FCC’s Anti-Robocall Deadline Approaches: What Does it Mean for Carriers, Service Providers, and Consumers

According to several telecommunications experts, the STIR/SHAKEN framework will transform how businesses can contact consumers in the U.S., particularly those that rely on automated calls for critical information. Service providers should have a plan in order by June 30. STIR/SHAKEN might sound like preparations for a James Bond martini. However, the framework of interconnected protocols and standards–and its impending compliance deadline–will have a dramatic effect on businesses that use call centers as well carriers that allow robocalls to be authorized on their networks.
This framework is intended to reduce fraud robocalls and illegal number spoofing by blocking calls that don’t have a digital certificate issued by the service provider. It also ensures that the call comes from a legitimate source. These guidelines will impact how businesses can contact Americans, particularly those who rely on automated calls to share important information.
“This is a pivotal moment in the industry. It’s about maintaining the fidelity and embracing the technology that we use to communicate,” said Mark Iannuzzi (president and founder of TelNet Worldwide), a Madison Heights, Mich.-based communications service firm. It’s not an easy task, especially for those below the surface, but it is very important.
How did we get here?
STIR stands for Secure Telephony Identification Revisited. SHAKEN stands to Secure Handling of Asserted Information using toKENs. Congress passed and President signed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED) in 2019. This law requires robocall service providers and robocall carriers to implement a STIR/SHAKEN solution before June 30, 2021. According to leaders in digital technology and telecommunications, non-compliance could result in their calls being blocked from reaching recipients.
According to Iannuzzi, the federal government sought to have the communications industry policed for many decades. They didn’t want their noses in it, but after people had become tired of being ripped off, the TRACED Act was created. This gave the FCC the authority to take action. “That’s why there are deadlines that service providers must follow for STIR/SHAKEN within their networks,” Iannuzzi stated.
Robocalls, call spoofing and call fraud have been a problem in the telecom industry for years. This problem was made worse by VoIP and other newer technologies that allow callers to target consumers.
“I believe the industry recognized there was a problem, but the missing element was the teeth to enforce it. IP-based technology opened up new opportunities for everyone. You had a whole new generation cloud service providers who saw themselves as more than just software companies that sell an application. IP-based technology opened up a lot of opportunities for spoofing and other problems that could be solved.
STIR/SHAKEN was created to stop consumers being inundated by spam robocalls. However, it could also block many relevant automated calls from reaching users.
“Not all robocalls can be considered illegal. Automated calls from your pharmacy can inform you that your prescription is ready or that school is closed due to snow,” Allen Wills, founder of Tecvine, a provider of mobility-focused solutions that focuses on network, cloud, and mobility. “I think people realize that there are automated calls that we require. Although there is a lot to do, this will restore trust in voice communications.
How does it work?
According to the YouMail Robocall Index, although the number of robocalls fell in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemics, more than 45 million were placed in the U.S. in the last year. This number could be on the rise again, according to the YouMail Robocall Index.
According to YouMail, alerts and reminders accounted only for 26% of all U.S. robotcall traffic in 2020. The rest was made up by scams (46%), collection reminders (16%) and telemarketing (13%).
According to Iannuzzi, STIR/SHAKEN should help to reduce the problem but there is still confusion about roles, responsibilities and actions that must be taken to comply. He said, “I get a lot people asking me, ‘What’s the right thing to do?'”
STIR/SHAKEN provides three levels of attestation by the originating service provider for each call. Full or “A”attestation means that the digital technology provider has a complete knowledge of the customer and can attest that the customer is authorized to use the phone number. Partial or “B”, attestation means that the service provider knows the customer, but not the source of the number. Gateway or “C” attestation is when the service provider cannot authenticate the call source.

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