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Glitchy 5GHz WiFi Hits Users of UK ISP Plusnet’s Hub One Router UPDATE

Monday, November 18th, 2019 (9:02 am) - Score 11,236

Some customers of Plusnet’s broadband service, specifically those using their Hub One router (re-branded BT HomeHub 5A), are suffering from unstable internet connectivity when connecting to devices via the 5GHz WiFi band. The issue began earlier this year.

The 5GHz band is generally considered essential in order to get the best network speeds while closer to your router and also for reducing the impact of interference from other wireless networks nearby. As such anything that disrupts its usability is something that can hurt, although since many people will often connect via the slower 2.4GHz band by default then they may be unaware of the problem.

Experiences vary, although the bug itself was first spotted around March 2019 (Plusnet community forum), which followed a firmware update of the Hub One to v4.7.51.83.8.263. Since then a steadily rising number of Plusnet’s customers have been reporting intermittent or completely unusable internet connectivity when devices are connected via 5GHz.

Initially the ISP tried to work around this by offering to downgrade the firmware on affected routers, which seemed to work for several customers but a support agent for the provider later advised that “unfortunately, a firmware downgrade on its own is unable to resolve the problem.” Another agent later suggested that “if you want to make use of the 5GHz wireless frequency you may need to purchase your own router.” Nice.

Since then the provider has spent months analysing router logs in the hope of getting to the bottom of the seemingly complicated issue, although they’ve so far been unable to produce a permanent fix or say when one might be issued. In the meantime more of Plusnet’s customers have been spotting the same problem and reporting it.

Sample Customer Complaint 1

“Just to add to this conversation, this morning my 5ghz is dead completely. It used to be that I could connect, the connection would eventually die, and then I’d disconnect and connect again. This morning though I can’t connect to 5ghz WiFi at all, across multiple devices.”

Sample Complaint 2

“I get random drop outs of internet connection on phones/ tablets and the smart TV. The Samsung smart TV won’t reconnect without a power down. All are connected to the 5ghz. Zero problems with 2.4ghz connected devices like my smart thermostat, Xbox and some other smart TVs.”

Sample Complaint 3

“Plusnet suggested my devices were faulty. None on the 2.4GHz are affected – ever and those connected via a cable – PC, Hive hub etc aren’t affected either. Anything the can connect to 5.GHz can connect only after a hub restart but even then it drops the 5GHz band very quickly.”

Sample Complaint 4

“From around Feb 2017 until 28 March 2019, I was on v 4.7.5.1.83.8.217.1.1. I had NO problems for over two years until you upgraded me to v 4.7.5.1.83.8.263 one night when I experienced exactly the same problems everybody else is complaining about. i.e. 5GHz acts like it is working, but it is not. Reboot, it works for a day or so.”

As above, rebooting the router tends to fix the issue but this only lasts for a short period (a few hours or days) before the problem returns. Generally we don’t advise rebooting routers on DSL (ADSL / VDSL) lines too often because that can sometimes impact your connection speed (i.e. it may look like a line fault to DLM – Dynamic Line Management).

We note that some customers have had a bit of luck in setting the router’s DHCP lease time to 21 days and then restarting it (i.e. the problem may still return but this can delay it – doesn’t work for everybody), although doing this can cause other connectivity issues with certain devices. Otherwise customers may be forced to stick with the 2.4GHz band (with 5GHz disabled) for now in order to maintain a stable connection.

As usual there are also the more costly fixes, such as buying a better third-party router or a mesh WiFi system (the latter essentially replaces the Hub One’s wireless network). We have requested a comment from Plusnet and will report back when one arrives. In the meantime we note that the ISP has been engaging with the router vendor/firmware engineers in order to try and find a fix but this is proving to be difficult.

As one of Plusnet’s veteran admins, Bob Pullen, recently said: “I’ll be the first to admit that this problem has been around far longer than we’d have liked. Largely attributed to our complete failure to replicate the behaviour in the lab. In an ideal world, we’d have collectively identified a particular device/config that can be used to reproduce the error (all ears if anyone has any suspicions). I’m confident things would progress in leaps and bounds if we could get to this stage.”

UPDATE 19th Nov 2019

We’ve had the following comment from Plusnet.

A Plusnet Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

“We’re working to fix an intermittent Wi-Fi connectivity issues affecting a small number of customers following a firmware update earlier in the year. We’re working with our technology partner to find a solution as quickly as possible, and helping affected customers with temporary fixes in the meantime.

Customers who are experiencing this issue may wish to try temporarily disabling the 5GHz radio in the router settings, or contact us on 0800 432 0200 or @Plusnethelp and we’ll be happy to help.”

Leave a Comment
41 Responses
  1. Avatar Ianh

    I’m double nat’ing behind my plusnet router with wifi disabled thanks to the ISP supplied routers being a complete dumpster fire. Not how i’d like to operate but it sure as heck makes switching suppliers painless.

    • Avatar dave

      I don’t understand why you would double NAT just because you’re (presumably) using another WiFi access point when bridging is an option.

    • Avatar Leex

      He probably bought a cable router instead of a vdsl router (or a access point) because vdsl routers cost like £90-120 where as cable routers you can buy for less than £40

    • Avatar dave

      There is still no reason to double NAT.

      – Connect cable from cable router LAN (NOT WAN) port to a LAN port on the Plusnet router
      – Disable DHCP server on cable router
      – Make sure DHCP is enabled on Plusnet router

      Now, any connection to WiFi will be bridged onto the Ethernet and DHCP will be assigned from the Plusnet router. The cable router will only be used for bridging WiFi to Ethernet. Because DHCP is assigned from the Plusnet router, there will only be one NAT.

    • Avatar Mike

      Maybe he’s a NATsy.

    • Avatar spurple

      @dave, but the ISP device will still be the router. I personally don’t want my router to be something that my ISP can “remotely administer”. The most they should be able to do is disconnect me, or inspect the traffic, which I can only avoid by using a VPN — but that’s less of a concern.

    • Avatar dave

      This case is about the WiFi being crap though, nothing else.

  2. Avatar Lee

    Hub One are a piece of cheap rubbish router. Avoid it.

    • Avatar eM

      As another user posted here, it’s a rather fine router once you flash it with OpenWRT. On native software – yes, it’s not much of a router.

  3. Avatar David Carter

    This is one of the reasons I’ve left PlusNet.

    I solved the issue by popping on eBay and picking up a BT Smart Hub 6 for £20.

  4. Avatar Stephen Wakeman

    5G issues with the PN hub one was the reason I switched to using a Netgear VDSL modem router when I was with them. This was back beginning 2016. I reported the issue to them and made forum posts there.

    The 5G throughout would suddenly and randomly bottom out to the point it was much slower than a 2.4G one and maxxed out at 40Mb. Rebooting the Hub One would fix the problem for a day or two. Sounds familiar.

    I’m willing to bet that it was a related issue and the problem was there the whole time. It was just not gaining enough traction as a lot of Hub One users don’t know enough to know there is an issue until it stops working.

  5. Avatar Mel

    Plusnet Hub One is a BT hub 5A in a white box with tweaked plusnet firmware.

    Nothing wrong with the hardware itself, it is pretty well spec’ed for an ISP supplied router, it will be a firmware issue.

    I have 2 BT hub 5A’s flashed with openwrt, and been using one as my main router for years. I’ve also got the plusnet one, but it is currently still in its box, waiting to be flashed. (I wouldn’t recommend flashing openwrt on your main/only router).

    I’ve only had a couple of wifi issues with them, one was with the latest openwrt release, which switched the 5ghz driver to the Ath10k CT firmware which wouldn’t maintain a reliable connection and also doesn’t support mesh, switch to the old QCA9880 driver was easy though.

    The other was caused by a next door neighbour’s sky Q router and sky boxes choosing the same channels as my BT router was set to, despite it being the nearest access point. So I would frequently get up to three APs switching to the same channel as mine, knocking out my wifi.

    I solved that after flashing openwrt, by setting it to always use maximum transmit power, so it doesn’t save power, which has almost entirely stopped the sky access points choosing the same channel.

    I suspect the BT hub 5A is a bit to good at minimising wifi transmit power.

  6. Avatar Steve Kelly

    I’m sample complaint #4.

    I was lucky enough to be downgraded and have had no further issues since 17th April.

    Surely Plusnet must know what they tried to fix. Undo that fix and do it again properly.

    Plusnet seem unable to work out what they’ve changed/broken, or maybe has no desire to with the remarkably slow rate of, well it’s not even progress.

    I also assume the software I am using (4.7.5.1.83.8.237.2.2) has a security or usability flaw as it’s older.

  7. Avatar Meadmodj

    The Plusnet hub one shares the same firmware as the BT Hub5A except for the network settings. A lot of people have had issues since the update late March 2019. Rollback to earlier versions was considered but appear to have been abandoned as introducing more issues. There is obviously an issue with the latest version but it is not big enough either because it is a small community affected or people don’t know any different and are happily surviving on 2.4.

    However rather than going off at tangents those affected are advised to try the simple options first. Some devices including Apple, Android, Xbox get confused if the SSID is the same and appear to memorise the issue despite resetting them.

    A) So factory reset the Router, whether Hub 4, 5, 5A/One or Smart go to WIFI advanced settings and “Change ‘Sync with 2.4 Ghz’ to No”. Give both 2.4 and 5 discrete SSID names (not used before by the devices). Connect devices manually to 5Ghz if they can support it and set to autoconnect.

    B) Use a simple scanner to detect competing WIFI and change channels used by the 5Ghz SSID. Remember the Router detects WIFI close to it. The competition with next door may be in a bedroom where the foreign signal is stronger. If you can find a common channel not in competition great (but repeat A), if not consider a cabled AP or mesh rather than trying to connect to your 5Ghz SSID at a distance even if the signal looks fair.

    If that doesn’t work continue to harass the ISP. BT will probably offer their latest hub for P&P (and try and flog you Complete!). Enough noise to Plusnet might encourage more positive action.

  8. Avatar shaunyw

    I think its something to do with the plusnet infrastructure and nothing to do with the routers as I have had similar problems with my tg582n from 2014. The faults are intermittent which is why they are difficult to pinpoint and lead to seemingly random ‘solutions’ which are more likely coincidental. A cursory browse through the forums reveals that similar faults have plaqued plusnet users on different configurations for a very long time.

    • The 5GHz WiFi issue is very much router based and seemingly nothing to do with Plusnet’s external infrastructure, at least there are no signs of that. 2.4GHz WiFi works fine, as does wired Ethernet.

  9. Avatar Gary

    I called plus net support after posting on the forum about this issue. They said they could send a technician out at my expense, I said no thanks it’s an issue with the firmware. I then received an email telling me that as I’d refused a technician, I was now not allowed to leave plusnet for another month.

    I will be leaving ASAP.

    • Avatar dave

      “as I’d refused a technician, I was now not allowed to leave plusnet for another month”

      I think you’ll need to explain that!

    • Avatar spurple

      You may be able to file a formal complaint.

      @dave: they refused to send a technician free of charge, and marked him as rejecting the help of a technician when he balked at having to pay for one.

    • Avatar dave

      But why does this mean he can’t leave Plusnet for another month?

    • Avatar Spurple

      @dave, presumably he has just a month left on the contract and you can’t use poor service as an excuse to terminate contract without fees if you have refused to let the provider’s efforts to remedy the situation.

  10. Avatar Mel

    Somebody did publish a script to build modified stock firmware to enable sh access to the router. It also disables unnecessary services, presumably including updates, so you’d need to check if it is still fully functional as a dsl router.

    It is based on the 4.7.5.1.83.237.2.2 release, that a poster above reports as not suffering these issues.

    Would require soldering, or using one of the no solder connection methods, a cheap serial adaptor and backing up the existing firmware and flashing, so not exactly straightforward, and getting it wrong could kill the router.

    The plusnet firmware settings in the 0-vars file in the hack would also need uncommenting.

    See topic here:- https://openwrt.ebilan.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=1051

  11. Avatar Joseph

    I have a Draytek Vigor 130 and a Orbi RBK50 Mesh router. Does what it says on the tin, no faf. Just works. (With Talk talk) but that doesn’t matter.

  12. Avatar happychappy

    Rubbish ISP get what you pay for !!!

  13. Avatar Oliver

    Mines fine.. because I replaced the firmware with openWRT.

  14. Avatar Martyn

    I have split my 2.4Gh & 5Gh and the drop out occurs on 5Gh. The problem has got worse in three weeks I have had the router and moved to PlusNet. All my devices now on 2.4Gh

  15. Avatar chris conder

    Wifi is a dark art for sure. 5ghz is fast, but doesn’t go very far, and it often jumps to an unusable channel. I always check that first and more often or not it has jumped to channel 100. set it at 40, 40, 44 or 48, depending on what a scan shows neighbours are on and that often resolves it. (I am not with plusnet but wifi issues are a problem for most).
    Personally I think meshes are the way to go, but again, check the channels. You can get free apps to check channels.

    • Avatar Mel

      I don’t think BT hub’s firmware supports anything above channel 48 on 5ghz, so presumably the Plusnet version will be the same.

      If it does and can also selects a higher one when on auto channel selection, then that might even be their bug, since quite a few 5ghz wifi devices don’t work above channel 48, annoyingly including my LG OLED TV, and I think my printer too.

      All of the 5ghz wifi devices in range of mine are using 80 Mhz channel width, as is mine, which means although they are all configured to channel 36 and mine is set to 48, they are all actually using the same channels 36 – 48, centred on channel 42. ( I use this open source wifi analyser:- https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.vrem.wifianalyzer&hl=en_GB )

  16. Avatar Mustufa

    I had similar issue and I was a given a new Plust One hub Router at extra cost. However this did not resolve the issue, so I eventually ended up bying my own router.

  17. Avatar Giltt

    I have had this problem for sometime and found Plusnet to be completely useless at resolving this, after spending hours on the phone and speaking to supervisors I was informed that WiFi access is not guaranteed by plusnet. Because the router had internet access to refused any further help. Unfortunately I was in the middle of a contract with them which I immediately cancelled, I would rather pay the fee than have to deal with that company again.

  18. Avatar Saaj

    3 possible fixes:
    Flash openwrt
    Get a cheap used smart hub
    Get a draytek
    Hopefully plusnet’s changing structure as they merge further into BT group won’t affect their customer support.(if they use the same call centres as BT they’re doomed)

  19. Avatar Mark Young

    Thank you for this article. I’ve recently moved to Plusnet and after a day or so of experimenting turned off 5Ghz wireless. Now I know why I was experiencing problems.

  20. Avatar Jonathan

    All ISP provided routers are frankly a steaming pile of elephant droppings. If you want decent WiFi invest in quality third party kit, it’s simples.

  21. Avatar Yakuzah

    Dump the router and go get something decent. The routers are shocking anyway.. Pile of crap

  22. Avatar peter noble

    I have had this problem for about 6 months. I turned off the 5ghz and hard wired most of my stuff. What’s left is using 2.4ghz. It’s hopeless trying to get it sorted with Plusnet as they haven’t a clue why their crappy routers don’t work and I doubt they care much either.

  23. Avatar Jonesey

    I joined Plusnet in Feb 2019 and was sent the Hub One Router and within hours had problems with the 5GHz WiFi losing connectivity were my devices connected and had no internet. Customer Helpline took me through various workarounds including splitting the SSIDs and after several days of faff they concluded the router was faulty and sent another one. Had exactly the same problem and I was then told it was not a router issue as they had not received any similar complaints but I was free to purchase my own router – thanks for nothing! I bought a BT Hub 6 on eBay for £10 and never had an issue since. Anybody want 2 PlusNet Hub One Routers to reflash?

  24. Avatar Steve

    I like the Plusnet One / HH5A. It’s great with Openwrt 18. With my Eci cabinet the VDSL chipset performs the best, and I can tweak the SNR from 6db to 3db to get more speed out of the line.

    To be fair, I am using mesh WiFi, but I have run the HH5A on some high 5GHz channels on Openwrt with good results.
    I appreciate it’s very old hardware but the opensource firmware does make it a flexible router for those who want to tinker and you can get them pre-flashed on eBay for about £20.

    ISP firmware often ruins reasonable kit!!

  25. Avatar Josh

    I was with Plusnet earlier this year and the dodgy hub also. The 5GHz would definitely drop out often and was only cursed by switching the WiFi radio off/on or rebooting the router. In the end I switched ISP couldn’t be bothered with it.

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