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BT quietly recalls shocky adapters

Comtrend even quieter

Application security programs and practises

BT is quietly sending out replacements for Comtrend adapters, warning users of dodgy models not to touch them if they can't be disconnected first.

The telecommunications company is recalling the ethernet-over-mains networking boxes on the grounds that the casing can disintegrate, and tells users to switch off the mains connection before touching the kit - or to call the hotline if that's not possible. It is posting out replacement devices and pointing those who receive a package at its supporting website. Comtrend, meanwhile, has been silent on the matter.

Apparently customers who have not received a package have nothing to worry about.

BT won't tell us how many packages are being sent out, only that it's a "tiny percentage" of the 300,000 users who previously received the networking kit. Evidently the number is high enough to make it worth setting up a website and organising a support line, but not enough to warrant a press release or report to the European register for product recalls (RAPEX).

To be fair to BT, the Comtrend devices have UK (three-pin) plugs on them, so anyone pushing one into an EU power outlet will have bigger problems than a potentially-fragmenting case.

The devices are supplied to customers of BT Vision, and controversial as they have been demonstrated to generate huge amounts of interference - with recent models knocking out FM radio, and everyone from the Civil Aviation Authority to the BBC concerned about the lack of regulation on the devices. The replacement units BT is sending out will probably be just as prone to creating radio noise, but hopefully less prone to electrocuting people.

BT reckons it knows every single person who has a dodgy unit and will send out replacements to all those people, and therefore there's no reason for alerting anyone else. But just in case you picked out a cheap mains networking unit at a car boot sale, or worry that BT might have forgotten your address, then you might like to check the model numbers just to be sure. ®

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