The Whitepages spinoff Hiya launched a cloud-based offering to help carriers defend their customers from robocalls and other unwanted calls.
Hiya Cloud integrates with wireless and wireline networks to enable service providers to identify where calls originate and block them before they reach end users. The offering complements Hiya’s downloadable caller ID app, which is designed to automatically identify the person or business calling or texting users and lets users block unwanted calls.
“We’ve been providing our smartphone app now for many years,” Hiya founder and CEO Alex Algard told FierceWireless. “It works great on Android, but we’re still operating at the very edge of the communications stack at the mobile application level. So there’s some enhanced functionality that we can offer for which we really need network-level access. That’s why we’re excited to work together with wireless operators in launching Hiya Cloud.”
Hiya offers a downloadable app for iOS users as well, Algard explained, but Apple’s tightly-controlled platform prevents third-party developers from fully accessing dialing and receiving features on the phone. A network-based solution enables users to block calls and texts even before they reach the phone for both Android and iPhone users, he said.
“Even on Android the most we can do is route some of those calls to voicemail. That’s a type of functionality that can be offered at the network level,” Algard said. “The point is that carriers are uniquely situated to use the power of the networks.”
Hiya’s downloadable apps are free and don’t deliver ads; instead the company uses a freemium model through which users pay for additional features and services. The new cloud-based offering is sold to carriers through a SaaS (software as a service) model.
And the key to its new offering is Hiya’s database. The company said it sees 665 million phone calls through its system every month, and it has “well over” 1 billion phone numbers in its worldwide library, tracking each as either reputable or disreputable, Algard said. More than 30 million calls are classified as unwanted every month, according to the company, and it’s seeing a year-over-year increase of more than 100 percent in unwanted calls.
Hiya’s app is preloaded on Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 7, which is a major win for the company, and its app powers T-Mobile's Name ID offering. The company is positioning Hiya Cloud as a potential way for the U.S. mobile industry to avoid federal regulations such as the proposed ROBOCOP Act, which would require telecoms to offer free, optional robocall-blocking technology to their customers.
“The FCC is shining a light on this issue -- it’s an important issue, one that’s plaguing consumers,” Algard said. “Consumer behavior has changed; people are getting so many phone calls now that people don’t even pick up any more unknown phone calls. On the other hand, I think it could be risky if the prescribed solution becomes inflexible…. What’s smart today might have unintended consequences six months down the road.”
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