Anatel, the national telecoms regulator for Brazil, says the country has witnessed a dramatic reduction in the number of calls with a duration of less than three seconds. Ultra-short calls typically occur if machines are used by telemarketing businesses to make many outbound calls at the same time, but when the recipient picks up there is no human operator available at the telemarketer’s call centre, so the call is then immediately dropped. Anatel’s announcement states the number of short calls fell by 41 percent between May 2022 and July 2023. Analysis of the origins of ultra-short calls has enabled Anatel to identify 582 companies who have been prohibited from making telemarketing calls.
Brazilians suffer more unwanted calls than any other nationality, but all countries should be wary of the factors that can contribute to an uncontrolled explosion in the number of calls. One factor is whether the legislative and cultural environment is supportive or hostile to sales made over the phone. This factor is often overlooked by technology businesses who want to push ‘solutions’ for nuisance calling that may not be relevant because other societal limits have been placed on the extent of legal calls that may be made by businesses and other organizations. Brazil has highly-developed telemarketing businesses but ever-increasing competition for attention led to plummeting connection rates for legal calls as recipients tired of being contacted by strangers.
Telemarketers in the country realized that far fewer than 1 in 10 of their calls would ever be answered, prompting them to increase the number of outbound calls they made relative to the number of staff available to handle them. But this then increased the frequency of calls when a recipient did choose to pick up but all the telemarketer’s staff were already busy with other calls. A vicious downward cycle developed as frustrated Brazilians become even less likely to answer a call because of their past experiences of listening to a second of silence before the line went dead. So even if a society is supportive of telesales there remains a need to curb excessive calls and punish silent calls in order to preserve a viable market for those businesses that are willing to behave responsibly.
Guests from Anatel will join us for the next episode of The Communications Risk Show to discuss the steps that have already been taken to tackle unwanted calls, plus an innovative plan that will see telemarketers voluntarily using both in-band and out-of-band methods to authenticate their identities to the recipients of calls. The program will be broadcast on Wednesday, September 13 and will then be available for replay afterwards; save the time and date of the first stream to your diary by clicking here.