June 29, 2022

FCC Updates STIR/SHAKEN Deadline for Small Voice Service Providers

Since June 30th, 2021, major carriers have been required to adhere to the STIR/SHAKEN framework. This set of regulations aims to stop robocalls and other problematic phone communications. This adherence has not always gone smoothly and has raised some questions about the regulations. Overall, the legislation has significantly reduced illegal robocalls and phone center activities. 

FCC Updates STIR/SHAKEN Deadline

However, smaller voice service providers have not, for the most part, adopted the STIR/SHAKEN regulations since they have until 2023 to establish compliance. This extension is problematic since the vast majority of robocalls come from these smaller voice services providers. As a response to this loophole, the FCC has advanced STIR/SHAKEN implementation to June 30th, 2022 for some. This extension will take effect for a segment of small voice services providers: the Non-Facilities-Based-Providers. 

What are Non-Facilities-Based Providers?

A non-facilities-based provider is one that operates telecommunication services but doesn’t own the facilities associated with these services. These service providers use an “exempt transmission apparatus” to conduct business.

However, these facilities are responsible for the majority of robocall operations. The FCC has since determined that waiting another year to mandate compliance was not in the best interest of legitimate call centers and consumers. Curtailing robocalls from large service providers did not sufficiently impact these bad actors, so the FCC refocused its compliance efforts. 

Robocall Changes Since STIR/SHAKEN

After the rollout of STIR/SHAKEN, robocalls originating from major carriers dropped from 11% to 4%. Although this drop is significant, it certainly doesn’t solve the robocall problem. In fact, this trend indicates that the majority of high-risk calls must originate from small carriers, especially non-facilities-based providers.

Fortunately, some of these providers have voluntarily embraced STIR/SHAKEN guidelines. Currently, there are 328 non-facilities-based providers registered with the FCC. Of these providers:

  • 32% have completed full STIR/SHAKEN implementation.
  • 46% have not begun implementation.
  • The remaining 32% have reached partial implementation.

Surprisingly, these compliance numbers are higher than other voice service providers. Out of 1,440 providers, only 12% have completed STIR/SHAKEN implementation, while 67% haven’t started implementations.

However, the fact remains that the majority of high-risk calls originate from small non-facilities-based providers. As such, the FCC decided to tighten STIR/SHAKEN deadlines to protect consumers better.

Non-Facilities Based Providers Deadline

This new deadline should significantly reduce robocall activity, but it will not eliminate it. Other small voice services providers have another year to put STIR/SHAKEN regulations into effect. They have until June 30th, 2022, to implement the guidelines. Still, other providers have a STIR/SHAKEN deadline of June 30th, 2023.

Consumers and legitimate call centers are undoubtedly frustrated by the long crawl toward complete enforcement of STIR/SHAKEN. Consumer distrust of unknown calls remains high, leading many to block calls and report others, some of which are from legitimate businesses. Until STIR/SHAKEN is fully in place, robocalls will remain a serious problem. 

90-Day Implementation for Bad Actors

The FCC has also cracked down on current bad actors in communications. In addition to the June 30th deadline for small non-facility-based carriers, the FCC has directed its enforcement bureau to give written notice to originate small voice providers suspected of making illegal robocalls.

Updating the Robocall Mitigation Database

Once service providers receive this notice, they have ten days to file an update of their status with the Robocall Mitigation Database. This response must include the information requested by the FCC as well as evidence that the carrier is not responsible for robocall traffic.

If the provider chooses not to investigate their robocall traffic and eliminate it voluntarily, they will have 90 days to comply with STIR/SHAKEN. In short, bad actors have to stop their illegitimate activity quickly or face serious legal and monetary implications. 

Improving the Dialing Ecosystem

As a member of the telecom industry, you may be frustrated by the continuing problems with illegitimate call center operations, including robocalls. When large carriers implemented STIR/SHAKEN regulations, the drop in robocalls was not as significant as many had hoped. As a result, the FCC determined that small voice service carriers, particularly small non-facility-based carriers, were the “big culprits” for robocalls.

To better battle this problem, the FCC moved up the STIR/SHAKEN deadline for implementation by small, non-facility-based carriers by a full year and took steps to crack down on suspected bad actors as soon as possible. 

Bit by bit, illegitimate call center operations will diminish, but full implementation of the law will take several more years. Until then, consumers and legitimate outbound calling operations will continue to suffer.

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