T-Mobile’s Un-carrier Next adds free extra phone number, scam blocking

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When T-Mobile executives wanted to shake up the U.S. cellular industry, they announced the Un-carrier initiative, offering to free customers from long-term cellular contracts and expand their access to no- or low-cost roaming plans — a strategy that was once painted as unsustainable, yet helped the company win over huge numbers of customers and ultimately absorb smaller rival Sprint. Today, the combined company is a viable third-place challenger to Verizon and AT&T, so it’s announcing Un-carrier Next, the 17th step in its plan to “continue to change wireless for good.”

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While the Un-carrier Next initiative is largely focused on scam blocking — including the debut of a ScamShield feature — arguably the biggest surprise in the event was the announcement that T-Mobile customers will be given a free second phone number, called Proxy#, which will let people have a way to avoid sharing their personal number with companies that gather and share numbers. The company will also allow customers to have a fresh start with their first phone number, switching for free.

T-Mobile says that it’s making the changes to address the massive wave of 58.5 billion robocalls and scam calls. Initially, a new ScamBlock feature can be activated to block scam calls manually, while a more fully functioned ScamShield app can be downloaded on July 24 with granular controls over different types of blocking — some for free, some for an additional charge.

The “Un-carrier” moniker is meant to signal that T-Mobile isn’t a traditional cellular carrier, and the various initiatives that rolled out over the years have been stabs at common carrier practices: confusing billing, extended contract requirements, crazy international roaming fees, and so on. In each case, T-Mobile took the opportunity to “fix” rivals’ perplexing practices.

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