Business ofcom voip

Freshtel leaves Tesco in lurch

Tesco has been using Freshtel as the underlying provider of its VoIP service. Unfortunately the Australian VoIP company announced in March that it was closing its UK operations – something to do with an operating loss of $1.25m.

Tesco service is now apparently scheduled to be shut down on the 27th April. Nobody knows how many customers are affected but the Tesco was aggressively marketing the service for some considerable time so it could be quite a few.

The biggest problem is that Freshtel, being an Australian company and moreover  not being an ITSPA (Internet Telephony Service Providers Association) member, did not have any porting arrangements with anyone in the UK. Ofcom are looking into it but time is short.

I understand that Tesco is talking to both Virgin Media and Cable and Wireless to try and find a solution.  If one of them already hosts the Freshtel number range that could be an easy way out.

The situation is however further complicated by the fact that Tesco not only used low cost equipment at the customer premises but it is also locked to the Tesco service so that changing the VoIP service information for a new service provider is not easy or straightforward.

The whole subject of number portability is still an issue in the UK. Large service providers (BT, C&W et al) have no incentive to make it easy.  They are the likely losers in the portability game.

Although on the face of it these service providers do say that they are willing to engage with other ITSPs in the interest of the customer the reality is that as large organisations they are a) staffed by teams of lawyers who have their jobs/reputations/companies to protect and b) often reluctant to deal with very small organisations who could go bust at any time and leave them with liabilites. These are actually quite understandable problems for large companies.

Dealing with a member of ITSPA notionally does mean that porting to other companies should be relatively easy but it is still early days and the system is not yet necessarily smooth. ITSPA has been campaigning for a standard porting contract to be made available for everyone in the industry to use.  This almost certainly won’t interest the big boys but it could at least make setting up porting arrangents generally easier for everyone else. I’ll report back as I see progress being made here.

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

4 replies on “Freshtel leaves Tesco in lurch”

The phone unlock information has been released by gigaset.

So anybody who has a Tesco phone can use it with another SIP provider. After unlock, you just need to put in SIP details or a provisioning code from an ITSP who can provision gigaset phones.

Not a lot of help if you can’t port your number, but one part of the puzzle.

Details of unlock at:

The phone underneath is a standard S450IP, which is essentially the same base as the C475IP and S685IP products which are current products.


Thanks Tim. I just came back from Tesco, coincidentally, and asked the woman at the checkout when they stopped selling the service. She said it must have been a good year ago – they didn’t sell many. All anecdotal of course.

Hi – I have used tesco voip for more than a a couple of years and have been happy with it – I use a normal phone thro the IPA 1000 – (cost £50), what really gets my goat is the speed of closure and the lack of information re; porting of numbers//redundancy of equipment etc. Shocking – when you think you are dealing with one of the largest companies on the planet.
:I believe the IPA 1000 is an IAX2 device locked to Tesco.Any info/help appreciated

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