BT plc anticompetitive stonewalling?

We have now tried a simple BT order called a "Renumber and number export" some 11 times in the last month.

It is a relative new system, created about a year ago. This is a simple concept - the existing number on a phone line is renumbered to a new number, and the old number is "exported" to a new telco (in this case a VoIP provider).

The key thing here is that it is done by the existing BT wholesale line provider sending the number to the new telco, and not the new provider grabbing the existing number (and service). When grabbing the number the line is always ceased, and so is any broadband.

The key reason for using this type of order is that this will not break the phone service, it carries on with the new number, and it will not break the broadband. A renumber does not upset broadband. This is the crucial bit, and will allow us to offer our "copper pair" service for broadband with a VoIP service for the number. A new package which is already popular even though we have not launched it yet. So many people do not use a "phone line", but many would like to maintain their old "number" anyway.

The problem is EVERY SINGLE ORDER has failed!

The failures are not all the same, we have three lines we are testing with. Some go through to "Committed" stage quickly and even allocate the new number for the line, some "Committed" and no new number. Either way, on the two week lead time (which is meany to be 4 days) they fail and get cancelled. Some get stuck in "Acknowledged" state indefinitely and never progress at all.

The issue here is nobody in BT plc is prepared to actually fix the issue. We are told "there is an exception, wait 24 hours for it to clear". The "wait 24 hours", or "there will be an update at end of day" are classic stalling tactics to make us go away for another day or a weekend. Meanwhile nothing is fixed, nothing is explained.

This is hampering our ability to launch this new product of "broadband and copper pair and move number to VoIP" which so many customers would like from us, and is clearly ANTI COMPETITIVE. BT plc presumably want to hinder us and hinder competition and have every interest in stalling us at every stage. They have no commercial interest to actually make this type of order work at all, it seems.

Now, let's be clear. WE ARE HAPPY TO WORK WTH BT and I have said this many times. If this is some technical glitch, or change to how we send the order or whatever, I am more than happy to work with BT to fix this. The problem is BT seem incapable and unwilling to work with us.

We are over a month of this now, and the latest, apart from "update by end of day" which has not happened, was "this order DN status shows Working which needs to be spare if it's for renumbering"!

Now just a second - when we renumber a line the existing line has to be "working" and the number "working" not "spare". What the fuck are they on about? No explanation (after 3 hours since I asked) for this odd comment. We have had every excuse under the sun, with how orders have exceptions, are not built correctly on their system, and not a SINGLE instance of someone saying WE HAVE FIXED IT, let alone explained the problem.

Next step, OFCOM! BT plc are clearly, in my view, being anticompetitive. This needs fixing. I am available to work with BT on this all weekend, but if not sorted by Monday it will be formal complaint and threat of involving OFCOM.

P.S. Letter drafted, solicitor checking it first, will go to formal complaint 9am tomorrow.


  1. Is it possible to transfer the number without issuing a new number (i.e. convert the existing line to broadband only)? It seems to me if people are converting to voip they will not have any need for a copper phone service any more.

    I am completely un-surprised by this behavior. I hope we see more fttp rollouts by smaller independent isp's and Openreach with its legacy sweaty copper simply fades into history.

    1. BT assume that ADSL/VDSL lines have a telephone number associated with them, to identify the line.

      Kelly engineers, working on behalf of BT Openreach, assume that any pair without a voice service on it is spare and they can reassign it to someone else, they don't check if there's ADSL/VDSL on the line. (That's not what's *supposed* to happen, but "naked" ADSL/VDSL is so rare that it's what *actually* happens).

  2. Done this got the t-shirt etc. Its very un reliable so we stopped offering the product. If you want a proof of concept raise an OR DSO on this at the weekend. (I find DSO office very helpful on Saturdays( if your nice to them )) they can push it through manually and prove it can be done outside of computer says no! . If you then want to beat BT you have a working example. Note we gave up on this as a product as it was massivly time consuming as you are going againt the computer everytime.

    1. Well that is uncompetitive, it should "just work". Not at all complexe. Thanks for feedback.

    2. Sounds like this is going to be as much fun as SFI :-) "Unknown" doesn't seem to realise that arguing with BT is perhaps the main raison d'etre of A&A...

  3. I'm one of those waiting in the hope that this will start working.

    I know you don't offer POTS calls over lines which you provide, but as the line apparently still has to have a number, would it be feasible perhaps to offer only incoming calls? That way people like me could migrate our lines to you as we want to, keep our network connections up and cater for those few people who still call us via POTS.

    Then when BT work out how to get the magic smoke into this particular bit of the infrastructure, one could do the port-and-renumber bit without affecting anything else.

    1. Certainly until this is sorted we are prepared to enable incoming calls for customers that request this.

    2. Would you be willing to do this on the Home::1T package? If so, who do I contact? If I could receive incoming calls via POTS on my current number, I'd switch to AAISP in an instant.

      I assume it'd also be possible to use the same number as a presentation number for outbound calling?

    3. I am not sure how easy it is to set up incoming calls on the Home::1 Terabyte package. It will be a lot easier once we are on SMPF with that carrier, which we hope for this month. Once we have that, we can do incoming calls, and once BT pull their finger out, we can move the number to VoIP. Yes, we can do presentation no VoIP in mean time whilst incoming is on PSTN.

    4. Would I be better off waiting, or are you in a position to take an order from me now?

    5. Can you wait a couple of weeks? We expect (hope) both issues to be solved this month.

  4. Fortunately, when I moved into my current home, my main phone numbers were already VoIP. I don't use the PSTN number here for any purpose - other than to refer to the line. I'm wired up for receiving calls on it, and it's used as a line for calls that are free. I am happy with this arrangement, but if I wasn't, would be looking to take the number into VoIP.


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