Service Providers

Nuisance call handling at the network edge

July 22, 2019 | Posted by: Michael Gates

Robocalls. Nuisance calls. We all know what they are. We all hate them. You’ve probably received at least one at some point in the last day or so. These types of calls have become the scourge of our society, they are currently the number one complaint received by the FCC. While estimates vary wildly, there’s no denying that nuisance calls are a sizable portion of the telephone calls made today. A recent c|net news article estimates that Americans received 47.8 billion nuisance calls in 2018. An unfortunate side effect of this is that legitimate calls from an unrecognized number are often ignored. The only bright side is the fodder for late night talk show hosts as seen in a comedic (and somewhat off-color) episode of HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

Law makers are finally beginning to recognize the problem and have started releasing legislation to address it. In January of 2018, the CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) mandated that telecommunications service providers (TSPs) must implement a method to verify the caller ID information of IP voice calls no later than March 31, 2019. The United States Congress has introduced the TRACED (Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence) Act in an effort to empower the FCC to take action against these types of calls.

Seriously though, how many interns did it take to come up with that acronym?

Block Robocalls

Now that we’re empowered to take action against the originators of the nuisance calls, how do we go about it? If you’re living in the telecom world, you’ve most certainly heard of STIR/SHAKEN. While STIR/SHAKEN is certainly an important tool, it is not a silver bullet. STIR/SHAKEN is a SIP-based protocol that works well in the core of the network. Class 5 end offices are still utilizing a TDM (time division multiplexing) based network. Until the rural telcos living at the network edge have access to the service provider’s SIP-based backbone, STIR/SHAKEN does little to help them. So, what can the rural telcos do to help their subscribers curb the nuisance call problem? The network edge may not yet be able to take advantage of solutions based in the core of the network, but there are steps that can be taken.

One of the more common tactics employed by the originators of nuisance calls is to spoof their ANI (automatic number identification) so the caller ID shows a local number. The intent is to try and trick you into thinking that the call may be from one of your neighbors. Configuring the end office to evaluate the ANI of inbound network calls is a simple solution to this problem. If the ANI is a local number, then it can be blocked or redirected for other special treatment.

Subscribers also have access to tools to help them address the nuisance call problem. Features such as ACR (anonymous call rejection) or white/black list allow subscribers to block calls from private numbers or allow/disallow calls from specific numbers. These can be paired with the use of an audio CAPTCHA (sometimes known as telemarketer do not disturb) to force callers to dial a digit to confirm they aren’t a computer placing a robocall.

In addition to the solutions for nuisance call handling at the network core, REDCOM also includes features and capabilities that can be used by rural telcos on the network edge. Our communications experts are standing by ready to aid you in your fight against nuisance calls.