The FCC denied petitions from UScellular and Verizon for more time to implement the STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication framework. By June 30, carriers must implement the technology on the internet protocol (IP) portions of their networks.
The carriers told the Wireline Competition Bureau they’re having a hard time with the implementation and sought partial or complete extensions. The point of the technology is to thwart illegal caller ID spoofing. The STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication framework stands for Secure Telephony Identity Revisited (STIR)/ Signature-based Handling of Asserted information using toKENs (SHAKEN).
The framework enables the caller ID information to securely travel through the entire length of the call path if all providers along the way have implemented the technology. The transmission of this information from the originating voice provider, through each intermediate provider, to the terminating voice provider, allows that carrier to know it’s received accurate caller ID information.
Congress directed the FCC in 2019, to take steps to promote and require carriers to implement the framework. Carriers must apply the STIR/SHAKEN framework to calls they originate and exchange with other voice service providers and intermediate providers. They’re only required to transmit calls with authenticated caller ID information to the next voice provider or intermediate provider in the call path “to the extent technically feasible,” according to the rules.
For non-IP networks, the Commission required carriers to either upgrade their non-IP network to IP and implement the framework or develop a non-IP caller ID authentication solution.
The FCC can grant implementation extensions if a carrier proves it faces “undue hardship,” including financial and resource constraints. The agency did give small carriers more implementation time because they face a “substantial cost” to implement the protocol.
UScellular told the bureau it’s “working diligently to complete interconnection with other carriers,” but is still trying with some Tier 1 carriers. The bureau said in its decision the carrier has not demonstrated it faces undue hardship to implement the protocol. UScellular later told the bureau it sought an extension “out of an abundance of caution” and it may have been unnecessary.
Verizon sought a declaratory ruling that a portion of its fiber to the premises (FTTP) wireline network that provides Plain Old Telephone Service, is not an IP network that must comply with the STIR/SHAKEN implementation mandate by June 30. It also sought a three-year deadline extension for that portion of its network.
Verizon said it’s on-track to implement STIR/SHAKEN on its Fios Digital Voice platform before the deadline. But it’s having trouble implementing it on its (FTTP) wireline network. It says because of the legacy nature of these switches, which are at the end of their life, implementation would require “substantial resources reprioritization” and risks harming consumers by creating network outages. It would also cost millions of dollars to either retrofit the switches or replace them with newer technology, according to the carrier. Verizon says it’s begun a platform upgrade and customer migrations that will take about five years.
In this case too, the bureau said Verizon hadn’t proved it faced undue hardship.