October 14, 2020

Is Least Call Routing Flagging Your Phone Numbers?

Telecommunication carriers are scrambling to implement the necessary anti-robocall systems mandated by the FCC's STIR/SHAKEN mandate. This rush to meet the deadline is causing businesses unexpected complications that adversely affect their revenue. One common practice, least call routing, could begin to effect your business' reputation.

STIR/SHAKEN is the FCC framework created to make sure that calls routed through interconnected phone networks will have their caller ID "signed" to prove its legitimacy. In that way, robocallers and spoofers can be identified and flagged.

Many customers are complaining that their caller IDs are labeling legitimate business calls as "Spam Risk" or "Spam Likely." As a result, consumers are ignoring calls they may want to hear, and businesses are losing potential clients. The cure for robocalls should not harm legitimate businesses, but that is the reality, at least in these early stages.

Until the FCC works the kinks out of their mandates, you will have to be proactive and address the problems yourself. Several issues may be contributing to this problem, but one likely culprit is least call routing, or LCR. In the past, this method was a great money-saver for companies, but now it may be harming your business. Taking the long-way around in call routing may not be worth the savings anymore.

What is Least Call Routing (LCR)?

VoIP (voice over internet protocol) communication let companies and individuals find the cheapest cost per call, which led to a booming business in both the private and public sectors. VoIP routing options are key to these savings. When you use VoIP, your call doesn't go directly from carrier A to carrier B. Usually, carriers route the call through multiple networks before connecting the caller to the recipient. This process is called least call routing (LCR), and the complicated routes have one purpose, to deliver a quality call at the lowest possible price.

LCR will find the cheapest option, even if that means directing your call through a twisting, multiple network path. When your call goes through these routes, it takes only seconds, so you do not notice a delay. Behind the scenes, though, your call has been around the block a few times.

How are Dialing Regions Classified?

The process is easier to follow when you understand US dialing regions. Authorities have created four main geographic terms to classify domestic US calls. These terms are determined by the LATA, or local access and transport area.

Local exchange service operation companies created these terms to conveniently combine certain markets. These markets can include several counties and area codes in large metropolitan areas. Or, they can make up an entire state, especially if it is small or has a widely dispersed population. Dialing regions may have surprising boundaries.

  • IntraLATA - Dialing within the same LATA is referred to as intraLATA. These are local calls such as you'd usually make to someone across town or to a nearby area.
  • InterLATA - Considered "long-distance," interLATA calls are those between two different LATAs, such as a call between Albany and New York City. These calls are often made in the same state, but they can also include calling a neighboring county.
  • Interstate - An interstate call is dialing to another state, such as a Chicago to LA call. These calls are also classified as interLATA since the call is connected between two separate LATAS.
  • Intrastate - An intrastate call takes place when you dial a location in the same state. Perhaps you live in Dallas and call your mother in Houston. In many instances, dialing in the same state is an intraLATA call, although in others it will be an interLATA.

The LATAs are the basics of call routing, but they can be hard to remember.

How Does LCR Effect Phone Number Reputation?

The success of STIR/SHAKEN will largely depend on attestation ratings in call authentication. These ratings help determine if a carrier is delivering legitimate calls or routing robocalls. Due to these ratings, routing calls can negatively impact your call's credibility.

The complexity of your dialing architecture, such as routing through multiple networks to get the cheapest rates, can make the origin of your call questionable. While your intentions can be pure, the complicated routing patterns may look suspicious to carriers and lead to low attestation ratings. Once you get low ratings, flags may appear on your number, discouraging customers from answering your calls. In some cases, carriers might block your call outright.

If your calls pass through networks that haven't fully implemented SHAKEN/STIRRED, you may automatically get low attestation ratings. In the long run, the industry expects these regulations to benefit businesses as well as consumers, but in the short-term, your company may suffer. Your calls need to stay away from bad or questionable "neighborhoods" to protect your from repercussions.

Monitoring Your Phone Numbers

You may find it difficult to determine what is affecting your phone numbers, so you must monitor them frequently. When you conscientiously monitor your business numbers, you know if carriers are flagging them, and you can take steps to correct the issue. You may decide to take a number out of rotation until it "cools off" or get rid of inaccurate call lists. Either action may help prevent flagging.

You should also consider simplifying your dialing architecture to avoid LCR issues. You might need to choose higher calling rates in order to avoid false flags created by communication carriers.

If you still have issues after call monitoring and LCR changes, other factors may be causing your flagging problems and damaging your outbound dialing campaigns. You won't find an easy fix, but you can make a difference if you persevere.

Final Notes

STIR/SHAKEN is an ambitious endeavor that should ultimately put many robocallers and spoofers out of business, pleasing consumers and encouraging them to answer more of their phone calls. The harassment from shady marketers should shrink to a mere trickle, leaving room for legitimate call campaigns to thrive. Overall, it is a positive move.

While you are undoubtedly happy the FCC is taking on robocallers and protecting consumers, you are allowed to be frustrated by the unintended effects on your business. Your legitimate outgoing calls are in danger of carriers incorrectly flagging them as spam despite your using best practices. Monitoring your calls will help as will being cautious with LCR.

In the coming months, you will be able to appeal incorrect flags to the FCC more easily and, hopefully, get faster results. Right now, however, the burden falls on you and your employees to protect your reputation through diligent call monitoring and strict adherence to industry standards.

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