Spam Calls Defeat Phone Network

Spam calls have become so frequent that the future of the telephone network is in doubt.

I recently reached the point myself where I stopped taking phone calls from unknown numbers. Anyone can guess why I stopped taking these calls. Ninety-nine percent of them were spam calls, advertising calls placed by machines under the control of criminal enterprises. It is not only a waste of time but an actual security risk to say even a word or two to a machine that asks, “How are you doing today?”

I put up with the robocalls for a long time, but there were days when I asked, “Why do I even have a phone?” It turns out I was not the only one asking this question. Many people I talked to, who have newer phones, have set their phones not to ring if they do not know the caller. Others hear the ring, but do not pick up unless they can see that the caller is someone they know.

I am often ahead of the curve on trends, but this is a case where I am a couple of years behind the average phone user. At some point in 2019 or 2020, most people stopped taking calls from unknown callers.

If you think about it, the future of the phone network is called into question.

A phone call is not needed to communicate with a person you know. You can exchange voice messages, text messages, or live voice or video conversations over any number of Internet services. In general, the video call is less expensive than a phone call.

The reason we all got phones was that it made it possible to talk to people without having a prior arrangement with them. But this happens less often than most of us realize.

And now, if you place that call, the recipient, not knowing who the caller is, will probably not answer.

Ironically, it is the 5G phone network, which will come into widespread use in 2022, that will cement the end of the phone call era. The 5G data connection ensures that Internet chat services carrying a voice or video conversation will not be so glitchy as they sometimes were in the past.

Once you and your 20 best friends switch to other services for those times when you want to talk, you literally might never answer the phone again.

Device manufacturers are not doing the phone network any favors by making it so hard to turn the ringtone off for unknown callers. Rather than put in the hours to figure out the required settings, many phone users simply turn their phone ringer off for all callers most of the time. Of course, this makes the phone a less reliable channel for communication and only hastens the transition to other, less intrusive channels for communication between friends.

Phones and phone numbers will not be going away as quickly as phone calls are declining. The phone and a phone number will remain the centerpieces of a cellular subscription for years to come. Phone service remains important for emergency situations, mainly house fires and serious injuries. But few people miss the days when the ordinary person would memorize dozens of phone numbers, and when the actual phone service fades away, not many people will miss it either.

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