I'm currently with Virgin Media on 100Mbps cable, and use a custom firewall/router - PFSense CE running on a mini-PC with multiple Gb Ethernet ports, with the Superhub in Modem/bridging mode - and I'm seriously considering switching to "Full Fibre 500" for Broadband only, and this is available at my address in central Scotland.
We don't use the Landline phone that we're currently forced to have by Virgin, and don't really use Virgin's TV service either - we still have a Tivo but it's on the lowest package that is barely more than Freeview. With streaming services we hardly ever use the Tivo and have Freeview via antenna anyway to cover stuff like BBC.
A major sticking point for me is that I am not willing to give up on the PFSense firewall/router for whatever junk consumer grade router BT will try to offer me.
From browsing this forum I've found that while the BT Home Hub 2 doesn't have a bridging mode, (which is incredibly disappointing when Virgin does offer this) for a broadband only connection with FTTP it should be possible (albeit unsupported by BT) for me to avoid using the BT Home Hub 2 and connect my existing PFSense router directly to the ONT with the PFSense WAN interface configured for PPPoE. (which it does support) Is there anyone here who is specifically using PFSense directly to an ONT who can comment on how well they work together ?
I understand that landline phone service is not possible in this configuration but we do not want a landline anyway and would have cancelled it on Virgin years ago if they would allow it.
However what I've not seen answered on this forum or elsewhere is whether the BT TV service can work through a 3rd party router with the BT Home Hub 2 not connected.
While we don't initially want any TV service (as we're trying to cut our monthly costs and have satisfactory alternatives including Freeview and Streaming) I don't want to put myself into a situation where subscribing to BT TV in the future would force me to give up on my PFSense router.
The Full Fibre 500 offer I have seen does not make it clear exactly which model of BT TV box would be supplied if TV service was added on top, although it does mention that it supports both an "antenna" or purely IPTV based reception without an antenna.
It also suggests that more channels are available via "antenna" than using the IPTV mode. Can someone provide some clarification for me ?
By "antenna" do they mean a regular Terrestrial Freeview antenna or a Satellite dish ? While we had a Sky dish years ago which provided FreeSat, neighbouring trees outside our control have grown to a point where it's untenable so we now only have a Terrestrial Freeview antenna which supplies three TV's in the house via an amp/splitter, but we do get a good strong signal on this. (Central Scotland btw)
If the TV box is in antenna mode and this provides more channels, can I simply connect it to our Freeview antenna instead of connecting the Antenna to the TV and get full functionality, or does the TV box still require some sort of internet connection for EPG, software updates or other features ?
If the TV box was in IPTV mode would it work through a 3rd party router or will it only work specifically through the BT Home Hub 2 ? Has anyone looked at the protocols it uses for streaming ? I know some US based TV providers now use IP Multicasting direct across the consumers internet connection - this could cause some challenges with a 3rd party router, although it might be solvable, especially with something as powerful and flexible as PFSense which does support IP multicasting etc.
A question about packages - I seem to be able to get Broadband without landline with Full Fibre 500, however as soon as I try to add a TV package to my "Broadband only" base package, I'm forced to add an unwanted Pay as you Go landline package (which I don't want, and wouldn't be able to use with my 3rd party router anyway) for an extra £5 a month, which seems a bit underhand.
Is this just the way it is - not possible to get Broadband and TV without paying for a landline ?
One final question - how do the gamers among you find Full Fibre 500 for gaming in terms of latency, packet loss and reliability ? I find my current Virgin Media connection quite good for gaming, and while the service as a whole does have frustrating outages from time to time, (Virgin has had a number of core routing / peering screw ups in the last month or so) when it is working I have no complaints with gaming performance.
Thanks for any feedback - I'm hoping to make a decision in the next few days while the offer I'm looking at is still available.
On Full-Fibre plans you don't need a hub with a bridging mode, your pFsense box can connect directly to the ONT using an ethernet cable. If you connect directly to the ONT then you'd usually lose the ability to use a landline - however if you can identify the ports and protocols in use, you should be able to bridge these through the pFsense box and use the supplied BT hub as a glorified DECT hub!
I've looked at the BT-TV plans and decided they are too expensive for me personally, but from what I can tell the BT TV Box Pro doesn't appear to need an IPTV VLAN setting up, though again you have pFsense and so should be able to set this up if needed.
The BT TV Box Pro can be set up in IP-only mode, but doing so may mean that you lose some minor channels that are not a part of Freeview Play. The idea is that the box appears seamless, and should give you the best quality source available (up to 4K), you don't need to know if it's from the antenna or over the internet - no fiddling required!
Not sure why you are being forced to opt for a PAYG as soon as you try to add the TV, certainly not an issue I've witnessed myself when looking into the service.
Finally, if you are not moving immediately, I'd suggest you hunt around and see if you can express an interest in getting the service rather than sign up for it straight away. If you do this you may find that you get offered a better value package a few weeks down the line!
Good luck 🙂
Thanks for the comments. The package I'm looking at was via this EE referral link:
On this page you can leave it as Broadband only or choose Broadband and Phone. I leave it on Broadband only (which clearly says "no landline phone service") then choose customise the package, if I step through and add TV a later screen forces a £5 a month PAYG landline:
There doesn't seem to be any way around this other than not adding TV.
Do you know if the BT TV Box Pro can work with just an Antenna and no internet connection ? I assume in a normal installation it would be connected to the BT Hub 2 as well as the antenna ?
I'm only interested in Broadband at the moment and definitely never landline phone, but it's difficult to see if the TV service would work fully with a 3rd party router with an antenna connected if we decided to add it at some point in the future.
So it looks like the offer is similar (not quite so good) as I received by email before I recently signed up (there may have been more of a push to move people to FTTP here). But, I didn't start looking at the TV until after I'd signed up, and doing that there seems to be no phone requirement!
IGMP snooping is a feature of a switch not a router.
PFSense does have a built in IGMP proxy however, which can be used to forward IGMP group membership requests from clients on a network behind the router upstream to the source. In other words it supports full multicast routing, although it is not enabled by default so has to be set up manually. (Both the IGMP proxy and the necessary firewall rules to pass multicast traffic)
Does that mean BT uses multicast streams to provide the IPTV TV streams to the TV Box Pro ?
Am I right in thinking if I used an antenna though that I wouldn't need IGMP/Multicasting set up ? Would it still need some sort of internet connection for some functionality though or is it completely standalone when not in IPTV mode ?
And yes, I've no interest in the landline phone service, now or in the future.
Interesting about you not being forced to add landline phone when you added TV later - I wonder if it's something that is enforced by the package builder in the sign up process that I'm looking at (maybe part of the deal being offered) but TV can be added later as a separate addition without requiring phone.
It makes sense for live TV streams to use IGMP, as it provides an efficient means of one-to-many routing, and in doing so reduces the amount of network bandwidth required massively.
As for DV (Digital Voice), there is no magic its a pure industry-standard ethernet connection between the ONT and the router. So with enough knowledge of how DV is provisioned, it may be possible when using a pFsense box to forward what's needed to a BT hub. It really does come down to how this is provisioned. I'm not saying it will be done, just that it's almost certainly possible - with the right information - and could be done. And if it is done, you'll probably see it first on pFsens, Mikrotik, or routerboard devices. FIN!
I can assure you it is not possible. Many have tried but nobody has succeeded.