Comcast is behind effort to stop robocallers before they reach you

Ian Bush
March 20, 2019 - 3:33 pm
Comcast is leading a new effort to build a robocall roadblock.

Dreamstime

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Nearly 48 billion robocalls were made last year, and nearly half the calls we're getting on our cell phones are spam, according to estimates cited by a recent government report. To combat this, Comcast is leading a new effort to build a robocall roadblock. 

If it works, you might want to raise a martini glass to the Philly company, which is partnering with AT&T on the technology.

It uses what's known as SHAKEN (Secure Handling of Asserted information using toKENs) and STIR (Secure Telephony Identity Revisited), tortured acronyms for a caller ID verification system which ensures the number you see is the number that's really calling.

The standards provide a certificate of authenticity for each line. It's checked by the incoming carrier before your phone rings.

RELATED: FCC: Nearly half the calls you receive this year will be spam 

That's not to say a spoofed call won't get through. Depending on how this is rolled out, you may see a notification on your screen that the number is unverified.

This isn't a panacea: for instance, a call you don't want still could come from verified digits.

Comcast and AT&T say a real-world test between their networks was successful. Over the next several months, other providers will try the same thing.

READ: BEWARE: Robocalls targeting survivors of clergy sex abuse 

In late 2018, T-Mobile announced it was the first to be ready to implement SHAKEN/STIR standards.

The Federal Communications Commission wants all major phone, wireless, and VoIP providers on board before the end of the year.

AT&T and Comcast jointly head the working group developing the technical standards for SHAKEN/STIR.