March 10, 2021

Is Carrier Fragmentation Leaving Your Business in the Dark?

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Carrier Fragmentation Leaves Businesses in the Dark

Why do some people get more robocalls than others? Is it just bad luck? Or are mobile carriers to blame? Few businesses know different carriers use different call blocking technologies, and these technologies produce different results.

It’s messy.

Carrier Fragmentation Creates Confusion

Some carriers are better than others at blocking unwanted calls and texts. Smaller carriers struggle to stop spammers. And because carriers don’t work together, there’s no alliance in the fight against robocalls.

Blocking illegal robocalls is the No.1 priority for carriers. Consumers hate them. The government is cracking down on them. But because carriers can’t co-operate, call blocking becomes fractured, fragmented, and frustrating.

Carrier fragmentation — the lack of a uniform response to robocalls across the telecommunications industry — leads to all kinds of problems for businesses like yours. Some carriers might let your calls reach customers. But some carriers might block your number unexpectedly, mistaking it for spam. This fragmentation could have a detrimental impact on your outbound sales strategies.

Challenges With Call Blocking

The FCC introduced STIR/SHAKEN — inspired by James Bond’s “shaken, not stirred” catchphrase — to combat robocalls and protect consumers. The framework mandates carriers implement call authentication technologies to prevent robocalls from reaching consumers. But, because different carriers use different technologies, things get complicated.

And so carrier fragmentation proves a persistent problem.

Each carrier has its interests at heart and its market share to accommodate. But the self-serving nature of the telecommunications industry results in confusion, chaos, and a lack of cohesion. There’s no single call authentication technology, and there likely never will be. Fragmented data persists.

Say a Verizon customer reports a call as spam. Verizon flags the number and blocks the caller from reaching other customers. So far, so good. But Verizon won’t share this information with AT&T, or T-Mobile, or Sprint, or any other carrier.

But what if a call isn’t a scam?

Consumer Feedback Drives Data

People report genuine sales calls to carriers all the time because they don’t recognize the number. Or press the wrong button on their phone. Or don’t like sales reps! The carrier, say Verizon, flags the number and blocks the caller from reaching other customers. But, again, this carrier won’t share this information with any other carrier.

This disconnected, disjointed approach to call blocking causes headaches for your business. One carrier might block your number, but another carrier might let you reach customers. In this situation, you could experience a drop in sales because reps can’t reach, say, AT&T customers. But because you don’t know which customers use which carriers, it’s difficult to do anything about the problem.

And what happens if more than one carrier flags your number? Say Verizon and AT&T block your calls, but not T-Mobile and Sprint. Or Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile block you, but not Sprint.

Well, there’s no centralized way to dispute these problems.

It’s a nightmare.

What is Call Labeling?

Carriers realize that auto-blocking numbers is a terrible idea because it affects legit businesses. And, shockingly, stops hospitals and other emergency services from reaching people in danger. So call labeling came about, which gives recipients a choice to answer, reject, or block incoming calls. Carriers typically label perceived spam calls as “Scam Likely,” but customers ultimately have the final decision.

But call labeling doesn’t solve the problem of carrier fragmentation. Verizon has a different call labeling system than AT&T. Sprint has a different system than T-Mobile. And so on. Plus, customers can still flag genuine calls for all kinds of reasons. Mistakes happen all the time.

The whole situation is still messy.

Enhanced Caller ID is Just as Bad

After call labeling proved unsuccessful, carriers tried something called enhanced caller ID, which provides customers with additional insights — taken from a centralized database — about the person on the other end of the phone. Name, business name, department, location, logo, etc.

Enhanced caller ID still proves challenging for legitimate businesses. Often times carriers suggest using enhanced caller ID services to overcome call labeling issues. However, some carriers don’t always provide the right information to customers. Other carriers don’t use enhanced caller ID at all.

Ultimately, it is up to the receiving service carrier to retrieve the enhanced caller ID data from the database where it exists. If the receiving service carrier doesn’t know where to look it will be unable to display the caller ID appropriately.

Again, there’s no single approach across the industry.

But Don’t Carriers Have Responsibilities?

You’d think carriers have legal responsibilities to ensure genuine calls reach customers. But the FCC gave carriers a “safe harbor,” meaning they are not accountable for blocking legitimate calls. So, proper businesses like yours get caught in the crossfire.

While carriers don’t seek to hurt businesses intentionally, their actions sometimes have consequences. Call labeling for example helps give customers insight into a call’s intent. This allows a business call to go through, without being blocked outright, and ultimately gives the customer the choice to answer the call. However, safe harbor laws mean that carriers are not responsible for your calls not connecting. This leaves it up to the business owner to be both proactive and reactive in monitoring their own reputation.

Proactively Monitor Your Phone Numbers

Businesses have few options. With carrier fragmentation, there’s no way to determine which carriers have blocked your numbers and which carriers haven’t. The only solution to this problem is to monitor numbers frequently. Scanning your numbers for flags daily can help identify which carriers may be blocking your calls.

Before You Hang Up

The government wants carriers to crack down on robocalls, but different carriers have different call blocking methodologies, resulting in fragmentation across the telecommunications industry. Fragmentation causes a headache for businesses that rely on outbound calls for sales, and caller labeling and enhanced caller ID make the problem worse. The only solution is to monitor numbers and identify flagged numbers in real-time.

Do you want to know whether carriers have flagged and blocked your numbers? Caller ID Reputation monitors your numbers so you can protect your hard-earned reputation. Learn more here.