I don’t like BT FON

I am sure most people who complain about BT FON are actually on BT Broadband… well I am not on BT Broadband and neither do I actually want to use a BT FON wifi hotspot.

So why don’t I like BT FON?

Well it’s an iPhone problem.


Well…. according to my contract with O2 I have unlimited wifi access (or near enough) and I can use BT Openzone wifi hotspots. I will admit that though I like this useful feature, nine times out of ten it doesn’t work as it should and I fall back on using 3G. I think part of the issue is BT, and I will admit part of the problem has to me. Why is it my problem? Well…. it’s much more about my web usage patterns on the iPhone when out and about. When I use the internet on my iPhone as I suspect most poeple do this, I want to use it quickly and for short periods of time. In theory what the iPhone should do is when I take it out and attempt to use the web is, connect to the nearest wifi hotspot, authenticate and then allow me to have access to the web. I can then check that e-mail, check for train times, tube problems, use Google Maps to work out where I am and where I should be. However I find with BT Openzone is that it takes longer than I think it should to authenticate and allow me access to the web. Sometimes I even have to go via the browser first, before I can use an app. As a result most of the time I have tried to use BT Openzone it seems to have taken ages. So fine if you are based in a coffee shop, not much use when just checking the phone in the street. Sometimes I have found that my app isn’t working, realise that I am connected to wifi, so I turn off the wifi, use 3G and everything is much faster and easier.

So what’s this got to do with BT FON then?

Well as you might know if you have BT Broadband you can configure your router to allow others access via BT FON, thus allowing you to use BT FON hotspots and BT Openzone when you are out and about. It’s a ploy or feature of BT to increase the availability of BT Openzone beyond it’s own network of hotspots and use home broadband connections too. Now this is annoying if you are out and about and want to use your iPhone and there is a BT Openzone in the area, yay… well tough! As if the BT Openzone is actually a BT FON hotspot then this won’t work with your iPhone, you won’t be able to use the hotspot and no internet! So for many people they think yay lots more hotspots that I can use with my iPhone. However the reality is that unless they are “official” BT Openzone hotspots which do work with the O2 iPhone, if it’s a BT FON BT Openzone hotspot then this won’t work with the O2 iPhone, these extra hotspots are basically useless.

I am guessing that many of my BT Openzone connection issues are in fact down to these faux BT Openzone BT FON hotspots rather than specific problems with BT Openzone itself. Really it should either be fixed, or don’t use the BT Openzone SSID with BT FON routers.

Is that it?

Well not quite, a recent problem for me has arisen. The problems with BT FON and BT Openzone of course (as you might expect) happen in the main when I am out and about. But last month a neighbour (and I don’t know which one) must have got BT Broadband and is now broadcasting themselves as a BT FON wifi hotspot. As a result when I get home from work my iPhone fails to connect to my wifi network and connects to the faux BT Openzone network instead. I would just stick with 3G, but 3G speeds are not as fast as they should be where I live, so depend on wifi. So as a result I use my iPhone and find that things aren’t working, e-mail isn’t been delivered, etc… then I remember the BT Openzone glitch, go to settings, “forget this network” and my iPhone connects to my wifi without any problems. Of course once I am out and about and connect to BT Openzone in the wild, when I get home again the problem comes back.

Solution, I don’t have one. It’s just annoying really, so I don’t like BT FON…

Of course if you know different… is it just me?

18 Replies to “I don’t like BT FON”

  1. Hi James.

    I thought it was just me! I now purposely turn off my iPhone/Pad WiFi wherever there is a BT Fon or BT Openzone hotspot because, try as I might, I just can’t log onto it. AND I am a BT customer.

    Actually, I am a BT Totalbroadband customer and my login for THAT is not the same as BT Openzone, for whatever nefarious reason. It’s the same on my laptop though – BT Totalbroadband welcomes me with open arms but BT Openzone tells me to buys some credit or bugger off. BT Fon is ok on the laptop because I’m a Fon chappie – but not on the mobile devices.

    The real problem is when the WiFi hotspot is provided by a ‘partner’ such as the exorbitant SwissCom – then only BT Openzone is available and … well see above.

    Roll on 4G and realistic mobile speeds (but I’m not holding my breath)



  2. I might have misunderstood, but are you saying that BT FON hotspots are advertising themselves as BT Openzone hotspots? So although you have access to BT Openzone, you sometimes find you can’t access them because they turn out to be FON hotspots?

    If I have understood then surely your beef is with BT, not FON. BT is misconfiguring routers to falsely advertise themselves, right?

    And FON should also have a problem with BT too. They have an agreement, and I can’t imagine that this is in the spirit of that because it means:
    – FON users will not be able to access a hotspot because it is misrepresenting itself as an Openzone hotspot
    – the provider of that hotspot will have access to the whole FON network even though they are not providing access to FON users – bad for FON

    Remember there are many ways to provide a FON hotspot than through BT. It almost sounds as if BT is blurring the line between Openzone and FON for some reason. That would probably benefit BT but I’m sure Hanlon’s razor applies. Someone in BT needs to draw a Venn diagram and have a think.

    Or I misunderstood.

    1. Hi Jim

      BT FON hotspots advertise themselves as BOTH BT FON and BT Openzone, so there are two wireless networks available. If all they did was BT FON then it would be fine, as I wouldn’t expect to be able to join it unless I was a member of FON. However the way they have configured the BT Broadband router is that each broadcasts three wireless networks. An encrypted home network for the home owner, a BT FON network for FON users and a BT Openzone network for everybody else. My agreement with O2 says I have free wifi with any BT Openzone network, however when the BT Openzone network is provided through BT Broadband (ie with FON and the home network) then I can’t connect. So yes my issue is much more with BT than with FON.


      1. I have the same deal with O2 and the same issues with BT Openzone.

        I too think this is really an issue with BT Openzone, and not FON. Or possibly O2. O2 tell me I have free access to Openzone, BT tell me a spot (that is in fact a BT FON spot) is an Openzone spot and so me and my phone think I should have access to it, and we don’t.

        Ultimately I’ve stopped using BT Openzone at all because it’s so irritating, but I feel O2 and BT should be much more transparent about what we do and don’t have access to.

  3. Aside from my niggle with BT’s misuse of the Openzone SSID, I should add I love the FON concept, as a principle. Share a little of your wifi in order to be able to access other people’s is a neat idea and I’m starting to find that in some of the my more rural haunts, both in the UK and France, there’s never a FON spot far away.

  4. Looks like BT and Fon are getting this under control. They are changing the Openzone signal on the homehubs to BTOpenzone-H (my homehub has already been updated!). That way smartphones that have a contract to use Openzone only connect to dedicated Openzone hotspots (in coffee shops and the like not to the BT-Fon hotspots) and don’t get left hanging with an auto connection to the Homehub signal that they can’t use

  5. on the rare occasion I lose my cable internet…BT FON is a god send….I bloody love it…but I do understand the niggle with the SSID cos I sat trying to connect to BT Openzone with my O2 and was finding it frustrating too….but then I found even more frustrating when I wasn’t able to connect to an ACTUAL BT Openzone at Padders last week..BAH!!!

  6. I might be understanding then! I did also contact FON about this, and they replied:

    Currently the BT Home hubs broadcast 2 signals, BTFON and BT Openzone. We’re aware of the issue that sometimes those BT Openzone signals are mistaken as the premium BT Openzone spots, specially for O2, Vodafone, etc. users.
    To avoid that confusion, all the BT Openzone signals provided by BT home hubs are being changed, so they will broadcast BTFON and BT OpenzoneH SSIDs.

    Again, I’m not sure I understand that (there were 2 signals under 1 SSID?). Possibly it confirms what has been said in other posts here.

    I also like the idea of FON a lot but not enough to get a BT connection and homehub to get it. Everyone I know with a homehub has tried several free replacements before paying for something else.

    It’s a shame one can’t simply upgrade my Linksys firmware to enable it, as used to be the case. Does anyone have any experience with the Fonera 2.0n?

  7. i have exactly the same issues as you detail in this blog. My phone constantly tunes itself to BT Openzone but you get zero internet as it’s a BTFON, but if you Forget The Network then you can’t use it on those occassions where it is actually a BTOpenzone. Very annoying.

  8. Fon’s contract with BT doesn’t mean you have to be a BT customer to be a Fon member. I get my broadband from TalkTalk but I bought a Fonera router from Fon, which means I now share my broadband, and that gives me access to the whole Fon network, including BTFon.

    I don’t understand why they have to broadcast two SSIDs, if BT OpenzoneH spots are only available to the same people as BTFon spots, then the distinction is moot.

    I use Fon at the back of my house where I pick up the neighbours signal much stronger than my own, it’s been great until this week whentge login page appears garbled (like the CSS and image files have disappeared) and I can’t login.

  9. phew, I thought i had a duff iPhone or it was just me being stupid. Bit of a relief to know a bit more about it. cheers.

  10. This is exactly the type of issue I was looking for!

    Cos I’ve published my topic somewhere else – (see below) Glad to see my concerns are shared here too.

    Got an iPhone and I’m a heavy user on the internet – bordering 1GB allowance every month due to my work requires me to do alot of public transport travelling.
    So thinking of upgrading my contract with 3 – they offer a good value £15 per month, no long term contract allowing truly unlimited data access on their 3G network. But now Tesco offering slightly similar £12.50 per month (short-term 3 months contract) includes 1GB data access BUT with unlimited BT Openzone Wi-Fi access.

    Tesco offer sounds great as I know Wi-Fi access is faster than 3G access and less battery draining, but my main concern is reliability as I am questioning the BT Openzone accessibility. I want to use internet wherever and whenever – especially on trains in and out of London.

  11. Thank god but he most annoying thing is my I pad not 3G connects to this Bt fon at home before my home wifi even though the signal is weak so each time I switch it on or return home I have to change wifi source how do I opt out of btfon?

    1. When connected to the BT Fon network.

      Settings -> Wi-Fi -> Click the arrow to the right of the network name (BTFON) -> select Forget this Network

      Your iPad should now no longer connect to the BTFON network.

  12. Well if we’re all in the “kicking bt while it’s down”, mode then i’d like to add, i’m getting seriously frustrated with the 15 minute auto logout with bt openzone. i understand some of their reasons but surely there must be a way to correct, aviod this issue??
    any idea’s greatly and warmly received.

  13. I tell my ipad several times a day to ‘forget this network’ as it prioritises fon over my home hub…it doesn’t last and I loose connection as it repeatedly tries to join fon again…how can I get it to forget fon permanently?

Leave a Reply