A BT Business Hub 5A on Plusnet.
Just in case anyone is interested, I thought I would post my initial experience of using a second hand BT Business Hub 5A on PlusNet FTTC.
I am getting an increasing number of 5GHz capable wireless devices(Phone/TV/Tablet), and the 2.4GHz band is getting fairly crowded even out here in the sticks. My existing Billion 8800NL router worked fine, but is only 2.4GHz. So I planned on getting either a dual band router known to work with BTTV or a 5GHz access point as an add on.
A Home Hub almost fitted the bill, but my home network is (since time immemorial) on 10.0.0.0/24 and other posters suggested that the first 64 addresses in that range (10.0.0.0/26) were unavailable on the Home Hub (reserved for FON). The plan therefore was to buy a HH5A and either use it as an accesss point or flash it with OpenWRT.
The cheapest BT Hub I came across (£10 delivered on that well known auction site) was a Business Hub 5A rather than a Home Hub 5A - which seem to go for rather more. OpenWRT seemed to be OK on the BH5A, so I went for it. When I got the hub, I fired it up offline to check it out and see what configuration was possible.
I was surprised to see it offer me 10.0.0.0/8 as an option for DHCP, and I was able to set the DHCP server for my 10.0.0.0/24 with no problem. Input my PlusNet credentials, swapped it for the Billion and it connected first attempt. BTTV worked out "out of the box". The RouterStats dedicated HH5a monitoring program worked fine once I told it that the stats page is 9153.
The Hub itself reports that it is BT Business Hub 5 (Type A) | Software version 18.104.22.168.83.8.230 | Last updated 25/08/16. (Does anyone know if this is the latest firmware)?
It was possible to get all the devices on the network allocated to their "normal" addresses. Those that were already running when I swapped the routers seemed to keep their existing addresses and I was able to tell the router to fix them at that. Others were swappable to the preferred addresses fairly easily by clicking on the device in the "Business Network" map view, modifying the IP address and restarting the device.
The only device giving me trouble is a SmartSwitch which usually lives on 10.0.0.2, and the hub assigned that address to a laptop I was using to configure it. I deleted the laptop from the map, but it now won't allocate that address to anything at all as far as I can tell. The switch works happily with a fixed IP address. What the BH5A won't do, which the Billion does, is allow specification of fixed addresses without the device being attached and requesting a DHCP address.
It "phoned home" to https://pbthdm.bt.motive.com (truncated in the logs to https://pbthdm.bt.mo) fairly frequently in the first few days - it has not (yet) done so today. During one session it downloaded a file CWMP: Download file, FileType=4,FileName=bh5a-v8_1-complete.tar.gz.aes.rsa.signed, Username=, CommandKey=3598659480. A few seconds later reported Set Parameter by TR069 failure 9003: Can not enable OpenWiFi1 due to wrong configuration provided. That "error" has repeated several times. I don't know if that is a consequence of my using the 10.0.0.1-10.0.0.63 address space or some other issue. It is not transmitting any other wireless SSID's than the ones I have set up. It has not phoned home since 22:26 last night when the hub reset during the cabinet's noise test (see below).
The performance compared with the Billion ( which I was very happy with) seems to be better. I am on a 40/2 profile, so the synch speed is controlled by that rather than noise limits. The switch occurred in the middle of June 29th as shown on the attached SamKnows traces. I have not done any comparisons on WiFi range, but broadband performance has improved both download and upload speed seem to have improved and download jitter dropped. DNS Lookup times have increased, but that is because the BH5 does DNS resolution on the local LAN while the Billion does not.
During the first couple of evenings the noise margin behaved strangely (see attached RouterStats trace). It was erratic for a long period then undertook a steady decline over a period of three hours at the end of which the router dropped out and reset. It has been steady at 7.0 or 7.1db since. I assume this is the cab actually testing the line to see how low the noise margin would go.
So for £10 I seem to have got a dual band router that does exactly what I wanted on Plusnet.
So far the only problem is that Google Maps(and the location services on the phone) think I am in Taunton where the router came from (Very accurately locating its last use - although it was sold as unused!). Not sure how long it will take Google to get the idea that I can't shift 100+ miles in milliseconds when it grabs a GPS signal. Actually something of a risk if you plan to sell a router to someone - the old location will be accurately identified, and unless you can change the Routers MAC address there appears to be nothing you can do to disguise the situation. A factory reset and wipe doesn't help.
I hope this helps anyone else thinking about a similar switch.
Re: A BT Business Hub 5A on Plusnet.
An update. It phoned home again last night 24 hours after the last time.
22:25:22, 03 Jul.(176255.890000) CWMP: Initializing transaction for event code 2 PERIODIC
During the connectionit downloaded the same file name but with a different Command Key value. It also failed to "...enable OpenWiFi1 due to wrong configuration provided."
The Router also restarted itself at 10:10 this morning for no apparent reason. The log simply says 10:10:12, 04 Jul.(218545.990000) PPP LCP Send Termination Request [User request]. But as I was nowhere near it, I am unsure what caused the reset. SNR was rock solid at 7.4 and had been for 24 hours. It promptly phoned home again when it came up.
10:10:18, 04 Jul.(218552.090000) CWMP: Initializing transaction for event code 4 VALUE CHANGE
Re: A BT Business Hub 5A on Plusnet.
A final update - three weeks on Google Maps and the Weather App have worked out that the router is in a new location. At least they no longer place me in Taunton, but somewhere close enough to home to be OK.