New Spam Call Regulations: Insights, Solutions, and a Spam-Free Future

December 05

Are you experiencing dropped calls or missing calls that people insist they've made to you? Tune in to our latest episode of Technology Simplified to uncover potential reasons behind these issues.  In this episode Will Slappey, CEO of IT Voice, and resident telecom expert, James Lansford, explore the dynamic landscape of telecom regulations. In this episode, we unravel the FCC's role in combating spam calls and the industry's transition to self-regulation. 


Will Slappey: Welcome back to another episode of Technology Simplified, tech talk everyone can understand. I'm your host, Will Slappey, CEO of IT Voice, and today I am joined by our resident telecom expert, James Lansford. Today we are going to be discussing the evolving landscape of telecom regulations. Today's topic is a hot one right now, the FCC's role in combating spam calls and the industry's shift towards self-regulation. 

James, can you give our listeners a quick overview of what has happened in the last couple of years with the changes in FCC regulations? 


James Lansford: Absolutely, and thanks for having me, Will. 

A few years ago, the FCC took on the challenge of curbing spam calls, often associated with illegal activities or activities that are just plain annoying. Complying with FCC regulation means you must do two things. Number one, You're not going to allow your systems or your networks to be used to distribute and disseminate robocalling and spam calling. And two, that you're not going to allow your networks to support end-users that are doing that. To tackle this, they initiated robocall mitigation efforts, pushing a technology called STIR/SHAKEN. 


Will Slappey: Man, that sounds like a food or something like that being made. STIR/SHAKEN, I'm thinking like, makes me think like Shake Shack or something. 

I'm sure obviously that's not what it's talking about. So James, tell us more exactly, what is STIR/SHAKEN? 


James Lansford: And STIR/SHAKEN is definitely not a James Bond movie. What it is it uses certificates, like how websites use them for secure connections. It aims to validate the authenticity of phone calls. Ensuring that they're not fraudulent or they're not spam. The FCC mandated telecom companies to comply by listing their company and declaring their level of mitigation. Now, here's the interesting part. Due to various reasons, the FCC decided to entrust the industry with self-regulation. Telecom companies are required to ensure their systems don't distribute spam calls. 


Will Slappey: Yeah, it reminds me a lot of in the IP world, all the certificates that you get, for websites and those kinds of things that you got to certify that hey, you're legit. And then if you are legit and probably everybody has been to an old website. At some point, you get the pop-up on the browser that says, hey, you're going to a dangerous place. 

They don't have an updated certificate or whatnot. So it sounds like it's similar to that same sort of thing. But for telecom telephone calls that you're trying to make. Yeah. So it's interesting kind of what you said there at the end. So several companies are using different ways to validate calls that I would imagine, there's a different user experience for each company. 

If the other carrier is not put in the correct security measures. What happens to the call? And what is that call experience like? 

 James Lansford: Great question. The industry adopted STIR/SHAKEN as that key solution to solve this but due to some complications that have occurred, especially with the major mobile operators having. They all have a different approach to accepting tokens that are attached to calls. That's how they do it. One mobile carrier, for instance, seems to adopt a more stringent stance, often not accepting those tokens and relying really on their own database for subscriber validation. On the other hand, another mobile carrier will take a more liberal approach, delivering calls until they are marked as spam. 


Will Slappey: Oh, yeah, that's that kind of the classic blacklist versus white listing, scenarios. Some people are like, okay, unless you're on the approved list. Then I'm not letting you through and then others are taking the, I'll let anybody through unless you're on the blacklist and not able to come through. So I'm sure that causes a lot of complications that are out there. So how does different companies doing this in different ways. Can you give us some more kind of scenarios around that? 


James Lansford: Yeah, absolutely. So one scenario is that the call immediately goes to the person they're calling voicemail, and the person they're calling says their phone never rang, leading to a lot of confusion and a lot of frustration, or they get a recording that says something along the lines of your call cannot be completed as dialed. And we all hate that the carrier is just basically rejecting the call. It doesn't even offer a reason why. Here, we are constantly monitoring this kind of data to see how widespread this is. As every provider gets on the same page, this process will become much easier. 


Will Slappey: Yeah. And that's got to be a frustrating part of the business where, a call doesn't get completed. And also just for our users too, is an explanation that if all of a sudden you get a voicemail and you're like, my phone never rang, there's a good chance that your carrier Like rejected that call from coming through, but maybe they did let it go to voicemail. And if you have any sort of calls that are not being completed, it's a new sort of thing now where it could be because it's some sort of proactive spam, a validation that is shutting that call down. And it may not be like a true, technical, technological sort of issue out there. So coming back around to that. So how can businesses ensure that their calls go through considering the different approaches that are out there, for their different way that people are trying to enforce these regulations? 


James Lansford: Yeah, really good question. There's a solution and it's called freecallerregistry.com. Those people, those companies are going to want to go register their company there. They want to get added to that white list for major carriers and it's free and it's really easy to sign up.  

You just go in, you enter your company's information and phone numbers. You'll receive a message from each analytic engine acknowledging the receipt of the registrant data and any additional actions you may need to take. And you know what? We don't want you struggling. So if you find that you need help with this process, just reach out to us here at IT Voice or your other telecom provider, but we're happy to help. 


Will Slappey: Thanks. That sounds like a complex but necessary process to ensure, call authenticity and appreciate the shout out there to be able to help any of our users that may need help with that. James, how are you planning to roll out, these changes like with the customers that y'all manage? 


James Lansford: Absolutely. 

Whitelisting has become more complex due to increased efforts by these robocallers to get around and circumvent the system. So we're taking a very slow in the face approach. Turning on features like dipping for CNAM, call blocking something called reputation scoring. We're doing that gradually. This way, we can ensure a smooth transition for our users. Our company is slowly transitioning to enhance our security measures.  

We're introducing reputation scoring, considering factors like. Token validity and other criteria to classify those calls of spam or legitimate. And I know that's a lot of words that people aren't familiar with. And again, that's why we're here to help. One new feature will be a bit like your email junk folder that we've all kind of become used to. You'll be able to find unwanted calls in that spam folder. We aim to empower our users by letting them redirect calls to specific voicemail boxes, giving you more control over inbound calls.  

At the end of the day, we realize that no one wants to receive spam calls or text. It's a huge time waster, big source of frustration. We've received, personally, tons of calls, even myself, on car's extended warranties or security systems because there's been a bunch of break-ins in our neighborhood that the FBI's calling us. We want to help put an end to all that. 


Will Slappey: Yeah. It's certainly it's a nerve on the personal side, with the number of spam calls that we all get. And that's something I wouldn't relate to listeners is when you get frustrated with some of these changes. Keep in mind what the carriers and the FCC. Everybody's trying to figure out a way to, get rid of all those spam calls. And I'm sure everybody can appreciate that when we get there. I did what you say.  


It made me think of the limbo game, where the bar just keeps getting lowered and lowered every round. And a lot of it sounds like a lot of the carriers are trying to, IT Voice included trying to slowly ease into the process to let everybody hopefully adjust. And I think that's probably an important note for listeners is hey, now's a good opportunity to make sure that you adjust.  

Because if you don't adjust and and you don't get registered, like you mentioned, and those kinds of things, then all of a sudden you might find yourself where, you're not receiving or being able to make calls to places you could before.  

And so it's a good thing to be proactive to get ahead of. Any other final thoughts, James, that you'd have, for our listeners before we go? 


James Lansford: Absolutely. We're navigating a complex environment, but it is our strong commitment to stay ahead, implement these latest technologies, and ensure the security and authenticity of voice communications. And we do encourage all users to register their numbers on freecallerregistry.com. And again, reach out to us or your other provider if you encounter any issues.  


Will Slappey: That's great, James. And always good to end with an action item that might make life a little easier for our listeners. And some free help that you're offering as well.  

These new FCC regulations are obviously going to play a pivotal role in fostering a robust, accessible, secure telecommunication environment hopefully one that is free of robo calls and spam calls here in, in the near future and to our listeners, if you have any questions or topics you'd like for us to cover in future episodes, feel free to reach out to us on social media or through our website.  

We're always excited to hear from all of you guys. Don't forget to subscribe to Technology Simplified wherever you get your podcasts, so you never miss an episode. Have a great week, everyone.