FCC, Voice Service Providers Review SHAKEN/STIR Progress

Comment deadline on implementation of call authentication is approaching.

7/11/2019 10:00 AM

FCC, Voice Service Providers Review SHAKEN/STIR Progress

ARM professionals have until July 24 to submit comments to the Federal Communications Commission regarding implementation of call authentication systems and protections for legitimate calls by voice service providers as noted in a third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

ACA International advocacy professionals and consultants will discuss these topics and others beginning at 3:45 p.m. Pacific, Monday, July 15, at the 2019 Convention & Expo in a session titled “The  Beltway and Beyond.”

Meanwhile, on July 11 in Washington, the FCC met with voice services providers as part of the “SHAKEN/STIR Robocall Summit” to discuss the caller ID authentication framework related consumer and legitimate business calls.

Under the SHAKEN/STIR framework—a set of protocols and a multiphase framework developed with the input of many stakeholders—calls traveling through interconnected phone networks would have their caller ID “signed” as legitimate by originating carriers and validated by other carriers before reaching consumers, according to the FCC. The framework digitally validates the handoff of phone calls passing through the complex web of networks, allowing the phone company of the consumer receiving the call to verify that a call is from the person making it.

In the first of three panel discussions July 11, Chris Wendt, director of technical research and development for IP Communications at Comcast and co-author of SHAKEN/STIR standards, discussed progress with industry to implement the framework by the end of the year.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai expects major phone carriers to implement the process this year, or regulatory action could be in order.

“SHAKEN/STIR is about the trust and verification of the telephone number identity and the ability to quickly trace back to the originator of the call,” Wendt said.

However, Wendt notes the framework cannot help determine if a call is illegitimate versus legitimate or the intent and content of the call; a concern for ACA International and focus of advocacy efforts with the FCC and other regulators to ensure calls consumers want and need are not improperly blocked and labeled.

“That’s a hard thing in general, that’s why we look to analytics and other tools for those things,” Wendt said.

From a voice provider perspective, Jeff Haltom, senior manager of Verizon Headquarters Planning, said they have options for legitimate enterprises to sign calls in a way that is “meaningful and impactful” to help ensure those calls have a higher probability of being answered by consumers.

However, added Linda Vandeloop, assistant vice president external affairs/regulatory at AT&T and chair of the Secure Telephone Identity Governance Authority Board, the solutions to ensure industry calls are getting through need to also ensure that illegitimate robocallers do not have the authority to sign their own calls.

Voice service providers are required to select a governance authority and policy administrator for their call authentication framework as part of the SHAKEN/STIR implementation.

Kathleen Foster, core networks engineering director for T-Mobile, said having a policy administrator in place will help verify callers are not bad actors.

That must be coupled with consumer education about illegal robocalls, added Scott Mullen, chief technology officer, Bandwith.

Bad actors need to be stopped so they don’t just move their operation elsewhere, he said. “SHAKEN/STIR is not going to stop robocalls outright,” he said, adding providers also must continue to work on verifying intent and validity of a call, in addition to the consumer education.

Thursday’s summit also focused on next steps in SHAKEN/STIR governance, challenges to deployment facing smaller voice service providers and discussion between officials at the FCC.

NPRM Comments

For the comments due July 24, the FCC  in particular is weighing whether it should establish a safe harbor for providers that implement call authentication framework and ensure that legitimate, wanted calls are not blocked, according to the NPRM published in the Federal Register June 24.

The commission is also weighing whether voice service providers that choose call blocking programs focused on calls that fail caller ID authentication—with the expectation most of these calls would be illegitimate—are deserving of a proposed narrow safe harbor.

The safe harbor is seen as an incentive for voice service providers to implement the SHAKEN/STIR call authentication framework by the FCC’s deadline of the end of this year without enacting further rulemaking to require them to do so.

ACA International is reviewing the NPRM for comments on behalf of the accounts receivable management industry and encourages members to share their input. Stakeholders may file comments on the call authentication NPRM through the FCC website using CG Docket No. 17-59 and WC Docket No. 17-97. See the Federal Register notice for additional instructions on filing comments.

Vice President and Senior Counsel of Federal Advocacy Leah Dempsey and Hogan Lovells Partner Mark Brennan also discussed the FCC’s Declaratory Ruling and Further Notice on Robocall Blocking in a recent Hot Topic webinar for members. A recording of the webinar is now available for members.

Related Content from ACA International:

FCC Opens Comments on Implementation of Call Authentication Framework; Will it Work to Protect Legitimate Calls?

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