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Power User
Posts: 53
Registered: ‎24-10-2011
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BT Business Hub - Firmware Flash policy and legality question.

I have the BT branded 2Wire 2700HGV business hub which was provided with my BT Business Broadband connection. I have been using this configuration for 4 years. Last week, without any prior notification or request on my part, BT applied a firmware update to this device, remotely, impacting its functionality and the web app configuration layer of the device.  This has, of course, occurred before, periodically during the lifetime of the hub.

 

In general, most updates are a good thing - there are many reasons why such may be required or desirable: improvements to the system, addressing any bugs or security issues and so on and I do not disapprove of this aspect, as such, in any way. However, this specific update is very different in one very significant way; which I wish to highlight; and I seriously question the legality of what has been done and I am looking for any comment on this and also to warn any other users of this device because I am horrified at BTs behaviour.

 

This hardware is (or rather was) a dual SSID device - it supports two separate wireless connections: a primary WiFi network and also a second WiFi network, on a completely separate IP subnet and SSID. This secondary network was intended to support Smartphone connections. Notionally this is for "Fusion" phone usage but this is not its sole capability and a Fusion phone or Fusion service is not required to use this feature of the device - indeed device documentation refers to any compatible Smartphone technology. In my case it supported the usage of a Blackberry Smartphone over WiFi, separate and independent from PC network. BT, of course, no longer offers a Fusion service.

 

My anger and concern is that this latest update, 6.3.9.63-plus.tm has removed this dual SSID capability from the device. The second network now no longer exists - the web configuration application of the hub has been updated to remove all aspects of this feature so it can no longer be accessed or utilised. So, this device no longer matches its own attached markings or its documentation or features. It is no longer a dual SSID device as the capability has been disabled and "removed" by the "update".

 

My first indication that there was a problem was when the Blackberry device failed to connect to WiFi. Given recent well publicised failure of the Blackberry network I did not initially associate the connection failure with anything to do with the hub - it was only when the problem persisted that I tracked down the actual cause. Reconfiguration of the Blackberry to use the remaining primary connection SSID, is trivial but of course no longer has network or IP subnet isolation - devices now must use the same scope as the PC network.

 

I had contacted BT support on Live Chat but without obtaining any satisfactory answer - the agent expressed the expected "apology" and "sympathetic understanding" for my concern and said they would log my complaint, but the best that could be offered was to apply a "downgrade" to my device but, of course, that is not really a solution: it would leave me "in the dark" and isolated, for any future upgrades or changes, and so is not acceptable in the long term. In real terms it was effectively claimed that nothing could be done, and that, as my actual broadband connection was unaffected, there is not really any issue to be addressed?  [This is not strictly true – the Blackberry cannot connect in the manner it did previously but it can with some reconfiguration.]

 

Does anyone have a view on this, especially if you have legal experience? I am appalled at this attitude and find it completely unacceptable and intrusive.  I do not believe it can possibly be legal and would like someone to explain under what Terms it possibly could be something that I agreed to, or permit to occur, under my BT provision – that they can unilaterally and arbitrarily remove features from the router like this, at any time?  Consider that the removal of this feature does not have anything to do with my actual broadband connection service provision, which is what I believe I contract them to provide.  The internal operation of the hub within my infrastructure should not be their concern providing it does not interfere with the BT infrastructure in any way.  This kind of fundamental change to the device cannot possibly be regarded as an “upgrade” in the normal sense – it removes features.

 

Let us change the scenario for another “well loved” analogy - your car undergoes maintenance by the dealer. During this event the mechanic arbitrarily removes interior features of the car; perhaps from the dashboard display; or any similar arbitrary thing. When you notice and complain the dealer explains that this does not actually impact your ability to drive the car so there is nothing to be addressed or that you can do. Would you find this acceptable? I believe not - I cannot find anything in the Terms and Conditions which would remotely suggest that BT has any right to fundamentally remove features from the Hub hardware, in this manner, especially when it is not to its own original specification, now. Whilst they certainly can choose to change their service offering; including the withdrawal of a Fusion service; I do not believe this should give them any rights over the operation of the hub or its features. The two are not directly related as the "Fusion" compatibility of the hub is not exclusive to that service - as explained.

 

Anyone?  Do you think this behaviour is acceptable?  Am I alone in finding this objectionable?

Guru
Posts: 709
Registered: ‎18-06-2008
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Re: BT Business Hub - Firmware Flash policy and legality question.

 

 

Who owns the hub?     You or BT?     That might give you an answer on the "legallity".

 

 

There are other issues too - removal of time restrictions and content access/filtering.

 

 

Power User
Posts: 53
Registered: ‎24-10-2011
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Re: BT Business Hub - Firmware Flash policy and legality question.

Who owns the hub - good question, I do not actually know: I always assumed me but perhaps this is not the case.  BT provide the ISP connection and any online services.  The actual hub was free when I first subscribed to BT and, in the event of any fault with it, they do replace it but I always assumed that I own it: that the "free" tag was just a "benefit" of the original subscription and their ongoing provision of our connection.

 

I do not believe I am under any obligation to return it, for example, should I choose to terminate the BT contract in favour of another provider.  However, being BT branded version of the router it is certainly propriatary implementation content so not completely generic or transferrable.

 

With regard to the other features you mention, in the firmware version I have, both features are available and I do make use of them.

Power User
Posts: 53
Registered: ‎24-10-2011
0

Re: BT Business Hub - Firmware Flash policy and legality question.

As far as I can see, BT must be in breach of the following:

 

Operational changes

3.10 Occasionally, for operational reasons, including the provision of service enhancements and/or software upgrades, BT may:-

(a) change any codes or numbers given to the Customer, the performance or functionality of the Service, or the way BT provides the Service, provided that any change to the Service or the way BT provides the Service does not affect the performance or functionality of the Service to the Customer’s significant detriment; or

(b) interrupt or suspend Service. If this happens BT will restore the Service as quickly as possible.

 

The Technical Specification document for the 2700HGV describes itself as multi-SSID device.

 

The device is included within the ongoing subscription cost - I can find nothing anywhere to suggest that BT continue to own this device.  As far as I am concern their equipment stops at the primary phone connection point at the wall, nothing connected after that, including this hub belongs to them.   As far as I understand, their replacement of the equipment in the event of a fault is also a feature of my subscription and not that they continue to own the hub.

 

Anyone think otherwise.

Member
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎28-10-2011
0

Re: BT Business Hub - Firmware Flash policy and legality question.

I am with you Tim.

Just wasted an hour trying to work out why my phone and ipad couldn't connect.

This is a quality issue. First of all to issue a defective update. Second  not to advise customers when you reported it.

 

I think BT has a moral obligation to issue an immediate apology and advise all customers of the defect to prevent others wasting time.  

They might then advise when the defect will be rectified.

These things are usually **bleep**-up rather than conspiracy so it would be nice to hear that the root cause had been established and steps taken to prevent recurrence.  

 

A free month added to the contract would be a nice gesture  -    I can dream.

 

Power User
Posts: 53
Registered: ‎24-10-2011
0

Re: BT Business Hub - Firmware Flash policy and legality question.

[ Edited ]

If you want to talk "conspiracy" how about the fact that since posting this original message, my connection has mysteriously developed a fault now - for last 24 hours am only achieving "modem" speeds on an 8Mbps connection in which up to 6Mbps is experienced!  The router claims I should be getting around 4Mbps (even that's down on "normal") but this is not happening either.  When reported to BT support they initially claimed their system was not showing the router as connected (despite the fact I was online and browsing at the time, but very, very slow).  Then claimed I have some kind of line fault so has been referred to that department so buys them 3 days.  This is a line fault that does not seem to affect the actual phone line just the broadband.  Interestingly, the online service status for this area has no issues but, when phoning up earlier, the automatic message system reported an ongoing fault here.  Then, after 3-4 hours that fault is reported as resolved but no change here all day with actual performance.  Numerous resets, disconnects, power offs etc all according to the troubleshooting so is not my end at all.

 

It should be reported that official BT response on the original issue is that connecting a Blackberry in this manner was "not a supported operation".  The unbranded version of this device from 2wire has no issue with it and neither have we for years.  I cannot see the "issue" myself - it was only a wireless connection to a separate subnet that then gets routed to the same output connection: there was nothing "special" about it technically, just a second WiFi SSID and providing it does not interfere with their upstream infrastructure I don't believe it is any business of BT how I use it (providing is legal of course)?  They also say the device is still "multi-SSID" because I could activate the Openzone feature.  Of course the obvious difference with that is that Openzone is fully public so hardly like for like - I do not wish to provide a public service at this time - the other SSID was not public.  It also ignore the fact that I previously still could have activated the Openzone whilst retaining all the previous features - it was an earlier update which introduced that feature and the first thing done with that was to disable it - so I am certainly reduced by one WiFi network now.  I am so unimpressed just now - their current phone queue which claims to be 5-10 mins just now is closer to 30-40 minutes and when we did finally get through I strongly feel like I am just being fobbed off.  Wait until Tuesday, when will have been down for 4-5 days and I have no doubt that the phone line division will refer me back to broadband support with "no fault found" - I have been round this loop before.   Will wait and see.....cos I cannot do much else on this speed connection at the moment!!

 

(Edited to clarify speeds - should be Mbps)

Guru
Posts: 534
Registered: ‎22-03-2011
0

Re: BT Business Hub - Firmware Flash policy and legality question.

Member
Posts: 1
Registered: ‎03-11-2011
0

Re: BT Business Hub - Firmware Flash policy and legality question.

Completely agree with Tim & have complained bitterly to BT - tech support supervisor John tells me that BT own my 2700HGV router not me - the premise is that if it breaks they would change it for free - not sure ownership is relevant here though! He explains that it is impossible to reverse this upgrade which I find very hard to believe - another misnomer is that it is hardly an UPgrade - surely a DOWNgrade. He consulted a "manager" who explained to him that "it is out of our control - we are contractually obliged by 2Wire to accept their firmware updates every 2 years" so as sorry as he was that's it - nothing to do with BT, nothing I/they can do about it and he would pass on my complaint - thanks - not. I remain disgusted that BT feel they can treat their customers so shabbily.

Member
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎19-10-2009
0

Re: BT Business Hub - Firmware Flash policy and legality question.

Sorry that I missed this topic, just started a new one saying that the fusion network disappeared. We thought it was a power cut that had damaged the bt2700hgv but have since read this. Now phones and other devices are struggling to connect to the business network for done reason and we are at a lose as to why they would turn it off? Wool be calling them later and keeping an eye on this forum. If they don't/can't/refuse to reinstate the network what is the work around-piggy backing another wireless on the back of the by unit? Good luck all:-)
Power User
Posts: 53
Registered: ‎24-10-2011
0

Re: BT Business Hub - Firmware Flash policy and legality question.

If BT claim to own the router it does indeed clarify their "right" to unilaterally and arbitrarily apply firmware updates to it at any time.   That I do not own this router, however, is news to me - the fact, that BT maintain it, does not in any way have anything to do with ownership, necessarily - contractually I am paying them, under my service subscription level, to do so, I believe.   [This is no different from, say, domestic equipment such as my washing machine and tumble drier which are 100% owned by me but are still maintained, including replacement, by the manufacturer because I pay them to provide that service.]  I would maintain that at no time in the years I have been with this BT connection has it been stated to me that I do not own this equipment and that "included" provision does not mean ownership - that is a very important point: despite me paying BT for service, if they own the router they could arbitrarily decide to remove it leaving me without access to the service I have payed for?   This does not seem right.

 

They claim they notify clients when "major" updates are to be applied, for example, for those of us who have been with them for a number of years, the move from 5.x to 6.x firmware was certainly "major" - although I do not actually recall being notified that time either.  They regard this particular update as "minor" therefore no notification necessary - clearly this is playing "hard and fast" with the English language not to mention the technicalities - something that fundamentally alters the features and functionality of the target device is not "minor" irrespective of any version "point release" that may be labeled to the firmware.

 

With regard to statement about contracts between 2Wire and BT - this is clearly false: whilst there may be a contract between the parties that requires BT to periodically update, I do not believe, for a minute, that the decision to pull Fusion capability from the device was one made by 2Wire.   That was clearly a decision made by BT - I do not believe, at all, that 2Wire has any authority to pull functionality from a legacy device model.   They can produce a new device, as they have done; 2701HGV which may have slightly different specification, but they certainly cannot retrospectively change the functionality of an existing model.   At the end of the day this is a BT branded version of the device - the firmware is different and modified from the 2Wire native product.   Irrespective of whether 2Wire carry out that work for; on behalf of; BT, the latter will and must be in control of that process, by definition.   Are BT seriously suggesting that 2Wire could decide to remove a feature that BT themselves are dependent upon and that BT could do nothing about that and would find it acceptable - that defies all credibility and common sense.  In such a case BT would have to replace all the hardware with an alternative for every end user effected - that is commercial nonsense.

 

As has been pointed out elsewhere in this thread and also in other topics in this forum, the latest 2701HGV firmware, I am led to believe, no longer appears to include Access Control features for Time Scheduling and Content Screening elements.  The 2700HGV still maintains these features just now.   Again, I do not believe the decisions to remove such elements is driven by 2Wire - I completely believe BT makes that decision because they are desirable features to have and 2Wire's product is available in an unbranded form so I simply do not accept as credible any claim that a less functional device is in any way an improvement on an earlier model - in such a case nobody would ever buy the new product.  Reading between the lines, technically, of some other posts, I have a strong suspicion that the decision to remove these features was a "dirty fix" to overcome other stability and performance issues with the devices and not that the features are, in any way, "no longer required" or "obsolete".  I make use of these features myself, as do many other parties.  The interesting element about this is that these specific features are items that historically, disappeared in a previous "update" of the 2700 and were then re-instated again in a further update, a few days later, to address the complaints: this was an earlier patch issue, several years ago.  In other words - BT does have the capability; maybe through 2Wire; to add or remove elements of the device as they see fit.   I am completely confident that technically they could re-enable the second Fusion SSID if they wished to and so it is down to their own decisions that they choose not to.

 

Claims about technical ability to downgrade the firmware: two points - first that statement conflicts with the information I have been supplied by BT myself so somebody within BT is wrong, either way.  Secondly, it may be that BT infrastructure does not necessarily support such an operation; which I doubt; but that does not mean that it cannot be done to the device hardware.  It certainly is possible, technically, but it may be a manual exercise and, this is where it gets tricky - the unbranded version of the 2700 within the configuration UI used to have commands that permitted the loading of a firmware image from file source and the original 5.x firmware from BT, I seem to recall, did originally have those features hidden inside the "advanced management".  Later versions of the firmware, at some point, removed those commands, presumably because of the BT branding.  So I am not sure technically how you can re-flash the device - it would require direct network or usb connection, certainly, but it may require additional undocumented software or commands to access the hardware to allow it to occur as BT have hidden this aspect.  The hardware itself is capable of being re-flashed this way so there is no question that either an upgrade or downgrade could be performed but whether this can be done by an "end user" now that BT have applied bespoke firmware - that is a different matter.  It is common sense that the unbranded version has this capability because this is precisely the mechanism by which updates are obtained from the vendor.  It is my understanding that this BT branded 2700HGV is no different physically from unbranded hardware, so has all the same capabilities, but the firmware applied is where the differences occur and the BT version is substantially different.  It could be that the commands remain in some "hidden" form and so could be accessed if BT were to document it or, more likely, it could require some more specialist direct communication to the device to apply such an update and BT would have to make the flash image file public; or at least, provide it directly to an end user by some means.

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