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Letter proves BT knew how many customers it would lose to LocalTel

Claims of being caught out look distinctly flimsy

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BT’s claims that it had no idea how popular rival service LocalTel would be have been brought into question. The Register has obtained evidence that BT knew all about LocalTel's proposals to offer toll-free access to the Internet and how many people it expected would take up the offer. BT claims it was kept in the dark about the figures and had no idea about the size and scale of how many people would leave BT for LocalTel. That's why it claims only 250 applications a day have been processed so far leaving many people angry and frustrated that BT has been dragging its heels. Yet The Register can confirm that solicitors representing LocalTel sent a letter to BT Group Legal Services in London on Friday 23 April -- a week before the service was launched officially. In it, LocalTel informed BT exactly when it was launching its service and that it expected between 2,000 and 2,5000 people a day would request to have their phone bills transferred to LocalTel. BT has been told by telecomms watchdog Oftel to sort things out -- and fast -- and a BT executive has been quoted as saying that their sluggish approach is simply "unacceptable". ® Full text of letter below: Date: 23 April 1999-05-26 Mr D. Shawley BT Group Legal Services BT Centre 81 Newgate Street London EC1A 7AJ Dear Mr Shawley BRITISH TELECOMMUNICATIONS PLC (“BT”) and LOCALTEL LIMITED (“LOCALTEL”) I refer to my letter of 21 April with regard to the above and the Calls and Access Service. Although I am still awaiting your response to the matters raised in my letter of 15 March, my client has asked me to advise you that as of Saturday 1 May 1999, it is anticipated that LocalTel will be submitting to BT, on behalf of LocalTel’s new customers, in the region of 2,000 to 2,500 telephone service transfer requests per day. As indicated in your letter of 12 March and as confirmed on page 5 of the Calls and Access product description, BT have agreed to transfer these lines after seven working days, whilst you will recall that BT have verbally confirmed to LocalTel that notwithstanding the provisions of the Calls and Access conditions, upon receipt of these change orders BT will effect these changes and transfer the relevant telephone lines within eight days. Whilst I am sure that BT have anticipated and made provision for the expected daily volume referred to above, the purpose of this letter is to provide you with further advance notice so as to ensure that the appropriate procedures are in place in readiness for next weekend and thereafter. Yours sincerely, Steven Bernstein Cc Mr D Martin – LocalTel Limited

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