AT&T last week gave the FCC a glimpse of exactly how much mobile spam it’s holding behind the dam and once again warned that a move to have SMS messages regulated under Title II would unleash a torrent of unwanted messages on consumers.
Though AT&T said the vast majority of spam was brought to heel in 2012, the carrier said the rise of over-the-top (OTT) messaging services has brought with it a new tidal wave of spam messages.
AT&T said between 2 and 30 percent of messages sent through OTT services are spam, compared to less than 0.1 percent of wireless messages.
While a set of “best practice” guidelines exists for service providers, AT&T said not all OTT providers are doing their part to control spam. As a result, 43 percent of all spam complaints received by the carrier in February 2016 came from OTT services.
The carrier said it blocks more than 1,400 numbers each day from sending spam to its customers through OTT services.
With a lack of universal cooperation from OTT providers, AT&T painted itself as the last line of defense to prevent unwanted messages from reaching consumers.
The carrier said it currently uses a number of tactics to prevent spam, including blacklisting numbers based on consumer spam reports and the sender’s conduct history, using content filters and using rate limits on SMS messages sent by long codes to prevent high volumes of spam. This strategy, AT&T said, has resulted in an “approximately 99% reduction” of SMS spam from its peak levels in 2012.
AT&T’s message to the FCC comes amid a debate over whether or not to subject SMS messaging services – like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Twilio – to Title II regulations.
In August 2015, Twilio asked the FCC to unambiguously declare messaging services as Title II services. Wireless industry players like the CTIA, Verizon and AT&T, however, have argued that such a classification would prevent operators from implementing spam controls that have hitherto been successful at protecting consumers.
“Like email spam, messaging spam runs the gamut from annoying to offensive to predatory,” Verizon wrote in a November filing. “Twilio wants to upend the status quo by subjecting wireless providers’ messaging services and the industry-developed common short code system to Title II. That is a solution in search of a problem and would open the floodgates to spam, harming consumers that have come to depend on messaging services.”
Rather than instituting a regulatory approach, AT&T told the FCC in its presentation last week that the best path forward would be to develop a new long code Application to Person (A2P) framework that would require an authorizes long code for high rates of messaging and define message classes and vetting rules.
Filed Under: Industry regulations