This article will cover my upgrade to BT’s Infinity service and also provide a guide to setting up a third party router with BT’s DSL and Fibre services. This article includes information on how to configure a DD-WRT router to work with Infinity’s IPTV channels.
BT Infinity Is Here!
After enduring a painful waiting of “will they, won’t they?” BT has rolled through our little City of Wells and completed their Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) installation. We can now happily depart the dark age and enjoy Internet speeds of above 17 Mbps. In reality I was making do with 14.5 Mbps download and 0.9 Mbps upload.
I opted for the BT Infinity 2 package that offers up to 80Mbps download and 20Mbps upload. It only costs £5 more than the basic 36Mbps package.
A Little History
The basics of any Internet connection involve a modem and a router. BT’s most recent policy favour self installations using their HomeHub 5. This unit includes:
- ADSL and VDSL modem
- 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz wireless
- 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports
- Works out the box
- Proprietary BT firmware (not so fun)
In theory this sounds like a pretty sweet piece of hardware that BT provides for free to their subscribers.
In practice my personal experiences with previous HomeHubs have been a little different. Without turning this into a rant my previous issues were centered around the limited firmware, poor routing capacity, and poor Wi-Fi. The 5 GHz wireless band would only work if you were in the same room, too many connections would cause the HomeHub to lockup and start dropping connections before ultimately disconnecting from the Internet all together and requiring a manual reset. BT’s network monitors connection stability and will increase the Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) in order to boost signal strength. This is done at the expense of overall line speed. By this point the HomeHub had been reset so many times that our line speed had dropped from 15 MBps to 7 Mbps. Ironically the HomeHub2 was a more solid performer that held up for five years. You can find out the the end of this daring tale over here.
Having recently upgraded my home network to use a dedicated modem and router I had all the incentive in the world to preserve this setup as we transitioned to BT Infinity.
The available options for modems are somewhat limited, but also offer some interesting options.
Currently BT prefers self installations for most of its products and this was made possible for FTTC subscribers with the HomeHub 5 and its inclusion of the required VDSL modem.
This was the original that BT Openreach supplied to FTTC customers and was supplied in tandem with the HomeHub 4. There is a dedicated online community devoted to patching the modem’s existing firmware and the user more control and access to line statistics.
ECI B-Focus V-2FUB
With only a name a mother can love the ECI was a later addition to Openreach’s VDSL modem inventory. This modem also sports a locked firmware interface, but has also attracted a dedicated modding scene aimed at restoring user access.
This is the modem I ended up opting for due to a mixture of price and availability. In this case I was more interested in a stock modem that had not been patched. I will probably explore purchasing a modem for the sole purpose of unlocking it in the future.
Billion BiPAC 8800AXL
This brings us to the Billion 8800AXL which is a combination modem and router.
I would recommend this modem to most users, especially those looking for a combination modem and router. Furthermore this unit is compatible with BT Infinity TV right out of the box and offers line statistics in addition to other advanced options.
BT has at least provided one thread on a few router models that work with Infinity TV. The thread can be found here.
A Guide To Using 3rd Party Routers
This guide will explain how to connect to your BT ADSL or Infinity VDSL connection using your own modem and router.
This is the category which I found myself falling under. Having already purchased and setup two TP-Link WDR3600 with DD-WRT I was determined to continue using what has become a stable and feature rich setup.
The first step was to purchase a VDSL modem. I found a used ECI modem for £25 and found that to be a good starting point. Unlike ADSL connections VDSL modems are automatically configured and work as long as your line has an active FTTC signal. Once our connection was switched over to infinity the VDSL modem registered a valid DSL connection and started working.
Step 1 – Modem Setup
Purchase a compatible ADSL or VDSL modem. I have already provided a list of compatible VDSL modems earlier in this article. For my previous ADSL solution I used the D-Link DSL-320B. There is a decent selection of ADSL2+ modems available on the market. The Billion 8800AXL mentioned above works with both ADSL and VDSL connections.
The ADSL2+ settings for BT’s network are available here. The most common user name is firstname.lastname@example.org and you can use anything for any phrase for a password.
When using your modem with a separate router that will be the DHCP server you will have to set the modem to bridged mode. Make sure to configure your modem in advance since you will not be able to access it while it is connected to your router’s WAN port.
Step 2 – Selecting A Router
Purchase a compatible router. Depending on how adventurous you are feeling you can either go with something out of the box or step into the world of Open Source Software.
The DD-WRT Router
I would recommend making this your first step and preferred solution. Given the recent spike in security concerns over stock firmware, software back doors, and discontinued support there has never been a better time to pursue alternate software options for your equipment.
A list of supported devices is supplied by DD-WRT and offers a breakdown of products and their compatibility with various versions of DD-WRT. This section is a great way to confirm if either your existing router or potential purchase is capable of running DD-WRT.
Expanding Functionality with DD-WRT
One of the virtues of the Open Source community is that forward momentum is often maintained and is flexible to continue improving support, expanding features, and increasing security. For example we saw five versions of DD-WRT in December 2014 alone. This means that DD-WRT allows your equipment to grow and adapt to your current needs.
Step 3 – Configuring DD-WRT
This will outline the basic setup to get your router connected to BT’s network and have working IPTV channels. This guide can easily be add
Step 4 – DD-WRT and Multicast
BT Infinity TV offers subscribers an extended range of channels through the IPTV standard. These channels use Multicast and IGMP technology and require routers that are capable of handling these packets. The number of routers offering these features are rising and more companies are patching this functionality into their hardware through software updates.
Prior to using Infinity I was running an older version of DD-WRT (r21061) which had limited support for IGMP that was not capable of relaying the packets to the set top box. Granted, the version I was running was from March 2013. There had been little need to update on account of its stability and lack of any glaring security holes. After some research I determined that the most recent version (r25697) was stable enough to upgrade to.
The new version included IGMP sniffing as part of the Bridging setup under the Setup -> Networking menu. Once configured the set top box was able to receive IGMP packets and tune into the IPTV channels.
Additionally you can test for successful receipt of Multicast by opening a RTP Multicast network stream in VLC and entering the following information:
- Address: 188.8.131.52
- Port: 5802
This will connect to the test channel and saves you a trip to your TV.
These settings should get you up and running. I have not included any information regarding wireless configuration since that warrants a whole article on its own. As your setup matures you will find yourself fine tuning and enabling features as required. Especially if you start dabbling in remote management.
I hope this article has helped you get your network setup off the ground and answered some questions in the process. Happy hunting!