Commenters Oppose Proposed FCC Rules Restricting Use of Third-Party Caller ID Authentication Solutions
Cable and network providers are urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reject proposed rules that would block voice providers from using third-party services for phone call authentication under an industry framework designed to combat junk calls. ACA Connects, a trade group representing independent cable companies, has filed a statement with the FCC expressing concerns about the potential disruption to arrangements in which third-party entities perform STIR/SHAKEN call authentication on behalf of voice service providers.
The FCC is currently considering the adoption of new rules that could impact smaller providers relying on such services from wholesale carriers. The commission has sought stakeholder input on the use of third-party caller ID authentication solutions and potential changes to federal rules that govern their usage.
STIR/SHAKEN protocol, used by originating providers, involves signing or authenticating identities as legitimate before transmitting calls through phone networks. This enables validation of calls by network systems prior to reaching consumers. While the framework has received support from the commission under federal law, the utilization of third-party solutions remains a subject of debate.
ACA Connects has highlighted that many of its members, which are smaller telecom providers, serve as resellers of voice services over their last-mile broadband networks. Due to a lack of control over the necessary infrastructure for STIR/SHAKEN implementation, they are not currently obligated to use the protocol. However, several providers in this category receive service from wholesale providers that utilize the protocol and handle call authentication for resellers.
The trade group asserts that third-party caller ID authentication solutions have proven effective for many smaller providers and their customers, offering timely and efficient access to the benefits of STIR/SHAKEN. ACA Connects maintains that such solutions align with the objectives of the TRACED Act, which mandated the use of STIR/SHAKEN by the commission, as well as the agency’s own policy goals.
According to ACA Connects, adopting rules that disrupt these arrangements would hinder the FCC’s efforts to promote widespread access to STIR/SHAKEN. Therefore, the group suggests that the agency affirms the permissibility of such arrangements. However, if the FCC determines that rule changes are necessary to restrict or prohibit third-party call authentication solutions in other circumstances, it should be cautious not to encompass legitimate arrangements between wholesale providers and their reseller customers.
Incompas, a network trade group, has also expressed support for third-party caller ID solutions. The group emphasizes that competitive voice providers are actively working to adopt the STIR/SHAKEN framework and meet the commission’s existing requirements. Incompas believes that third-party authentication serves as a vital market-based solution to facilitate the implementation of the STIR/SHAKEN framework. Therefore, premature regulatory action that inadvertently limits the progress made should be avoided.
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