In brief: It seems there’s at least one thing the Federal Communications Commission and the general public agree on: robocalls are an absolute nightmare. As such, chairman Ajit Pai has written to the chief executives of over a dozen telephone and wireless service providers demanding they come up with a solution to the problem by no later than 2019.
The letter was sent to Alphabet, AT&T, Charter Communications, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, and others asking for the adoption of an industry-wide call authentication system to combat illegal robocallers that use spoofed numbers.
"It's the best way to ensure that consumers can answer their phones with confidence," Pai said. "If it does not appear that this system is on track to get up and running next year, then we will take action to make sure that it does."
Spoofing caller IDs makes it difficult for consumers to block calls and lodge complaints. Pai wants a form of call authentication that “digitally validates the handoff of phone calls passing through the complex web of networks, allowing the phone company of the consumer receiving the call to verify that a call is from the person supposedly making it.”
According to stats from YouMail, a popular call monitoring app, 5.1 billion robocalls were made to phones last month, up from 3.4 billion in April.
Back in May, the FCC chairman requested that such an authentication system be created. The latest letter admonishes those companies that have done little or nothing to make it a reality.
“I am calling on those falling behind to catch up [...] If it does not appear that this system is on track to get up and running next year, then we will take action to make sure that it does.”