AT&T and T‑Mobile have start­ed rolling out call authen­ti­ca­tion tech­nol­o­gy on calls placed between the two net­works. Soon, if a phone call is made from one net­work to the oth­er using a com­pat­i­ble device, then the recip­i­ent will see a “Caller Ver­i­fied” mes­sage, and they’ll know for cer­tain that the call isn’t from a spoofed robo­call or spam­mer. AT&T also says it’s test­ing inte­grat­ing the data used by this sys­tem its Call Pro­tect ser­vice, which it start­ed offer­ing for free to its cus­tomers last month.

The roll­out is the lat­est step in US mobile car­ri­ers’ fight to stop robo­calls, and it comes after Fed­er­al Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion chair­man Ajit Pai ordered them to imple­ment a call authen­ti­ca­tion sys­tem by the end of 2019. Last month, the FCC crit­i­cized what it called the slow progress being made by car­ri­ers toward this goal after it vot­ed to allow car­ri­ers to block robo­calls by default back in June.

A grow­ing list of net­works sup­port the call authen­ti­ca­tion tech

T‑Mobile and AT&T’s call authen­ti­ca­tion part­ner­ship is based on the SHAKEN/STIR stan­dard, which can ver­i­fy whether a caller ID is accu­rate. T‑Mobile was first to imple­ment the stan­dard back in Jan­u­ary for calls made with­in its net­work, and in March, AT&T and Com­cast announced that they were part­ner­ing to authen­ti­cate calls between their two net­works. This was fol­lowed by a sim­i­lar announce­ment from T‑Mobile and Com­cast in April. Sprint has said that it plans to test the tech­nol­o­gy on its net­work in the sec­ond half of this year.

The SHAKEN/STIR stan­dard has its lim­i­ta­tions — name­ly that it can only tell when a call is def­i­nite­ly legit­i­mate, rather than know­ing when it’s def­i­nite­ly spam — but as more devices and net­work providers imple­ment the stan­dard, the ratio of authen­ti­cat­ed to unau­then­ti­cat­ed calls will increase, increas­ing the like­li­hood that an unau­then­ti­cat­ed call is spam and can be safe­ly ignored.

Illus­tra­tion by Alex Cas­tro / The Verge

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