On May 21, 2021, the FCC released the Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) seeking comment on shortening the STIR/SHAKEN extension for small voice service providers that are most likely to originate robocalls, which was unanimously adopted at the May Open Meeting. The FNPRM proposes to reconsider the FCC’s prior determination that all small voice service providers should receive a two-year extension (until June 30, 2023) to implement STIR/SHAKEN in the IP portions of their networks. Instead, the FNPRM seeks comment on reducing the extension by one year, to June 30, 2022, for small voice service providers that originate an especially large number of calls. Specifically, the FNRPM seeks comment on the following:
- The FCC’s conclusion that a subset of small voice service providers is often responsible for illegal robocalls and is originating an increasingly disproportionate amount of such calls compared to larger voice service providers. The FCC is relying on a March 2021 Transaction Network Services Report, which found that 95% of high risk calls originated from non-Tier-1 providers. The FCC seeks comment on the data, whether the data supports its conclusions, whether the number of robocalls from small service providers has increased since implementation of the Second Caller ID Authentication Report and Order and the effect the FCC’s efforts have had on illegal robocalling in general.
- The FCC’s proposal to reconsider its prior decision and shorten the extension for small providers that originate an especially large amount of calls from two years to one year. In addition, the FCC seeks comment on whether this would reduce unlawful robocalls, what barriers and burdens small providers would face by shortening the extension, and what costs smaller providers would face.
- The best way to define “small voice service providers that originate an especially large amount of calls.” Specifically, the FCC seeks comment on utilizing the following prongs to shorten a provider’s extension:
- Originates a significant number of calls per day for any single line on average. For example, if a provider originates more than 500 calls per day for any single line on average, that provider would be required to comply with the shorter extension date. The FCC additionally seeks comment on whether it should set a numerical threshold, whether that numerical threshold should be 500 calls, whether the threshold should be the average number of calls over time or only consider providers that have that number of calls on a single line on a single day, and whether it should exclude certain entities that have a valid business reason to make a large number of calls, e.g. doctors’ offices, schools, insurance companies, etc.
- Receives more than half its revenues from customers purchasing non-mass market services. This prong assumes small voice service providers that mostly sell specialized services, and especially business services, are more likely to originate a large amount of traffic and robocalls. The FCC seeks comment on its assumption, how to measure revenue, whether half of revenue is an appropriate dividing line, and whether revenue should be calculated from non-mass market customers, non-mass market services, or a combination of the two.
- Other alternative or additional criteria. The FCC seeks comment on whether it should base consideration on service offerings, whether the traffic considerations should be based on the relative proportion of originating to terminating traffic as opposed to absolute levels of originating traffic, whether all-IP small service providers are more likely to be the source of unwanted robocalls, whether the extension should be shortened for actual or potential violations of the law, whether higher revenue service providers are more likely to be the source of robocalls, and whether small voice service providers track the information contained in the above definitions, among other things.
- Examination Period. The FCC proposes to apply the criteria adopted to small voice service provider operations prior to the effective date of the Order released pursuant to the FNPRM.
- The length of time for the extension. Specifically, the FCC seeks comment on whether a one-year extension is a “reasonable period of time” for these small service providers to implement STIR/SHAKEN, whether the reduction should be for a different length of time, and alternative approaches to altering the extension period.
- Requiring the affected small voice service providers to notify the FCC of their updated extension status and whether they should be required to submit data to demonstrate that status.
On April 29, 2021, the FCC released a Draft Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“Draft FNPRM”). The following changes were made from the Draft FNPRM:
- ¶ 24 – Adding a request for comment on whether any threshold adopted for a shortened extension that relies on lines or subscriber lines needs to take into account the real-world understanding of those terms for voice service providers, particularly VoIP providers not serving end-users over their own or leased last-mile facilities.
- ¶ 35 – Adding a request for comment on whether the extension should be retained for a certain class or classes of small service voice providers that are unlikely to originate robocalls while eliminating the extension for all other classes of providers.
- ¶ 41 – Adding a request for comment on whether the extension should be terminated on the effective date of any order that may be adopted in response to the FNPRM.
Comments will be due 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.
Reply comments will be due 60 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.
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