Covid-19 System Status

Covid 19 update June 2020

Coronavirus: service updates and supplier information

03 APRIL 2020

Last updated: 17:00 5 June 2020

This page contains important updates from us and our suppliers that may affect our partners or customers during this unprecedented time. We’ve also included useful links and support information and a full breakdown of any service updates as we have them. This will continue to be updated at least once a day, so please check back here regularly.

Key points:

BT Openreach (who help us supply internet connectivity services) have advised that provision and repair of their services are now on a “best endeavours” basis only across the UK and will impact almost all connectivity products: DSL, Ethernet, FTTC, FTTP, FIBRE, PSTN, ISDN2, ISDN30, LLU and SMPF

Openreach will be assisting providers to bring forward certain WLR and MPF new line installs to an earlier date. They will be contacting customers directly to try to agree an earlier install date to complete the work on behalf of the Provider.

Priority restoration of services will only take place for organisations deemed “critical”, including NHS, pharmacies, utilities etc (full list below)

Ongoing repairs will continue for all, but with priority given to critical organisations and customers deemed “at risk” and you will now be asked if you are an “At Risk Customer” or “suffering COVID-19 Symptoms” before they assess priority of restoration

All newly-appointed provisioning will be pushed back to Monday 1st June 2020 at the earliest

All other Gradwell products (Wave, 3CX, SIP Trunks etc) remain unaffected with the exception of number porting, which may be delayed

Openreach/BT have declared that the current situation they and we are all facing is a matter beyond their control in light of COVID-19.

As such, appointments for provision and repair are on a best endeavours basis only, this covers everyone nationwide and will impact the following products that we provide: DSL, Ethernet, FTTC, FTTP, FIBRE, PSTN, ISDN2, ISDN30, LLU MPF and SMPF, including adjustment of orders.

Fault Repair

During this time, priority and restoration of services will take place for critical functions only, such as NHS, pharmacies, utilities, emergency services, retail and wholesale food distribution outlets and financial services. This also applies to customers deemed “at risk”.

Ongoing repairs to the BT/Openreach infrastructure will continue, but with high priority focus being on the above-mentioned critical core services ahead of all others. You will be asked by Gradwell if anyone is deemed within the building or location is considered at “at risk” of exposure to Covid-19:
Customer meets criteria for repair and IS symptomatic
Customer meets criteria for repair and IS NOT symptomatic

Ongoing repairs to the BT/Openreach infrastructure will continue, but with high priority focus being on the above-mentioned critical core services ahead of all others. We appreciate your patience during these times, and we’re sure you understand that the protection and restoration of core services is paramount to sustaining core infrastructure services.

Openreach have advised on Fault repair with immediate effect: 

To support efforts to reduce human contact and promote social distancing, all installation activities that require access to a customer’s premises are now being assessed and the customer to state the following criteria to ensure if repairs are deemed essential that appropriate teams can deal with the issue at hand:

  • Customer meets criteria for repair and IS symptomatic
  • Customer meets criteria for repair and IS NOT symptomatic

Openreach will attempt to complete as much of the inflight orders from outside of the premises as possible, but if internal work is required, these will be done on a priority and risk assessed basis. Any orders that do not require on premise installation will proceed as normal, but we appreciate these cases are limited.
The exception to these rules are those businesses identified as critical national infrastructure. This includes; NHS, pharmacies, utilities, emergency services, retail and wholesale food distribution outlets, and financial services businesses. On site installation work will be permitted for these businesses but we will have to justify the criticality of the service to Openreach.

The Openreach Emergency Helpdesk will remain open. However, all business as usual contact centres have now closed.

Porting of Numbers

Following on from previous updates on BT’s porting backlog, we are pleased to announce this has now been cleared and we are able to place new orders again. There still may be a slight delay in contrast to normal timescales, as it’s likely that BT and our direct suppliers will receive a large amount of new port requests all at once, but this will likely only add on 24-48 hours to the normal processing time. In conclusion, we will not be operating at our normal timescales for another few days, but we anticipate everything to be back to normal in the short term. We appreciate your patience during this time.

New Orders

All new orders received with immediate effect that require BT or Openreach infrastructure (the majority) are being moved to commence from 1st June 2020 onwards. This will be under constant review and may have further delays should the situation worsen. Exceptions apply for customers deemed “at risk”.

All existing orders in the system with BT or Openreach will continue to progress, but with a view to completing the orders as soon as possible and may be delivered well outside of expected and industry standard timelines.

We are still accepting new orders, however, there will be a delivery backlog for any products requiring BT or Openreach provision until at least 1st June 2020 onwards. All other Gradwell products, eg Wave, Multi User VoIP, 3CX and SIP Trunk services, are currently not impacted and delivery times will remain unaffected.

Openreach have announced the below with regards to WLR and MPF new line installs.

Openreach will be assisting providers to bring forward certain new line installs to an earlier date. They will be contacting customers directly to try to agree an earlier install date to complete the work on behalf of the Provider.

Only lines that have relatively simple installation journeys will be eligible for this support. Orders that are deemed to have complex delivery that would require additional engineering work or orders where Openreach feel that it would not be possible to gain access to the premises safely in adherence to their COVID-19 safe working practices will be excluded from this process. For example, orders that require entry to blocks of flats etc will be out of scope.

Core infrastructure service providers

We will of course continue to share more information from core suppliers like BT Openreach on this page as soon as we have it. A full breakdown of Openreach’s current service status is in the table below.

Openreach Critical Functions
DamageOpen (limited service)
WelfareOpen (limited service)
DSOOpen (limited service)
Escalations (EPOC)No new work acceptedNo new work accepted
Premium Business HelpdeskNo new work acceptedNo new work accepted
WLRBAU if non-appointedBAU if non-appointed
LLUBAU if non-appointedBAU if non-appointed
FTTCBAU if non-appointedBAU if non-appointed
SOGEABAU if non-appointedBAU if non-appointed
GFASTBAU if non-appointedBAU if non-appointed
SOGFASTBAU if non-appointedBAU if non-appointed
Migration ServicesBAU if non-appointedBAU if non-appointed
ISDNBAU if non-appointedBAU if non-appointed
FTTPBAU if non-appointedBAU if non-appointed
EthernetBAU if non-appointedBAU up to curtilage

BAU: For Total Loss of Service Faults: Openreach will attempt to activate the service remotely. If they are unable to, then they will visit the premises and ask two risk assessment questions:

1) Is there anyone on-site who has Covid-19 symptoms?

2) Has there ever been anyone on-site with symptoms?

3) Has anyone on-site been advised by the NHS via a letter to isolate for 12 weeks?

If the answer is yes to either of these questions then they will not access the premises and the fault repair will be postponed until restrictions have been lifted. If not, they will schedule a repair.

For all other repair faults, Openreach will only resolve if it’s possible to fix remotely and without access to the premises.

Provisions: Will only attempt to access the premises if the provider is classed as CNI/welfare/at risk/specific key worker (see below).

CNI: refers to “Critical Network Infrastructure.”

All Welfare/At Risk/Specific Key Worker cases will be reviewed by Openreach after a case submission by a customer.


New 119 Covid line number

Ofcom announced this afternoon the new 3-digit telephone number ‘119’ to be used as part of the NHS’s Covid-19 response, the number will be used as part of the NHS’s effort to handle the response to the Coronavirus situation.

The 119 number is supported by networks and so calls will connect as soon as the Government announce the service has been launched.

The number will be free to dial, in line with the NHS 111 service, as directed by Ofcom.

Blog Calls and Lines Covid-19

Calls to 101 Non-Emergency number to be free from April 1st

Given the pressure on the emergency services presently, the Home Office have requested that the 101 Non-Emergency number be made free to all callers from 1st April 2020. Therefore these calls placed through our network will be free from midnight this evening.

We understand that this change is intended to be permanent, and not just for the duration of the Covid-19 emergency.

Please note that although this change will be in place from midnight tonight it may not be reflected in the ratesheet immediately .

Asterisk Support Covid-19 FreePBX Knowledge Base Remote Working

Disabling Router SIP ALG

With many companies asking their employees to work from home, a common problem when trying to use a sip phone on a home network is the SIP ‘helper’ or ALG, Here is some advice on how to disable it on the more common routers that you may encounter.

SIP ALG (Application Layer Gateway) modifies VoIP traffic with the aim of solving NAT and firewall related problems. SIP ALG does this by inspecting SIP packets and modifying SIP Header and SDP data.

Unfortunately, SIP ALG was poorly implemented in a lot of cases, which has lead to it causing more issues than it corrects and due to this, we believe that, in general, it is best disabled.

Note – Many routers will re-enable SIP ALG after being powered off and on, or sometimes after a firmware update, therefore if it has been disabled in the past, and you know that the router was recently updated and powered off and on again, then it is always a good idea to log in to the router and double check the setting.

Virgin SuperHub: SIP ALG cannot be disabled in the settings of SuperHubs. Please click here for advice troubleshooting issues with SuperHubs. 

BT: SIP ALG cannot be disabled in the settings of BT HomeHubs, but can be disable with BT Business Hub versions 3 and higher:

Disabling a BT Business Hub 5’s SIP ALG

Fritz!Box: SIP ALG can’t be disabled.

DrayTek routers: Log in to your DrayTek via Telnet using an SSH client such as Putty:

Check if SIP ALG is Enabled or Disabled:

To check if SIP ALG is Enabled or Disabled enter this command: sys sip_alg ?

If SIP ALG is disabled a ” 0 ” result will be returned.  If SIP ALG is enabled the result will be ” 1 “.

Disabling SIP ALG:

To Disable SIP ALG enter the following:

sys sip_alg 0
sys commit
sys reboot

The router will restart and save your changes.

Click here for additional general information about DrayTek Firewall setup. 

TP-Link routers: How to Disable SIP ALG on TP-Link ADSL modem router

Linksys: Check for a ‘SIP ALG’ option, in the ‘Administration’ tab under ‘Advanced’. 

May also need to disable SPI Firewall. 

Microtik: Disable ‘SIP Helper‘. 

Netgear: Look for a ‘SIP ALG’ checkbox in the ‘WAN’ settings.

Port Scan and DoS Protection should also be disabled.

Disable STUN in VoIP phone’s settings. 

D-Link: In your router’s ‘Advanced’ settings –> ‘Application Level Gateway (ALG) Configuration’ uncheck the ‘SIP’ option. 

Huawei: Many routers support SIP ALG (usually found in the ‘Security’ menu). 

SonicWALL Firewall: Under the VoIP tab, the option ‘Enable Consistent NAT’ should be enabled and ‘Enable SIP Transformations’ unchecked.  

Thomson: How to Disable SIP ALG on a Thomson Router HERE

Test with STUN disabled in your VoIP phone’s settings.

Adtran Netvanta: Disable SIP ALG under ‘Firewall/ACLs’ –> ‘ALG Settings’.

For Technicolor TG588V routers see this document for step by step details

Even if there isn’t a SIP ALG option in your router’s settings, it may still be implemented. TelNet commands must be used to disable SIP ALG with TechnicolorThomsonSpeedTouch, some Draytek and some ZyXEL routers. 

Knowledge Base

Using FreePBX FollowMe

Follow Me allows you to redirect a call that is placed to one of your extension to another extension or external number.

You can program the system to ring your extension alone for a certain period of time, then ring some other destination(s), such as a mobile phone or another extension, then go to the original extension’s voicemail if the call is not answered.  

It can also be used to divert calls to another extension without ringing the ‘original’ extension, or ring both together in a ‘twinned’ manner. This is useful if you are regularly away from your desk

Your can modify certain Follow Me settings using the User Control Panel as well as disable and enable Follow Me using a feature code that is normally *21,

To use the UCP to change settings if you have had permissions enabled is done by clicking the COG icon on teh Follow me Widget and below is a short Video on the key settings

Knowledge Base

Setting Up your UCP

The UCP or user control panel is an integral part of freePBX, It lets users have control over their telephone experience.

Below is a short video for setting up the key components of the UCP including voicemail and the WebRTC softphone.

The UCP Phone or WebRTC Phone is an in-browser phone. The Administrator can enable the “WebRTC phone” and that is “attached” to a user’s extension, this phone will then receive phone calls at the same time as the users extension .

The UCP allows users to add multiple dashboards and resizable widgets, This functionality allows users to completely customize the look and feel of their User Control Panel.

The Voicemail widget allows you to view, listen and manage your voicemail settings. The voicemail widget also allows you to monitor and listen to other peoples mailboxes, This feature is invaluable for receptionists and PA’s as it allows them to monitor their Managers or teh main company mailbox. To monitor additional mailboxes contact your system administrator.

 The FreePBX User Management Module controls which mailboxes a user will be able to add as a widget in UCP as it is not just limited to the extensions own mailbox, This is useful for department managers or Receptionists.

The UCP also has a chat function built-in that allows remote users to chat between each other similar to any other webchat but with the added security of it being ‘siloed’ in your company.

For full details and instructions of all options please see the WIKI at


Coronavirus and Covid-19

The sudden spread of Coronavirus means businesses could temporarily close and employees may be asked to work from home.

We want to reassure you and your customers that our communication systems will be running as normal if this scenario were to arise.

We can quickly assist in the deployment of home working solutions for your employees and in the majority of cases your employees will be able to take their handset home and plug it into their home network and carry on working if you are using one of our hosted IPPBXs.

This is a fast moving situation and no one is sure what will happen next. We will do all we can to assist you as we have in the past for our customers, For example during the Ash cloud in 2010 where we had customers with key employees ‘stranded’ in overseas locations.

At this time you the opportunity to get plans in place in a orderly and timely manner, Below is some key actions that you plan can be checked against, Its not everything but it is a start.

The increase in public awareness of the emerging situation in respect of the COVID-19 has been accompanied by a general rise in public health concerns and alarmist headlines; many offering irresponsible assessments of the imminent nature of a crisis. Northcott Global Solutions and Fullerton Health contend that, rather than falling victim to ill-informed panic, clients currently have an opportunity to devise and put in place planning strategies that will help them minimise the potential impact to their staff and operations.
As widely reported COVID-19 is a virus that mutated, enabling human-to-human transmission to occur. Intra-country and inter-county spread are likely to occur quickly. Similarities have been made to the SARS outbreak in 2003 although current mortality trends are lower. At the time of the preparation of this brief there are no planning estimates regarding infectivity and there is anecdotal reporting of 2% mortality of those infected.
The experience from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) gives some insight into what might be expected if the Coronavirus develops into a pandemic:

– School and day care centres were closed, or strict health protocols enforced;
– Staff absenteeism was in excess of 30% (Comment: for companies that have juniors (e.g. supermarkets) in their workforce it can be assumed that absenteeism will be even greater);
– An increased demand on shopping centres;
– Distribution centres and the organisations servicing them were assessed as being the most critical parts of the infrastructure; and
– Companies with an integrated business continuity framework were more able to adapt.

Initial BCP Planning Actions Required that you may wish to consider
 – Develop/consolidate existing material and deploy training/guidance for:
– General hygiene including hand cleansing and respiratory etiquette,
– Sanitation and disinfection protocols,
– What to do if you or a staff member develop respiratory and fever like symptoms.
– What to do if your family members develop fever and flu like symptoms.
– Access restrictions to offices and the conduct of meetings in the event a pandemic occurs,
– Food handling and preparation, and
– What families can do to be prepared.
 – Identify core activities and how they may be sustained for 4 – 12 weeks whilst in a pandemic cycle (based on historical data assume absenteeism could be as high as 30%).
 – Identify the critical dependencies on third parties and review their preparation.
 – Identify how to re-organise workplaces to minimise human to human spread
 – Utilise the current crisis management team and emergency management teams’ structure for overseeing the response to a pandemic. Rehearse the response to a WHO Phase 6 scenario.
 – Review current business continuity processes including:
– Crisis plans, disaster recovery, denial of access, loss of production;
– Alternative management options (virtual, offshore, maintaining a reserve); and
– Travel policy. Monitor travel advisories and issued by FHA-A, WHO and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC).
 – Develop a monitoring strategy and identify the triggers for activation of management contingencies focused on the scaling back or cessation of operations. Be prepared to go through some false alarms.
 – Review third party relationships and assess their contingencies with essential contractors and suppliers.
 – Establish a staff communications strategy that is clear, with the aim being to have a “trusted, reliable and timely communication program in place” should there be a change to WHO alert levels.
 – Plan for disruptions to critical services and identify the potential points of failure.
 – Identify the HR responses to the reaction to high levels of absenteeism e.g. provision for increases in statutory provisions for sick or carer’s leave.
 – Consider establishing a supply of:
– Protective masks or respirators;
– Disposable gloves;
– Hand sanitiser; and
– Alcohol surface wipes.
 – People – categorise them into three broad areas:
   – Essential – required at office (e.g. IT maintainers, treasury);
   – Essential – can work remotely (connectivity required);
   – Non-essential – can be stood down (for up to two weeks) if required; and
– Assessment should include coverage, single points of failure, decision-making capability and autonomy.

We would advise you to go to one of our customers websites for upto date information and advice and assistance for your staff members travelling overseas.