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Birchills Telecom reviews BT Openzone


BT has a service called Openzone. I have only just come across it.David Hill Chairman Cloud Net It is an interesting idea. You pay BT some money and they then give you access to an amazing number of wifi hotspots. So as you move around you can do everything that wifi lets you do such as surfing the web. So far so normal.

However when you buy into BT home hub to give you home access to the Internet then you get some pre-installed software on the hub that runs  a system called BT Fon. BT Fon is a partnership between a company called Fon and BT. This means that your router will take some bandwidth and make it available to other BT Fon users for free and give you the same rights over their bandwidth. You share/give away 512kb I think. So you share the bandwidth which sounds very public spirited. If you have taken out a subscription to BT Total Broadband by default you are opted in to BT Fon.

So now how does this tie in with BT Openzone? As I said you buy access to BT Openzone and BT pays commission to people and organisations who sell the access vouchers. Having paid your money for Openzone vouchers you can use your access to get into the BT Fon network and so you get access to a huge number of Wifi hotspots.

So just to get this right. BT charges you for your BT home hub. Then by default they charge other people to access your hub. Maybe it's me, but that doesn't seem right. Its like I buy a car and by default, anyone who wants to can come for a ride providing they pay the guy who sold me the car some money.

But that's not all. If you are one of those people who want to use BT Openzone then you pay good real money to do it and expect to get real good bandwidth and zinging speeds. What you really get is access to some BT broadband home hub and a paltry 512Kb. So that's like the guy selling you vouchers to ride in a Ferrari and when you get the ride it's in a clapped out Ford Escort painted red.

I think that this is the way that it works, but the BT site is a mystery of intrigue and disguise. Our company Birchills Telecom goes out of its way to make things as clear as possible. We don't publicise prices which only apply for the first three months and then double. We think it is important that our customers can easily understand what is going on. BT seem to want exactly the opposite and that is why I would welcome confirmation that my research is accurate and any comments on the fairness of the policy – because I may well be missing something.

Written by David Hill, Chairman - Birchills Telecom

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You can opt out of sharing your BT FON & Openzone at anytime. Therefor you would not be sharing your bandwidth. It's down to the user to do this. Everything is in the manual of the homehub anyway. BT put this on as an additional service. I don't mind people sharing my connection as I am night a tight arse. 512kbs really is not going to effect me. I am getting a steady 7200kbs throughput from my homehub.
Posted @ Thursday, July 15, 2010 4:37 PM by Matt Canning
I would be keen to learn how many BT customers are aware of their ability to opt out of this and in fact, how many are aware they are even sharing their bandwidth in the first place. I am a BT customer and was completely unaware of the Openzone service until now. There was nothing in any of the welcome literature (what little there was) and who reads the manual anyway? These things are supposed to be plug and play. 
I don't see how it's fair that BT get to charge twice for bandwidth. Also as a BT customer who regularly travels around the country (and who can only use the internet in one place at any one time), surely I should get free use of the BT Openzone service wherever I am in the UK? I pay for my paltry (by today's standards) 2.5Mbps at home and then have to pay a small fortune for decent internet access on the move. 
I for one will be opting out - I am certainly not a tight arse and am more than happy to share bandwidth, but not whilst BT are charging twice for it and not until customers are made aware upfront and *before* they sign up for broadband.
Posted @ Monday, July 19, 2010 5:35 AM by Daniel Shaw
I think one of the larger points of the BT-Fon part has been missed here. By opting into BT-Fon, yes.. you're sharing a fairly small part of your broadband openly. Also, by doing so, you're keeping the public part private from your own network. The quid pro quo part of this deal is that you get access to other BT-Fon hubs. There are a lot of BT Broadband customers scattered across the UK. The more people that opt in, the larger the public wifi coverage is for bt-fon members. Those moments I'm travelling away from home, the more I'm likely to be able to connect online for free using my bt-fon account.  
I do agree that the openzone part of this and this is what's really been reviewed grates a litttle that some people would have to pay to use it and also that this may be the motivating part of this innovative idea. However, Openzone is much larger than just the shared part that non bt-fon members can access, its all over hotels, service stations, etc. It provides a way for non-bt customers to be able to get online.
Posted @ Thursday, October 14, 2010 11:23 AM by Venkut
I purchased a 30 day access voucher to BT openzone (£39), for use in central London. However, BT openzone only occasionally recognized the correct user name and password, but most of the time it did not. Also if BT openzone did manage to connect, it would drop after a few minutes.  
The 'help' from FON, is of no use as they don't have access to customer details and wash their hands. believed the problem was a 'stale' session. This was removed but the issues remained.  
They have now refunded the £39, and left the remainder of the voucher free for me to 'use'. 
It is impossible to recommend this service, until someone has a handle on the IT.
Posted @ Tuesday, November 30, 2010 5:51 AM by Stuart Allum
What a load of rubbish! 
If your thinking of taking out s more expensive broadband package with bt to make use of BTFon, I would bother.  
The service is do slow it is virtually useless.  
I have signal strength 4/5 did a speed test and I'm getting between 32kps and 112kps.  
Better off with a cheaper home broadband and buying s wireless dongle from o2 or someone.  
Posted @ Wednesday, December 15, 2010 10:18 AM by Dan
I have purchased two BT Openzone wifi vouchers and both have "broken" long before they were used up. I log in and mysteriously my password no longer works. I can only imagine that someone more clever than myself is able to access it and change the password thereby appropriating my remaining wifi access. BT will only respond that "something" is wrong with the vouchers. Also, I'm not sure where the homehub is located on which I'm "piggybacking" but if they are using their service then I as a voucher user can't get any service at all. THAT is wrong. When it's working, the connection is fairly fast and I'm able to use Skype etc. But yes, there is some real moral tap dancing going on when you automatically make people who are paying you for home service share their bandwidth with anyone who purchases a voucher nearby and then don't guarantee ANY kind of service the the user who pays 39 pounds for a voucher. They SAY they are secure but then how did two, one after the other become inaccessible to me?
Posted @ Sunday, December 19, 2010 12:18 AM by Beth
We've a pathetic 1.9Mbit connection here. I'd really rather not share any bits of it thank you BT. Opted out. Plus now using 3rd party router which works fine (logon username password: BT no other security required). *Snif.
Posted @ Wednesday, February 16, 2011 5:17 PM by Ian
BT fom does not work as described by bt. I have been trying to use it for 3 months whilst in portugal I have never managed to get onto the so called landing page and even though I have shared my router, I am still down in the fon system as an alien. BT are of no help whatso ever, fon say its nothing to do with them and zon who are a partner of bt dont want to know either the whole lot is a crock of junk and bt service is non existant basically its not fit for purpose. \it works only in the uk
Posted @ Sunday, April 24, 2011 2:49 PM by kimber
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