Darren Waters

BT iPlayer Homehub issues

  • Darren Waters
  • 27 May 08, 08:25 GMT

BT technical staff are looking into a number of problems some of its broadband customers are having using the streaming version of the BBC's iPlayer with the company's HomeHub router.

A number of online forums, including BT's own, feature complaints from users that the HomeHub router re-boots when the iPlayer is streaming video.

I can wholeheartedly sympathise because I have had this issue for more than a month.

The HomeHub is a modem/router built for BT by Thomson - and is required if customers are using the firm's PVR/IPTV system, BT Vision.

A number of people have reported issues with the HomeHub since it was launched.

On the BT Forums Mark Wilkin, support community co-ordinator, asks customers with problems to leave the following information:

Home Hub Firmware Version
Operating System (e.g. Windows XP, Mac OS X Leopard 10.5 etc)
Browser Software (Opera, I.E. 7, Firefox etc)
The URL or name of the iPlayer content you're having problems viewing and when during the recording the problems happen.
Time the issue occurs
Broadband Speed
Location (Exchange if you know it)


  • Comment number 1.

    I really feel for those who have invested in BT's PVR service.

    In my personal experience, BT are extremely slow to resolve problems. Hopefully, now that The BBC has blogged it, this will speed things up a bit.

    Lets not forget that as well as the current 'Homehub' fiasco, BT are also frequently ranked as one of the UK's least reliable ISP's!

    I find it incredible that an organisation, with all the resources BT enjoy, find it so hard to get things right before taking a product to market.

    I wish all HomeHub users the best of luck.

    Jim Connolly

  • Comment number 2.

    @Jim: It's kind-of harsh to slag off BT for a bug which shows up when the product's been in the field for several years, when using an innovative service that launched 6 months ago....

  • Comment number 3.

    Well I'm with BT and I haven't had any problems with iPlayer or BT Broadband generally. I've always found them to be reliable.

  • Comment number 4.

    BT has known about this HH rebooting when streaming iPlayer problem since (at least) early january.

    Overall, and apart from speed issues, I don't find the BT BB service unreliable either. And that is very fortunate given what I know from previous experience of BTs nightmarish technical and customer support service ;-)

  • Comment number 5.

    I imagine this problem works out quite nicely for BT, as it will reduce the amount of bandwidth the iPlayer uses on BT's network.

    We all know that ISPs in general are peeved about the success of the iPlayer and complain that the BBC is getting a free ride on their networks.

    I don't imagine for a second that BT engineered this problem deliberately, but now it's here, I can an incentive for them not to rush to fix it too quickly.

  • Comment number 6.

    I appreciate your point, but you have to consider that BT (as all providers) knew well in advance that the BBC were launching their iPlayer.

    Surely, after all these months BT have had more than enough time to get a patch sorted out?

    I'm glad your experience has been a good one. There are dozens of broadband comparison sites - and the last time I checked, BT scored pretty poorly on cost, speed, reliability and customer service.

    Take a look for yourself at or any other independent comparison website. You might be surprised!

  • Comment number 7.

    If you read the terms and conditions you'll probably find that you own the router and not BT. If they can't provide a firmware update then you'll have to buy a new router. I was an early user of ADSL I had to do the same as ADSL standards improved. This is a fact of life, technology moves so fast, you can't expect manufacturers to predict the future.

  • Comment number 8.

    @christownsend: I doubt BT are complacent about the churn figures that will inevitably take a hit when their own-brand hardware has problems with a spectacularly poplular online service.

    They (at least, BT Wholesale) have plenty of bandwidth. They need to make sure they keep the punters on-side.

  • Comment number 9.

    BT's current TV advertising campaign has the tag line "Do what you do best".

    Exactly what is it that BT do best? Is it the I.T. support they promote in that ad.? Clearly not if they can't even get their own proprietary router to deliver a standard service. Oh dear.

    It seems they aren't that good at running a telecommunications infrastructure (it's years behind the quality offered in mainland Europe), they're not good at being an ISP (I note other comments regarding BT's poor showing in ISP league tables), and as for supplying phone service, BT's call rates are invariably the most expensive choice.

    Sorry BT, I lost faith in you many years ago.

  • Comment number 10.

    @peeebeee: fair point, although I suspect customers who buy their broadband from BT in the first place probably are not among those most likely to change provider when things go wrong.

  • Comment number 11.

    I would have probably agreed with a lot of the BT-Bashers a year ago, but having recently signed up to the BT Total Broadband service I have to say I am very impressed.

    I opted not to use the BT HomeHub that can with my package, as I had heard bad things, and had my own reliable equipment already.

    I had been with Pipex for many years and had become very disappointed with their service levels.

    BT were quick and professional in setting up the BB service, and the speed settled down within 24 hours to a very acceptable level, averaging around 6.5mbps. There hasn't been a single drop in service.

  • Comment number 12.

    An excellent point!

    Jim Connolly

  • Comment number 13.


    @Jim: It's kind-of harsh to slag off BT for a bug which shows up when the product's been in the field for several years, when using an innovative service that launched 6 months ago....



    The fact that the BT Homehub is a useless piece of technology doesn't make any difference?

    It's a horrible unit and I've had 3 replacements from BT now. Every one has been equally as bad. I share a flat and have 3 computers connected to it using the internet quite heavily.

    The Homehub always crashes and randomly drops packets. It cannot seem to stay online for longer than 3 weeks solid, all the time degrading in performance. Despite the fact that an ADSL line takes a while to sync itself with the line.

    I now use my own router on the line and it has never dropped once. It doesn't drop packets randomly and will support wireless and ethernet packets equally and transfer rates will stay high.

    If BT invested in some better products, they might not have this problem in the first place...

  • Comment number 14.

    @christownsend Good point, it's probably true that a BT customer (generically) is less prone to churn. It's probably also true that this trend is diminishing, though, as they continute to lose their 'encumbent advantage'.


  • Comment number 15.

    I had a home hub until I saw the light and switched my isp to one that could actually provide me with a stable and fast service. What has upset me though is that the BT Vision box will only work with BT Broadband. BTs own FAQs have stated, right back from when the service was announced, that there would be a firmware update to allow you to use it with any ISP. As it is, emails and calls go unanswered and myself, and many other people have a useless box sat in the cupboard. I understand the need for a tie in, after all the PVR is only £30 but once your contract has ended they should allow you to the use freeview/pvr functionality without BT Broadband.

    AT LEAST update the bloody t+cs so people know that they won't be able to use the system should they leave

  • Comment number 16.

    used the Home Hub for a few weeks and got fed up with it needing rebooted. went back to my Netgear router. Hub seems to be evry unstable for some reason.

  • Comment number 17.

    I have no issues though with the Bt service itself.

  • Comment number 18.

    Let's not forget about the other shoddy and irritating aspects of the sub-par HomeHub - I need only mention Strict NAT Issues in the same sentance as Xbox Live and Internet Connection Sharing.

    Get it sorted, BT!

  • Comment number 19.

    I'm not surprised to hear this, it has already proved to be insecure, and have many connectivity problems with Xbox 360's, PS3's etc...
    Another nail in the HomeHub coffin

  • Comment number 20.

    Yet another reason to avoid BT like the plague. Why oh why do people continue to take it seriously? An easy option for the uninformed I guess.....

  • Comment number 21.

    I have the same issue with the O2 Broadband Box.

  • Comment number 22.

    I have BT broadband option 1 as well as option 2 on the phone live. Costs me approx £33 per month.

    Not a day goes by when i do not regret this. A friend is on Virgin and for £30 a month he gets free evening and weekend calls, a better broadband speed, unlimited downloads. Plus Virgin gave him there recordable digital box free.

    BT in my experience are poor, give nothing extra. I cant wait to leave. Still undecided about the BT Vision box a s i would need to get ahome hub, but after reading the problems people have experienced i may just wait.

  • Comment number 23.

    The BT HomeHub is a piece of garbage. Its port-forwarding options are so basic that it can't even support Xbox Live properly let alone the iPlayer. Ditch BT Vision and get yourself a proper router from the likes of Netgear, you won't regret it.

  • Comment number 24.

    Contrary to the original posting, you dont actually need the homehub to use BT Vision. Invested in a decent router and sent my hub to landfill, BT Vision has been working fine.

    Now just need to find a way of getting the BT Vision box working without BT Broadband

  • Comment number 25.

    I can safely say that BT and homehub are the most frustrating experiences i have ever had with a company.

    Granted you cant expect perfection from a company; they will give relative advantages but obviously it is not cost effective to develop perfection.

    HOWEVER - the homehub not only is flawed as hardware, but also the firmware is unstable, far from user friendly, and even dangerous.

    As hardware, the homehub is made by the wrong material, and made without key features. The plastic it is made out of quickly becomes hot when in use, usually after 5-10 minutes, and from there it all goes down hill. As the homehub has no fan, there is nothing to solve this, and so we had to buy a desktop fan to cool it down - when its hot, it doesnt work or is very slow.

    The firmware on the homehub often forgets our BT username and password, and on a daily basis i am told the installation of my homehub is wrong and i am not connected to the internet. When this first occured obviously i wrang BT, waited 45 mins for a rep, and after a further 10 mins hold the problem was going to be 'investigated'.

    As re-assuring as this was, my phone calls now in the double digits and the issue remains. I cannot wait for the fixed term to end - it'll either be sky broadband or virgin - whichever company can offer me an all-inclusive package for the cheapest (phone/mobile/broadband/digi TV).

    Anyone who has problems with homehub overheating, desktop fans can be a life saver, so id look into getting one.

  • Comment number 26.

    It appears that BT have updated the firmware in the Home Hub and the new version causes this problem. When i first got the Home Hub BT sent me two by mistake, as the other one has never been used, it has an old version of the firmware. When i connected with this Home Hub i can use iPlayer without any problems at all.

    So i am quite sure that its the latest firmware 6.2.6.E that is causing the problem.

  • Comment number 27.

    well i reported this back in march, and it looks like a issue has to go public till it's resolved ... sad! ... this sums up BT's customer service

  • Comment number 28.

    I have a Thomson Speedtouch 585 ADSL router, which is doing the same thing (rebooting) when I use the iPlayer (to listen again to radio). I don't use BT broadband (I'm on Zen), but if BT's hub is a Thomson product, it seems we have a problem with Thomson! Anyone else?

  • Comment number 29.

    For Cyril: We are also Zen users and also use a Speedtouch 585 v6, wireless for 3 PCs and have had this problem since the release of the iPlayer beta version. It is a known issue for some Thompson product users and at least one individual is liaising directly with Thompson about this. Some Zen users have been discussing this issue on the Zen Internet Support Forum, see Forum: Speedtouch, Thread: Speedtouch rebooting when accessing iPlayer. You can read Zen forum without subbing.

    Zen technical staff are trying to establish what is going on with some Thompson routers when iPlayer causes them to crash and reboot. Two suggestions: BBC iPlayer site FAQ states that java script needs to be enabled also the latest version of Adobe's Flash Player (v My PC had this version installed and I had no problems streaming radio and TV. When streaming on my son's older PC, iPlayer was causing router to crash within a minute or so. He installed the latest version of Flash yesterday and the problem appears to have been solved, at least for us. It has also been suggested that Firefox browser may be more compatible with iPlayer than Internet Explorer although this was not from a Speedtouch router user. So if you haven't updated Flash that would be a starting point.

  • Comment number 30.

    I belive the router supplied by Be - the "Be Box" is a rebranded Speedtouch - I wonder whether some Be Box users are also experiencing problems streaming iPLayer?

  • Comment number 31.

    Yep, same problem with my BeBox. Emailed them today but no response as yet

    Home Hub Firmware Version
    Operating System: Mac OS X Leopard 10.5.4
    Browser Software Firefox 3.0
    Location (Exchange if you know it): EWL-KT

  • Comment number 32.

    It's definitely a Speedtouch issue.

    It seems very difficult to find out whether or not the BBC and/or Thompson are looking into it. Could someone from the BBC please post something so that we know something is happening?

    I emailed Thompson and guess what? No reply.

    - D

  • Comment number 33.

    Actually, the real scandal here is that BT now charges BT Vision customers to access the BBC's free iPlayer service. Access via your PC - OK. Access via your BT Vision box - that'll be £3 per month, please!

  • Comment number 34.

    That equipment BT supplies is a steaming pile of poop. Unfortunately solving the problem isn't as easy as going out and buying a netgear router, since you have to use the BT homehub with the phone and Iptv system. I AM SO GLAD I LEFT BT! BYE BYE BT!

  • Comment number 35.

    I estimate BT death (in terms of broadband and phone) 2010. Place bets! Their only future is in home IT service, and they'll be fighting PC World for customers LOL.

  • Comment number 36.

    I am a home hub user but what I do not understand is how come I had no problems with BBC iPlayer until the format was changed. I miss watching and now I can not even get the radio. Ouch!

  • Comment number 37.

    I used to have the problem - then it went away with the previous version of iPlayer and now its back with a vengeance.

    I know that the BTHomeHub is though of as pants by the techies but come on - there are a lot of people who have them and will never bother to replace them with alternative kit - and to be honest why should they ?

    Please BBC sort this out. I love iPlayer it means I can watch Top Gear without comments from other family members.

  • Comment number 38.

    "Actually, the real scandal here is that BT now charges BT Vision customers to access the BBC's free iPlayer service. Access via your PC - OK. Access via your BT Vision box - that'll be ?3 per month, please!"

    To be fair to BT. Just because the BBC produces this content and allows you to view it for free, BT are a business and not a charity. Someone has to pay for the bandwidth.

    BBC Trust allowed companies who supply on demand to charge for BBC content as long as its on the lowest possible tariff. That £3 price includes lots of other content, and was the same price before the BBC content joined it.

  • Comment number 39.

    I just got off the phone from BT, and brought up this issue with the iPlayer amongst other problems I have with BT at the moment.

    The technical woman there, insisted that there is no problem with the BT Home Hub. Which agitated me to say the least, as there is quite clearly an issue, although I believe blame lies in both the BBC and BT with the issue.
    And regardless of everything I said to her, she could only advise me that BT are not willing to discuss the issue, or support the issue, and the only thing I should do is contact BBC!

    I've been aware of this issue of the HH crashing since the very launch of the iPlayer, and I'm pretty convinced now that the issue is to do with the compression of individual streams.
    I've noticed that the 'crash' of the HH always occurs in the very same point of time in an iPlayer stream, and providing once you have restarted the HH and play the stream again, you can skip round that section of time in the programme, and you can get away with watching the whole episode.

    So bearing in mind that the crash of the Home Hub always occurs at the same point of time in certain streams, I'd more than likely guess that there's some sort of weird compression going on for the video, and the Home Hub has some issue with passing this data through it's system.

    I've got to admit that I've never seen anything on the net before that crashes a router like this.

    I'd be intrigued though as flash developer myself, to know what method the BBC is using to compress these streams ? If it's some customized app or 3rd party (non adobe) software, then maybe that's where the problem lies ?

    (Amor Media Ltd)

  • Comment number 40.

    It does seem absurd that this issue is not resolved after so many months by either BT _OR_ BBC. Surely BBC can deliver this content in a way that the home hub can handle? After all internet content provision does have to consider lowest common denominators

    Perlease Please Please sort this out somebody!

  • Comment number 41.

    ISPs are wiping their hands clean of the problem and are putting the blame squarely at the BBC. Yet the issue also occurs with Dr. Horribles Sing-A-Long blog which uses the US Hulu streaming video service. THIS also causes the Thomson routers (aka Speedtouch) to reboot - often much quicker than the iPlayer.

    Even if the problem is caused by the BBC, it SHOULD NOT cause a router to fall over like that. What I want to see is the ISPs (Be, BT, whoever) to put pressure on Thomson to get this problem fixed OR to give their customers a router that actually does what it's supposed to do.

    I've worked for national ISPs, web hosts and recently spent six years working for a well known visual effects post-production facility in Soho, London. I have never seen this kind of problem before. And it's never happened on any other ISP where the router has been a different model (i.e. a Netgear).

    Not happy.

  • Comment number 42.

    Of course, the major irony with all this is that Thomson now own a lot of media related companies - from Alcatel to telecine machines through to post-production companies (MPC, Technicolor, etc).

    And yet they can't program firmware to deal with a simple problem such as this.

    Silly, ain't it?


  • Comment number 43.

    Three months later, this problem is still continuing.

    I never had any problem with the old "Listen Again" site.

    One handy tip for those who find their HomeHub cutting out regularly, is to disable Java/Javascript in their web browser, which makes the iPlayer use Real Player to listen again.

    This seems to be much more stable.

  • Comment number 44.

    I was a previous BT user. Setup is:
    iMac running OSX - latest version
    Firefox 3.0

    I switched to Be Unlimited, not knowing that BT and Be appear to be using similar hardware (Thomson), and the issue has happened again. This morning I watched some iPlayer in Safari with no crashes, I will keep trying with this and see how I go but fingers crossed for now...

  • Comment number 45.

    I have exactly the same problem with a speedtouch router provided by AOL


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