Twelve major telecommunications firms and attorneys general from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., announced new efforts Thursday to combat the scourge of illegal robocalls. In the deal, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and the other firms agreed to deploy call-blocking technology at the network level and provide other tools, like call labeling, for customers who want more screening options, all free of charge. There is no timeline for putting the anti-robocall principles into practice.
The Federal Communications Commission, which approved rules in June to encourage telecoms to block illegal robocalls by default and deploy a phone number verification technology called SHAKEN/STIR, congratulated the parties for reaching agreement. But as The Wall Street Journal explained in March, when the FCC started considering the rules, fighting robocalls is tricky and ending all robocalls is probably impossible, even with the newly adopted protocols.
Americans receive billions of robocalls a month, and robocall scammers bilked customers out of $9.5 billion in 2017, according to Truecaller. The companies participating in the nationwide agreement are AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, Comcast, Charter, U.S. Cellular, Bandwidth, CenturyLink, Consolidated Communications, Frontier, and Windstream. Not participating: Cox, Altice, and many small rural telecoms. Peter Weber