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Will Fighting Spam Calls Boost AT&T’s Appeal?

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Fraudulent calls are a widespread problem

AT&T (T) is trying to portray itself as a safe haven against spam calls. Through a recently released feature called AT&T Call Protect, the carrier enables subscribers to block nuisance calls. According to AT&T’s Jeff Bradley, senior vice president in charge of device and network services marketing, spam calls are an “industrywide problem” affecting many people.

AT&T’s Call Protect program works for postpaid subscribers in areas where HD Voice is supported. The program automatically filters calls and blocks the ones flagged as spam or fraudulent. The program also comes with the option for customers to manually block calls from certain numbers. If fraudulent calls are an industry problem, then AT&T could use its Call Protect program to persuade subscribers on rival networks who are troubled by spam calls to defect to its network.

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A new competition frontier opening

Faced with a wireless market that is reaching saturation, US phone carriers are reserving no effort to portray themselves as better than their rivals. T-Mobile (TMUS) and Sprint (S) have been waging a serious price war against AT&T and Verizon (VZ). On their part, AT&T and Verizon have been touting their superior network quality to defend their market share or steal subscribers from the smaller rivals.

Besides carriers, the government is also on the forefront of battling spam. According to the Federal Trade Commission (or FTC), consumers lose nearly $350 million annually because of spam calls. That has led the FTC to impose a $1.2 billion penalty on telemarketers.

Phone manufacturers Apple (AAPL), Samsung (SSNLF), Microsoft (MSFT), and Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Google have also joined the campaign to end the problem of robocalls by contributing technology that enables carriers to roll out programs that subscribers can use to block unwanted calls.

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