STIR/SHAKEN Summit Brings the Telecom Community Together for Good

August 6th, 2019

On July 11, 2019, U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai convened a meeting of distinguished leaders in the telecom industry to discuss the progress in implementing STIR/SHAKEN, which enables authentication of caller ID information to combat spoofed robocalls.  STIR (Secure Telephony Identity Revisited) and SHAKEN (Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs) are the two standards that provide the framework to be adopted to prevent robocalls.

The Chairman expects major phone companies to implement STIR/SHAKEN this year, and at the summit, he and the participants worked together to identify challenges associated with the deployment of the STIR/SHAKEN framework and how to overcome them.

“Consumers want and need reliable caller ID information.  That’s why we must move aggressively to combat spoofed robocalls,” said Chairman Pai in an announcement issued prior to the event by the FCC. “I’ve repeatedly demanded that major voice service providers implement a strong call authentication framework this year.  I want to hear from them on the progress they’ve made toward meeting this goal.  We chose this industry-led path because it is the fastest way to help consumers, but I remain committed to taking regulatory action—action for which we’ve already laid the groundwork—if major carriers do not implement the STIR/SHAKEN framework this year.”

The public event focused on the industry’s implementation of the STIRSHAKEN caller ID authentication framework, which makes it possible for consumers to trust caller ID information when they receive phone calls. The definition and adoption of standards for signing as “legitimate” will have to be established along with STIR/SHAKEN for consumers to trust call authenticity.

The summit was a great success, with a broad cross-section of attendees from across the industry, including service providers, vendors, consultants, industry analysts and consumer advocacy groups. Approximately 70 people attended in person, with many more joining by livestream.

Chairman Pai shared that while service providers have until the end of this year to roll out their programs, he was pleased to see progress by many, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, CenturyLink, Comcast and Frontier. While remaining flexible about smaller service providers, the Chairman pointed out that even if only the top six service providers implemented full programs by the end of 2019, only 13% of spoofed traffic would be addressed, adding that international wholesale traffic will continue to be an issue. So, it is imperative that all US based service providers adopt the STIR/SHAKEN framework in order to provide comprehensive coverage for all consumers.

The summit included several panels where best practices were discussed, including the scope of internal testing and how to leverage the ATIS testbed to conduct interop exercises between carriers. And while the notion of scale was not formally addressed, there were informal discussions about the impact on SIP messages, which become bigger with STIR/SHAKEN, and how that would increase inter-carrier bandwidth requirements.

At another panel session, AARP shared a use case that drove the consumer’s point-of-view and how impactful STIR/SHAKEN will be on people’s daily lives.  AARP showcased examples of their members being defrauded, and arguing that call blocking must happen by default and be free to consumers.

A final panel focused on the smaller service provider market, mostly carriers serving rural communities, addressing concerns of the more 800 companies providing service to 2K - 30K subscribers. 80% of these service providers have IP within their network, but still have TDM for inter-carrier trunks which make the economics of implementing STIR/SHAKEN unreasonable. One of the suggested solutions to address this challenge is leveraging a cloud-hosted solution, using a consortium model.

The day proved to be a successful one with its overview of multiple market segments and discussion of the new challenges our industry faces. Want to delve into more detail? Check out the event livestream (https://www.fcc.gov/SHAKENSTIRSummit) or learn more about a joint STIR/SHAKEN solution from Ribbon and Neustar, (https://info.rbbn.com/stir-shaken-robocalls/).

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