The FCC has voted unanimously to shorten the deadline for some smaller voice providers to use the STIR/SHAKEN caller ID regime, meant to weed out unwanted robocalls, but smaller cable operator voice providers want to make sure the FCC isn't casting a too wide net.
The FCC said that some new evidence suggests that a "small subset" of smaller voice service providers were responsible for an "increasing quantity" of illegal robocalls.
The FCC set a June 30, 2021 deadline for most voice service providers, including larger cable operators, to implement STIR/SHAKEN, but gave smaller providers—fewer than 100,000 subs—more time.
But in a vote at its Thursday (May 20) public meeting, the commission said it would shorten that by a year (June 2022) for smaller providers "which originate an especially larger amount of traffic."
"We recently discovered that some smaller companies are pumping large volumes of traffic onto our networks and a lot of it looks suspiciously like robocalls," said FCC acting chair Jessica Rosenworcel. "It’s time to change course. So here we propose to cut back on the extension for smaller providers that are sending these junk calls. Implementing STIR/SHAKEN—and doing it faster as we propose here—will help reduce robocalls over time."
The FCC sought comment on how to best define that subset that poses "a heightened risk of originating an especially large amount of illegal robocall traffic," as well as whether it should do more to improve oversight of the smaller providers it identifies as requiring the shortened deadline.
ACA Connects, which represents smaller providers, said it will keep an eye on the proceeding going forward to make sure the FCC is aiming at the right target.
“ACA Connects represents small voice providers that have an established presence in their communities and take their obligations seriously," said Brian Hurley, ACA Connects VP of regulatory affairs. "We intend to participate in this proceeding to ensure it remains squarely focused on the correct target – the 'subset' of providers responsible for originating large volumes of illegal robocalls – and that it avoids sweeping in ACA Connects members and other legitimate providers that are not the source of this problem.”
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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