BT Will Use Data Analytics To Block Nuisance Calls For Free

BT will use data analytics to reduce the number of unwanted nuisance calls received by its landline customers, and allow customers to create personal blacklists with a free service due to be rolled out later this year.

The telco’s technology will identify rogue numbers, particularly those that make a large volume of calls, and add them to a blacklist which will be expanded to include troublesome numbers identified by customers.

Such calls include PPI and personal injury claims, silent calls and unwanted sales pitches.

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Personal blacklists can include individual numbers or even entire categories, such as international or withheld numbers. Calls from blacklisted numbers will be redirected to a junk voicemail box.

BT says figures from Which? show 75 percent of landline customers receive at least one nuisance call a month and hopes the new service will block up to 25 million a month. In July last year, the Informational Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said complaints about unwanted texts and calls had increased by 12 percent in the preceding 12 months.

It is claimed the new service will allow BT to share more information with the likes of Ofcom and the ICO to build public awareness and enforce penalties on those who breach regulations.

“Nuisance calls are one of the great annoyances of modern life. Everyone will have received one,” said John Petter, chief executive at BT Consumer. “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.

Industry support

“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. Now we are able to announce that we are working to identify and tackle huge numbers of those calls in the network.

“We are doing our bit. We call on other providers to up their game in the fight against this menace. 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.”

However TalkTalk told TechWeekEurope it had been blocking nuisance calls for almost two years, with custoers able to block numbers at a network level and see the phone number of incoming calls.

“We’re pleased to see other providers follow our lead in taking a stand against nuisance calls,” said a spokesperson. “But this is an urgent problem, which can only be tackled if government mandates all telecoms providers to offer free call blocking.”

However TakTalk itself has fallen foul of nuisance calling. In 2013, Ofcom fined the company £750,000 for making excessive numbers of nuisance calls to prospective customers in 2011.

The government has proposed that all direct marketing companies should be legally obligated to display their phone numbers when contacting the public in a bid to reduce the impact of nuisance calls.

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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