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AT&T launches branded calling with logos

AT&T and the credit reporting agency TransUnion are offering outgoing calls for businesses that display a brand name and logo on the receiver’s phone – without the need for a special app.

The service, which is free for AT&T wireless customers, is part of the branded calling movement giving consumers more confidence they know who’s actually calling. The branded calls in AT&T’s service are verified with STIR/SHAKEN, an industry set of standards used to help confirm the number hasn’t been illegally spoofed.

The service is powered by Neustar’s TruContact Branded Call Display. Neustar is among a number of vendors in the branded calling space, including First Orion, Hiya and Transaction Network Services (TNS). In 2022, several vendors formed a partnership to unify enterprise call vetting and authentication practices.

“We’re obsessed with giving our customers secure and trusted calls, so we’re excited to work with TransUnion for a richer, more helpful visual experience,” said AT&T SVP of Mass Markets Product Management Erin Scarborough in a statement. “And since we use STIR/SHAKEN verification, our customers will be able to connect with greater confidence to the brands they may want or need to connect with.”

Of course, missed connections are bad for phone companies, but they’re also bad for consumers and businesses when legitimate calls need to go through.

TransUnion last year conducted a study of 1,517 U.S. consumers aged 18+ and shared these results:

  • 73% don’t answer calls from unknown callers because they assume it’s a robocall where someone is trying to sell them something.

  • 73% have declined to answer a phone call due to safety/fraud concerns and learned afterwards that it was a legitimate call.

  • 58% received important phone calls to their mobile phones in the past three months they didn’t answer because they didn’t recognize the caller.

According to TransUnion, it’s all about helping restore trust in the phone service. The delivery of branded call display logos represents a culmination of years of collaboration between AT&T and Neustar. TransUnion acquired Neustar in 2021.

AT&T customers don’t need to do anything; logos will appear on incoming calls from participating businesses and organizations. Business that want to participate can sign up through TransUnion.

On Android devices, the branded logo appears when the phone rings and it also appears in the call details page after the call is missed. For iOS devices, the branded logo appears from participating organizations if the phone is unlocked or if facial recognition is engaged.

The service is available now on iOS 17. It's also available on the Samsung Galaxy S22 and Motorola razr, with more Android devices coming "in the near future," according to an AT&T spokesperson.  

Broader ecosystem

AT&T’s service is part of a broader movement to improve caller ID that has been underway for years. The FCC in 2020 mandated voice service providers deploy the STIR/SHAKEN framework into their networks.

In 2021, T-Mobile announced a proof-of-concept whereby it completed a wireless call that used authenticated caller ID and showed details like company branding to provide more information about who was calling and why. T-Mobile used Rich Call Data (RCD) technology in combination with authenticated caller ID based on the STIR/SHAKEN framework and protocol.

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