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Q&A: STIR/SHAKEN Technology

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For client questions regarding STIR/SHAKEN, we recommend the following talking points, which are the highlights from the blog post that begins on the next page.

  • What is STIR/SHAKEN? To help combat illegal calls from scammers, fraudsters, and other bad actors, industry standards groups developed STIR/SHAKEN to authenticate callers.
  • How does STIR/SHAKEN work? STIR/SHAKEN relies on verifiable digital certificates provided by a trusted authentication service. The certificates allow communications service providers to attest to the legitimacy of a calling party’s number.
  • What are the levels of authentication? The degree of authentication can vary depending on the circumstances of each call, creating different levels of trustworthiness. There are three different levels of attestation, and each level indicates a different degree of trustworthiness regarding the call’s source: (1) Full Attestation (most trustworthy); (2) Partial Attestation; and (3) Gateway Attestation (least trustworthy).
  • Why is STIR/SHAKEN important? Under the TRACED Act, voice service providers in the United States will be allowed to block calls that fail to pass the STIR/SHAKEN authentication framework.
    • The TRACED Act requires IP networks to implement STIR/SHAKEN by June 30, 2021.
    • Leading up to the deadline, the FCC will create regulations that influence how callers interact with voice service providers that are blocking calls.
      • Criteria for blocking calls. The FCC must establish the parameters for when a voice service provider is allowed to block a call based on STIR/SHAKEN.
      • Safe harbor for voice service providers. If voice service providers satisfy certain criteria, they will not be held liable for mistakenly blocking lawful calls from legitimate businesses.
      • Callers’ recourse. The FCC must also establish a process by which a legitimate caller who is blocked due to STIR/SHAKEN may verify the authenticity of its calls.
    • Callers will want to closely follow FCC developments and provide feedback on proposed regulations.
    • What about Non-IP Networks? Non-IP networks have a similar, though not identical, requirement: Non-IP networks must take “reasonable measures” to implement an “effective call authentication framework” by June 30, 2021.
  • What is TCN doing? TCN is preparing for the implementation of STIR/SHAKEN in several ways:
    • TCN plans to offer Full Attestation or Partial Attestation for all numbers that clients acquire through TCN. Importantly, clients will be able to take advantage of these higher-level authentication metrics when STIR/SHAKEN is implemented without doing anything.
    • For clients that do not port their numbers to TCN, TCN can offer Gateway Attestation. (Clients wishing to take advantage of higher attestation should port their numbers to TCN.)
    • TCN is tracking FCC developments closely and actively participating in FCC proceedings to ensure its and its clients’ perspectives are heard.

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