COMPTEL Proposes Managerial Framework to Successfully Guide the Technology Transitions

COMPTEL recently submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) a proposed managerial framework that outlines the steps that must be taken during the next year to guarantee the success of the ongoing technology transitions and ensure that American businesses can continue to receive innovative voice and broadband services from their preferred providers. This framework would be complementary to the various technology transition trials that have been proposed.

The managerial framework draws on key recommendations in the FCC’s 2010 National Broadband Plan, which recognized the critical role that last-mile access and interconnection polices play in ensuring retail business competition. The plan specified actions that would ensure widespread availability of wholesale inputs that all carriers could use to deliver broadband to small businesses, mobile providers and enterprise customers; guarantee just and reasonable rates, terms and conditions for TDM- and packet-based special access services; clarify the rights and obligations with regard to IP interconnection; and provide a balance in copper retirement policies.

“The Commission is to be applauded for its focus on ensuring that competition, consumer protection and other key values endure as it addresses the transition from legacy to more innovative technologies. However, in the four years since the National Broadband Plan was introduced, several key issues that are central to the success of the technology transitions still remain unresolved,” said Chip Pickering, COMPTEL’s CEO. “COMPTEL’s proposed managerial framework sets a clear timeline for addressing last-mile access and IP interconnection issues that are critical for competition to flourish, and provides the certainty, predictability, timeliness and transparency to the process so that the Commission can achieve the robust competition envisioned by its National Broadband Plan.”

COMPTEL’s managerial framework proposes a specific timeline of Commission actions:

Second Quarter of 2014

  • Initiate Special Access Data Collection – While the FCC has ample evidence on the record to proceed with comprehensive reforms, the Wireline Competition Bureau should begin as soon as possible the process of gathering data it deems necessary as requested in the FCC’s special access information collection order, for which approval is currently pending at the Office of Management and Budget.
  • Reverse Prior Grants of Forbearance from Dominant Carrier Regulation – The FCC should take actions it deems necessary to begin the process of reconsidering the prior grants of forbearance from the treatment of certain ILECs as dominant carriers in their provision of packet-based special access services.

Third Quarter of 2014

  • Address ILECs’ Anti-Competitive, Exclusionary Special Access Discount Plans – The FCC should take action to prohibit and, thereby, prevent the harmful effects of the ILECs’ exclusionary, lock-up special access discount plans. These plans have hindered competitive carriers’ ability to migrate to more innovative services and construct their own last-mile connections to businesses.
  • Adopt Rules Addressing Copper Retirement – The Commission should update its copper retirement rules to ensure the public interest is being served prior to the removal or disabling of copper facilities that have been used to provide innovative and affordable broadband services to small and medium size businesses.

Fourth Quarter of 2014

  • Clarify Duty of ILECs to Provide IP Interconnection – As soon as possible, but no later than the fourth quarter of 2014, the FCC needs to confirm carriers’ rights to IP interconnection for the exchange of facilities-based voice traffic under Section 251 of the Act, so that consumers can finally enjoy the benefits of this innovative service.

Second Quarter of 2015

  • Undertake Comprehensive Special Access Reform – Once the FCC has identified, through its analysis of collected data, the relevant product and geographic markets in which the ILECs have market power in the provision of TDM-based and packet-based services, it should move quickly to adopt comprehensive reforms of the rates, terms, and conditions for these services in the markets where ILECs have market power.
  • Address Access to Packet-Based Last-Mile Facilities – Throughout this process the Commission should consider additional actions to address competitive carriers inability to obtain access to last-mile facilities, including packet-based facilities, on just and reasonable rates, terms, and conditions, that could be taken without conducting an extensive mandatory information collection.

eSBC Market Up Thanks to SIP Trunking

Whether talking about Q4 2013 or the full year, it seems that the eSBC space is continuing a trend identified by Infonetics Research last year as an increased demand for SIP trunking and unified communications. These technologies have continued to be key drivers of the market and should continue right on through at least 2017.

“Demand for enterprise session border controllers continues to be strong as businesses transition to SIP trunking,” said Diane Myers, principal analyst for VoIP, UC, and IMS at Infonetics Research. Overall for 2013, the global eSBC market grew by a respectable 42 percent year over year to $255 million. Of this revenue, three-quarters came from North America. This should even out somewhat in the future, however.

“North America remains the primary region for the eSBC market, but enterprises in other regions, particularly Europe, are accelerating adoption of SIP trunking, which in turn should positively impact eSBC sales outside North America,” added Myers. Fewer than 10 vendors currently make up the majority of global eSBC revenue.

FCC Seeks 40% Increase in Rural Local Phone Service Rates

The average rate paid for local voice service in urban areas is $20.46, according to a survey conducted by the Federal Communications Commission. And according to rules established a few years ago, rural carriers that charge less than that amount are required to raise rates to that level on July 1 or lose some Universal Service support, explained Mike Romano, senior vice president of policy for NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association. That’s a 40% increase from the current local service rate floor, which is around $14, according to the NTCA.

The FCC is considering implementing a phase-in approach to the increase in local phone service rates, Romano said. But while that is a step in the right direction, he said that “doesn’t address the issue of what is reasonably comparable.”

Romano questions the requirement for rural carriers to charge no less than the urban average when rural local calling areas include fewer people – and therefore have potentially lower value – than urban local calling areas. Additionally poverty levels are higher in rural areas – a reality the FCC noted in a workshop about rural broadband just two days ago, Romano said.

When the subscriber line charge is added to the $20.46 urban average rate, the total cost of local phone service rises to between $26 and $27 – a level that could drive some rural customers to cancel local service and rely instead on a cellphone or on VOIP over broadband, Romano said. And as Romano explained, that would cause broadband prices to spike so that rural carriers can recover their network costs.

“It’s a real Catch 22,” said Romano, who added that the NTCA flagged this issue for the FCC after the policy was imposed but the FCC has not responded.

Small Telco Broadband Subscribers Doubled in Two Years

The number of residential customers taking broadband service from the nation’s smaller rate of return carriers more than doubled between December 2010 and December 2012 – increasing 114%, according to a report released from the FCC this week. In comparison, the number of residential customers taking broadband service from the nation’s largest price cap carriers increased 61% over the same period.

The report from the Wireline Competition Bureau, titled “Universal Service Implementation Progress Report,” was based on data collected from carriers. Broadband was defined as any landline connection providing data rates of 3 Mbps downstream and 768 kbps upstream.

Data collected about business customers showed a similar trend. Rate of return carriers saw a 97% increase in broadband customers, while price cap carriers saw an increase of 65%.

The difference between what rate of return and price cap carriers experienced may reflect the higher level of competition that price cap carriers face. Although higher-speed services from the large telcos are seeing gains, telco DSL offerings have been hit hard by broadband services from cable companies, which tend to support higher data rates.

ADT Opposes Legislation Targeting TDM-to-IP Transition

AT&T’s plans for TDM-to-IP transition trials are clashing with efforts to de-regulate telecom – an initiative the company also has been championing.

Consumer advocates and ADT, one of the nation’s largest alarm companies, are asking Kentucky lawmakers to delay passing a telecom deregulation bill until the TDM-to-IP transition trials, to be overseen by the FCC, are completed, reports Public News Service. According to an AT&T proposal, TDM-to-IP transition trials would begin in late 2014 or early 2015 and run into 2017.

The Kentucky bill would allow major phone companies to stop providing landline service in parts of the state, Public News Service reports. If the bill were to pass, consumers would have to rely on VoIP over a broadband connection or a cellular service.

And if that were to occur, “there is some likelihood that alarm systems and/or medical alert systems may not be able to send signals to ADT’s monitoring centers,” ADT Vice President of Industry Relations Steve Shapiro told Public News Service.

TDM-to-IP transition trials aim to determine the best way for telephone companies to phase out traditional voice service and other services that rely on traditional telecom networks based on TDM. AT&T has proposed trials for suburban Miami and for rural Carbon Hill, Ala.

Some states have laws preventing phone companies from discontinuing traditional voice services, however. To address this, AT&T has been pushing for bills throughout its local service area that would end that requirement. The company has succeeded in getting such legislation passed in several states.

Vocal IP Networx Adds VoIP Telecom Fraud Protection with TransNexus Solutions

TransNexus, top developer of VoIP network management software, today announced that Vocal IP Networx, home to the industry’s most productive hosted phone system, has chosen the TransNexus SDReporter solution to provide telecom fraud detection to complement their BroadWorks based network.

In 2013, as the threat of telecom fraud was increasing throughout the industry, Vocal IP Networx began searching for a more robust fraud control solution that would proactively protect its customers and its network. “We needed a solution that would integrate with our existing BroadWorks softswitch” said Eugene Gutman, COO at Vocal IP Networx. “When we found SDReporter from TransNexus, we were able to download the evaluation software from the TransNexus website and quickly had it up and running.”

SDReporter is the complete Telecom Fraud Detection and Call Detail Record (CDR) reporting and analysis solution for BroadWorks. Designed to be simple and efficient, SDReporter is easy to install and provides comprehensive telecom fraud and call completion reports and alarms.

SDReporter integrates with Vocal IP Networx’s existing BroadWorks platform by collecting and analyzing BroadWorks call detail records (CDRs). When suspicious traffic triggers a fraud alert, SDReporter can send an Open Communications Interface -Provisioning (OCI-P) command to the BroadWorks switch to block the calls from a specific Groupid or Userid, or divert them to customer service. An E-mail and/or Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) alert is sent to the Network Operations Center (NOC) with the details of the fraud trigger. The NOC can view the details of the alert from the SDReporter web interface and unblock the calls if needed with one click.

According to Mr. Gutman, “SDReporter is easy to use and has been very effective identifying fraudulent calls. SDReporter is a great value and the support has been excellent.”

TransNexus to exhibit at ITEXPO in Las Vegas

ITEXPO Las Vegas 2014TransNexus, top developer of VoIP network management software, announced today that it will be showcasing its new telecom fraud detection features at ITEXPO Las Vegas, to be held August 11-14, 2014, at The Rio in Las Vegas, NV. ITEXPO is the world’s leading business technology tradeshow, and will converge education, innovation and networking across the entire community of IT professionals and thought leaders. Meet TransNexus at ITEXPO Las Vegas at booth #417 to learn more about TransNexus’s strategy for detecting and stopping telecom fraud events.

At ITEXPO in Las Vegas, executives, technology buyers, sellers, resellers and manufacturers from companies of all sizes and industries will assemble to forge new business partnerships, collaborate and learn together and from one another. Dozens of conferences sessions, keynotes and panels will be focused on helping attendees move their businesses forward.

“We’re very excited to be a part of another ITEXPO,” said Jim Dalton, president of TransNexus. “This conference is a wonderful opportunity to take the pulse of the internet telephony industry. This year we are very excited to be introducing our innovative telecom fraud detection features for NexOSS and SDReporter. ”

Click Here to Register for a Free VIP Pass to ITEXPO.

If you have already made plans to attend ITEXPO, we would love to see you. Please click here to request a meeting with a TransNexus representative.

Rural Call Completion Order Affects Industry

The latest issue to face the telecom industry is the rural call completion order the FCC released last year. The FCC initiated the rural call completion order to address concerns such as attempts not reaching the called party, unusually long delays in call setup and poor quality once connected.

To address the concerns, the order requires covered carriers to capture, store, and report specific call-completion data points for the purpose of calculating call answer rates and network effectiveness ratios (NER).

This data must be reported by jurisdiction, aggregated based on whether the area is served by rural LECs. Carriers are required to submit this information quarterly to the FCC and to retain call details for each rural-destined call for six months.

These requirements apply to all facilities-based long-distance providers that make initial route choice and that have 100,000 or more total domestic retail subscriber lines aggregated over all of the providers’ affiliates, including LECs, IXCs, CMRS providers and VoIP providers.

Additionally, there is no sunset date set for the reporting requirements. The FCC indicated that it will reevaluate the order after three years.

VoIP Telecom Fraud Threats Increase in 2014: How to Fight Back and Protect Your Network

According to the Federal Trade Commission, telecom fraud accounted for 34% of fraud complaints in 2012, up from 20% in 2010. These numbers continue to grow, as new technology has led to an onslaught of new telecom fraud tactics. The latest schemes are difficult to tract and investigate because of their frequency, their layers of anonymity, and their global nature.

Cisco’s 2014 Annual Security Report points to these new tactics, along with a worldwide shortage of skilled security professionals, as a proof that that the threat of telecom fraud has reached its highest level since 2000. Simple attacks that caused containable damage have given way to organized cybercrime operations that are sophisticated, well-funded, and capable of significant economic and reputational damage to public and private sector victims.

One of these new telecom fraud schemes is known as wangiri fraud. Wangiri, in Japanese, means “one and cut.” That is, one ring and a cut off phone call. A wangiri phone fraud scheme relies on this single ring method for a quick way to make money. A fraudster will set up a computer to dial a large number of phone numbers at random. Each rings just once, then hangs up. This leaves a number as a missed call on the recipients’ phone. Users often see the missed call and believe a legitimate call was cut off, or are simply curious as to who called, so they dial the missed number. The number turns out to be a premium rate number – anything from advertising to “free prizes” to sex services.

Another new tactic is called toll free fraud. Toll Free fraud can affect any business that uses a toll free number. In this scheme, a fraudster will typically make a profit sharing agreement with a CLEC. He will then use VoIP technology to make multiple calls to a toll free number – often that of a large corporation. The CLEC will perform a dip to the SMS 800 database, and then transfer the call to another network for termination, earning something like 1.5 cents per minute in switched originating access fees. The fraudster will then navigate the automated IVR prompts, avoiding connecting to a live operator. These calls are often left up for hours at a time and automated so multiple calls will be made at once. When large companies, like financial institutions, are targeted, they frequently don’t even notice the huge charges racked up by toll free fraud, even though they are expensive, long calls.

An annual report from Pindrop security puts the average potential loss from a telecom fraud attack in 2013 was $42,546. What is more distressing is research from the Aite Group, which found that only 23% of institutions surveyed track and quantify fraud losses. The fact is that there are solutions on the market now that can help companies not only detect, but also stop telecom fraud.

SDReporter from TransNexus is one such solution. SDReporter monitors and prevents telecom fraud. SDReporter integrates with your existing Oracle Acme Packet, BroadWorks, Cisco Call Manager, or Metaswitch platform by collecting and analyzing call detail records (CDRs). When suspicious traffic triggers a fraud alert, SDReporter can send an Open Communications Interface -Provisioning (OCI-P) command to a BroadWorks switch to block the calls or divert them to customer service. An E-mail or Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) alert is sent to the Network Operations Center (NOC) with the details of the fraud trigger. The NOC can view the details of the alert from the SDReporter web interface and unblock the calls if needed with one click.

The impact of a single fraud event can overwhelm a business, and few businesses have the expertise to harden their telephone systems to prevent telecom fraud attacks. SDReporter is that is intuitive and easy for our technicians to use to detect and stop telecom fraud.

Clouds

Prescient Worldwide: Least Cost Routing & Fraud Detection with Oracle Acme Packet and TransNexus

Prescient Worldwide is a nationwide reseller of telecommunication services. Prescient delivers an industry leading proprietary Voice over the Network (VON) infrastructure. They provide businesses and individuals with a growing suite of innovative voice and data products and services using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Prescient also offers a variety of wholesale (carrier-to-carrier or carrier-to-headend) solutions.

As part of its growth strategy, Prescient Worldwide aligned itself with some of the biggest and most respected names in the communications industry including AT&T, Level 3, Global Crossing, Earthlink, Paetec, Comcast, Ernest, and XO Communications. However, negotiating multiple carrier relationships required a solution that was capable of managing all the different pricings and routes, while ensuring that Prescient saved money – savings they could pass along to their customers.

In addition, Prescient needed a solution that could help detect and deter the growing threat of telecom fraud. Fraud can have a significant financial impact for any VoIP provider. According to a recent report, 1 in every 2,500 calls is fraudulent, and for every phone call there is a $0.57 loss. Nearly all fraudulent calling activity results from fraudsters hacking into unsuspecting business owners’ telephone systems. The business owner is completely unaware of the fraud until they receive their bill. “People are used to the way credit card fraud works,” said Mike Pratt, CTO at Prescient. “If your card gets hacked, it’s not your fault. With telecom fraud, it’s the service provider who ends up paying for the fraudulent calls coming from customer’s hacked devices.”

To combat telecom fraud and handle complicated routing, Prescient chose to implement the NexOSS platform from TransNexus. NexOSS is an Oracle Acme Packet Open Session Routing Ecosystem application which provides Least Cost Routing for inter-state, intra-state, and international calls. Least Cost Routing (LCR) of telephone calls is implemented by creating a routing table that matches telephone dial codes with a list of destination networks rank ordered by cost. NexOSS automates the process of quickly building an optimized least cost routing table which may have tens of millions of routes, more than enough to handle Prescient’s many carrier partners’ routes.

NexOSS is the only solution on the market that seamlessly integrates LCR and fraud detection. “Our NexOSS Least Cost Routing is great, but what we haven’t seen anywhere else is the integrated fraud detection. The biggest benefit to NexOSS is the ability to monitor fraud in a real time fashion,” said Pratt. NexOSS detects fraud in real time, by analyzing number portability corrected LCR routing requests. This means that NexOSS can detect and re-route or block fraudulent calls before they are connected. The fraud detection feature enables targeted call blocking without impacting legitimate calls, and provides visibility into how and when fraud attempts occur.

“With NexOSS, we can protect our customers from the costly results of telecom fraud,” said Pratt. “Before working with TransNexus, combatting telecom fraud attempts was almost a full time job for us. NexOSS helped us tighten up our network and route calls more safely and efficiently. There’s no negative to the NexOSS platform. We’re very happy with our results.”

About Prescient Worldwide
As a nationwide reseller of telecommunication services Prescient Worldwide is able to offer a wide range of products and services from a variety of carriers. Our allegiance with major carriers combined with constant training gives Prescient Worldwide a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Prescient Worldwide has partnered with some of the most respected names in the communications industry and we will continue to expand our service offerings into the future. To learn more, call 1-877-312-5564 or visit http://www.comtech21.com/ .