Tuesday, August 12, 2014

 

Losing your VOIP service: scary

At time of writing (10.40 Tue 12 Aug 2014), UK telecoms company Soho66 has a major outage - VOIP phones won't register, website doesn't load, phone number (0333 344 3443) gives Number Unobtainable.

Eventually I worked out that they might have a Twitter feed: they do, and reassuringly, that tells me that they acknowledge a network failure AND failure of an automatic changeover, resulting in a delay while they make manual changes. Not great, but at least it shows that my initial fear - that they had gone bust - was unfounded.

But such a fear is rational, and applies to any Telecoms supplier. Before going to soho66, I did a risk assessment, and asked Ofcom what would happen if a telecoms company went out of business. Answer: it could take up to three weeks to transfer your numbers to a new supplier - there is no emergency fast-track procedure. I wrote to my MP to say that this worried me and should worry him as it was impeding competition (a careful company would tend to stick to BT because whatever their other shortcomings, they weren't likely to go out of business). Answer from Ofcom when my MP referred the issue on to them - well, that's the way it is.

Ofcom are worse than useless: they give the illusion of protection when in fact we would be better off realising how poorly protected we are against the intended (and unintended) actions of telecoms companies.

A thought for anyone using a non-BT telecoms company: demand a contact method that doesn't use their own network (ie a pure-BT line or a mobile number) so that you can at least have a chance of contacting them when their network goes down, inevitably taking their own phone lines and website with them. Or at the very least, make sure you know where they will post updates online in such an event.


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