Previous blogs in this series have dealt with a number of technical topics related to STIR/SHAKEN technology. This blog moves away from that theme and focuses instead on a very pragmatic concern – how to select the best STIR/SHAKEN solution for your network.
Like children and pets, telecom networks thrive on predicable routine. Once the network is running and stable, disturbances to it amount to potential disturbances to customer service and to revenue flow. Such disturbances are to be minimized to the extent possible, to preserve both CSAT and the bottom line.
STIR/SHAKEN can be viewed as an FCC-mandated disturbance of the network. Service providers are required to implement multiple entirely new functions across the network in order to comply, and they must do so by June 30th 2021, or dates beyond that if an extension has been sought and granted. Since a STIR/SHAKEN-oriented network disturbance is necessary, it is well worth considering how to minimize its scope and thus the likelihood of a service degradation or complete service outage as a result of it.
At face value, the demands of STIR/SHAKEN are daunting, and not just because of all the new network functions that must be introduced. STIR/SHAKEN requires that established call flows and established call routing be intercepted to accomplish either call signing or call signature verification. This means that existing call flows must be interrupted and rerouted towards or through new network functions to have them signed or verified, and then returned to their original routing. This is no small task in many network topologies.
This task cannot be eliminated entirely, but it can be made more or less difficult by the solution vendor’s choice of approach. Some vendors require operators to install new equipment and then modify all call routing in the network to select the new equipment as an initial route, forcing all calls to first flow through STIR/SHAKEN functions before proceeding on their way. Some vendors ask service providers to upgrade their existing network equipment to new versions, often at great expense and with tentacles that reach out into many of the surrounding elements of the network. Some vendors want to put in entirely new SBCs or specialized service nodes in the middle of existing call paths, decreasing overall network reliability and increasing latency.
There are as many potential technical approaches to introducing STIR/SHAKEN into the network as there are combinations of solution vendors and network topologies. After working with many operators to implement STIR/SHAKEN, we’ve created a checklist based on key learnings.
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This blog was written by Michael Campbell, Guaranteed Caller Product Manager, NetNumber