FCC Seeks Comments on Call Blocking Notification Requirements

Comments due Jan. 31 after FCC proceeds with call blocking notification requirements for voice service providers.

01/11/2022 4:00 P.M.

3 minute read

The Federal Communications Commission is asking for stakeholder input on voice service providers’ call blocking notification requirements by Jan. 31.

At the center of the call blocking issue currently is a Petition for Reconsideration and Request for Clarification of USTelecom—The Broadband Association.

In December, the FCC denied a petition from USTelecom seeking flexibility on how and when they would notify callers—including those in the accounts receivable management industry—that their calls were blocked, ACA International previously reported.

ACA secured language in the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act and in previous FCC orders requiring notification to callers when carriers were indiscriminately blocking calls using their analytics.

ACA was among joint industry trade groups that met with FCC staff at the end of 2021 to discuss the USTelecom petition and the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) codes that voice service providers use to notify callers that their calls are blocked.

The groups have consistently advocated for the FCC to retain voice service providers’ notification requirements in the Fourth Report and Order on Advance Methods to Target and Eliminate Unlawful Robocalls.

During meetings with Commissioner Nathan Simington’s and FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel’s staff, respectively, the groups—including the Credit Union National Association, American Bankers Association, American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management, Mortgage Bankers Association, American Financial Services Association, National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions, National Council of Higher Education Resources, and Student Loan Servicing Alliance—discussed the USTelecom petition and the requirement in the FCC’s Fourth Report and Order that voice service providers that block calls must use SIP Codes 607 and 608 and, for Time-Division Multiplexing (TDM) networks, Integrated Services User Part (ISUP) Code 21 beginning Jan. 1, 2022.

To take a step back, SIP codes are programmed to inform callers with certain responses. In the case of a code starting with the number three, it signifies a redirection of the call in some form.

In addition to advocating for SIP Codes 607 and 608 in the meetings with the FCC, ACA and the joint industry trade groups also called for the commission to sunset the use of SIP Code 603, which only signals to the caller that the recipient declined the call, not that the call was subject to blocking by voice service providers.

Code Comments

However, in a Sixth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Waiver Order (FNPRM) released Dec. 14, the FCC also approved the USTelecom petition in part by allowing voice service providers to use SIP Code 603 to meet the immediate notification requirement on Jan. 1, 2022. The denial, in part, of the petition means voice service providers terminating a call must provide immediate notification of blocking by means of the designated SIP or ISUP codes.

The Sixth FNPRM seeks comment on whether and, if so, how voice service providers should transition from SIP Code 603 for purposes of the immediate notification of call blocking requirement and to full implementation of SIP Codes 607 and 608, according to the FCC.

The Sixth FNPRM set deadlines for filing comments and reply comments at 30 days and 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.

The deadline for implementing SIP Codes 607 and 608 is the subject of the FNPRM and ACA will be commenting on it. The FNPRM does, however, include helpful policy language stressing a preference for SIP Codes 607 and 608. It states, “We continue to believe that we should retain the requirement that terminating voice service providers ultimately use only SIP Codes 607 or 608 in IP networks, as the adopted technical standards indicate these codes are designed to be used for call blocking.”

Comments on the FNRPM are due Jan. 31, 2022, and reply comments are due on or before Feb. 14, 2022.

Read the Federal Register notice for instructions on how to file comments and more information.

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