How Old Technology Is Causing Modern Headaches

Despite STIR/SHAKEN call authentication being used widely to combat Spam and Robocalls, rival authorities cause more legitimate calls to be flagged. Additionally, older legacy technology in the form of TDM (Time Division Multiplexing) services have been around since the 80’s, and don’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Before VoIP existed, voice services were typically handled in this way. These types of service are commonly referred to as T1/E1, T3/E3, SDH/SONET, etc.

TDM is used today for certain key reasons, as it provides essential characteristics that end-users rely on in specific industries. Utilities, transportation services, mobile operators, and others utilize TDM because of its guaranteed delivery system. Though it is not often appreciated, TDM was built to be reliable and set the standard for other technologies. In most cases, TDM services are protected against failures and can react almost immediately, preserving the application for end-users (who may not even notice that a failure occurred).

Because these older TDM networks are expensive to upgrade, the larger telephone carriers (Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile) are taking their time in replacing what is, essentially, outdated technology. This causes headaches for many, as the STIR/SHAKEN call authentication protocol is increasingly flagging legitimate calls, resulting in missed opportunities and increased frustration.

While more and more voice service providers are signing the calls they make, very few of the incoming calls have SHAKEN information intact. This is problematic, as STIR/SHAKEN is intended to combat Spam and Robocalls, not legitimate calls from authoritative bodies. Until the TDM providers can modernize their systems and implement STIR/SHAKEN for incoming calls, we will continue to see frustration from consumers and missed opportunities for businesses relying on these services. Good news – the FCC has launched an inquiry into SHAKEN for TDM according to TransNexus.

Up to Date with STIR/SHAKEN

Carolina Digital Phone, is fully compliant with the new FCC STIR/SHAKEN legislation and sign all of our outbound calls with a unique token. This assures the receiving caller’s carrier that our calls are not robocalls or fraudulent. This legislation is now several years old, but many will notice that SPAM calls are still quite prevalent, and even our outbound calls can still sometimes be marked as spam. The reason for this is that the larger carriers: AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile have not yet been held to the same requirements in implementing Stir/Shaken by the FCC, and have outdated networks which undermine the ability of STIR/SHAKEN to be successful.

Specifically, the portions of these large carrier networks that are non-IP, meaning analog. Modern internet/voice uses data “packets” to transmit information, whereas outdated networks still utilize an older TDM (time-division multiplexing) system. While these networks still deliver your call to the recipient.  All the additional security/validation information available in the voice data packet is lost when it traverses the TDM network. Therefore, when the call is received at its destination it is unknown if the call is signed or not, and the terminating carrier will not be able to determine if it is a SPAM call or not.

So while STIR/SHAKEN has been successful at limiting the amount of Spam and Robocalls we receive, it seems that we may need to wait a little longer for users of POTS or Plain Old Telephone Service (the old copper line) technology to upgrade and modernize. Until then, we will continue to experience some frustrating call disruptions as we navigate this evolving landscape of technology and communication.

Take Steps Against SPAM

There are steps that can be taken to help mitigate SPAM issues for the general public. For example, utilizing call blocking and ID apps can help reduce the number of unwanted or fraudulent calls that you receive. Additionally, taking measures to ensure that your contact data is up-to-date with all relevant service providers will also go a long way in helping reduce frustrating call disruptions.

But what can you do if your business is legitimate, following all the rules, and still gets flagged as potential SPAM? Well, the good news is that there are steps you can take to keep your business phone number from being flagged as SPAM in error.

List your Business on the Free Caller Registry

The Free Caller Registry enables entities to make legitimate outbound phone calls and submit their data to the three major providers of call management services supporting the US wireless carriers. This can all be done in a standard, centralized experience.

By registering data, Analytics Engines have more information to work with and can provide accurate results.

To register your business phone number, visit the Free Caller Registry online. When you sign up, please include your company/school/non-profit contact information and phone numbers. This information will be sent to the three Analytics Engines, First Orion, Hiya, and Transnetwork Services, who will then follow up with you directly.

First Orion, Hiya, and Transaction Network Services have partnered to make telephone number registration easier. This free portal helps entities reach these Analytics Engines that support major wireless and wireline carriers in the US.

Avoid being tagged as SPAM – Be available for returned calls

Being available and responsive to customers will help reduce the number of SPAM-related call disruptions that your business may experience. By being available, and promptly answering calls returned by someone you dialed with legitimate business concerns, you are less likely to have someone report your phone number as SPAM. Think about it. Have you ever gotten a call from a number you may not recognize and tried to call that number back? Odds are, if you call and nobody picks up, you assume the call was not legitimate.

Call Responsibly

Don’t call the same lead 10 times a day. While this applies to businesses that call for sales or research, it also applies to companies that provide services, such as utilities or home repair companies. While you may be calling with the best intentions to help your customers, repeated calls might be considered to be a nuisance. Try following up your initial call with an email, rather than repeated phone calls.

Call with a Smile in your voice

If people are reporting your business number as a scam or fraud, it might be because they had a negative interaction with one of your agents. Your agent might have come across as harsh, unpleasant, or aggressive in the conversation. Just remember, even if you are acting in good faith and following protocol, the person receiving the call may not know that.

Chose a Knowledgeable Telephone Provider

When it comes to selecting a business phone provider, picking a company with knowledge and experience is critical to a successful experience. Carolina Digital Phone is one such provider with a vast amount of experience and a passion for the digital communications industry.

Carolina Digital Phone, based in North Carolina, has been providing unrivaled customer service since the late 1980s. Nicky Smith, our company’s founder, and CEO, shares his passion for providing customers with unbeatable customer service and insists on keeping the infrastructure up to date and compliant with all regulations.

Unlike our competitors, we only focus on VoIP so that we can be the best at it. Other companies may have little to no experience in the industry and poorly made infrastructure supporting their services. Here at Carolina Digital Phone, not only do we have a detailed understanding of how the technology works but also keep security as a top priority. Plus, outstanding customer service is apportioned to each and every client- something you won’t find with bigger corporations.

Final Words on SPAM

If you are having problems with your business number being flagged for potential SPAM, be proactive and add your phone numbers to the Free Caller Registry. While it may not be the final solution, having your numbers listed will go a long way to keeping your business running smoothly. Remember to treat customers and potential customers the way you would like to be treated. A little bit of respect and kindness goes a long way toward not angering someone and building customer loyalty.

If you are looking for a reliable, knowledgeable provider of VoIP services, look no further than Carolina Digital Phone. Our team of experts is committed to providing you with the best possible service, and our infrastructure is second to none. We hate SPAMMERS as much as you do. And we also know how the cloud-based telephone industry rules and regulations very well. Rest assured, we will always be on top of industry standards and best practices. We are always happy to answer questions about digital phone service. Give us a call today at (336) 544-4000.

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