Taking a page out of the old John Legere playbook, recently minted T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert couldn't resist throwing a number of jabs at Verizon and AT&T while announcing the latest "Un-carrier" move yesterday.
Although Sievert stopped short of calling the nation's two largest wireless service providers "dumb and dumber", which was his forerunner's go-to insult during these types of launch events, as well as other public statements, it's worth highlighting that Verizon's name alone is mentioned a whopping five times in T-Mo's Scam Shield-dedicated newsroom post.
Obviously, none of the competition references are made in a positive context, drawing pretty much instant reactions from both Verizon and AT&T. While Big Red did little more than "coincidentally" bring attention back to its own latest announcement on the matter of robocall protection, Ma Bell took the time to directly and explicitly counteract some of T-Mobile's combative new claims.
Everyone is trying to fend you off from robocalls
In response to calls for Verizon and AT&T to take the fight against scams "seriously", the latter carrier (via FierceWireless) pointed out its efforts in that field actually date as far back as 2016, when Ma Bell's "first network-based analytics and blocking program" was started. More recently, AT&T added its proprietary network-based Call Protect technology to "millions of lines for no extra cost", so if anything, the nation's number two mobile operator is now welcoming Magenta to the party rather than the other way around.
AT&T is also taunting T-Mobile by facetiously claiming "it's nice to see other carriers working to catch up", but while it's certainly true that Magenta is not the only major US wireless industry force battling the robocalling scourge, it's also true that Ma Bell is charging $3.99 a month for a Call Protect Plus subscription including several tools and features that are now free for T-Mo customers.
The same goes for Verizon, which actually emphasized the $2.99 monthly cost of its Call Filter Plus service in a June 25 statement that just so happened to be updated on the same day that T-Mobile unveiled its robust set of (mostly) free Scam Shield tools and solutions against "rampant scams and robocalls."
Just like T-Mobile and AT&T, Verizon appears to be under the impression it is "leading the industry in protecting more than 75 million consumer, business and prepaid wireless lines with Call Filter." The app, which is also available for free without "premium" features like Caller Name ID, Spam Look Up, or Personal Block List, purportedly caused "more than a 30% decline in unwanted calls over the last three months."
No one is fighting hard enough
While that drop is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, the nationwide robocalling issue is far from resolved. A comprehensive report published by Truecaller in April, for instance, found that US phone scams were still on the rise, with as many as 56 million Americans losing a grand total of $19.7 billion in 12 months alone, up from 43 million people claiming combined losses of $10.5 billion the previous year.
Whether they like it or not, Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile are in this mess together, sharing the blame between themselves, as well as with the FCC, for letting the situation spiral out of control in the last few years. For what it's worth, T-Mo's Scam Shield launch yesterday also happened to coincide with a relatively important announcement from the Federal Communications Commission.
According to that, there are now a few new rules in place encouraging phone companies to more aggressively target potential robocallers and "maliciously spoofed telemarketing campaigns" by protecting carriers from liability "for the unintended or inadvertent blocking of wanted calls."
The FCC claims this was a major concern that prevented some companies from implementing "robust robocall blocking efforts", and given the Commission's often friendly relationship with T-Mobile, we wouldn't be surprised if the "Un-carrier" already knew about these rules, taking them into consideration before making yesterday's big announcement. The ball is now firmly in Verizon and AT&T's court to further step up their action.