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BT halts porting operations?

It would appear Openreach has closed its porting operations due to the fall out from the Covid-19 virus. Porting operations currently sit offshore in India and, like much of the world, social distancing measures put in place by the government has prevented operations continuing.

A sceptical market, and rightly so, is calling ‘codswallop’ on the move as smaller operators in the domestic UK market have moved to remote operations. Simon Woodhead, MD of Simwood wrote an open letter to Ofcom, exclaiming his frustration that BT has conveniently managed to position itself to win business, but unable to lose any.

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Business Continuity planning is often a requirement for those holding Government contracts, the question is how has the wider industry managed to remain up and running and BT is unable to comply?

In Woodhead’s recent blog post he wrote “The situation is more complex than simply BT being unable to port in either direction. As anyone involved with porting will know that competitive operators can only port numbers to themselves from BT via Openreach in India, even if those numbers come from its microcosm porting team at BT IPExchange in Wolverhampton – yes, Openreach sit on hold to IPExchange while we sit on hold to them. Meanwhile, IPExchange try to throw the BT name around and bully their way to direct porting to BT rather than go through Openreach. Presuming Wolverhampton are able to work from home, are we seriously entering a phase where BT can only win business but has conveniently rendered itself incapable of losing it? These are crazy times with me accepting things I never imagined I would, but I can’t accept that.”

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After to speaking with those involved it would seem some requests have gone through the system via the automated process. However, those that require human intervention, which some estimate at over 50%, may not be completed after today.

Openreach responded to the reports with the following statement:

Katie Milligan, Managing Director for Customer Commercial and Propositions at Openreach said:

“We were really disappointed to see comments accusing Openreach of blocking porting and ceasing operations. That’s simply not true at all.

The lockdown situation in India did mean we had to quickly move our number porting team from being office based to working from home.

We’re continuing to work with our colleagues in India to make sure they have the tools they need to bring the service back to its usual standard whilst they’re in lockdown and we’re training more colleagues to help lighten the load. In the meantime, we have not stopped porting. We’ll ensure that all of our customers can continue to have their number porting requests dealt with quickly and seamlessly.”

As this situation unfolded, we acted as quickly as we could and kept our customers informed throughout.

Like any business, Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the way we’ve been able to operate during the last couple of weeks, and we continue to work tirelessly to keep as many customers as connected as possible and so far I think we’ve done a brilliant job across the business to keep services as normal as possible. I have to say thank you to those in the wider Industry for pulling together in the interests of customers.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine