Perhaps a little tired of looking like the bad guy, Verizon will finally open (opens in new tab) its robocall screening and blocking features to all wireless service subscribers for free this March.
The nation’s largest carrier is actually only the second to make the transition to free anti-robocall measures, having charged $3 per month for them through a 'Call Filter' add-on package.
Of course, your iPhone or Android phone in question will have to support the features, the specifics of which will be revealed closer to the March launch date.
If you’re unfamiliar with robocalling, it’s a phone scam that combines phone number spoofing (creating caller ID numbers with the recipients’ area code to increase chances of the user answering the call) with automated messages tossing around various schemes, usually aimed at getting your money.
Better late than never
This move may be seen as swift considering the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) late 2018 call upon carriers to adopt new ‘STIR/SHAKEN’ technology that can authenticate call origins and alert users when a call is proven to be spoofed.
However, AT&T has offered free anti-robocall measures for almost two years (opens in new tab) (though they're not extremely accurate (opens in new tab)), meanwhile T-Mobile (opens in new tab) has offered similar features since November 2018. Sprint (opens in new tab), however, still charges an additional monthly fee for these features.
Note that it has taken Verizon almost two years to follow AT&T’s lead on offering these nigh-essential tools for free, despite the fact that robocalling has become an epidemic in the US in the past few years. It’s more than likely that Verizon simply decided that continuing to charge for these features would hurt its bottom line given how dire the problem has become.
This is the modus operandi of mobile carriers and internet service providers in almost all scenarios: only provide a service when absolutely necessary.
So, good on Verizon to finally give up a sliver of its profit margin for the good of the people. Now, how long before Sprint follows suit at last? It certainly has more to lose.
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Via Engadget (opens in new tab)