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A closer look at the BT FTTC hardware

Posted by Pat | Posted in Observations / Life | Posted on 07-10-2010

14

Updated several times but most recently, 25th November 2011

It’s worth noting there is a lot of very useful info about this modem here where someone has unlocked it so you can obtain line stats and do more complex analysis of connection quality.

Original post in October 2010:

Ok so I couldn’t help but look at this Openreach Modem I got today and wonder what my line stats actually are. That is, what speed the modem is syncing with the cabinet in the street, the noise margins and so on. The problem is, this is not an ‘integrated’ thing like my old belkin modem/router – so there’s no stats available through the normal web interface you use to administrate the router.

The modem is a rebadged Huawei Echolife HG612. It uses PPPoE to connect directly to a compatible router (in this case, the supplied Home Hub). I’m instantly reminded of the first time I got broadband at home (9 years, 3 months, 1 week and 2 days ago to be precise!) in that BT supply you something you can’t do anything with. But it’s sat there staring at me.

The only clues as to the capabilities of the HG612 are on the box it came in.

So, as you can see, it says things like “Advanced Management by HTTP, TR-069” and “Support Router Mode and Built-In Firewall”. I’ve also read on Huawei’s website that it has WiFi in it! Oh poor hardware, sitting there all redundant and just being slave to a Home Hub!

There was no manual inside the box – whether there ever was, and the engineer’s instructed to remove it, I don’t know. Either way it is preconfigured to work, and the engineer did nothing to it (other than hook it into the Home Hub) to get the connection going.

When the engineer was here I asked him what the LAN2 port at the back does. He didn’t know. LAN1 connects to my Home Hub. LAN2 had this sticker over it.

So naturally it was time to see how locked down this thing is.

I hooked up LAN2 (it is enabled, regardless of sticker!) to a spare laptop, and having read that other Huawei devices use 192.168.1.1 as the default IP address, set the laptop to an address in that subnet.

Lo and behold an arp-a command shows a mac address and IP of 192.168.1.1 talking to the laptop.

Though this is where it all gets rather dull. It didn’t respond to PINGs. It doesn’t have a web interface on port 80.

In fact the only thing I found was that, bizzarely, port 21 (FTP) was open, even though attempting to perform an FTP connection did not work – so there’s no actual FTP server running behind that. I tried telnetting to port 21, it opened, but no prompt. So I’m not sure what kind of service is receiving that connection inside the device.

I scanned the most common ports with a throwaway piece of freeware, so perhaps this wasn’t the most accurate test. Suffice to say, the ports you would like and expect to be open would be 23 (Telnet) and 80 or 8080 (Web) at the least. No such luck.

So I guess it remains to be seen if someone clever has a way of doing things to this device.

Note to BT – I’m not hacking! I just want to see my line stats!

I should add, there’s a site on BT which shows you your IP profile (http://speedtester.bt.com) – mine came back with pretty much the same speeds as I was receiving at speedtest.net – though my upload profile is 10Mbps and I’m only achieving 8.

I will be patient, and no I won’t do any further probing as I’m sure that would breach some TOS or other. Very happy with Infinity as it is for now!

Update 2nd November 2011

Well it appears after a year or so of working well, the speed dramatically dropped and BT are saying the modem needs replacing. It does run VERY hot it seems – not sure how that would slow it down rather than kill it completely but either way an Openreach engineer is set to swap it out.

My question, now the user manual appears to be online (thanks Graham) is whether anyone has managed to access its pages as per the instructions? Mine still appears to be ‘locked down’ – but I wonder if there’s some newer revisions or firmware out there.

As suspected, it runs on 192.168.1.1 – username and password are both ‘admin’, according to the manual. Let us know how you get on!

Update 8th November, 2011

After two attempts, turning up at my house without telling me they were going to (I was out), BT have finally told me of an appointment, tomorrow – where apparently they will replace the modem. I’m guessing they’ve got a track record of this being the problem to be so sure that nothing else copper/cabinet wise is causing my speed issues.

Will see if this fixes things.

Update 10th November, 2011

The engineer turned up on time and on the right day which was great. His name was John and he was a very nice man indeed! He plugged in his newfangled BT testing widget and these were the results:

So – theoretically my line is capable of 80mbps down and 30mbps up. Nice! The throttly profile set unfortunately was limiting that, more than it should because of the faulty modem. Seems to me if the engineer had just asked the bloke nicely to reset my profile to the max, I could have had double speed! Either way the new modem was installed, the profile reset and I’m back on proper full speed ahead (40mbps down, 10mbps up).

The engineer explained that they have had a lot of overheating modems – especially those in the first version (which mine was). You can tell because there’s no big red sticker with the version number underneath the modem. I think my new one has ‘3B’ written on it and seems to run cooler than the previous one.

I haven’t been home long enough to see if I can access the modem’s internal pages on this new one – I’ll get round to it at some point!

Roll on next year when we’re supposed to get double the speed!

Update, 23rd November 2011

Amazing – the second, older modem is now malfunctining within 2 weeks of my other one being replaced. It’s constantly dropping sync and very slow when it resyncs. Now the fun of getting an engineer here – bizzarely one turned up this morning before I knew about the issue but I told him it was fixed (from two weeks ago) – are BT now deploying pre-emptive engineers?! I need him back now with a replacement modem, if only we could have a direct line to Openreach so I don’t have to bugger about waiting for an appointment. I’m off on holiday next week so I doubt it’ll be fixed in time 🙁

Update, 25th November 2011

Well they got here before holiday and now I have a REV 2B and a REV 3B modem as opposed to two REV nothings! The only problem now is that the profile for the line the dodgy modem was on is now throttled so I’ll have to wait apparently 2 weeks or so for it to sort itself out. The engineer wouldn’t do an ‘SNR reset’ as he called it because it was on a different line to the job he came to (I swapped the modems around to keep a solid connection on my primary one), bit of a pain.

Hopefully all sorted now then. Anyone else had problems with slowdowns and overheating modems? I’ve since stood them on their side away from each other and they run infinitely cooler.

Comments (14)

hmmmm wonder if you could do an SNMP walk on it??

I have had a similar modem installed this morning and I am trying to change the default BY SSID. However, I have no clue how to get into the configuration setup to change it or even the security code, which I would prefer to make more personal. Any ideas please? Thanks

I have just had BT Infinity installed too and i have the echolife hg612 modem also.

I have mine hooked up to an apple airport extreme router rather than the homehub.

I would also like to be able to gain access to this modem and see if i can change some settings because i believe its causing routing problems.

For instance i have ports forwarded for flashFXP (not that you should need too) but even with these ports open i am getting very flow ftp transfer speeds in comparison to my http speeds.

Off a dutch ftp i KNOW will happily give off 11mb per sec i only download at 600kb per second. But if say i download a game off steam which uses http i will be getting 3.8mb per second!

So clearly somthing in this modem is causing these bottle necks.

Keep looking and let me know if you discover anything.

Sam,

Since the time I wrote the blog I have had a second FTTC connection installed as my ‘main’ one (with IDNet) and turned the BT one into my backup.

The homehub I got rid of fairly early on as it seemed to have problems with DHCP after a while and I had to keep resetting it.

I have two Netgear routers (http://amzn.to/iybmZx) which work really well with both connections. Maybe BT’s peering with that part of the world isn’t as good as it should be.

If you give me the address of the site or a file to download so we can compare like-for-like I’d be happy to do so – I can try it from both the IDNet (£100 a month business grade thing) and the cheap BT connection.

Pat

[quote]Off a dutch ftp i KNOW will happily give off 11mb per sec i only download at 600kb per second. But if say i download a game off steam which uses http i will be getting 3.8mb per second[/quote]

the modem is a modem it isn’t doing anything bar passing a ppp connection, if anything it will be the ftp sites upload or the airport causing the issue.

try creating a pppoe connection from your pc directly to the modem with your isp’s login details and see if you still see the same thing.

the bt modem does not have any firewall inplace it does nothing with ports

I just got BT Infinity and am using cable to connect my iMac to it without issues.
However, my iPad and iPhone lose the wireless signal from the HomeHub 3 so I’m thinking of getting an Airport Extreme. If I do, then does the cable that is plugged into the Infinity port on the HH3 go into the WAN port on the Airport Extreme?
Thanks.

Hi Christo,

Sorry it took so long – I didn’t see your comment come in until now.

Basically if the Airport Extreme supports PPPoE, it should work. I’ve got one, but I haven’t seen that option – it might be there.

The username would be bthomehub@btbroadband.com
and the password blank in order for it to connect properly to your modem.

Actually the username. Search for bt’s instructions to use your own router. It shows all sorts of instructions for ADSL.

Whoops. Mistype. I meant to write Actually the username isn’t bthomehub@btbroadband.com.

Ah I only say because that’s what was in my homehub when it was installed… and worked! If you know any different, pop it on here 🙂

Thanks Graham – they never used to be so that’s good to see now.

https://huaweihg612hacking.wordpress.com/

Gives info on firmware upgrades to access your router. I have extra upload and lan2 running my nas.

There are some great goodies for these modems. I have successfully “updated” one so that I have full access to the internals via LAN2.

As with most, it runs busybox, so anyone with linux knowledge canplay away.

Pity BT have stopped supplying these for installs, however, if you ask nicely enough when you order you might get one ( for an extra cost no doubt).

Happy Hacking… I mean Internetting.. 😉

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