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A newly-announced poll taken shortly after a serious fire in a BT hub in Manchester last March shows businesses are complacent about communications disaster planning. The findings illustrate the uphill battle the UK faces to alert companies to the need to plan for the unexpected in relation to similar and other types of incidents such as terrorist disruption.

The fire brought 130,000 phone lines down, half of which still hadn’t been restored several days later and left some without a service five days later.

• 86 per cent of firms affected found the fire was disruptive and it had an impact on voice communications in 60 per cent of those polled. Email, fax or internet operations were also affected in 38 per cent of companies hit by the fire.

• Just 34 per cent had a disaster recovery or business continuity plan in place though 75 per cent admitted they would lose sales calls, 18 per cent losing upwards of 100 enquiries per day in such a situation.

• Those polled showed low awareness of solutions, nor did most appreciate the demands for disaster planning. 71 per cent saw little value in automatic call diverts in emergency and 70 per cent of those polled were unaware that banks expect businesses applying for loans to have a proven disaster recovery plan in place.

The survey was conducted by Direct Response, a specialist in voice, data and contact centre services. Chris Robinson, managing director of Direct Response said, “Our experience of disruption of this type is that companies fail to have in place even the most basic solutions. A disaster recovery plan does not need to be complicated, nor do its elements need to be expensive. Often, just getting a business’s phones to automatically divert to a location scripted to manage them can make a huge difference, as can making sure the firm backs up data to a remote location.”

1043 firms were interviewed between 29 April and 14 May 2004

Background on the Manchester BT Fire

• The BT incident occurred on Monday 29 March 2004
• 130,000 lines went down, including emergency / ambulance services, many well-known ISPs, 800 staff at BBC on Oxford Road, and up to 16,000 workers from 160 call centres
• 30 banks in the city centre were forced to close
• Cashpoints, credit card transactions and store cards were affected
• Mobile networks became jammed
• Roads were shut
• Taxi drivers were reported to be struggling to find work as hotlines went dead
• By Wednesday evening, 58,000 lines were still to be restored. The fire had cost businesses an estimated £10 million at this point
• By Friday evening 1000 lines were still to be restored

Angie Robinson of Manchester Chamber of Commerce commented at the time that, “Businesses in this area are losing £4.5 million a day. It’s unlikely that they will be able to claim any of this back.”

- Ends -

Notes to Editor
Direct Response Ltd (DRL) helps businesses communicate with their customers through voice, data, and call centre services. Based in the UK, clients range from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through to blue chip organisations.

To find out more about Direct Response please visit its website on

For media enquiries, please contact:

Mark Charmer / Emily Droogleever
Total Marketing Network
Tel 0207 252 3399 / 00353749544992 /

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Total Marketing Network in the following categories: Computing & Telecoms, for more information visit