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Message 1 of 14

Online gambling addiction - trying to get rid of our neighbour's BT-wifi-with-FON from our home

Hi everyone, I've been on the web chat to BT, I've called different numbers they have given me - and haven't had a response yet other than to call more numbers in different BT departments.. please help if you can answer this? We desperately need an answer to this.

My partner has an online gambling addiction and we have lived with this for years. This is manageable if he doesn't go online unless it is in a public space; this means no internet usage at home. He uses an old non-smart phone with no internet access, and takes his laptop to local cafes when he needs to do admin online. He's getting weekly therapy for this and has previously attended self-help groups and cognitive behavioural therapy. We recently bought our first home and have taken the step of having no wifi at all at home. This was going really well and there were no networks nearby that he can connect to so everything has been perfect.

Until a neighbour in our block of flats must have got a BT router - now BT-wifi-with-FON shows up on his laptop as a possible connection in our home and he can at any time sign up and pay to use this internet access daily, weekly or monthly on his laptop. He hasn't yet but is terrified that he will have a moment of weakness and do this. This is a really cruel thing to force on somebody in their home - it's like opening a bar next to a recovering alcoholic. Is there a way to disable this wifi source from appearing in our home? This is a totally unethical way to make money, there are many people struggling with online addictions with gambling, pornography and probably other things that people don't really talk much about yet - BT must be aware of this and really need to allow people to opt out so that this is not a constant presence in their home. Please help us with this.

Distinguished Sage
Distinguished Sage
Message 2 of 14

Re: Online gambling addiction - trying to get rid of our neighbour's BT-wifi-with-FON from our home

I understand your problem regarding living with a partner with an addiction but there is no way you can stop any wireless signals penetrating your property other than living in a Faraday Cage.

As you will no doubt be aware, the only person who can stop their addiction is the addict. If they want to "feed" their addiction they will find a way and if that is to get online, there are other easier ways than using BTWifi.

There is absolutely nothing unethical about BTWifi-Fon. It is a useful way for many people to get onto the Internet whither that is as a BT customer or a person who wishes to pay for access. 


Message 3 of 14

Re: Online gambling addiction - trying to get rid of our neighbour's BT-wifi-with-FON from our home

I respectfully disagree and feel that people should be able to control what temptations enter their homes. An alcoholic wouldn't keep a fridge stocked with booze at home for obvious reasons, and allowing wifi connection at any time at home to people with internet-based addictions is usually going to lead to issues. In the same way that parental controls have been developed to protect children online, some adults also need help with boundaries - this is our home and we should be allowed to set these boundaries. We don't mind the wifi signals coming in of course but usually these are password protected wifi accounts so it's no problem. We should be allowed to 'opt out' of this service so that he can't sign up in a moment of weakness, just the idea of it being there is upsetting him and he feels sure he will sign up at some point, I can't be there all the time to monitor this.

Distinguished Sage
Distinguished Sage
Message 4 of 14

Re: Online gambling addiction - trying to get rid of our neighbour's BT-wifi-with-FON from our home

We will need to agree to disagree.

As regards controlling temptations that enter your home, wireless signals of all types are in the air and as I said there is nothing you can do about that.  Your partner could just as easily ask a neighbour whose password protected wireless signal enters your home if he could have access to it. He could access free wireless Internet at as you have said at cafes and many other public spaces.

At present you are opted out of BTWifi by virtue of the fact that you need to pay to opt in and once opted in you need to use a supplied password.

Depending on your laptop perhaps you could consider removing the wireless card from your laptop. If and when you or he require Internet access you could plug in and use a USB wireless dongle. You could retain possession of the dongle and only give it to your partner when under your supervision.

If he wants to feed his addiction he will find a way regardless of BTWifi signals entering your home and as I suspect you will know "it is always somebody else that caused it"

Community Manager
Community Manager
Message 5 of 14

Re: Online gambling addiction - trying to get rid of our neighbour's BT-wifi-with-FON from our home

Hi @NotEvenACustomer

Thanks for the message and welcome to the Community.  I am so sorry to hear of the predicament that you and your partner find yourself in.  Addiction is an extremely hard thing to combat so I can completely understand your concern in trying to remove all avenues which could cause your partner to give in to his temptations.

The short answer is that there is very little you can do to prevent wireless signals from entering your home.  As GG has mention a faraday cage would work but that would be quite a substantial bit of work and that would then block all signals, including mobile, I believe.  

BT Wi-Fi with Fon is not a free service for non-BT customers.  To access this service as a non-BT customer one would have to purchase a voucher.  BT customers who opt into this service can use millions of BT Wi-Fi hotspots all over the UK, in return for this service, these customers will start to transmit the BT Wi-Fi signal from there routers to allow other BT Wi-Fi Fon customers to connect to their signal.  Access is then controlled by their BTID credentials.  You partner will not be able to join this network successfully without credentials.  If a BT customer opts out of this service their router would stop transmitting the signal, however this will mean that they would no longer be able to use other Wi-Fi hotspots when out and about.

I am sorry for the poor experience when calling BT to discuss your concerns.  There is no department in BT that will be able to stop your neighbour from transmitting the wireless signal, so its wrong for you to be transferred to different teams only for you to have to repeat yourself over and over.  Your neighbour has opted into this service so there is nothing BT can do to kill the signal.

I appreciate that my response is not what you were hoping for, and I am sorry that I could not offer further help.  I thought it probably best to give you an official response so you can avoid further frustration in calling BT. 

I genuinely wish you and your partner the best of luck in beating this extremely difficult addiction.  I have no doubt that the support you are giving is invaluable and your partner is lucky to have you by his side.



Message 6 of 14

Re: Online gambling addiction - trying to get rid of our neighbour's BT-wifi-with-FON from our home

Hi Sean, thanks for getting back about this. Our understanding of this is that all he needs to sign onto this wifi service as a non-BT customer is a bank card, then he can pay to use hourly, weekly or monthly - just to check that this is what you mean by the voucher?

So I'm trying to raise awareness here about what BT are providing and the negative effect that this is having on our life and who knows how many other people. I do see the positive sides that customers can access wifi from other BT customers' wifi routers at anytime and I'm sure that got a cheer in a BT board meeting somewhere. "Great, we can provide BT wifi all over the place by using our customers as hotspots". This is literally a nightmare for people who are trying to avoid wifi access.

There's now a constant option for people to simply bring out their bank card and log into this AT HOME - this for someone with an online based addiction is usually going to be impossible to control. It's the equivalent of an alcoholic or drug addict sitting at home and all they have to do is pull out their bank card to pay and voila a drink or some drugs appear. People can learn to avoid pubs and clubs and going to places to source drugs, this is difficult enough, but introducing a service providing these things into their homes is cruel. 

I know this could be controversial to people not living with this, but I think if you're taking the step of providing such an omni-present service and accepting the huge amount of money that this brings in, there's a social responsibility to address the minority of people struggling with online addictions. E.g. BT could provide a service where addicts can register their email address and bank card details to voluntarily opt out of this service, so that these card details will not work when signing up in a moment of weakness, you might be surprised how many people will voluntarily opt out. Research on addictions with online gambling and pornography is showing that a significant amount of people are struggling, and that's probably just the tip of the iceberg. I'd encourage someone from BT to attend some of the self-help groups which are being set up to help people in this position and to learn about the daily struggles people are facing, and to please find a way to limit access so that it's not as easy as pulling out a bank card at home to pay for access. Unless of course, you just want the money regardless.

We have now got around this by just throwing out all devices that can connect online as we couldn't find a way to get rid of the BT-wifi-with-FON signal. It's a shame because we moved home a few months ago, didn't get wifi on purpose and everything was perfect, then this signal appeared and it has really turned things upside down for us. Please take this seriously BT.

Distinguished Sage
Distinguished Sage
Message 7 of 14

Re: Online gambling addiction - trying to get rid of our neighbour's BT-wifi-with-FON from our home

As has already been pointed out, you are not opted in. You are opted out. Your partner will need to make a conscious decision to use his bank card, which he could give to you for "safe" keeping, in order to purchase access to BTWifi.

BTWifi is a legal product given freely to BT's millions of broadband customers and is also sold to people who freely choose to purchase Internet time.

As regards your analogy about a drug user or alcoholic sitting at home and voila a drink or drug appears, this does happen. You can legally purchase alcohol on line and have it delivered to your door and you can purchase illegal  drugs on line and have them delivered to your door if you know who to contact, and I suspect the drug user will know who to contact.

While your idea about the addict providing email address and bank card details in order to opt out may have some merit and may take out the spontaneity of using the Internet it could be relatively easily circumvented by the addict by signing up for a free email address, which takes only a few minutes and by getting a prepaid debit card that can be topped up with cash at a Post Office or Paypoint location and be kept hidden until the addiction takes over.

I do have knowledge about addiction and its difficulties for family members and I do sympathise with what you and your partner are dealing with but I do not think you can expect BT or any other Internet provider to limit access to their product, which is access to the Internet, because some users become addicted to a product in this case gambling sites which are not promoted or sold by BT any more than you could expect shops not to sell alcohol because some users become addicted to it.   

Perhaps it is the gambling industry you should be tackling by having them address the issue and have them put obstacles in the way to stop spontaneous gambling such as requiring 24 or 48 hours wait before being allowed to gamble on their site and introduce a similar wait if you have not accessed/used their site during a certain period of time.


Message 8 of 14

Re: Online gambling addiction - trying to get rid of our neighbour's BT-wifi-with-FON from our home

Whilst thankfully we live in a free world where everyone is entitled to their opinion, this has been posted on a public forum purely because of the lack of success at getting our concerns through to anyone officially at BT. I'm happy that some people may read this and think this is an entirely optional service, as that shows a lack of understanding of this addiction which I wouldn't wish on anyone. So to clarify our message to BT who I really do hope pay attention to this:

1) this is not an 'optional' service to an addict, if they live surrounded by the potential to 'opt in' at home they won't last long, this is the nature of the addiction.

2) my partner lasted less than 48 hours of knowing that at any time he could use his bank card to sign up to this BT wifi service at home and he threw out every possible device (including a new playstation 4 with VR headset because of it's online access). This seemed extreme to me but I understand now he felt this was his only option to not relapse. 

3) Many other people out there are struggling with this, it's extremely concerning and I want to make sure BT know. As with any corporation of this size, as long as you're making money probably nobody will care, but I'd really like to think that BT can look into the scale of this issue and find a way to protect people who will be affected by it. The suicide rate amongst these people is already very high, and surrounding them with temptation at home is cruel, regardless of how 'optional' some people may think their decisions are - none of us are perfect.

4) If it's purely all about business, consider building an option where people can pay BT to fully opt out (as in not have the constant option of signing in, make it not possible). We would have paid everything we have to NOT have this service intruding on our home, I can't understate this. BT can make more money, and people trying to avoid internet access won't get sucked in during moments of weakness.

Recognised Expert
Message 9 of 14

Re: Online gambling addiction - trying to get rid of our neighbour's BT-wifi-with-FON from our home

This is obviously a very sensitive subject so I apologise in advance if any of the below comes across as insensitive, I mean no disrespect and no sarcasm is intended.
Perhaps you should consider an alternative approach to overcome your partners problem? I note that you are not a BT customer and that you do not use the internet at home, perhaps this is where a different approach may be helpful.
I don’t know about other providers but BT offers parental controls with their broadband products which bars, among other things, gambling websites and (I believe but you would need to confirm) these settings can be password protected.

If I am correct and you were to sign up to BT Broadband your partner would then be able to access the internet from home under your supervision but unable to access harmful websites, hopefully with your support and the help of counselling he would in time lose interest in gambling.

Hope that helps.

Distinguished Sage
Distinguished Sage
Message 10 of 14

Re: Online gambling addiction - trying to get rid of our neighbour's BT-wifi-with-FON from our home

From the posts it is obviously that there is nothing BT can do to if a customer chooses to let the hub broadcast the BTWIFI/FON network.  However have you asked your neighbour to turn off the BTWIFI network from the hub as they may not use the facility which it offers when out and about.  That would be a possible quick solution

another possibility if your neighbour uses the BTWIFI out and about facility is to offer to replace the hub with another modem router of equivalent or better capabilities.  That way your neighbour will still be able to opt in to BTWIFI and use facility when out and about without broadcasting the BTWIFI network which is causing the problem for your partner

just a couple of suggestion looking from a different angle

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