January 12th, 2022

Significant Progress Made in Speeding STIR/SHAKEN Interoperability Testing at SIPit33 Forum

I had the pleasure of participating in the SIP Forum’s SIPit33 virtual event December 13-17 that brought together industry leaders to perform Secure Telephone Identity (STI)-related technologies interoperability testing. By all accounts the event was a great step forward for the industry.  

In general, the purpose of SIPit33 events is to test for interoperability of SIP implementations to determine the source of incompatibilities; inform new standards work; and drive refinement of specifications. By bringing together leading SIP application developers, service providers and IP communications equipment manufacturers, efforts are centered around ensuring SIP implementations work seamlessly across the globe. 

At the event, significant progress was made in terms of automating testing which enabling more scenarios to be tested and greater participation by a broader group of attendees. For STIR/SHAKEN to truly reduce the number of robocalls, broad participation is required. The FCC has identified smaller carriers as one of the major sources of robocalls, so it mandated that all Communications Service Providers (CSPs) register in the Robocall Mitigation Database (RMD) regarding the status of their robocall mitigation and call authentication programs. However, a key factor in successful STIR/SHAKEN implementation is testing. The progress made at SIPit33 will enable carriers and equipment vendors of all sizes to speed interoperability testing on key use cases to help them meet regulations and help move the industry forward. 

Testing new use cases.
Today, service providers and IP communications equipment manufacturers are looking to test next generation uses cases when it comes to call authentication and adding context to calls. These include adding context like logos, images, social media, and more. Attendees at the event rigorously tested both originating and terminating scenarios to ensure it was possible to successfully send and receive calls using Rich Call Data (RCD) and Delegate Certificates. Over ten carriers participated in the testing, which we anticipate will positively impact the industry at large.

To speed that testing, SIPit33 attendees made use of Neustar Trust Lab's new capability called the Automation Dashboard. As a result, attendees were able to automate a significant portion of the configuration, testing, and data-gathering work. This enabled more participation, and more testing, due to the lower level of effort to test scenarios.

While previous events were very valuable, participants were finding that they needed to dedicate significant engineering resources to enable testing. The adoption of common standards and the use of a new Automation Dashboard will continue to help accelerate testing schedule and allow many teams to participate without the need for additional resources. 

Standardization and future testing plans.
One of the issues identified during the event, was the need for a standardized format for images delivered for branded calling. Because images come in many different formats and sizes, it’s difficult to ensure they will render properly on all screen. Attendees are looking to standardize images on a common format such as SVG for its small file size and ability to adapt to various display sizes. Further investigation will be required for the industry to adopt a common standard.

Due to the significant progress achieved at the event, there was groundswell of desire by the attendees to increase the frequency to two to three times per year, rather than annually. Key topics on the table for the next event include: 

  • Cross-border call authentication – The industry is looking for a global solution that reduces robocalls and enhances the call experience.  Canada provides an early example of what the industry needs to consider as it expands globally. Read our press release about how we enabled cross border STIR/SHAKEN call uthentication with Canada here.
  • Out-of-Band – While the deployment of STIR/SHAKEN in the Internet Protocol (IP) section of networks continues to expand, it is not ubiquitous yet.  The industry needs a solution that enables TDM networks to deliver STIR/SHAKEN data.

Neustar, a TransUnion company, is a SIPit 33 sponsor. Neustar is a pioneer in call authentication as the co-author of STIR standards and early contributor to the SHAKEN framework, and we play an ongoing leadership role in defining industry standards with ATIS, IETF, and CRTC. We provide the industry’s reference implementation of STIR/SHAKEN as the exclusive operator of the ATIS Robocalling Testbed, where real world STIR/SHAKEN implementations are being tested for interoperability, and Neustar leads the industry in commercial call authentication deployments. Visit our STIR/SHAKEN Resource Hub to learn about insights, resources

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