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May 20th, 2019

Answering the Call for Authentication: What You Should Know About Implementing STIR/SHAKEN

It seems that every day, there’s another news story (or late-night TV segment) with the latest shocking stats on how bad the problem of robocalling is in the US. Reportedly, 1500+ robocalls are placed every second, 52% of people rate them as “tremendously annoying,” and 62% of people let most calls go to voicemail. Most alarming is that almost 40% of robocalls are reported to be scams.

This is not just happening in the US. The rise of unwanted or nuisance calls is happening around the world. This Global Robocall Radar Report highlighted a 325% growth in spam calls worldwide in 2018, with the US garnering the 6th spot for countries with the biggest spam call problem. In Spain, the UK, Italy, and France, it’s estimated that over 20% of calls are a nuisance or fraudulent call.

What will happen to voice services if it continues at this rate?

This is a big, ugly, complex problem, and there’s no easy fix. For many years behind the scenes, there has been a lot collaboration to stop illegal robocalling on a national and international level among regulators such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and The Office of Communications (Ofcom) in the UK and others, as well as service providers, enterprises, technology vendors, and industry groups like PACE. The FCC and CRTC have demanded carriers implement call authentication to stop caller ID spoofing. And now the FCC has proposed that anti-robocall tools be implemented as default for subscribers.

It's clear that consumers are fed up and regulators are serious about putting legislation in place to protect them. Offering protection against robocalls is no longer an option for service providers. Subscribers will definitely have this on their list of must haves for their provider of choice.

Neustar has been working on call authentication for many years by coauthoring STIR standards with the IETF and the SHAKEN framework with ATIS, hosting the ATIS Robocalling Testbed, and developing a portfolio of integrated solutions to help carriers and enterprises build a trusted call environment. Telus, a Tier 1 service provider in Canada, recently completed successful testing of Neustar’s STIR/SHAKEN solution, Certified Caller.

Recently, we hosted a webinar, Restore Trust in Phone Calls: Meeting the FCC Call to Action with STIR/SHAKEN, to share insights and tips from our experts on implementing call authentication.

Here’s what webinar attendees told us about their current techniques and plans for tackling robocalling:

Which robocall mitigation techniques to date have been MOST EFFECTIVE for your subscribers?

  • 46% none
  • 25% multiple techniques
  • 17% analytics/mobile apps
  • 9% anti-robocall services
  • 3% customer service settings

Which stage of implementing call authentication (STIR/SHAKEN) are you in?

  • 41% have not started
  • 31% planning
  • 15% no plans
  • 11% in progress
  • 2% complete/near complete

What is the MOST IMPORTANT driver to your organization for implementing call authentication?

  • 42% regulatory compliance
  • 33% customer retention/care
  • 14% customer growth/experience
  • 11% risk & security

These findings are certainly not anything to celebrate at this point. Almost half of all respondents confirmed that the current set of anti-robocall solutions (before STIR/SHAKEN) have not been effective, and more than half have not started implementing or have no plans yet to implement STIR/SHAKEN.

There are a large group of stakeholders involved in the process—and many technical and business challenges to overcome—for the ubiquitous rollout of STIR/SHAKEN to be realized. Yet from our vantage point in the industry, we remain optimistic and see signs that mainstream adoption of STIR/SHAKEN will happen in a short amount of time.

While STIR/SHAKEN is being adopted and rolled out, there is still need for continued vigilance and other tools and techniques to be put in place to help stop illegal robocalls and call scams. There is a lot at stake to protect subscribers and keep voice services a key part of the way we communicate. And around the world, many are following the US’s progress on adoption of STIR/SHAKEN, as they step up initiatives to stop unwanted calls and call scams in their own countries.

Here are some resources on implementing STIR/SHAKEN:

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