[RndTbl] Issues encountered with the Shaw BlueCurve modem and app

Gerald Brandt gbr at majentis.com
Tue Nov 22 07:31:26 CST 2022

I put my own gateway/firewall behind the Bluecurve device, which 
forwards all incoming WAN data to my gateway/firewall. It means I'm 
double natted, but I haven't seen an issue so far. My gateway does DHCP 
and DNS, port forwarding, etc. My TV still works, and I use the 
Bluecurve device as an access point only. I don't care what Shaw does 
anymore, they just supply bandwidth.


On 2022-11-21 22:31, Brian Lowe wrote:
> Hi all,
> Following is an information dump detailing all the issues I've 
> encountered with the Shaw BlueCurve gateway and app since I got it 
> installed back in September.
> The intent is to add this as a detailed attachment to a short (paper) 
> letter I intend to send to Paul McAleese, president of Shaw 
> Communications, outlining my disappointment with the BlueCurve service 
> and asking him to follow up with his residential internet division to 
> implement improvements.
> Also, after much discussion with various Shaw technical support 
> departments, it looks like I finally have a way forward:
> 1. Switch out the current WiFi-only TV player device for an older coax 
> unit
> 2. Put the BlueCurve gateway into bridged mode and use the D-Link 
> router Alberto gave me to act as my home router.
> For those willing to wade through its 1,250 words, I'd appreciate any 
> comments you have. Remember, it's intended to be an attachment to the 
> main letter. I'm not expecting Paul McAleese to read through it, 
> although he may glance at it. I am hoping he'll pass it along to the 
> residential internet services division.
> Brian
> Issues Encountered with the Shaw BlueCurve Gateway and App
> * I was supplied with a CGM4141SHW gateway with custom Shaw firmware; 
> the device's Hardware page reports it's a CGM4140COM and the Software 
> page says it's running CGM4140COM_5.3p16s3_PROD_sey.
> * The gateway's built-in DHCP server cannot be disabled. This is a big 
> problem for me because I want to run my own DHCP server that tracks 
> devices to which it has assigned IP addresses, and supplies the IP 
> address of my ad-blocking DNS server instead of Shaw's servers. I've 
> managed a partial work-around by running my own DHCP server along side 
> Shaw's, but giving the Shaw DHCP server a range of only two IP 
> addresses and ensuring both of them are assigned. However, often times 
> my devices end up getting no IP address, Shaw's DNS servers, and a bad 
> default route. (The inability to disable the DHCP server is probably 
> needed for the Shaw BlueCurve Home app to work—much more on that later.)
> * Some very important configuration items on the gateway--SSID and 
> password, port forwarding, DMZ, parental control--are not available 
> through its web interface and must be managed using the Shaw BlueCurve 
> Home app. The app is available only for Apple iOS and Android devices, 
> and specifically not available for Windows, MacOS, or Linux.
> * Using an Apple/Android app is suboptimal because the standard way to 
> configure a modern gateway/router device is to use its built-in web 
> interface. This works for pretty much any modern small computer 
> operating system such as Windows, MacOS, Linux, BSD, legacy UNIX 
> (HP-UX and AIX), VMS, Android, and iOS, because they all have access 
> to capable web browsers. But this is not an option with the CGM4141 
> because its web interface has been eviscerated.
> * The app is available only on Apple's App Store or (officially) 
> Google Play. However, the only way to get the app from Google Play is 
> to set up a Google account and link it with an Android device. This is 
> a problem for me because I see Google as a huge user-hostile American 
> advertising company that's not subject to Canadian privacy laws, and I 
> desire to do as little business with them as possible. To me it is 
> unacceptable that Shaw, a Canadian company, is compelling its 
> customers to business with American companies in order to use basic 
> functionality for its services.
> * There is an unstated assumption that all users have access to a 
> device that will run the app. While it's likely a safe assumption for 
> today's parents and computer-savvy users, as usual it fails to take 
> into account various edge cases:
> - People who are uncomfortable with smartphones and use a feature 
> phone instead
> - People who have a supposedly compatible device but its operating 
> system has fallen behind and can't run the app
> - People who value their privacy and don't want to download an app 
> that can't be audited so see if it's sending information to servers 
> outside of Shaw, or even sending information to Shaw that's not 
> related to the application's use
> * Shaw support can set the SSID and password for the customer, but by 
> policy cannot assist with port forwarding and DMZ issues. For this 
> they always tell the customer to use the app.
> * Additionally, the app has issues:
> - It's enormous! It weighs in at 204 megabytes, making it one of the 
> largest non-game apps I've ever seen. By comparison:
> - WhatsApp: 41 MB
> - Facebook: 56 MB
> - Instagram: 63 MB
> - Facebook Messenger: 72 MB
> - SnapChat: 126 MB
> - TikTok: 183 MB
> - As a seasoned programmer, the app's size in relation to its 
> capabilities raises red flags:
> - It looks like the development team has pulled in a huge number of 
> libraries from all over the Android development ecosystem. I wonder 
> why they used so many libraries instead of developing at least some of 
> the functionality in-house. It makes me wonder about the overall 
> capability of the development team.
> - The large number of libraries runs the risk of becoming a 
> maintenance nightmare down the road because inevitably some of these 
> libraries will become outdated, deprecated, and possibly disappear 
> altogether. The development team could end up spending as much time or 
> more trying to keep on top of the library dependencies as they will 
> making improvements to the app.
> - Bug: Setting port forwarding in the app appeared to work, but 
> packets were not getting through to the forwarded device (more on this 
> 3 points down the list.)
> - Bug: Attempts to set up a DMZ were consistently met with "We're 
> Having Some Trouble. Please try again. If the problem persists, check 
> back later." (more on this 3 points down the list)
> * On Google Play, complaints about the app are legion:
> - Overall, the app is buggy, difficult to use, and does not work as 
> advertised
> - Users are often unable to sign in
> - App often shows the BlueCurve gateway as being offline when in fact 
> it is not
> - App forgets configuration options that were previously set
> - Parental controls are unreliable
> - A video showing how the app works has not been updated for newer 
> versions
> * Google Play gives the app a score of 3.5/5. Independently, I 
> computed an overall approve/disapprove score based on 1,318 reviews. 
> Reviews with 1, 2, or 3 stars were "disapprove" (even three star 
> reviews had a tendency to point out problems) while 4 and 5 star 
> reviews were "approve." The result was 287 approve and 1,031 
> disapprove, for an overall disapproval rate of 78%. The average rating 
> from those 1,318 reviews was only 2.1, well below Google's 3.5.
> * Attempts to engage various Shaw support departments on the port 
> forwarding and DMZ portions of the app were consistently met with 
> "Port forwarding/DMZ is something we don't support because we haven't 
> been trained on it," even though the problem I was attempting to 
> report was with the failure of the app to work as advertised.
> * With respect to the port forwarding, it works only when packets 
> arrive on the WAN port; that is, from the internet at large. The 
> gateway is unable to route packets from the local network to the WAN 
> port. It can route to any other available IP address on the internet 
> except for the IP address of the WAN port. Those packets never arrive 
> at their intended destination (confirmed by tcpdump.)
> * Another option is to put the gateway into bridged mode. However, 
> doing so stops the TV player device from working because it uses a 
> special WiFi connection with the gateway, and putting the gateway into 
> bridged mode disables WiFi altogether.
> * A conversation with one Shaw department revealed there would be an 
> additional charge if I wanted to swap out the gateway I was supplied 
> with for a more capable device. From a customer point of view, the 
> company is punishing its customers for being an advanced user. Perhaps 
> that's deliberate: such customers can be difficult to deal with.
> * In the end, it took a considerable amount of time working with 
> various support departments to determine the solution to my problems 
> was the following:
> - Swap out the WiFi TV player device with one that uses co-ax instead
> - That done, put the gateway into bridged mode and use a third party 
> WiFi router to regain functionality lost with the BlueCurve gateway
> * The gateway has plenty of firmware space. It's using only 143 MiB of 
> the 2 GiB available, so there is plenty of room to add advanced 
> functionality.
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