Attestation is a critical element of STIR/SHAKEN, the FCC mandate that on June 30th, 2021 kicks off a whole new era in telecommunications. Intending to restore confidence in phone calls, service providers sending or routing calls throughout the United States must be STIR/SHAKEN compliant or not only face serious financial penalties but also automatic rejection of calls that have not gone through either STIR/SHAKEN attestation or at least Robocall Mitigation. But what is attestation, and why is it so important that CSPs do it right?
Attestation is the mechanism by which the originating or intermediate service provider (the signing network) conveys their degree of trust in the asserted caller ID. The STIR/SHAKEN infrastructure then ensures that the provided attestation makes it from the originating network to the terminating network in an unassailably reliable fashion. Attestation is thus the heart and soul of the STIR/SHAKEN solution. If it is done with care, consumers can trust what the telephone network tells them about their incoming calls. If it is not done with care, the whole of STIR/SHAKEN is undermined and the telephone network remains in its current broken state even with this new technology deployed. It is therefore critical that each network determines the correct attestation level for their calls. Each call receives one of three levels represented by A, B, or C.
- A – Indicates the originating network has complete faith in the asserted caller ID. This attestation level indicates that the network has a business relationship with the entity originating the call and that this entity is known by the network to have a legal right to use the telephone number being asserted as the caller ID.
- B – Indicates the originating network has complete faith in the entity placing the call, but cannot claim any knowledge regarding that entity’s legal right to use the asserted caller ID.
- C – Indicates the originating network makes no claims whatsoever about the entity placing the call or the validity of the asserted caller ID. This attestation level is typically used for unsigned calls entering the network from a partner network.
While there may be motivation to mark as many callers as possible with an “A” attestation, CSPs must be more discerning with their attestation ratings. The FCC can impose fines on service providers that knowingly (or otherwise) allow fraudulent robocalls to originate on their network with “A” attestations, as that network would be undermining the whole STIR/SHAKEN infrastructure.
Assigning appropriate attestation levels based on business relationships is not as easy as it sounds. Customers may pressure networks into providing them with “A” ratings, competitors may be lax with their checks and balances and offer “all As”, and call centers may readily incorporate multi service provider connectivity strategies while demanding only “A” attestations. Faced with these challenges, it is critical for the health of our overall telecommunications network that CSPs pick the right STIR/SHAKEN solution. NetNumber’s Guaranteed Caller family of STIR/SHAKEN solutions arms service providers with the necessary tools to stringently vet calls yet also offer the flexibility to meet the commercial and technical needs of any network call flow.
This blog was written by
Michael Campbell, Guaranteed Caller Product Manager, NetNumber