A Simple Solution to Robo-Calls

by Colin Berkshire

We all know robo and spam calling is out of control. And, everybody professes that there is no answer.

There is an answer, and it is a simple one.

Charge people who generate traffic. It will make spam calling uneconomical.

Here is how it would work, and it is simple…

Currently when you make a VOIP phone call (or cellular call) your call is dumped into the PSTN where it gets forwarded for termination. The local exchange companies charge a per-minute price for this termination. The termination cost is billed to any VOIP carrier  that dumps traffic into the local exchange company’s network. Likewise, this per-minute charge is passed through all the way to you. Every time you make a call to a 10-digit number, there is an exchange of money that happens from the caller to the exchange carrier. Even if you have “flat rate” service, your phone company is making this per-minute (micro) payment…they are just gambling that you won’t call too much (aided by their “fair use” policy.”)

The problem is that the price is so cheap that spammers are willing to pay the termination charges. A typical termination charge is about 1-cent per minute, but it is usually billed in 6 second increments. So a spam call can be placed for as little as 1/10 of a cent, which is next to nothing.

So what does it take to fix the problem? Let’s work the math backwards.

If a spammer scores $100 is profit when they identify a “sucker,” and if one person in 10,000 is a sucker, this works out to an income for the spammer of 1-cent per call that they generate. If their cost of placing calls was 1-cent each, then there would be no profit to be had.

So if the local exchange carriers (who now profit immensely from spammers) charged a 1-cent termination fee for each completed call, then spammers would be economically driven out of business. It is as simple as the local exchange carriers increasing their fee from 1-cent a minute to 1-cent a minute with a 1-cent setup charge. (In the old days, long distance calls always had a 3 minute minimum.)

But why should the local carriers get this windfall profit (which would be immense)?

This money would be large enough to completely replace the current Universal Service Fund charges that are now slapped onto every phone bill. If my math is correct, there would be enough money left over to completely pay for the 911 tax that everybody is also slapped with.

The method for collecting this money is already in place because there is no free termination. (If you think it is free, you are wrong, somebody is paying it. They are just gambling it’s a loss leader.)

Correction:  billing increments are 0.1 minutes and 6 seconds.