Carriers Make Progress on Combating Spoofed Robocalls

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Carriers Thursday detailed their progress to-date on implementing technology aimed at authenticating calls that may be spoofed and safeguards to ensure legitimate calls are not blocked as robocalls. SHAKEN/STIR are acronyms for Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs (SHAKEN) and the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) standards. This means that calls carried over interconnected phone networks would have their caller ID “signed” as legitimate by originating carriers, and validated by other carriers, before reaching consumers. Earlier, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called on major carriers to implement the SHAKEN/STIR Caller ID Authentication framework by year-end. 

Chris Wendt is Director of Technical Research & Development for IP Communications, Comcast. He’s also Co-author of the SHAKEN and STIR standards. He described the technology as rules of the road for determining who has the authentication and credentials to properly direct a phone call. “We’re building the structure right now, and as we evolve, as we identify bad actors, as we figure out how to solve all the different call use cases and scenarios, we can integrate those tools into this framework.”

Kathleen Foster, core networks engineering director, T-Mobile U.S., said the carrier is in various stages of testing with other carriers. “We’ve deployed it for our own customers. We plan to launch on more devices and with more partners throughout the year.”

“A Verizon call today takes advantage of SHAKEN/STIR over LTE,” said Verizon Headquarters Planning Senior Manager Jeff Haltom. The telecom has “laid the groundwork” to put the technology into the hands of wireline and wireless customers. We look forward to continuing the effort in 2019 and going into 2020.”     

Linda Vandeloop, AVP of external Affairs/regulatory at AT&T and the chair of the Secure Telephone Identity Governance Authority Board, said: “One-hundred percent of our consumer VOiP calls originating on AT&T’s network are authenticated now. We expect that nearly all of our calls [that originate on its IP network] will be authenticated by the end of the year. This will include FirstNet, as well as prepaid, which includes Cricket.” She said the SHAKEN/STIR information will be used by the end of the year in its Call Protect service for customers.

Wendt said Comcast is partnering with AT&T and T-Mobile on SHAKEN/STIR and fully deployed in residential networks. All calls are being verified and Comcast is making progress with the other businesses in its network. “As a wireline provider, we’ve been trying to come up with display and other techniques for how we indicate to the consumer. We have various tools that consumers can use in the network to control the spam in the network and look forward to utilizing some of the tools that are being developed on an ongoing basis.” 

Scott Mullen, CTO for Wholesale communications provider Bandwidth, said his company “powers” more than 65 million phone numbers in North America and carries more than half a million concurrent calls. “We are actively blocking all known bad calls. We expect to have a full implementation deployed in our network ready to send and receive signed calls via the SHAKEN/STIR framework.”

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

July 12, 2019

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