Ninety-six percent of Americans own a cell phone. As mobile phones continue to skyrocket in popularity, new carriers pop up to compete. While many new and smaller carriers offer consumers lower prices, what is the effect on business? Do newer carriers offer the same caller ID capabilities as established carriers? Carrier tiers are important to analyze when considering how your business’ caller ID will appear for consumers.

What are Carrier Tiers?

Carriers are often classified in tiers from 1 through 3. Tier 1 carriers are generally seen as sole operators. Think AT&T or Verizon. They offer direct access to phone and internet connections through their networks and often hardware. Tier 2 carriers, such as T-Mobile or Sprint, typically have their own networks but rely on Tier 1 carriers in certain areas to cover gaps. Tier 3 (Metro PCS or Cricket Wireless) offer all their services through Tier 1 and 2 carriers.

In many cases, Tier 3 carriers may be local entities. Tier 2 and 3 often offer lower prices as they offer fewer services and don’t have to maintain network stability as much as Tier 1 carriers do. For instance, Tier 2 and 3 carriers use the same towers as Tier 1 carriers, which can lead to slower speeds and less reliable service. These are a couple more reasons they can offer services at much lower rates.

How Do Carrier Tiers Affect Caller ID?

When a business registers its phone number’s CNAM, or enrolls in enhanced caller ID services, third party databases typically store the CNAM information. Because this information isn’t regulated officially, often these databases are managed and maintained by third parties. When a call connects, the receiving carrier queries these databases to see if any caller ID information is available. If the specific data warehouse doesn’t maintain their information, caller IDs may display incorrect or outdated information.

Where a Call Gets Routed Matters

While most Tier 1 carriers display the information appropriately, where your caller ID data is stored is crucial. If the receiving carrier doesn’t check the database storing your data or doesn’t participate with a specific third party database, your caller ID won’t display.

This means that there is fragmentation in how caller IDs display on different carriers and sometimes even in different regions. While rich call data aims to solve this by using the STIR/SHAKEN protocol and other methods, this isn’t available commercially yet.

Notably, consumers using Tier 2 or 3 carriers may have even more difficulty with proper caller ID displays.

Do Carriers Affect Attestation Ratings?

With STIR/SHAKEN, attestation rating is critical. We’ve seen how services like “least call routing” can affect your attestation rating.

However, carrier tiers might affect this as well. Tier 3 carriers that provide local coverage often have to rely on multiple networks to route calls. Since it’s difficult to know what carrier the numbers you’re dialing are on, businesses are often in the dark as to whether their caller ID is actually displaying properly.

What’s the Risk for Your Business?

A study from TNS in 2019 reported that only 10 percent of high risk calls came through Tier 1 carriers. While these carriers serve the greatest amount of call volumes, this number is relatively low compared to other carrier tiers.

Your business should take carrier tiers into consideration when building your dialing architecture. In addition, there is an unknown factor when it comes to which carrier is receiving your calls. Monitoring your phone numbers helps to determine if they have are receiving flags, but this still doesn’t indicate whether your caller ID is working properly.

Wrap Up

Until we implement rich call data, it leaves many businesses in the dark regarding how their caller ID displays. In the meantime, continue to monitor your business phone numbers and remember, your Caller ID reputation is at stake.