Carriers that switch on such technologies will be required to let customers opt out of the programs if they wish and continue receiving all calls.
The decision by the FCC will extend robocall protections to consumers who weren’t aware they could sign up for them previously, according to agency chairman Ajit Pai.
“There is one thing in our country today that unites Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, socialists and libertarians, vegetarians and carnivores, Ohio State and Michigan fans: It is that they are sick and tired of being bombarded by unwanted robocalls,” said Pai. “My message to the American people today is simple. We hear you, and we are on your side.”
But questions remain about whether consumers may have to pay for such services, should carriers ultimately activate them.
FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said he will have “serious concerns” if carriers begin to charge their customers for robocall blocking. Jessica Rosenworcel, another agency commissioner, said she partly objected to Thursday’s decision because it does not require robocall blocking to be provided for free.
“There is nothing here that prevents companies from charging each of us whatever additional fees they want to put this call blocking technology on our line,” Rosenworcel said.