BT launches free landline 'junk voicemail' service to tackle nuisance calls in the UK

According to BT, which owns the UK's largest landline and broadband network, its customers receive an average of four nuisance calls per week. The company is now attempting to tackle these calls with a new service designed to intercept them before they make their way to its customers' landline phones.

The new Call Protect service - which it says is the first of its kind in the UK - is free for BT's home phone customers, and dumps these nuisance calls into a 'junk voicemail' box. It estimates that up to 30 million such calls could be diverted every week, and that number could grow even higher as BT flexes its machine learning muscles. The company explained today:

The launch of the BT Call Protect service has been made possible by a technological breakthrough, which has been achieved by harnessing huge computing power to analyse large amounts of live data. This analysis enables network experts at BT’s centre in Oswestry in Shropshire to identify rogue numbers – typically those that make enormous numbers of calls - and to add them to a BT blacklist.

It works proactively to divert calls before they even reach and irritate a customer unlike reactive blocking where the customer has been troubled and where the numbers used by nuisance callers are changed frequently to avoid detection.

BT's customers will also be able to help the company expand its database of nuisance callers. Each customer can use the service to "compile their own personal blacklist" by adding individual numbers to Call Protect. They can do so simply by dialling 1572 from their home phones after a nuisance call has been received, or by visiting the online management dashboard.

If a large number of individual customers blacklists a particular number, BT will add it to its own database so that calls from that number are prevented from irritating the rest of its customers too.

BT published details of the worst offenders when it comes to these intrusive and unwelcome calls. During one seven-day period in December, a total of 31.2 million nuisance calls were tracked - almost half of which came from accident claims firms, and PPI claims companies.

Across the pond, in the United States, AT&T launched a similar 'Call Protect' service for its smartphone customers last month.

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