On September 9, 2020 the FCC published their Second Report and Order Promoting Caller ID Authentication to Combat Illegal Robocalls. It’s 92 pages of legalese, so this article provides a summary of the key points for small independent service providers.
Deadline extended by 2 years…
The headline is that service providers with fewer than 100K subscribers are granted a 2 year extension (the deadline is now June 30, 2023) to implement STIR/SHAKEN in their networks.
… but with some conditions
Any service provider qualifying for the extension must make reasonable efforts to prevent robocalls from being originated from their network and must file documentation with the FCC explaining this “robocall mitigation program”. They must also fully comply with any efforts by the FCC and law enforcement to trace back the source of suspected robocalls.
The FCC will also be setting up a database where all service providers can file a certification showing how they are acting to stop illegal robocalls – and intermediate service providers will only be permitted to pass calls that originate with a service provider that has filed this paperwork.
What’s the latest on TDM networks?
The original TRACED Act mandated that service providers must “take reasonable measures to implement an effective call authentication framework” for non-IP calls by the deadline.
This Second Report and Order defines that this requirement will have been met if:
- you upgrade your TDM network to IP, or
- you are working to develop a non-IP authentication solution.
Most interestingly, you are considered to be “working to develop a non-IP authentication solution” if you are part of a trade association that has a working group that is actively working on this.
So in terms of compliance with the FCC rules, as long as you’re a member of NTCA (or US Telecom, or your local state association) and as long as that organization is investigating a non-IP authentication solution, you are complying with the rules.
Regarding Out-of-Band STIR: the FCC says that there’s not enough consensus in the industry to mandate Out-of-Band STIR as a solution for TDM yet, but they also express frustration with those who argue against it, because they haven’t made any alternative proposals.
What should we do now?
From a legal point-of-view, assuming you have fewer than one hundred thousand subscribers, you’re mostly off the hook for the next two years. Mostly.
In Q1 or Q2 2021 the FCC will announce a process for self-reporting what you’re doing to prevent robocalls from originating in your network. We’ll likely be developing some best practices for our clients to help meet the FCC’s documentation requirements – so make sure you’re on our email list to learn more about these when they’re ready.
You should also make sure that your trade association has some kind of STIR/SHAKEN working group that is working on non-IP solutions, so you can qualify for that exemption.
Having said that, there are benefits to implementing STIR/SHAKEN as soon as possible, to maximize the deliverability of calls made by your subscribers, and to minimize annoying robocalls to your subscribers – so just because the FCC has extended the deadline doesn’t mean you should automatically delay implementation.