BT Should Stick to Telephones and Not Configuring Mail Servers!

Having received a call from a customer today having problems receiving mail from their customers via our Mail Servers, I looked through our Anti-Spam logs (Vamsoft ORF) and filtered the logs to show rejected mail for them and then I looked through the rejected mail for the problem sender and checked out the details of the sending server, which turned out to have the following Fully Qualified Domain Name:

HESA01UKER.HE.LOCAL

The related IP Address was 213.123.26.92 which is a BT IP Address. I then re-filtered the logs to show all mail from servers with an FQDN of *.HE.LOCAL and there were about 60 entries all coming from similar named servers:

HESA02UKER.HE.LOCAL
HESA03UKER.HE.LOCAL
HESA06UKER.HE.LOCAL
HESA06UKER.HE.LOCAL
HESL01UKER.HE.LOCAL
HESL02UKER.HE.LOCAL
HESL04UKER.HE.LOCAL

Well – all the related IP Addresses are BT IP Addresses and half of the sender addresses were *@BTCONNECT.COM addresses, which would suggest to me that they are all BT Mail Servers.

So – what’s the problem? Well, the problem is that any mail server that is configured with an FQDN ending .LOCAL is not RFC Compliant (email standards) because the FQDN must resolve back to the IP Address that the server is connected to the internet with but a .LOCAL FQDN cannot be resolved as .LOCAL domain names are only resolvable internally and thus when a receiving server sees a .LOCAL FQDN, then server may reject the connection attempt because it cannot resolve the FQDN in DNS and thinks the server is a spamming server.

So – BT need to get their act together and configure their servers properly as their customer’s emails will be getting rejected by some other mail servers (including ours) and as usual, the people sending the emails will think that it is a problem with the receiving server, which it isn’t.

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British Telecom (BT) Bureaucracy Over Reverse DNS Record without MX Record

During a recent installation of an Small Business Server server for a customer whose mail we currently host, I requested the customer arranged for a fixed IP Address with their Internet Service Provider (ISP) who was British Telecom (BT Broadband) and this was quickly and easily implemented.

Once the fixed IP Address had been registered on their Firewall / Router and I had determined it was Blacklist free, I asked my customer to request that BT setup Reverse DNS on the fixed IP Address so that we could move their mail from our servers to their new server. Our customer not being very technical, asked me to send the email request to BT and gave me the email address that BT had given to them to email a request. That email address was reverse.dns@btbroadbandoffice.com. I sent my original request to BT on the 7th January, chased them again on the 12th January and then finally sent a 3rd request on the 20th January. Having heard nothing at all and still not having Reverse DNS setup, on the 26th January I asked my customer to give them a call and ask them what the problem was and why do they not even bother to reply to any emails that they are sent.

After lengthy phone calls between my customer and BT, my customer and myself and BT and myself, BT advised me that they can’t or won’t setup Reverse DNS records without first having an MX record pointing to the IP Address. I advised them that there won’t be an MX record pointing to the IP Address until they configure Reverse DNS. This was standard policy for BT and apparently the same with all other ISP’s. I advised them that they were the only ISP that had ever requested anything like this and that I would probably be advising my customer to use a different ISP, one that doesn’t make such ridiculous requests.

So – at a stale-mate situation and after advising BT what I thought of them – something I regularly do when it comes to BT and their ridiculous policies – I asked them if the addition of an additional MX record would meet their needs and allow them to setup Reverse DNS. They advised me (after putting me on hold again for another eternity), that this would unlock their handcuffs and allow the record to be setup.

So, having waited 48 hours for the new MX record to be propagated in DNS, I asked my customer to talk to BT again and request that Reverse DNS is setup.

With any luck – they will have actioned this and I can complete the mail migration from our servers to their own server.

It has only taken 3 weeks to get something simple setup – something that would take out ISP (www.bethere.co.uk) about 5 minutes to implement – although I am still checking to see if the record has been configured and as of now (00:52 hrs on the 1st February), still no Reverse DNS record is configured as per the latest request.

I am meant to be seeing my customer today to complete the mail migration – somehow I think I am going to have to postpone it yet again.

So – if you ever want BT to setup Reverse DNS – make sure you have an MX record pointing to the IP Address or you will get incredibly frustrated as I have with them (yet again).

Alternatively, don’t bother using BT Broadband in the first place. Find a decent ISP that can accommodate your simple requests without putting up hurdles for you to jump over.

Once upon a time – when I wanted a fixed IP Address with BT – they asked me for £100 to set it up ad £10 a month. Needless to say I moved ISP’s very quickly after I had picked myself up from the floor and had stopped laughing : )