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Tuesday, July 20th, 2021, 2:17 am

What Bad BT Engineering Looks Like

Previously in this mini-series: Part I, Part II

A few months ago BT broke my home network, using an automatic update that took over a month to correct/undo. I reported the issue to BT (over the telephone, so that took quite a while!), but they did nothing about it. They didn’t even get back to me. No follow-up. It was at that point that I considered just moving to a custom Free software router instead of these unpredictable BT hubs, which change all the time without users’ consent (remote updates). I wrote about this at the time; it was a breaking point.

Today I looked a little closer at the internals of the BT Hub, a “smart” (read: spy) one nonetheless, and decided to share something that might amuse geeks.

BT told me that they do not support OpenWRT in any way. Yet worse, one BT person told me I’d need to change to a new hub (for fibre-optics, the new modem notwithstanding), whereas another person from BT said the exact opposite. The person from Openreach, who had an appointment (in-person meeting) said it would not be necessary but regardless, I’ve decided to just keep the hub settings backup up (in case a restore is needed). It can otherwise take hours to reconfigure again (from memory/scratch).

So I’ve just made a full backup of BT Hub settings. This is what the corresponding section looks like:

conf-page

When you press backup it should generate a .conf file but it is all garbled and messy when I tried it. Maybe to protect passwords? But who from? The person who made such a backup and knows those details regardless? Anyway, I’ve blurred some contents just in case something meaningful can be derived from them (the image below). Amazing:

conf-bt

Either way, this looks like awful engineering/design. The file is an unreadable mess. 4KB with something like pure binary (I did this twice just in case, but the same file was regenerated, not by mistake). No XML, no flat file with a setting per line.

Whose idea was this?

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