Battling Robocallers – Round 3

by Alan Percy, Senior Director of Product Marketing

This last month, a telemarketing firm hawking health insurance was fined $82 million for their role in 21 million illegal unsolicited robocalls.  Are the legal consequences enough to put an end to the nuisance calls?

As reported by the Washington Post, the Federal Communications Commission imposed an $82 million fine against a telemarketer who made more than 21 million unsolicited calls to consumers to try to sell health insurance and generate leads.

Despite this stiff penalty against one firm, the phones of Americans continue to ring with offers of bogus credit card protection offers, free vacations and fake IRS scams.

A root of the problem is the ease at which bulk phone calls can be made with spoofed caller-ID information, tricking unsuspecting victims to answer call they think are from friends or neighbors.  While there are legitimate reasons to substitute caller-ID information (Doctors office reminders, school notifications, etc) fraudulent abuse continues to be an industry-wide problem.

Meanwhile, progress is being made in the standards bodies with further refinement of the STIR/SHAKEN framework that will allow service providers to “certify” that the originating caller and communications service provider owns the rights to the calling number.

In August, the ATIS and SIP Forum announced the release of two key specifications needed to standardize the user experience and APIs needed for implementation of SHAKEN.  The first specification Technical Report on a Framework for Display of Verified Caller ID (ATIS-1000081) defines a standard user experience for calls from known callers, likely SPAM callers, suspect and potential fraudulent callers with color icons and information on screen-based devices.  The second specification Technical Report on SHAKEN API for a Centralized Signing and Signature Validation Server provides a proposed RESTful API for the implementation of the SHAKEN specification

This next couple weeks will see two industry speaking sessions addressing the issues, including:

Battling Robocallers – a Tutorial on STIR/SHAKEN presented by yours truly at Astricon in Orlando on Tuesday, October 9th at 10:00 AM

Comprehensive Approach to Illegal Robocalls presented by Eric Burger, CTO at the Federal Communications Commission at the Illinois Institute of Technology Real-Time Communications Conference on Tuesday October 16th at 9:00 AM

Later in December, the SIPNOC event has a dedicated Robocall Summit track specifically addressing the problem, including a number of industry thought leaders.

However, questions do remain on the timeframe and motivation of the service provider community as to when they plan to implement any or all of the recommendations, giving consumers a break from the fraudulent robocallers.

 

CommCon 2018 – The Open-Source Community Comes Together

By Alan Percy, Senior Director of Product Marketing, TelcoBridges

Imagine as your taxi is pulling into the driveway of a conference center and as you get closer, it appears there are badge-wearing conference attendees chasing ducks around the front lawn. The first thought goes through your head is “am I at the right place?”  And the answer is, yes, you are…

A few years ago, I had the fortune to met Dan Jenkins, a young software developer by trade who is deeply engaged in the open-source developer community. Dan and I first met at some of the hack-a-thon events where he was helping contestants build voice and video applications with the APIs he had built for WebRTC. During our first meeting, Dan was like many of the people that participate in hack-a-thons: pretty quiet and very knowledgeable about their craft.

Image my surprise when last year Dan kicked off CommCon, a new conference focused on the open-source developer community. Billed as “a conference done right”, my first thought was “was that the same Dan?” Yes, it is the same Dan!

Back to the ducks. Like many conferences, breaking the ice between attendees and doing some team building is an important part of a successful event. Being held in the English countryside, what better activity to break the ice than lessons on duck herding with a team of border collies. Under the guidance of “Bob the duck whisperer”, a group of the attendees soon learned how to use calls to get the dogs to go left, right, stop and start. In teams of three, we all had an opportunity to work together with the dogs to guide the ducks through a series of posts and back to their pen. Other team-building events gave teams an opportunity to try archery, Segway navigation, falconry and try a bounce in a Zorb.

Like Bob, Dan herded his 50+ attendees through an incredible week of technical learning, workshops, networking and team-building events in a stellar setting. During his opening keynote, Dan challenged the attendees: “Don’t be a Knob” – meaning you should treat others as you would like to be treated.  (A simple rule  –I may get it made into a bumper sticker) With this tight-knit group all under one roof, and many of whom complete with similar solutions, there are plenty of opportunities for friction. I had plenty of opportunities to meet and talk with nearly everyone else – building some great new relationships and share what TelcoBridges had to offer the open-source community.

The week wasn’t all fun and games, there was plenty of time to learn from the other attendees during the technical presentations (which can be viewed here). Three days of jam-packed presentations on two tracks, one focused on VoIP while the other focused on WebRTC. The VoIP track featured presentations on Asterisk, FreeSWITCH, Kamailio, OpenSIPS, Kubernetes and more.

The key take-away from the event is a fresh appreciation for the inter-twined and inter-connected nature of the various network elements needed to build a service provider solution. Call switching from here, media services from there, network diagnostics from somewhere else. All supported on a volunteer basis. It left me wondering – is this the right way to manage a revenue-producing network? Frankly, some simplification and tight technology alignments would help significantly.

Daniel-Constantin Shares Kamailio

I came away from the event better educated, with a host of new contacts and a new appreciation for the open-source community.

Tip of the week: “Come bye” makes the dog go clockwise and “Away” makes the dog go counter-clockwise.  Just don’t forget to stop the dog in-between commands with a “Lie down”.

 

TelcoBridges and Jerasoft – Connecting at ITW 2018

by Alan Percy, Senior Director of Product Marketing

Leading communication service providers depend on cloud-based and virtualized software to deliver services to their customers.  Like building blocks in a building foundation, communications software products fit together, creating an inter-locking base for reliable and profitable services. During the upcoming ITW event in Chicago (May 6-9th), CSPs have an opportunity to see the latest innovations in software solutions and learn how the various communications system building blocks fit together.

Continue reading TelcoBridges and Jerasoft – Connecting at ITW 2018