AT&T to lead robocall strike force, calls for industry-wide cooperation


AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson plans to launch a “robocall strike force” targeting spammers' ability to pester consumers with unwanted calls.

The task force will consist of 33 companies, including not only itself, but also other members of the telecom and technology ecosystem such as Alphabet, Apple and Comcast.

Stephenson said in prepared remarks to the FCC that in order to battle robocalling the strike force has to take an approach that involves multiple entities across telecom and the application space.  

“If we truly want to deal with this, the entire ecosystem has to work together -- carriers, device makers, OS developers, network designers,” Stephenson said.  “And don’t forget, regulators and lawmakers have a role to play.  We have to come out of this with a comprehensive play book for all of us to go execute.”

Stephenson said it will present its report to the commission by Oct. 19 with a set of plans "to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions.”

Calls for the telcos from state and federal regulators to more effectively battle robocalls has been gaining momentum.

In July, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wrote a letter to major telcos like AT&T about finding ways to battle robocalls. Wheeler said that the commission will “tackle robocalls on as many fronts as possible, whether by implementing new rules, issuing tailored declaratory judgments, encouraging new pro-consumer innovation or urging the private sector to step up and stop this scourge.”

Earlier, AT&T, CenturyLink and Verizon received requests from the FCC and a coalition of 45 state attorneys to develop methods to block robocalls. In July 2015, the group of state attorneys sent a letter to AT&T, CenturyLink, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon asking them to implement technology to stop robocalls to consumers.

For more:
- Reuters has this article
- see this AT&T blog post

Related articles:
AT&T, CenturyLink, Verizon implement tools to battle robocalls