it one day, I use Google WiFi with it so I have an Ethernet port to plug into. See what I can do, it was a bit restrictive but Google have added some new features to set it up manually now.
      As for the others, all good choices but I like the Vigor and my Googly WiFi 🙂 I am also on a Broadcom chipset cab. I doubt I’ll ever get g.inp though but you never know?

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @Mark

      I use Draytek 130’s with Draytek 2960’s and they can display the line stats and it is possible to interrogate them when they are live.

      That is all built into the standard Draytek firmware – no mods needed. I am sitting in my office looking at it now.

  4. Avatar AdeT

    The firmware of the Huawei HG612 has only been updated once during its eight year life. Illustrating BT’s disinterest and lack of commitment.

    And that was only to drop-in a newer ‘BLOB’ (Binary Large Object) into the firmware. The BLOB code runs on the second MIPS32 core of the Broadcom BCM6368 System-on-Chip (SOC) in this Huawei consumer premises equipment (CPE).

    The BLOB code performs all the digital signal processing (DSP) necessary to encode and decode the modulated VDSL signal.

    While the BCM6368 SoC is superceded, the end-user can still update the firmware himself. To add newer BLOBs and other tweaks, taken from firmware for other compatible devices.

  5. Avatar ComicBookAssassin

    Dave that’s the whole point. You have speed issues or disconnects on your line, Openreach come out and then say your not using the isp’s kit, your kit is faulty! How do you prove it’s not, unless you have the ISP’s kit knocking about, but the answer would still be your kit has caused disconnection and caused DLM to take control, There should just be one modem that Openreach recognize And could interrogate by plugging in there kit and record the actual throughput not the theoretical maximum that is the sync speed

    • Avatar Sparky

      All your ISP will care about is line speed. I get calls from customers every so often who complain about their speeds but if the CVLAN Rate returns above the minimum then we’re not supposed to do jack unless the customer wants to pay for an engineer. Besides we’ve had new systems for the last 18 months which are less effective at finding faults than the previous ones so many customers get the “we’ve refreshed your connection so please monitor for 48 hours”. Thankfully I still have access to the better system but not many advisors do and even less know how to make sense of all the information so tend to find me to explain it. If line speed is fine then the “we don’t guarantee wi-fi” card comes out and customers get irate and then the “terms and conditions” card comes out and they get more irate and then the “your still in contract and will be charged to leave” card comes out and then we just get full on abuse and customer hangs up. It’s a fun job.

    • Avatar ComicBookAssassin

      Sparky this is wired speed, with nothing else connected, the ISP can’t supply the minimum guaranteed speed of 47Mbps then Openreach come out and say it’s 44Mbps, which it isn’t I go by the isp speed Openreach just seem reluctant to properly investigate faults, so it ultimately ended in the customer being wound up and taking out of the rep which isn’t good but after your ISP keeps telling you it’s the Openreach modem our equipment is the only guaranteed way of getting the speed wired you plug it in and it’s the only thing either via the master socket filter or the bare test socket via an inline filter, and you get exactly the same results as your own equipment. Once you get told to do that believe you are claiming the walls.
      Even the supposed case handler hasn’t got a clue, stating that I’m running my kit off of an extension of the master socket. What’s so hard to understand that the master socket is wired to the modem the modem is wired to the router the router is wired to a switch the switch is then wired throughout the house to multiple access points and switches. The only thing that runs off of the extension is the phone located downstairs, I could see what the engineer was going to try and say it’s the extension, so as he was there I included the termination and said there you go your just testing the master socket test via wholesale cane back the same not achieving minimum guaranteed speed all wired, but I don’t think the engineer has a clue about sync speed and actual speed, actual speed being the only that is the minimum guaranteed speed not sync speed. As you can See it’s really boiling my Pee.
      So guess I’m going to be let out of contract now, So guess I ask my isp what I was paying for in the first place and to have some cash returned to me, I know it’s going to be the same with every isp that’s why I would have to go for an upto 50Mbps not upto 70 as Openreach don’t seem to have a clue how or what to do to fix there own network! Thankfully my pee has stopped boiling

    • Avatar Curious

      @COmicBook Assassin

      Have you put your phone number in here: https://www.dslchecker.bt.com/ ?

      This will give you the Downstream Handback Threshold(Mbps) information. Which you can use get out of your contract, if the sync speed is below this rate.

      There are 2 rates (A + B) and each is defined by the quality of the external line and home internal wiring.

      “For VDSL or G.fast Ranges A and B, the term “Clean (A)” relates to a line which is free from any wiring issues (e.g. Bridge Taps) and/or Copper line conditions, and the term “Impacted (B)” relates to a line which may have wiring issues (e.g. Bridge Taps) and/or Copper line conditions.

      In order to be eligible for handback, downstream speed should be less than Downstream Handback Threshold values.”

      If your sync speed is below the lowest value, you definitely have a chance of exiting, if it’s below the higher value, but higher than the lowest value, you’ll need to say you wish to leave due to handback threshold, and it will then be up to Openreach to decide whether your line is impacted or clean. At which point your ISP will advise on your next steps.

    • Avatar Curious

      Enter your phone number at the BT dslchecker (just search for BT dslchecker and you’ll find it)

      What’s the Downstream Handback Threshold(Mbps) for A and B? Is your connection’s sync speed lower than B? Complain to get it fixed or leave.
      If it’s lower than A, then you’ll need to complain and ask that you believe your line isn’t impacted, and you want to leave. They will contact Openreach, who will confirm the quality of the line, and at this point you can make a decision to leave.

      For VDSL or G.fast Ranges A and B, the term “Clean” relates to a line which is free from any wiring issues (e.g. Bridge Taps) and/or Copper line conditions, and the term “Impacted” relates to a line which may have wiring issues (e.g. Bridge Taps) and/or Copper line conditions.

      In order to be eligible for handback, downstream speed should be less than Downstream Handback Threshold values.

    • Avatar ComicBookAssassin

      @Curious yep I’ve done that before but what is most frustrating is that wholesale/Openreach are constantly changing the the throw back value ie lowering it to the point it’s got to 44Mbps this is the value that Openreach are sticking to Dispite the ISP saying the minimum they guaranteed me was 47Mbps. I’ve had a long chat with another advisor who said the last Openreach Big Box man was just a phone engineer not a specialist! Mmmm who would have figured as he just looked at the master socket but you ring up your ISP and tell them the guy was just a big box man and they swear blind that he a specialist Openreach and my ISP think i came down to earth yesterday. Apparently the next engineer is going to be a multi skilled engineer, I wonder if they are going to take a fascination to my mater socket as well. If the engineer wouldn’t mind me tagging along up the road I would gladly love to help fault find just checking sections to see where the speed dropped given the distance from one pint to another.

  6. Avatar Meadmodj

    Whilst I understand Openreach’s dropping of support due to the move to ISP providers routers I think this is wrong for both practical home installations and is counter productive. The FTTC network is owned by Openreach and they know what settings they are using. In addition VDSL is well matured. Have a single supported and recommended modem would not only make it easier but cheaper. Instead we are exposed to multiple manufacturers, models or versions as each ISP tries to find the cheapest combined WIFI router that can broadcast distorted WIFI signals to your roof and neighbours.
    Openreach had not only the opportunity of developing their own small modem like the DM200 but they could have enhanced it with user and remote diagnostics possibly saving the constant non-eco-friendly router change out we currently endure.
    Despite this announcement I would still recommend the separate modem and router config so that both are positioned for the best FTTC line and home network performance.

  7. Avatar Fastman

    ridulous statement circa 500+ of the 530 + service providers don’t offer any form of FTTP and I think circa 300 don’t offer any FTTC — and only want LLU and cheap Copper

    that’s the much bigger issue and is not going to go away any time soon

  8. Avatar Jazzy

    I have this set up with the openreach modem on the wall where the cable comes into the house

    I am FTTC but my master socket is in a stupid place so they wired that to an ethernet socket in my study years ago free of charge.

    When my openreach box breaks down (which has never been switched off ever in about 5 years) will sky then replace the set up or do I need to winge for it and move. I am concerned about this mid-contract as I due to re-negotiate sky in January.

  9. Avatar Ste

    I don’t see the point in owning one of these boxes, ive got one but i cant access the stats and i’m not as clued up as most people here so i’ve gone and ordered a new modem router so i can bin this trash i currently have.
    It might be fine for those who know how to access its stats, but for most people its a pain in the ass, id rather buy my own router and be able to access all the info i may need.

  10. Avatar A_Builder

    I thought the whole point of the approved list of routers/modems was that they did a full handshake with the DSLAM and therefore supported all the relevant protocols?

    After all there are actually very few different chipsets out there. Sure there are many flavours of firmware out there.

    The Draytek 130 does give slightly better performance than the later model OR provided modem but it is not massive – ca 2Mb/s on good lines.

    I would concur with other comments about placing the modem as close to the master socket as possible for either VDSL or Gfast and then running shielded ethernet to wherever the IT mess is.

  11. Avatar ComicBookAssassin

    Finally the 3rd Openreach enginner sorted it out, the copper pair had a break near to the cab so he swapped the pair for an in-used one now I’m cruising at 67Mbps down and 17Mbps up. Should have only taken one engineer instead including the 3 that came to my house 6 enignners it took just to fix the broadband speed, with the same approach I would have used from day one!

  12. Avatar JackR

    This is ridiculous, ISP are not offering any bridge mode supported devices. Leaving the customer to have to find a supported bridge mode modem without any guidance from open reach or the ISP.

    Another terrible effort from open reach who couldn’t run a bath properly.

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