[Update: Verizon subscribers can now leverage its Call Filter app for free.]
Verizon is set to debut a new free app that will help subscribers block spam and robocalls by the end of the week.
The carrier already offers a robocall-blocking application called Call Filter, but it costs $2.99 a month. The upcoming app will offer a free alternative to that premium subscription for Verizon customers, a carrier spokesperson told Forbes.
Like other spam call-blocking measures currently being deployed, Verizon’s app will rely on the amusingly named SHAKEN/STIR (“Signature-based Handling of Asserted information” and “Secure Telephony Identity Revisited”) authentication technology.
Essentially, the SHAKEN/STIR protocol is a way to verify whether an incoming call is actually being made from the number that it claims to be.
It won’t actually block robocalls, but it should list them as “unverified” — letting users know whether or not they should answer a call at a glance.
If SHAKEN/STIR sounds familiar, it’s because it’s largely expected to be the future of call blocking measures. Last week, AT&T and Comcast announced that they were offering the nation’s first cross-carrier authentication system based on the protocol.
Of course, as we’ve covered previously, SHAKEN/STIR isn’t perfect. Besides the fact that the system won’t block calls, carriers will need to ensure that their systems are compatible with each other.
For example, AT&T’s and Comcast’s SHAKEN/STIR implementation will block calls made from both networks. But they won’t do anything for calls made on another carrier’s infrastructure. That’s likely to change in the future, but it’s something worth keeping in mind.
Still, it’s a major step toward mitigating robocalls, which are becoming an ever-worsening problem for millions across the U.S. Last year, the Federal Communications Commission started putting pressure on carriers to begin implanting SHAKEN/STIR on a wide scale.
While carrier-based solutions like these are welcomed, they aren’t the only option. Quite a few users already rely on third-party blocking apps (like Call Control). There are even some “freemium” options out there — though they aren’t quite as efficient as paid options.
Verizon told Forbes on Sunday that they will begin issuing instructions on how to download and set up the free app by the end of the week.