AT&T, T-Mobile To Fight Robocalls by Verifying Legitimate Calls

AT&T, T-Mobile To Fight Robocalls by Verifying Legitimate Calls

AT&T and T-Mobile are starting to roll out an anti-robocalling system across both their networks, which promises to warn customers about incoming spoofed phone calls.

The plan involves implementing the "SHAKEN/STIR framework," an industry-developed standard that can validate phone calls from one carrier to another. Once in place, AT&T and T-Mobile will be able to "sign" legitimate phone calls occurring over their networks.

Spoofed phone calls, on the other hand, will travel through their networks "unsigned," and act as an indicator that the call may come from a fake number. As a result, customers will be able to tell on their phone's caller ID whether an incoming call is suspicious or not.

"While authentication won't solve the problem of unwanted robocalls by itself, it is a key step toward giving customers greater confidence and control over the calls they answer," the carriers said in today's announcement.

However, the SHAKEN/STIR framework does have a limitation; it'll require other carriers to get on board, otherwise legitimate calls made over their networks will arrive unsigned. However, AT&T and T-Mobile said: "More calls will be verified over time as more device providers participate, and as more network providers implement the standards." For instance, Comcast started testing the SHAKEN/STIR framework with AT&T in March, and then began rolling it out with T-Mobile in April.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai has been calling on US carriers to roll out the SHAKEN/STIR framework by 2019 or face regulatory action. "Simply put: this is great news for American consumers," he said in a statement on Wednesday.

"I have made clear that, by the end of this year, the FCC expects major voice service providers to meet our goal of 'signing' calls between carriers," he added. "Implementation of SHAKEN/STIR is a crucial step in improving the accuracy of the caller ID information that consumers receive. Recent announcements indicate that all of the largest voice service providers can meet our deadline."

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