As BT’s continues its fibre broadband roll-out, more and more users are looking to ditch the ISP’s HomeHub in favour of something a little more flexible and attractive.
When used with traditional copper broadband, the HomeHub serves as both router and modem but with BT Infinity the device is switched to router-only mode and a separate modem is installed by Openreach.
While use of that modem is a contractual part of the service – indeed even ISPs aren’t currently allowed to issue their own fibre modems – users are free to use any router they want.
An ever popular question is how to use Openreach modem with Apple’s AirPort Express.
The good news is that using the pair together is a doddle, thanks in part to an easy set-up wizard built into Mac OS and a handy app available for the iPhone and iPad.
First step is to physically connect the modem and AirPort Express, to do this remove all the cables from the HomeHub and disconnect it from the power supply.
Then plug the ethernet cable (often this is a red cable) which used to connect the Hub to modem to the WAN port on the AirPort Express – when viewing the Express from the rear this is the left-most of the two ethernet ports.
When this, simply connect the power cable to the AirPort Express and plug it in.
The next step is to set up the AirPort Express to allow you to WiFi access to the web.
First, open the AirPort utility on your Mac (you can find this by clicking the WiFi indicator on the Mac’s top menu bar or in the Utilities folder located in Applications).
This will bring up a configuration page, as well as giving the WiFi network a name and password, you’ll also need to set the network options to the following values:
Connection type: Connect Using PPoE.
Account name: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Password: There is no password on a BT Infinity account so you can enter anything you like
Service name: Blank
Connection: Always On
Disconnect if Idle: Never
One of the reasons Mac users like to use the AirPort Express is it allows easy use of Apple’s Back to the Mac feature to share files, sharing a printer and, if connected to a speaker, use of AirPay to play music from a Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.
In addition, while they’re no longer considered good ways of securing a network, the AirPort Express also allows the network name (SSID) to be hidden and for the Mac IDs (sometimes called Wireless IDs) to be filtered so that only specified devices can connect to the network.
Both of these could be overcome by someone determined enough but they remain popular features and preferences which BT removed from the HomeHub’s settings.
Our tests produced consistently higher WiFi speeds once we’d made the switch, with the Airport Express delivering speeds in excess of 72Mbps on an 80Mbps Infinity connection while the HomeHub, placed in the same location, would often struggle to deliver 40Mbps.