FCC Plans To Cancel Seven Major Cell Phone Carriers That Don’t Block Robocalls

The FCC is investigating Akabis, Cloud4, Horizon Technology Group, Morse Communications, Sharon Telephone Company, SW Arkansas Telecommunications and Technology, and Global UC.

By Joseph Farago | Published

Nobody likes receiving automated calls on their phones, especially when they’re trying to take your money. Though these phone transactions are often innocuous, most people didn’t think the federal government would get involved to mitigate the problem. Fortunately, the Federal Trade Commission has decided to crack down on robocalls, which could restrict seven phone carriers if they can’t comply.

The FCC has its own task force that deals with automated messages and their significant privacy concerns. According to the Daily Dot, the FCC’s Robocall Response Team is investigating seven carriers for their lack of customer protection, including Akabis, Cloud4, Horizon Technology Group, Morse Communications, Sharon Telephone Company, SW Arkansas Telecommunications and Technology, and Global UC. Each phone company must show how they’ll adhere to the new robocall guidelines or face restrictions on national cellular networks.

Though this is one of the most abrasive changes to FCC policy, tackling robocalls has been a mission the organization has invested in for years. The team formulated a messaging standard called STIR/SHAKEN, instructing carriers to install proper user ID technology and restrict automated callers. Unfortunately, some cellular companies were taking the initiative as a mere suggestion, leading to the new actions FCC is taking on those who’ve been uncompliant.

Chairwoman for the FCC’s Robocall Response Team, Jerrica Rosenworcel, intends to be crystal clear with the new caller policies and how they could affect carriers nationwide. Companies that don’t adhere to the FCC protocol could face “expulsion” from America’s cellular network, leading to their financial demise. Rosenworcel explained that simplistic fines weren’t enough to enforce these laws, so the team had to take more drastic measures to proactively ensure companies were blocking robocalls.

The circumstances have become so dire that the FCC wants these seven phone carriers to show their transformation immediately or deal with expulsion. Each company was mandated to enforce STIR/SHAKEN-compliant protocol in the next 14 days, or the FCC team will take abrupt action. Carriers will have to provide legitimate documentation that they’re reducing robocalls or using procedures to mitigate automated messaging, or else these companies will be faced with lawful repercussions.

Though robocalls have been an issue that the FCC has continuously battled over the years, a new era of technology has led to a different problem. Robotexts have become increasingly more common throughout the pandemic years, with more reported automated messaging incidents in 2021 than ever. Robocalls, in general, almost doubled their nationwide occurrences from 2020 to 2021, with 20% more documented complaints.

The most reported incident of harmful automated messaging was bots impersonating government groups like the IRS. In 2021, the FTC filed over 500,000 complaints about robocalls falsely representing the IRS, while 400,00 additional complaints regarded fake warranty and protection-plan calls. Relatively frequent but less common automated calls documented last year were due to selling false prescription services or medical products.

Now that virtual fraud has evolved, phone carriers and internet providers must upgrade their protocols to deal with these changes. The FCC, fortunately, is using the law to force carriers to update their policies to curtail the spiraling rate of automated calling.