British carrier, Vodafone, has integrated a new spam call blocking technology into its network, which should result in a significant reduction in nuisance calls. These spam or nuisance calls are sometimes businesses trying to sell a product, such as a mis-sold PPI claim, but can be intimidating and downright frustrating for customers. Vodafone reports that in earlier testing, the system blocked over 400,000 spam calls in one day. Furthermore, during the week long trial, it cut the total number of spam calls that customers received across the entire network to under one thousand although it is not clear how Vodafone measured this data. However, Vodafone did explain that the spam callers "realized their calls could not enter the network." One would hope that over time, spam callers would stop trying.
The United Kingdom's telecommunications regulator, Ofcom, and the Information Commissioner's Office have already been working on reducing the problem of nuisance or spam calls. The UK already benefits from the Telephone Preference Service that customers can subscribe their mobile numbers to. To use the TPS, send the word "TPS" plus an email address to 85095 and once a number is on the list, it's illegal for this number to be used for spam calls. Since May, businesses have had to show their number when calling and may be fined up to £2 million for hiding the caller ID. These two measures, which may be combined with on-device applications designed to filter spam calls, will help either ensure that customers do not receive calls, or can identify the business calling them. However, these solutions cannot help solve the very serious issue of nuisance calls being placed using databases of mobile numbers sourced from other means, usually from online databases – which Vodafone's new technology can. Sophisticated criminal gangs use dialer machines to place many hundreds of thousands of calls in a day from a premium number and can generate a considerable sum should a customer call them back from a missed call.
Vodafone's changes at the network side of things should immediately help their customers and may also encourage the other British wireless carriers, Three, EE and O2, to introduce a similar technology themselves. Vodafone are keen to explain that the new technology does not block all calls but should block the majority. Mark Hughes, Vodafone's head of corporate security, explained: "The protection of our customers is paramount and we have been investing heavily in our network and technology to help stamp out this practice."