BT has thrown down the gauntlet to rivals by revealing plans to launch a free nuisance call blocking service, which it estimates will wipe out up to 25 million unwanted calls a week.
The company is the first to bow to pressure from regulator Ofcom which has been urging telecoms providers to implement technical solutions to tackle the issue. Government figures suggest there are over 1 billion nuisance calls a year, but the irony is that the firms make millions of pounds a year from such calls and therefore have been reluctant to act.
Like most providers, BT has offered blocking schemes for a number of years but customers have had to pay a premium. Now, in what it describes as a “breakthrough service”, customers will be able to access the scheme for free.
A dedicated team will harness huge computer power to analyse data and monitor calls to all of BT’s 10 million domestic customers and identify any patterns of callers.
Launching later this year, rogue numbers will be diverted to a junk voicebox, while customers will also be able to divert the calls themselves to the blacklist.
John Petter, chief executive of BT Consumer, said: “Nuisance calls are one of the great annoyances of modern life. Everyone will have received one. We are delighted to have made this major breakthrough. We are giving control of the landline back to our customers and removing a major hassle and grief for millions of customers.
“We have been at the forefront of equipping our customers to defend themselves against the flow of PPI and unwanted marketing calls that has become a flood in recent years.”
Petter called on other telephone providers to join the fight against the “menace” of nuisance calls, adding: “They can help us to root out the malicious players they may be hosting on their own networks when we identify dodgy and suspicious calling behaviour.”
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd welcomed the move. He said: “People are fed up with being bombarded with unwanted calls so this is a step in the right direction for millions of BT customers. We now need to see more action taken by the industry and Government to help reduce the stress and anxiety caused by nuisance calls.”
An Ofcom spokesman added: “We welcome BT’s plans to intercept nuisance calls on its network and reduce the harm caused to consumers.”
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