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British telecom company releases landline that can magically block annoying telemarketers

AA009679For many, a cellphone offers two great advantages over landlines that are entirely unrelated to the mobility issue. Firstly, there is significantly less telemarketing or cold calls made to cellphones. Secondly, cellphones display the number of the caller, whereas the majority of traditional landline phones do not. Now, a British telecom company, BT, has introduced a new model of phone that it promises will cut 80 percent of unwanted calls altogether.

The way that the BT6500 – which will be available to Brits for just £44.99 ($70 USD) for a single handset, £69.99 for a twin set ($110 USD), or £89.99 for a trio ($141 USD) – works is that it will automatically block calls from anyone that does not have a caller ID, along with international calls and “withheld” (not-directory listed) numbers. In addition, each household will be able to add an additional ten phone numbers to a block list, allowing them to customize who they do – or, more specifically, don’t – want to hear from.

But why would BT want to purposely block international calls? Apparently, the majority of cold and telemarketing calls in the U.K. are coming from call centers located outside of the country altogether. A base outside of the U.K. allows callers to bypass the country’s existing “Telephone Preference Service,” the U.K.’s equivalent of the our Do-Not-Call registry. A recent report from Ofcom, the British telecom regulator, revealed that 71 percent of Britons have reported live telemarketing calls in the past six months, despite being registered on the TPS.

All blocked calls will be routed through to an answering service, with the exception of the numbers programmed in by the household, which will be blocked entirely.

Also available on the phone will be a cellphone-esque “Do Not Disturb” setting, which switches off the ringer but allows calls to be received – a setting that will block outgoing calls to cellphones and premium rate phone lines (U.K. equivalent of 1-800 lines).

The launch of the new phone comes as a result of growing concern in the U.K. about the number of nuisance or harassing calls received by people at home in the country. BT claims that it receives more than 50,000 calls to its dedicated nuisance call advice line every month, with “silent calls” being amongst the most common type causing concern and offense. “We know from talking to our customers that nuisance calls cause huge frustration and even anxiety at times,” said BT’s John Petter, managing director of the company’s consumer division. “When people feel as though they are being harassed in their own homes, they need to be able to take action and block the offending callers.”

The BT6500 is available in British stores as of Wednesday.

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