The BT Business Hub router for new customers to BT Business Broadband will come with a BT Openzone enabled on it, and instructions for those who do not want to allow up to 0.5Mbps of their broadband connection to be available for hot-spot use to disable it.
This is nothing particularly new as the consumer Home Hub as been offering a FON hot-spot for some time, but due to a firmware glitch a number of business routers would reset and the Openzone hotspot would become enabled by default for existing customers, whereas providing hot-spot should be an explicit opt-in. BT has a FAQ on Enabling Openzone which should answer the common questions and their statement on this issue is reproduced below:
- Over the past six months, BT has been offering existing BT Business Broadband customers the ability to upgrade their BT Business Hub to become a public Wi-Fi hotspot via a firmware upgrade via a separate and secure channel.
- The intention has always been to have the BT Openzone service set to disabled until the customer chose to opt in.
- At an early stage during the roll out however, it emerged that a batch of the hubs contained a firmware irregularity which reset the hub and automatically accepted Openzone. Unfortunately, the accompanying customer communications stated that the hub would be automatically disabled (per the original roll out plan)
- BT immediately stopped the rollout and retrospectively and manually disabled BT Openzone from these customers' hubs, one by one.
- Replacing the firmware for customers with the affected hubs, would have significantly delayed rollout. Because some of our customers were keen to have the service, the decision to continue with deployment was made last week, with clear email notification alerting affected customers to the upgrade ahead of time. 4,000 existing hub customers have now received the firmware and all prior correspondence has been clear as to how to opt-out.
- A further 20,000 customers are potentially affected by this version of the firmware, and before we continue roll out we are reviewing the communications process to ensure it is transparent and gives customers choice as to whether to accept the service.
- The vast majority (200,000) of existing BT Business Broadband customers are not affected by this problem - their hubs are upgraded as BT Openzone 'disabled'. They can choose to opt into the service as usual.
- BT Business's intention by offering a free public Wi-Fi hotspot is to allow small to medium sized businesses - such as restaurants, hotels and cafes - the opportunity to securely provide a popular business service for their customers, suppliers and partners.Statement from BT on BT Business Broadband / Openzone glitch
As ever it always pays to read e-mails and letters from firms from top to bottom, otherwise there is no knowing what may be further down the page. The advantages to a business of having an Openzone hot-spot on the premises is that if you have business visitors, many of these business users may well have a roaming Wi-Fi agreement, or be a BT customer themselves and be able to utilise the free Wi-Fi minutes that come with BT Business contracts. Letting someone use one of these hot-spots is more secure than giving them the wireless security key which then effectively puts them onto your LAN.
In terms of stealing bandwidth, for those with lines running at 1Mbps or slower they do advise that the maximum of 0.5Mbps that can be used by the hot-spot will affect their experience of the connection and opting out is recommended.