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Need to Sign Your Own Calls?

STIR SHAKEN Certificate Authority is often asked whether service providers should sign their calls. Providers are often motivated by the fear that a downstream provider might block legitimate but not fully attested calls. We can meet most call signing requirements of customers because My Country Mobile (MCM) has implemented STIR SHAKEN Certificate Authority within our network. However, we also understand the concern.

Specific traffic in a STIR/SHAKEN environment may only be partially attested if the provider relies solely on low-cost routing (LCR) or has enterprise customers that legitimately spoof the calling party number. For example, a 3rd-party call center or a doctor calls a patient from her cell phone while the caller ID displays a number for the medical practice. Many service providers may wish to control how their calls are signed.

Revisited STIR SHAKEN Certificate Authority Requirements

Let’s first review the current mandates of the FCC before we get into the importance of signing your calls. First, the FCC issued a Report and Order on March 31, 2020, requiring voice service providers to implement the STIR SHAKEN Certificate Authority caller authentication framework in their networks’ Internet Protocol IP portions.

The FCC has issued a second Report and Order on STIR SHAKEN Certificate Authorityimplementation. However, it also acknowledged that there were a few open issues. They gave special attention to specific providers and call scenarios.

Sign Your Own Calls
Sign Your Own Calls

What is involved in signing your calls?

It is not easy to get approval to sign your calls. You will first need to become an Interconnected VoIP Provider.

  1. A 499A file with the FCC.
  2. Get approval from FCC for Interconnected VoIP Numbering Authority
  3. I completed a STIPA Test Plan with the Policy Admin (iconectiv);
  4. A valid certificate from an approved Certificate Authority (e.g., Neustar, TransNexus or NetNumber
  5. Final step: Implement a STIR SHAKEN Certificate Authority solution within your network.

Many providers and firms are now offering assistance to VoIP providers in filing the required paperwork. Unfortunately, these fees can be as high as $10K or $5K and can take up to nine months to complete.

You will eventually need to deploy a STIR SHAKEN Certificate Authority solution within your network. This comes with additional costs and the associated allocation of resources. This includes ongoing management and compliance within the STIR/SHAKEN environment.

It is important to remember that STIR SHAKEN Certificate Authority implementation no guarantees that call block by terminating providers. The FCC requires that STIR/SHAKEN information considers at the very least. However, analytics engines do not rely solely on STIR/SHAKEN for decision-making. Instead, analytics tools view other indicators, such as the age of the calling number, low answer seizure (ASR), or a high volume of calls.

The Evolving Industry Features of STIR SHAKEN Certificate Authority

The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions has received several suggestions for improvements to the STIR/SHAKEN framework. These proposals should increase trust in the attestation process. We expect two such modifications–certificate delegation. MCM monitors and advocates for these solutions in ATIS, NANC, and other relevant industry forums.

STIR SHAKEN Certificate Authority Delegation

STIR SHAKEN Certificate Authority telephone service provider can delegate authority to create a digital certificate only by authorized customers. So, for example, if you are an MCM customer, you can direct us to use a valid certificate from your alternate numbering provider. We would then invoke our local policy and sign such calls with an “A.”

Sign Your Own Calls
Sign Your Own Calls

CENTRAL TN DATABASE (CTND).

The industry-authorized repository will map TNs to participating companies; also, each company will receive a unique identifier. The originating service provider would then access the database to verify that the enterprise can use the TN. STIR SHAKEN Certificate Authority would also include any delegated authority for the enterprise, such as a third-party contact center.

If you choose to sign your calls.

MCM is the preferred provider to join STIR SHAKEN Certificate Authority treatment customers. However, some customers have started calling, signing, or applying for their certificates. As a result, MCM has developed a transit solution, the SIP ID headers, to the terminating provider to support customers who want to move in this direction. This is following additional FCC mandates. This transit identity solution will be available to all customers in Q1 2021. Notably, as of writing, no provider is successfully transiting identity header data between an originating also terminating service provider.

Final thoughts

You may be concerned that your service provider is not meeting compliance deadlines on time. But I hope this blog will give you some comfort. Therefore, Working groups from the standards bodies and FCC involve in the ongoing development and deployment of standards to address valid and legitimate uses cases not protected by current standards. We will keep you updated on any new products and improvements.

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