Bell Canada gets call-blocking technology approved by telecom watchdog

The network can now block calls determined to be deceitful

Telecom giant Bell now has the ability to block all fraudulent calls made through its network on a permanent basis.

This was made permanent after the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) approved the organization’s application. The federal watchdog overlooks matters relating to broadcasting and telecommunications.

Bell originally tested the operation on a trial basis after sending an application to the CRTC in July 2019. The trial focused on blocking known fraudulent calls received over Bell’s networks.

Artificial intelligence is used to analyze suggested fraudulent calls, and if verified to be a scam, Bell blocks any relating calls from that number. This means calls being made to, from, or transitioning through a Bell network are subject to call blocking. The ruling only applies to voice calls. Texts or other forms of communication aren’t included.

The trial was ultimately extended until the commission made a decision.

A second application was filed in September 2020 asking the CRTC to make the feature permanent. According to the application Bell filed with the commission, the trial was successful. More than 1.1 billion calls were blocked between July 2020 and October 2021.

The company also said there were no “false positives,” legitimate numbers blocked after being believed to be fraudulent.

The CRTC’s approval is tied to a number of conditions. One is Bell must file an annual report detailing the number of calls blocked every month, and a breakdown on how long it took to detect a fraudulent call and block it, among other factors.

The change will apply to all of Bell’s affiliates as well.

This ruling is separate from the CRTC’s call for all carriers to implement STIR/SHAKEN technology, a system that would help users identify scam callers by identifying them. That system does not block callers but verifies their identity.