Jul 16, 2020 - Technology

T-Mobile debuts free robocall-fighting service

An illustration of scissors cutting a phone cord
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

T-Mobile announced Thursday it will offer ScamShield, a free scam-blocking service, to all T-Mobile, Metro and Sprint customers.

Why it matters: Robocalls remain the scourge of the industry, with billions of unwanted calls pummeling customers last year.

  • "People are being robbed. People are being scammed," CEO Mike Sievert said on a call with reporters on Thursday. And, yet, he said some rivals make customers pay for spam protection, calling out Verizon for charging many customers $7.99 per month for the service.
  • "This industry shouldn’t be profiting from this phenomenon," Sievert said.

The big picture: T-Mobile's moves are a mix of industry-wide efforts as well as things it is doing on its own, including:

  • Using network patterns to identify spam calls and allowing users to get a warning or, if they choose, block such calls from ringing.
  • Offering customers a free second phone number they can give out to businesses so they can save their main number for their close friends (or vice versa).
  • Allowing customers to change their number if they are getting too many spam calls.
  • Free ID monitoring and alerts from McAfee.

"This is no easy task, but we're making real headway," network head Neville Ray said on the call.

Meanwhile: Sievert and Ray said the company is ahead of schedule on its 5G rollout, including turning on the mid-band spectrum it acquired as part of its Sprint deal.

  • T-Mobile already uses low-band spectrum to cover much of the country with 5G service, but the mid-band spectrum allows for faster speeds than are possible with low-band 5G.
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