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BBC fixes BT Home Hub auto-vomit bug

Olympic delay for iPlayer tweak

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BBC engineers have solved a mysterious, long-running bug that has meant iPlayer and live TV streams have frequently prompted the BT Home Hub, UK's most common router, to reset itself.

The source of the problem has been identified after a lengthy, "tricky" search and a fix is currently working its way through the BBC's back-end systems, iPlayer and embedded media architect Andy Smith told El Reg. iPlayer catch-up streams of TV and radio no longer cause the crashes, while live webcasts of news programming should get the all-clear soon.

News video is delivered from a different platform to general TV catch-up, but via the same embeddable Adobe Flash player. Engineers did not want to risk software problems during the Olympics, which have been a huge hit online with office workers, so the news platform fix has been slightly delayed.

BT customers started reporting the problems back in April. There are forum threads detailing frustrations with the hardware at Thinkbroadband, BT's official message boards and elsewhere online.

The BBC said the problem was shared by O2 and Be Unlimited's routers, which like the Home Hub are based on Thomson Speedtouch hardware. Testing also found that all Flash streaming sites caused the resets. Streaming is a less common method for delivering Flash video than progressive download, however, which is used by YouTube.

The fix for the "compatability issue" was found by tweaking an obscure undocumented setting in Adobe's software.

BT said the resets had only hit a "tiny number" of its 4.5 million retail broadband customers. The new Home Hub 2.0 has no known problems, a spokesman said.

Earlier versions of BT's router have also been hit by repeated major security breaches. ®

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