Landline cordless phones with call blocking?

Given that the U.S. phone system has been taken over by spammers (unintended consequence of what we expected to be the boon of free unlimited calls), you’d think that the core feature of any landline cordless phone system would be intelligent call screening and call blocking.

Panasonic has always been my favorite brand of phone (e.g., this five-handset system), but their call blocking system seems to rely on ringing the phone, having the owner answer, and then having the user press the “Call Block” button (plus some additional keys, I think) to store the caller ID in a small local database. When spammers can generate any caller ID that they want (thank you, American phone system engineers for ignoring 40 years of public-key cryptography!), including the phone number for the local public school, what is the value in this?

Given the low cost of computing hardware, why wouldn’t cordless phones (a) connect to WiFi and then communicate amongst themselves a known list of spam caller IDs that don’t correspond to real numbers, (b) do a “hello, may I help you?” interaction with callers whose IDs are not in the contacts directory?

“AT&T” brand phones (are these actually from AT&T or is it like “GE Appliances” that are run by Haier in China?) seem to have a partial solution, which they call “Smart Call Blocking”. From the manual:

If the call is not in the directory, essentially, the caller is prompted to speak a name and type #. One issue with this is that automated calls from organizations that don’t use email, e.g., pharmacies and hospitals, won’t get through. But maybe the solution there is to always provide one’s mobile phone number to these enterprises.

Presumably it is necessary for sanity to purchase a “Connect to Cell” AT&T model so that the directory can be preloaded from one’s mobile phone instead of manually populated. Bizarrely, though, there seems to be only one AT&T model that has both the cell phone connection and the smart call blocker: DL72310 (the three-handset version).

Given that Americans have been going crazy for years being bothered by these calls, how is it possible that there are so few home defense solutions?

19 thoughts on “Landline cordless phones with call blocking?

  1. Telephone SPAM is an escalating war of attrition. I have a similar Panasonic phone. The talking called ID is a nice feature. It takes care of distinguishing all of my SPAM with little effort on my part. The only annoyance is having to delete SPAM voicemails.

    • Will the phone actually answer the call silently and demand that the caller take some action, e.g., pressing a key? (if so, what model Panasonic is it?)

    • Clarification: by “distinguish” I mean that I listen and don’t answer calls that have an unknown caller ID. (I have KX-TG570 which I believe is an earlier model of what you have.)

  2. I use NoMoRoBo on my landline. It’s not a perfect solution (home phone rings once before service “traps” the bad callers, training us not to pick up until after second ring), and I’m not sure how easy it would be to set up for a true POTS phone (we use

    • I recall a few years back getting an email from NoMoRoBo saying the telecom companies were lobbying congress to make NoMoRoBo illegal. I never knew why they were doing that, considering they didn’t have their own solution to offer. Some folks were saying that the telecom companies actually profit from the high volume of spam calls, so they have no interest in preventing them.

    • Jim: If there is no per-call charge, how do the phone companies profit from spam calls? If there is a boiler room in India that pays for a big pipe, they are paying an Indian phone company, right, not Verizon.

    • philg: I agree that it’s not clear to me how a legit carrier would profit from robo calls. I did see that bad actor carriers profit by providing a service to robo call campanies of mixing robo calls with legit calls, to make them harder to identify by algorithms (kind of like robo call money laundering).

    • Toucan: Come to our neighborhood, where the only thing more hated than the illegitimately “elected” dictator is a cell phone tower! We do have WiFi calling enable on our phones, but it is not as confidence-inspiring as a landline for business conference calls, etc.

      Do you think that WiFi calling on a Verizon cell phone is now as reliable as a landline hooked into FiOS?

    • Landlines run on switching equipment made by companies like Nortel or Lucent that went out of business two decades ago. They’ve been maintained by cannibalizing other switches for parts, but the software stopped being maintained and will never get features like SHAKEN/STIR (Caller ID authenticated by public keys). Verizon’s already shed its landline business to Frontier, which is bankrupt. The land lines are going away, one way or the other. Some countries like Switzerland have already decommissioned theirs.

    • Fazal: A fiber-based “landline” phone isn’t the same as a copper-based one, is it? When you say that the Swiss have decommissioned landlines, don’t you mean that they’re tearing down twisted pair in favor of fiber? They still have wired phones in offices and homes, right?

      VZ gave copper landlines to Frontier? But what about our FiOS service that includes a “landline” phone? Isn’t that still Verizon?

  3. Wired phones sold under the AT&T brand are made by VTech (, a Hong Kong firm that acquired the business from Lucent Technologies in 2000. It’s definitely a relationship of the GE/Haier kind: I imagine AT&T provides the DNS delegation for and a copy of the brand standards manual, and VTech wires them the royalties.

    You can still get 2500 and 2554 sets from Cortelco (, but the design suffers from years of value engineering; they aren’t nearly the indestructible paperweights once made by Western Electric.

    • So the Chinese (VTech) are way ahead of the Japanese (Panasonic) when it comes to call screening/blocking! Maybe the Japanese engineers just can’t imagine a world in which spammers are rude enough to call 100 times per day?

  4. The reason there are no features is because there is no demand, the war is lost: very few people I still know with land lines have these phones on silent and never pick them up.

    I use T-Mobile WiFi calling at my home, which is a bit unreliable, but does the job. I travel with back ups on three providers: main phone on T-Mobile, secondary phone on AT&T NVMO (xfinity), iPad on Verizon NVMO (Ting).

  5. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the world is far too stupid and complicated to figure out rationally. And there are only a few good answers.

  6. Maybe this would be another good use for inexpensive labor in international call centers. One call center can call the other first to see if they get through to me. It would be something like Cloudflare for calls. My published number goes to the weeder-outer call center first and if the caller passes the test it is forwarded to my unpublished number.

    Either that or maybe just whitelist the numbers you want to hear from and let the others go to voice mail.

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