I am hoping that one or more members of the community with networking knowledge can help me -
Ideally, I would like to understand what is the underlying cause; or otherwise possible solutions to trial.
Our set-up ... We have fibre to the premises and our router is a Smart Hub 2. We have a small number of Google smart speakers dotted around the house and also some Sonos speakers linked to Google Home.
Around 3 or 4 weeks ago, my wife and me began to experience issues at home connecting to our respective work VPNs. However, the scope of the issue was broader than this: we also began to experience issues connecting to certain content / websites; and also issues with smart speakers at home. I have described these issues in more detail below. Within this context, some things are working perfectly normally - for example, we use BT Vision for our main television and we can view HD channels without issue, and we can also use Netflix / catch-up TV without issue. Additionally, we have an older television in another room which is 'smart' by virtue of an Amazon Firestick, and again we can watch Netflix / catch-up TV without issue.
We raised the issue with the BT Fiber team and they ran a series of checks to eliminate problems with the cable, the modem and router, and the WiFi network around the house. In summary, they could find no issues.
We also raised the specific issue of connection to our work VPNs with our respective work IT departments - and they could find no issues on their side. As an example, both my wife and I can connect to our respective work VPN without issue via a mobile hotspot (and work reasonably normally albeit response times are a little slower).
I should add that as part of all this, we did the usual fixes [of switching the router off and on, then off overnight and back on in the morning, and finally a factory reset plus modifying the router settings to switch off smart setup plus modifying My BT account settings to switch off Web Protect] but these had no effect.
We went back to the BT Fiber Team, who offered a visit by a 'Home Tech Expert'. Because of the long lead time for this (almost a couple of weeks), I asked BT if they would supply a new router, which they agreed to. When I first set up the new router (a Sunday afternoon - Day 0), our issues were resolved; and this continued to be the case up to the Thursday evening ... But on the Friday morning (Day 5), we began to experience the original issues again.
Having regard for the issue details below, my sense is that these are in some way related to authentication and - in turn - possibly related to IP addresses gone bad. I am guessing here but perhaps when I installed the new router, to begin with it allocated IP addresses to our devices previously not used (the maximum number of devices we have connected to WiFi at any one time is 18) and these were clean ... But [based on reading somewhere that the router is 'smart' and] after a time the new router recognises and begins to use the IP addresses commonly used by the legacy router?
Based on this notion, I thought that one possible approach could be to do a factory reset of the new router and - assuming the issues disappear again - via the Hub Manager, making a record of the IP addresses assigned to our devices; and then attempting to reserve these 'good' IP addresses for use with our devices?
Another possible resolution that occurred to me (but I don't know if these are possible with BT / Smart Hub 2) is to change the DHCP pool for the router?
When the 'Home Tech Expert' visited (19 April), they checked the router, WiFi network, speeds etc. and found no issues with these. We demonstrated the connection issues (see scenarios below) but they told us they had never observed or experienced them before. They tried a few reboots of the router without success. They apologised that they could not help further but said they would submit their report and that BT should be contact within 24 hours to suggest next steps. Disappointingly, BT did not contact me and I ended up having to call them (22 April). As you may know, each time you contact BT there is no continuity in this contact. After carefully describing the issues and also explaining what checks etc. have already been made, they were unwilling to offer to send anyone to the house with network expertise and said that port forwarding would resolve our issues. Whilst it is possible that port forwarding may be a resolution for our connection issues re: Work VPN, I don't believe it's appropriate as a solution for our other issues. After initially being helpful on my first two calls to the Fiber team, I feel this response is totally unacceptable ... But they refuse to do anything more until I have set up port forwarding and observed the outcome of this (I am just waiting on relevant details from my work IT department before doing this). Hence this request to the community for help.
Further description of the issues -
Scenario 1 - work laptop: I can see that my work laptop is connected to the home WiFi network AND to my work AOVPN. When I try to connect to certain content (eg staff intranet home page) or systems (eg web-based database system) or network drives, the request times out. However, some things are unaffected (eg desktop email app = Outlook). When I attempt to replicate these issues by substituting a mobile hotspot for the home WiFi, they are not present.
Scenario 2 - work laptop / personal laptop / mobile phone: the device is on the home WiFi network and I attempt to login to my GiffGaff account. Similar to above, the request is not fulfilled and times out. As before, when I attempt to replicate this issue by substituting a mobile hotspot for the home WiFi, I can login to my GiffGaff account without issue. For information, a similar thing happens when my wife uses her tablet or phone to go into Facebook.
Scenario 3 - mobile phone: my phone is on the home WiFi network. I can stream music via my Spotify account to my phone (and the music will play on my phone). However [as I would normally do] when I try to select a smart speaker to play the music through (1) Spotify can only see some of the speakers (not all of them) and (2) When I select a speaker that is listed, the connection isn't made.
Scenario 4 - Google Home speaker: the speaker is on the home WiFi network. Via Google Assistant, I ask the speaker to play BBC Radio 2 or music by a certain artist / group. The request isn't fulfilled and the Google Assistant does its "Whoops, something's gone wrong - try again in a few seconds' thing.
Thank you for your suggestion @licquorice . Are you confident that this would resolve my issues? The reason I ask (and this may well demonstrate my limited knowledge) is that on another conversation thread in relation to using a separate DHCP server, the community member in question highlighted that [their third party router] "Used same IP range as BT hub ... different range does not work".
Please can I also clarify [as my knowledge is basic] -
Can I connect a third party router directly to the BT modem; or
WillI I need to use a LAN connection on the Smart Hub 2 (turning off the DHCP server on the Smart Hub 2)? Is there another community thread which provides guidance on the set up of a third party router?
Nothing is guaranteed, I'm afraid but there is a good chance that it will.
The WAN port of a third party router can be directly connected to the ONT (modem). The BT hub can be dispensed with entirely as long as you don't wish to use the Digital Voice service.
Most third party routers will be virtually plug and play, just requiring the generic PPPoE credentials of username email@example.com and password BT when prompted by the setup wizard.