US Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai last Monday wrote the chief executives of major telephone service providers and other companies, demanding they launch a system no later than 2019 to combat billions of “robocalls” and other nuisance calls received monthly by American consumers.
In May, Pai called on companies to adopt an industry-developed “call authentication system” or standard for the cryptographic signing of telephone calls aimed at ending the use of illegitimate spoofed numbers from the telephone system. Monday’s letters seek answers by Nov. 19 on the status of those efforts.
The letters went to 13 companies including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile US, Alphabet, Comcast, Cox Communications, Sprint, CenturyLink, Charter Communications, Bandwith, and others.
Pai’s letters raised concerns about some companies current efforts including Sprint, CenturyLink, Charter, Vonage, Telephone and Data Systems Inc and its U.S. Cellular Corp unit and Frontier Communications Corp. The letters to those firms said they do “not yet have concrete plans to implement a robust call authentication framework,” citing FCC staff.
The authentication framework “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,” the FCC said.
YouMail, a company that blocks robocalls and tracks them, estimated there were 5.1 billion unwanted calls last month, up from 3.4 billion in April.