T-Mobile is Working on an Enhanced Caller ID Feature

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Calls from unknown numbers can be a problem, especially with the rise of robocalls. Although there is a slight downward trend, Americans received almost 4 billion robocalls in May 2021 alone, according to PRNewswire. Because of this, it is understandable that many forgo answering unsolicited or unfamiliar calls altogether.

T-Mobile is looking to change this and improve the user experience for all through enhanced caller ID features. Together with its partners, the Un-carrier is working on an authenticated caller ID that would provide subscribers with important information about the caller. Some of this information includes which company is calling and the purpose of the call. T-Mobile is achieving this goal by using Rich Call Data (RCD) technology and authenticated caller ID based on the STIR/SHAKEN framework and protocol. This feature hopes to help consumers regain trust in answering their phones again.

When a user receives a call, their device will show the number of the caller, its logo, details including the caller’s name, and the purpose of the call. The information is pulled from an industry-backed centralized registry as opposed to a database from a third party. Take a closer look at this example from an early concept of what that may look like:

T-Mobile's enhanced caller ID diagram
Image Source: Fierce Wireless/T-Mobile

“The ability to deliver RCD to mobile devices is a key tool in the battle against scammers as it increases consumer trust in knowing who is calling them and why. This proof-of-concept shows that by working together as an industry we can make sure that legal, critical, and wanted calls are delivered with a high level of consumer confidence,” said T-Mobile’s Chief Technology Officer Abdul Saad, through a statement.

T-Mobile’s approach of using RCD is important as it is a part of the STIR/SHAKEN framework. STIR/SHAKEN was mandated by the FCC to be added to every carrier’s IP network in America by July 2021. There, STIR/SHAKEN helps providers verify numbers digitally. This allows voice providers to determine if the user receiving the call comes from the number that appears on their caller ID. The goal is to prevent illegitimate calls before they appear on a user’s phone. This is how T-Mobile can now authenticate 100% of the calls on its network, which comes out to 257 million calls every day.

The RCD comes from the entity calling and relying on an industry-backed centralized registry. This registry is built on and requires STIR/SHAKEN. Because of these factors, information that is sent cannot be displayed before verification from T-Mobile.

“Once (consumers) can tell who it is and it’s authentic, and SHAKEN ensures it can’t be falsified, then people will start to answer the phones because they know when they’re getting the calls they want,” said iconectiv CTO Chris Drake. iconectiv was a partner of T-Mobile’s in the recent call, which also used First Orion technology.

Privacy continues to be an issue in America with more and more wireless providers working to provide solutions. The Pew Research Center reports almost 80% of adults won’t answer the phone in the United States if they don’t know the number calling. With billions of robocalls occurring each month, this is an issue that is felt by millions of Americans who understand the frustration. But while scammers run rampant, there are still many legitimate businesses that rely on robocalls to get things done. This includes groups such as banks, doctors, and pharmacies who are legitimately calling regarding the needs of their clients. The YouMail Robocall Index breaks down robocalls as follows:

  • 39% scams.
  • 24% telemarketing.
  • 24% alerts/reminders.
  • 13% reminders involving payment.

“Imagine a future where all phone calls will be delivered with RCD providing complete transparency and protection in every call for every consumer, enhancing the way businesses connect with their customers,” said First Orion President and Founder, Jeff Stalnaker, in a statement. “Working with T-Mobile and other industry leaders to deliver this first-ever mobile call with RCD and authenticated Caller ID is an important step in making Enhanced Caller Identity a reality”, he continued.

Source: Fierce Wireless