FCC CTO Provides Key Note Address at SIPNOC Conference

Dr. Eric Burger, CTO of the FCC, was the keynote speaker at the SIPNOC conference in Herndon, VA yesterday. Dr. Burger focused his remarks on new rules to authorize call blocking of certain types of numbers that do not or cannot make outgoing calls (Docket No. 17-59 ADVANCED METHODS TO TARGET AND ELIMINATE UNLAWFUL ROBOCALLS).

In his comments, Dr. Burger explained that the new rules are a major change from past FCC rules that required carriers to deliver all calls. Under the new rules, carriers may block calls in the following situations:

  • Calling number is invalid and could not possibly be used to originate a call. This includes cases when the calling number is too short, too long, missing or includes alpha characters. More specifically, any calling number with beginning with six digits (are code + switch code or NPA-NXX) that are not listed in the LERG (Local Exchange Routing Guide) should be blocked.
  • Calling number has been allocated to the carrier, but has not been assigned to a customer.
  • Calling number is blacklisted to block calls in response to so-called “Do Not Originate” requests. For instance, entities like the IRS that have phone numbers that are never used to make outbound calls can request that calls purporting to be from those numbers be blocked in order to prevent malicious spoofing.

Just as importantly, Dr. Burger urged service providers in the audience to help enterprise customers fix their telephone system configurations. For example, several years ago Dr. Burger received a call from the former FCC CTO and the caller ID on his phone displayed the calling number 111-111-1111. His point was that even the FCC is not immune from poor telecom management practices and this call could be blocked under the new rules. He provided another personal experience of receiving a call from Egypt that was reported with a caller ID of Washington, DC. The call was actually from Egypt and began with country code 20 and city code 2 which appeared as a call from the Washington, DC area code 202. The operational point of this example is that international calling numbers must be presented in E.164 format with a leading +. His final point about the new rules was the requirement that calls to 911 must never be blocked, even if the calling number is missing or invalid.

Dr. Burger also encouraged the audience to file comments with the FCC for docket 17-59 at https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings. This docket is open for further comments regarding two proposed rules. First, what mechanisms could be developed to ensure that erroneously blocked calls can be unblocked as quickly as possible and without undue harm to callers and consumers. Second, how to measure the effectiveness of the new rules? How many robocalls have been blocked and what has been the impact of false positives – legitimate calls that have been mistakenly identified as robocalls?

The TransNexus SIP Analytics fraud control solution supports the new rules defined by the FCC and enables call blocking based on invalid calling numbers, unassigned numbers and easy management of a Do Not Originate list.