Overview

This is a follow up to our recent article about STIR/SHAKEN. We wanted to spend some time further exploring STIR/SHAKEN and what that means for Skyetel customers. In our last post, we wrote about the technical part of STIR/SHAKEN and what it looks like in your SIP packets. Today, we want to talk a bit more about the legal side of it.

STIR/SHAKEN is the protocol designated by the FCC for carriers like Skyetel to use to verify the validity of the Caller ID data being sent over the PSTN. We wanted to take some time and explain how this system works, why you should care, and what you need to know. On June 1st, the FCC will implement and initiative, called, STIR/SHAKEN which will be a huge step forward in telecom for two reasons.

  1. STIR/SHAKEN should make call spoofing a thing of the past
  2. STIR/SHAKEN could, eventually, end robocalling.

STIR/SHAKEN will put an end to call spoofing. We’re about to enter into a world where people calling your Grandma claiming to be from Microsoft will no longer be feasible. Furthermore, once it is possible to swiftly identify who is illegally robocalling consumers, illegal robocalls will stop.

What Skyetel Is Doing

We are in the final stages of updating our routers to sign our customer’s outbound calling. This process is moving along smoothly, and we expect to release this to our customers in the coming month or two. Once we have our routers updated, we will begin reaching out to our customers to have them configure their required attestation levels (described below). The attestation step will be optional, and should only take a few minutes of your time.

We are also in the final stages of having our own certificate signed, and published. Skyetel is not using a third party for its STIR/SHAKEN compliance; we are doing everything ourselves.

What’s Coming

Once our SIP Gateways are updated to support our STIR/SHAKEN certificates, we will need to verify our customer’s information and configure your Attestation level. This sounds more tedious than it actually is; we just need to make sure we have accurate contact information for you and that we know what Attestation Level your traffic should be at. This will be done through our portal and will impact your traffic account wide.

Right now – there is nothing you need to do to be compliant with Stir/Shaken. We are taking care of all of this for you and will provide a final update in the coming weeks about your next steps. As we mentioned earlier, we expect to offer this service free of charge; so don’t fall for anyone telling you that you should pay them for it :).

Attestation Levels

There are 3 levels of attestation that will impact your outbound calling. Each level represents a sort of trustworthiness that will influence how your call is handled by the recipient.

Level A – Full Attestation

This is the level you will be in by default when the phone number you are calling out from matches one in your Skyetel account. Level A means that Skyetel knows for certain that your outbound caller ID is a real number that you either own, or have authorization to use as your outbound caller ID.

We expect that outbound calls in this group will have the best deliverability. In fact, it is likely that the deliverability of a Level A call will have greater deliverability than they do now because callees will be more likely to answer verified calls.

Furthermore, one of the awesome benefits of Level A attestation will be the future ability to put a “why” to your phone call. As we mentioned in our last guide, in the future caller ID will not just be “(800) 221-1212,” instead it will say “Delta Airlines calling in regards to your upcoming flight.”

You definitely want to be in Level A.

Level B – Partial Attestation

This level means that Skyetel knows what system (PBX/ATA/Switch/etc) the call was placed through, but not that the calling party who placed the call was authorized to use that phone number as the caller ID. This is the default position for Skyetel users who have DIDs on other networks and who have not completed a manual attestation

We expect that outbound calls in Group B will be successfully delivered, but the recipients may send these calls straight to voicemail, and may even block them altogether.

Level C – Gateway Attestation

This level means that we know the call went over our network, but we do not know who was responsible for it nor if the party placing the call was authorized to use the phone number for Caller ID. This level is more applicable to things like international inbound phone calls, or calls the Skyetel network processes for other certified carriers. Skyetel customers who use us for termination via an Least Cost Routing tables or an automated soft switch will be placed into this category.

We expect outbound calls in this group to eventually have very poor deliverability. In the coming years, many carriers and cell phones will either outright block these calls or send them straight to voicemail.

Follow up FAQs

How do I make sure my outbound calls are in Level A?

If all of your outbound Caller IDs match numbers in your Skyetel account, just sit back and relax. There is nothing for you to do. If the outbound caller ID that you are sending does not match a DID you have in your Skyetel account, you will need to complete a manual attestation.

What is a manual attestation?

A manual attestation will be a form that you complete and esign with Skyetel. In it, you certify you are authorized to use the outbound caller IDs you are sending us. This process is fully automated within our portal and will take less than 2 minutes.

Will there be a cost associated with STIR/SHAKEN?

As we mentioned in our previous article, our goal at Skyetel is to offer this service for free. As of now, that is still our plan. If we are forced to charge for this feature – something we do not expect – we will only charge our costs and we will not add a mark-up.

Can I sign my own calls?

Yes. If you send us verified calls from your own equipment, we will default to your own signature instead of using ours.

Will this mean all of my calls will have a check box on people’s cell phones?

Yes. Well, Sort of. Probably. Definitely eventually.

When we complete our STIR/SHAKEN update, we will sign all of your outbound calls at the correct attestation and send them to the recipient carriers. It will be up to the recipient carriers to actually update their gateways to display that accurately to the callee. Right now, not all wireless carriers have updated all of their gateways with all the landline carriers to support STIR/SHAKEN. Because of this patchiness, some calls will show ups a verified while others won’t. We expect this irregularity to be temporary.