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SHAKEN Goes Global: Opportunities and Challenges for Service Providers and Regulators Outside of the U.S.

August 16, 2021

The FCC September 28 mandate is quickly approaching, and many are wondering what that will mean for inbound calls to the United States. While the purpose of the Robocall Mitigation Database (RMD) registration mandate is to protect American consumers, the rules impact foreign networks and may cause unintended consequences for American travelers, offshore contact centers and branch offices located outside of the U.S. hoping to send voice traffic to residential and business subscribers in the United States.

How is that possible? Well, the mandate prohibits intermediate or terminating service providers from accepting traffic from voice service providers not listed in the Robocall Mitigation Database (RMD). Calls originating outside of the United States, but using U.S. telephone numbers, might get blocked as identifying the originating network can be challenging, especially given the high prevalence of IP-based calling routes.

Due to the complexity of cross-border terminations and the number of possible handoffs between intermediate transit carriers – this can amount to a significant amount of traffic that is impacted once these regulations are in place. Consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer and business-to-business calls have the potential to be affected by this change.

Where does iconectiv come in? As a trusted partner of the communications industry and the Policy Administrator for the world’s first implementation of a national call authentication system to fight robocalls, we recognize that phone spam is a global problem and would like to see a set of shared, technological best practices extend across country borders. We would like the global industry to work together in a harmonized way to help legitimate businesses and consumers around the world feel confident answering and conducting business on their phones.

We shared our knowledge on the unintended consequences of the FCC mandate along with the current state of voice verification, where that stands and why an industry-backed centralized registry is beneficial to service providers, business and consumers during a panel discussion at SIP Forum’s STIR/SHAKEN Summit. The conversation was moderated by Bevin Fletcher, Fierce Wireless, and featured Mike O’Brien, iconectiv, Jim McEachern, ATIS, Melissa Blassingame, Twilio and Gunnar Halley, Microsoft.

Some highlights of the conversation include:

O’Brien noted, “The intention is very valid. How do we protect the network and increase trust back in all our telecom networks? Trust is key to the value that we all invested in the networks. The risk is going to be blocking legitimate traffic that will make people no longer trust the network.”

“The one thing I do want to address is this view that SHAKEN is U.S. specific. We have to remember we are talking about STIR/SHAKEN. STIR was developed by the IETF. The IETF is about as global of an organization as it is possible to get,” McEachern stated. “So, although it is being deployed first in the U.S., this is not a U.S. or Canadian specific solution. It is truly based on global perspective, and we need to remember that.”

Blassingame pointed out, “There could be some challenges along the way, I imagine, because of the foreign service providers who perhaps don’t want to register in the database for privacy concerns or don’t even know about it. We certainly don’t want to block valid calls from foreign originating end users that want to make those calls.”

“There is always some risk that a call that began with a registered entity has a carrier in the middle that is not registered, and then you run the risk of it not finding its way to the destination in the United States,” Halley highlighted.

Click here to watch the replay and stay tuned for more information from iconectiv on the dynamic call verification landscape.