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October 7th, 2020

FCC Steps up Efforts to Protect Consumers: Expands STIR/SHAKEN

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which planned to discuss expansion of their work to combat illegally spoofed robocalls and implement the TRACED Act at an open meeting on September 30, instead took it off the agenda. They issued this press release and agenda change, noting that they would be moving to accept the proposals they outlined in the Second Report and Order, which they did.

Earlier this year, the FCC required that the STIR/SHAKEN framework—an Internet Protocol (IP) based standard—be implemented on IP-based phone networks by June 30, 2021. The updated rules further promote implementation of the STIR/SHAKEN framework to protect consumers against malicious spoofing, enabling voice service providers to verify that the caller ID information transmitted with a call matches the caller’s phone number.  

Industry insiders weighed in on the FCC’s recent adoption of new rules promoting further STIR/SHAKEN implementation, with executives from AT&T, USTelecom, and T-Mobile publicly supporting the decision to combat “annoying and fraudulent” robocalls. USTelecom runs the Industry Traceback Group (ITG), a collaborative effort of companies across the wireline, wireless, VoIP and cable industries that actively trace and identify the source of illegal robocalls.

CEO of USTelecom, Jonathan Spalter, said of the Order, “This is more quick and deliberate work by the FCC to implement the TRACED Act to combat illegal robocall spoofing and restore trust in our caller ID system. Through the ITG and across our membership, USTelecom is a champion for ubiquitous deployment of the STIR/SHAKEN call authentication protocol. This order gets us closer to that goal and adds another important tool to the growing traceback, consumer app, and government enforcement regime attacking this problem every day.”

“We appreciate the FCC’s continued efforts to implement the TRACED Act and help the industry and law enforcement combat unwanted and illegal calls. The Commission’s action provides further guidance as we work with the Industry Traceback Group, deploy the STIR/SHAKEN framework and enhance blocking and labeling tools to protect consumers,” said Joan Marsh, AT&T Executive Vice President of Regulatory and State External Affairs. 

The new rules address carriers of all sizes.
Robocalls are a serious issue, and the number one complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In 2019, there were 1.4 thousand robocalls every second, costing American consumers $19.7 billion in fraud. 

To successfully combat the issue, the entire telecom ecosystem needs to be on board – so that bad actors simply can’t get in. This latest Order reflects the FCC’s acknowledgement that intermediate and smaller carriers are critical to the cause and, because they may need to address certain challenges before implementing STIR/SHAKEN, may require more time. 

Here's a recap of the changes:

Non-IP Networks:

  • VSPs must either upgrade their non-IP networks to IP and implement STIR/SHAKEN or work to develop a non-IP Caller ID authentication solution. 

Intermediate providers:

  • The FCC mandates that intermediate providers implement STIR/SHAKEN in the IP portions of their networks by June 30, 2021.

FCC Database:

  • The FCC will require all Voice Service Providers (VSPs) to file a certification in a publicly-accessible FCC database demonstrating how they are working to reduce the origination of illegal robocalls.
  • Intermediate providers and terminating VSPs will be prohibited from accepting voice traffic directly from any VSP not in this database.

Extensions:
The FCC will grant extensions to the June 30, 2021 STIR/SHAKEN implementation deadline for:

  • Small VSPs (less than 100,000 subscriber lines)
  • VSPs that are currently incapable of obtaining a ‘certificate’ necessary to implement STIR/SHAKEN
  • Services scheduled for discontinuance
  • Non-IP networks 

VSPs subject to an extension will also need to implement a robocall mitigation program on the portions of their networks that are not STIR/SHAKEN enabled.

Exemptions:

  • The FCC establishes a process by which VSPs that are making early progress on implementing caller ID authentication can gain an exemption from the June 30, 2021 deadline.

Line item charges:

  • Line-item charging of consumers or small businesses for caller ID authentication technology will be prohibited. 

Robocall mitigation solutions: a good interim measure.
By requiring robocall mitigation programs be implemented by providers that have received an extension for deployment of STIR/SHAKEN, VSPs should begin deployment now to demonstrate their commitment to combatting robocalls. That will provide a stop-gap measure until all carriers can get on board. 

As an approved Certification Authority and co-author of the STIR certificate management standards, Neustar plays an integral role in the governance structure for the Calling Number Verification Service to mitigate illegal robocalling and call spoofing. To learn more about what you need to do to become compliant, visit our Trusted Call Resource Center and learn about our Robocall Mitigation solution.


 

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