Pai Encouraged, But Reminds Carriers Mandate Threat Looms

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During a robocall meeting at the FCC Thursday, Chairman Ajit Pai said robocalls are the number one consumer complaint, including from his mother and mother-in-law to him personally. “232,000 complaints were filed in 2018 and, according to one outside estimate, U.S. consumers receive something like 145 million of these a day. The SHAKEN and STIR technology ‘is not a silver bullet’ to ending illegal robocalls and spoofed calls, but, we think, [it’s] a big part of the solution is establishing a caller ID framework,” he said.

“Last year, and earlier this year, I called on major providers to implement SHAKEN/STIR by the end of the year,” Pai said. “I’m encouraged to hear of potential deployments [carriers] have made in their own networks and I understand that they are exchanging or will exchange assigned calls with other carriers other carriers by the end of the year.”

The FCC hopes the carrier’s work will restore consumer trust in their phones. That’s one of the consistent complaints Pai hears from the public: “We used to be able to rely on the device a thing that empowered us and now something we try to actively resist because we simply can’t trust the phone number that is showing up is from somebody we trust,” he said. 

Pai was encouraged to hear AT&T’s announcement this week the carrier intends to block robocalls by default for free in the coming months — without customers to opt-in first. “This is the kind of things we want to see broadened,” he said.

He appreciates the offers of larger carriers to work with smaller ones on the issue and encouraged smaller carriers to take them up on those invitations. But Pai reiterated: “We are prepared to go to rules in the FCC in 2020, if major providers don’t meet that end of the year deadline,” meaning a carrier mandate.

July 12, 2019

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