The FCC voted Thursday to allow phone companies to block robocalls automatically for their customers.
The vote would allow phone service providers like Verizon to switch on technology that blocks robocalls, which have exploded in number to about 5 billion a month nationwide.
The companies would not need their customers’ permission to block the calls.
The FCC expects companies to provide the service for free, but the vote doesn’t require them to do so. Service providers could start charging customers for the phone-blocking service, as some currently do for caller ID and other features.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai said Thursday that it’s in the best interest of the phone companies to offer the service free of charge.
“These robocalls that are being placed on their own networks are a hassle and a cost for them to handle,” he said.
“There is one thing in our country today that unites Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, socialists and libertarians, vegetarians and carnivores, Ohio State and Michigan fans: It is that they are sick and tired of being bombarded by unwanted robocalls,” Pai added.