Openreach (a division of UK incumbent operator BT) have advised industry that as a result of government-imposed restrictions on movement of people in India, they have temporarily closed the large majority of their off-shore back-office functions based in the country.

Openreach and BT are involved in some 80% of UK fixed number portability requests, much of which is a manual process. The closure of these back-office functions – and the apparent lack of contingency plans – means that some disruption to porting requests will be inevitable in the coming weeks.

Representatives from industry (including Ziron) are holding regular calls with other operators, the regulator Ofcom, and telecoms adjudicator OTA. However, at this time Openreach are unable to confirm the extent of disruption – or any contingency plans to “on-shore” these critical functions.

At the time of writing, we are not seeing disruption of porting where BT are not involved in the process (e.g. where the number is not originally from or currently with BT), and today all ports involving BT have completed as expected. However, we cannot guarantee that this situation will continue.

Operators who use BT IPEX to port in numbers from other operators or host their number ranges are also somewhat affected by this situation as a proportion of IPEX’s back office team are based in India, although BT have advised that they are putting in place contingency measures to minimise disruption.

We apologise for the lack of precise detail to this update, but this is a very fast-moving fluid situation and we are reliant on Openreach to advise industry of their plans for maintaining number portability. At this time we are not cancelling any porting requests pending completion or stopping any new requests being submitted, but we will be keeping this situation under review and will update you as soon as we have further information.