Help for new setup, replacing BT SmartHub, wired + wireless needed

bbtom10

Member
Hi all,

I have. BT SmartHub 1 which has a single network lead feeding a 24 port network switch. That switch has cables running through the house to feed 5 pcs, a PS5, 2 smart TVs. We use the BT SmartHub WiFi to drive all the phones and tablets in the house, and I also have a shed with a hardwire into a TPLink WiFi hub. That also acts as a switch for 2 of the pcs mentioned above.

we have had a regular issue with broadband dropping out over the last few months. BT openreach have been out twice and re wired us at the street cabinet and at the house, they’ve replaced the master box in the house as well and whilst things seem to be running smoothly most of the time, we are still getting drop outs, generally at times of high traffic in the house (kids home, streaming and gaming, me watching iptv and mass downloading stuff), only once every other day, but enough to drive everyone crazy.

I don’t want to call BT again and now suspect I need to upgrade my BT SmartHub.

I think I need a Draytek modem. dont think we have fibre to the house or street, but Draytek DSL modem on the phone line coming in seems powerful. Then I think I need a router to connect this to my big network switch? And I think I probably want to overpower WiFi and get a mesh system, that can boost WiFi to the loft (son and PC + phone + WiFi Nintendo switch), and to my shed (pc home server with downloading, work laptop, iPad & phone).

so, phone line > Draytek modem > wifi mesh router > network switch > devices + 2 WiFi mesh boosters in loft and shed.

can I do this for £300?

any recommendations?

or do I just call the BT Openreach man again?

thanks in advance
Tom
 

RBZ5416

Distinguished Member
I'd try a replacement router first to try to isolate whether it's the BT circuit dropping or the router, before going to that expense. You could probably pick up another Smart Hub for peanuts locally from Facebook Marketplace. That would then prove where the issue lies & you can act as necessary from there. Just change the SSID(s) & WiFi passwords to match the old one & there's no need to reconfigure all the WiFi client.

Might also be worth seeing if BT will supply a Smart Hub 2. They might see that as an investment rather than keep calling Openreach. They're also mesh enabled.

But the fact that Openreach keep visiting suggests to me that they/BT can see an issue with the line. They don't normally visit just by customer request.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
I agree - before throwing a load of money at the problem, which could turn out to be a complete waste if you still have a line fault, first establish that the line is reliable and whether the router is culpable. No amount of new kit is going to solve a line fault, a line fault is entirely in the hands of the service providers.

This sort of issue can be a real misery to resolve and there's nothing for it but for the ISP to eliminate each potential fault until they find the one that's culpable - sometimes there might be multiple issues and it's not until the ISP has fixed all of them that it becomes reliable again. I've seen it take months/years.

Some things you could do include:

1) Monitor the line stats on the incumbent Smarthub - keep a daily diary and in particular note the "up time" and the speeds. If it's dropping the line regularly, then keep nagging the ISP. Evidence is hard to argue against.

2) When it drops, ping some things to try and establish whether you have a Wi-Fi issue, a Smarthub issue or a line fault. Ideally from a device on your wired network, ping something else wired, ping something Wi-Fi, ping your router and ping something out on the Internet - the BBC web servers usually answer ping, not all web sites do. Indeed, you might "baseline" this by performing such test when everything is working to establish that it all answers and get in a bit of practice pinging if you aren't used to it.

3) You might try disconnecting any telephone extensions and additional handsets (especially cordless phones) if you can stand the inconvenience. Sometimes the ISP will ask you to do this to eliminate the possibility that something in your home is an interference source. Thereby, you are testing with the simplest possible internal circuit - router connected to the incoming line, one wired analogue handset (DSL splitter if necessary) and nothing else.

Check your contract - some BT contracts have some kind of "always connected" guarantee and sometimes they will send you out a cellphone router (it's actually sort of MiFi) to give you an alternative if your line goes down.

If you do buy new kit, there's no requirement to have modem and router as separate devices, though there's no harm either. There's plenty of decent routers with A/VDSL modems built in. SmallNetBuilder is a web site I like that reviews plenty of SOHO kit. But prove you actually have a problem with your incumbent router before spending any money.
 
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bbtom10

Member
Thanks for the advice - I will speak to BT again and start keeping a record of the downtimes and performance.

Is there a simple guide how to ping stuff?

We have a fairly old skool BT contract, no always on guarantee. I might also try the replacement smarthub if I can find one relatively cheap.

Thanks
Tom
 

bbtom10

Member
Thanks for the advice - I will speak to BT again and start keeping a record of the downtimes and performance.

Is there a simple guide how to ping stuff?

We have a fairly old skool BT contract, no always on guarantee. I might also try the replacement smarthub if I can find one relatively cheap.

Thanks
Tom
I'd try a replacement router first to try to isolate whether it's the BT circuit dropping or the router, before going to that expense. You could probably pick up another Smart Hub for peanuts locally from Facebook Marketplace. That would then prove where the issue lies & you can act as necessary from there. Just change the SSID(s) & WiFi passwords to match the old one & there's no need to reconfigure all the WiFi client.

Might also be worth seeing if BT will supply a Smart Hub 2. They might see that as an investment rather than keep calling Openreach. They're also mesh enabled.

But the fact that Openreach keep visiting suggests to me that they/BT can see an issue with the line. They don't normally visit just by customer request.
Timely, managed to snag myself 2 Smarthubs and a Smarthub 2 in a job lot from eBay - all supposedly working, so I'll have some to test out now!
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the advice - I will speak to BT again and start keeping a record of the downtimes and performance.

Is there a simple guide how to ping stuff?

On a computer that's preferably got a wired network connection, open up a CMD box (on Windows, similar exists on Linux/MacOS) and type PING followed by the IP addresses or web site name of the target. Leave it to run a few seconds and you'll get back some responses as to whether the target answered or not (and if not, why not.) On LinuxMacOS ping may run forever until you Ctrl+C to stop it, I forget.

It's kind of like a sonar ping in old WWII submarine movies (which is where I think the name comes from.) Ping sends out network packets to the designated target host and if the host receives it and responds you get a reply back with some stats as to how long the round trip took or some indication of what went wrong if you didn't get a reply within a certain time frame (usually a second by default.)

Some hosts, particularly on the public Internet don't respond to ping as they regard it as a security risk, but the BBC web site usually does. Hence it's worth checking when everything is working so you don't fool yourself into thinking somethings not working in time of crisis - we want to establish the baseline conditions.

Data networking professions often use ping as a basic test for IP connectivity. You can also use it to figure out which bit of the network infrastructure is up/down and aid problem determination. Hence, if you ping something wired, then chances are your ethernet is all OK, if you can ping something Wi-Fi you know your Wi-Fi is OK, if you can ping your router then you can be fairly confident it's working OK, if you can ping something out on the Internet, you know your router is routing, your ISP link is up and your ISP is routing traffic to the target. And if something is not responding, you've got some idea of where to focus further investigation.

We have a fairly old skool BT contract, no always on guarantee. I might also try the replacement smarthub if I can find one relatively cheap.

Thanks
Tom

If you nag BT enough, they might send you a new router (or their "always on" MIFI thing) for free. A relative of mine got sent both over the course of investigating a similar issue (alongside several OpenReach engineer visits.)
 
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RBZ5416

Distinguished Member
Is there a simple guide how to ping stuff?
Assuming W10, open Command Prompt either from the Windows System section of the programs menu or search CMD. Then at the prompt simply type ping followed by space & either the IP address or web site name. If the destination is up & the network is behaving, you will get four responses from the destination IP address.

1634035230017.png


If you add the suffix -t to the command then the ping will run continuously until you abort it with CTRL+c.

When your connection next drops, try pinging an external address like the BBC. Then the router itself on 192.168.1.254, both from a wired & wireless device. It could be that rather than the connection dropping, it could be WIFi failure or interference. There's probably any number of phone apps to test wireless from a mobile. Quick YouTube video:


But I'd suggest a straight swap of the router should be the quickest/easiest way to determine whether or not you still have an issue with the line. Preferably using the test socket inside your master socket.
 
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