Documenting Problems That Were Difficult To Find The Answer To

BT Handing Out Virtual Private Network IP Addresses Instead of Internet Addresses

So frustrating! Today my Internet was down from 10:30am until 5pm when I finally figured out what was going wrong.

Firstly – I lost my connection. So I rebooted my router. I’m not using a BT Home Hub – rather my own ADSL modem/router. And every time I tried reconnecting I kept getting assigned addresses like:,, … (when it would wrap back to

The DNS assigned by BT when this happens is which responds to all names thusly:

;                        IN      A

;; ANSWER SECTION:         0       IN      A

;; AUTHORITY SECTION:         0       IN      NS

;; ADDITIONAL SECTION:             0       IN      A

In other words it redirects all web pages to – which gives you this page:

Close Window
You have been connected to this page due to 
one of the following reasons. You must now 
shut down your browser and Internet applications 
before attempting to reconnect.

    The BTWholesale access circuit to your Service Provider is currently down.
    Your service should be resumed soon.


    You are testing your local connection to BT using


    You are testing your connection to your Service Provider using 
    ‘bt_test_user@domain’ where domain is your Service Provider domain name.


    Your Service Provider is currently unable to accept your connection 
    request please wait until service is restored or contact your Service
    Provider for further information.


    You have attempted to access an invalid Service Provider domain.

Pretty frustrating? Right?

This is typical of what my modem would show upon connecting in this state:

Getting a VPN Connection To BT Instead Of An Internet Connection

Getting a VPN Connection To BT Instead Of An Internet Connection

I fought with this for hours and hours. Until I came across a post suggesting that the correct username/password for CHAP authentication on PPPoA should be: as the username with no password. That wouldn’t work for me, but it would if I supplied a password of anything (a blank password would not work but any other password would seem to work).

Here is a screenshot of my router settings:

Router Configuration for BT Home Broadband

Router Configuration for BT Home Broadband

What Happened?

Before today (2012-06-05) I had been using a username of “a” and a non-blank password. This had been working fine (except for the occasional VPN address being handed out in the form 172.16.x.x instead of getting an Internet address – but only happened rarely).

I wonder if today BT applied a new policy requiring the username to be applied. This would make sense if other wholesaled products were confusing the DSLAM as they require a domain specific username. But funny day to apply such a policy – the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations.

My other theory is that my local exchange was down for the whole day – and just as it came up I happened to apply the bthomehub username – and this is the username it has learned. Unlikely as it would have been incredibly coincidental my service just happens to start working the instant I apply the username change.

So – maybe this information will help others in future who want to use their own routers instead of the supplied BT Home Hubs – or are already using their own routers and discover, today, that they cannot use BT Broadband as a result of being placed in a walled garden.

2 responses to “BT Handing Out Virtual Private Network IP Addresses Instead of Internet Addresses

  1. Kevin June 6, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    I’ve been hunting around the internet for anyone else who suffered this and I’m glad I found someone. I had exactly the same problem on exactly the same day. All DNS records in my router (Netgear, not the provided Home Hub) reverted to and therefore my internet ceased to be useful.

    Like you, I finally got to the bottom of it and changed my DNS to something sensible. However, I was already using as my username with a non-blank password so it can’t have been that.

    I’ve also had the additional problem that none of my wireless devices would work after this error occured. All devices would connect to my wireless network, but they would not pull up webpages. In the end I have had to go into each wireless device (iPad / iPhone / laptop) and put in a DNS record that isn’t my router (which it has always been). Now everything works.

    I don’t know what on Earth BT are doing and what happened this weekend, but I’m pretty sure they shouldn’t be doing anything that involves over-writing the DNS records in my private router??? Little worried that maybe it was a massive hacking attack on BT or something? Who knows.

    As you say in your post, hopefully this will help anyone else who suffered the same fate as us, and hopefully more people will post and let us know how widespread this problem has been.

    • newspaint June 6, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      Like I said – maybe it was a coincidence that, at the time I changed the username, my service started to work.

      My problem wasn’t the bogus DNS setting – it was the fact that I was being assigned a VPN (virtual private network) IP address and, thus, in a walled garden. I couldn’t ping or traceroute to any Internet address. All I could access was the walled-garden web server (which, co-incidently, was on the same IP address as the assigned DNS server).

      I’ve had this problem before sporadically and I’ve just had to disconnect and reconnect. But on this particular day I disconnected and reconnected many hundreds of times (I even wrote an automated script to do this).

      I do know that changing the username can result in BT handing out the VPN address. I think this is a form of protection against multiple users on the line (though it’s a physical line so that doesn’t make much sense to me) – in the past disconnecting for a period of time has cured that issue.

      Well. Maybe BT were just down for the day. I guess we’ll never know – they certainly didn’t put any status notices up about it.

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