Re: Author is clueless
First of all, most of consumers in USA are on the flat rate plan. They are not billed for placing calls to domestic, and in a lot of cases a lot of international destinations. Also, in US, called party is never billed for receiving the call, unless it is a toll free number. So, as far, as cell phone companies are concerned, the less people call, the better. Flat rate fee is already collected and any usage on your phone, be this data, SMS, or phone calls are just an expense for them.
Outbound calls actually cost money (some small fee per minute). So, robocallers pay some phone company to place these calls. This phone company is usually a smaller long distance operator. What this operator does, is gets a regular phone calls by providing the discount rate to legitimate caller such as one of the numerous VoIP or enterprise phone service providers, and then mixes the robocall traffic with the traffic from legitimate source. This long provider knows exactly who the robocallers are, but anybody who is receiving traffic from this long distance provider, cell phone operator or likely one of the larger long distance companies, cannot easily filter this traffic out.
Furthermore, local calls within the same local calling area in US are free. These calls are placed through LEC (local exchange carrier), which are old telephone monopolies in each region. LEC only accept connections using TDM (old digital phone lines). So, what long distance operators targeting robocallers do, is spoof the local caller ID within the same area as a called number. This allows them to terminate calls for free through the LEC. This not only reduces their costs, but also mixes their calls with all the other local calls in the area. Since robocallers spoof caller ID, when calls go through LEC, it is virtually impossible to distinguish robocalls from valid local calls. Furthermore, LEC often state that FCC prohibits them from blocking calls or, more importantly, tracing robocalls back to origination without a subpoena, which cannot be obtained unless crime was committed. Enabling tracing robocalls back to origination and reporting this to FCC is essential to resolving this issue.
Calls through LEC are free but connections to LEC are expensive in large part due to using old technology. With the increase of robocalls, cell phone companies are forced to buy more connections trunks to LEC, which drives their costs up with no additional revenue for them.
One last point is, that even though robocalls are fly by night operations, long distance carriers are not. They are registered and regulated by FCC. There are about 10 to 12 well known long distance operators responsible for introducing robocall traffic to the phone network. These people advertise. If they are fined or closed the traffic would virtually stop.
A colleague of mine, David Frankel, is running an initiative to stop robocalls: https://legalcallsonly.org/ He has sued FCC for this, met with law makers, and testified before congress and senate. He is in the same area as author (SF) and would probably be available to help with explaining this issue in more details.