A beginners guide to using a third party router with BT FTTP

After a long, long, long wait I finally got BT fibre to the home broadband in January of this year. And got it to work with my own router.

Years of family complaints (“Dad, the internet is down. Again.” – as if it was my fault) vanished like the mist on a Summer’s day. All is now sweetness and happiness.

Well, nearly. The occasional firmware update still elicits howls of pain, as if we were living in a Game of Thrones re-run. But generally my decision to switch out the BT standard Homehub consumer box for a enterprise-lite network based around the Unifi system has proven to be a good one.

How hard was it?

Nothing is ever easy?

UDM-Pro attached to BT fibre
The UDM-Pro connected to my ONT and – via SFP to a Unifi switch

Well, in this case, a little background reading and taking a leap in to the dark was enough. It was, in fact, very easy.

The Openreach engineer left the ONT plugged in to the BT SmartHub2. (The ONT is the modem-like device that converts light from the Fibre into data in a network cable.) Within ten minutes of him leaving that was back in the box. And the UDM-Pro was the happy recipient of the red cat5e cable from the ONT.

Then came the setup of the UDM. The big issue here was that to set itself up the device needs access to the net. (This is to check certificate authenticity, I believe). Using DHCP. Which the ONT will not supply!

So out came the SmartHub again, and a quick double-NAT later the UDM-Pro was happy.

Now came the only tricky part – how to set up PPPoE. Actually – easy, peasy. Set up a WAN witha IPv4 type of PPPoe. The username needed is bthomehub@btbroadband.com and a password of BT (though I believe anything will work here), set up some DNS servers to use and all is good.

I started by using Cloudflare’s 8.8.8.8 service, but after a week or two spotted that I was getting odd step changes in my ping times. I swapped them to a couple of BT’s (I use 62.6.40.178 and 194.72.9.38) and all has been good ever since. Though setting it up with with Sonos was fun!

After a month or so I upgraded to BT’s gigabit (Fibre 900) service, even though the 300 service I was on was never really maxed out for more than a couple of minutes. I’m having some issues with getting this new service to work at full gigabit speed, but that’s another story …

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