Re: ANI vs. Caller ID [Telecom]

|On May 27, 8:48 am, (Robert Bonomi) wrote: | |> With the right C.O. equipment, it is possible to capture the ANI |> data in the call set-up and pass *THAT* information via the CLID |> signalling to the end-user. | |What I don't understand why this isn't done universally.

The issue to _all_ such questions is always "money": it costs a bunch more to do things that way. Caller-ID is a hard-enough sell, due to the prices that (particularly the former Baby Bells) charge, that the higher pricing to recover the extra cost of the extra gear would eliminate *most* of the customer base.

***** Moderator's Note *****

The operating companies are _very_ reluctant to introduce _any_ non-standard feature or equipment.

Bill Horne Temporary Moderator

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Reply to
Robert Bonomi
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Again, I am confused. Isn't everything in a switch today done by software, not hardware? It's not like the old days where they had to wire in expensive relays and electronic circuits in a trunking circuit to do a function. Given that the software would be used in thousands of switches the software cost would be amortized over a wide base. Further, the ongoing confusion from spoofing and other troubles undoubtedly is a headache for both the local and toll carriers. Accordingly, I don't understand why it would "cost a bunch more money".

I also disagree that Caller ID is a "hard sell". IIRC, the price of it has doubled in recent years ($3 to $6 per line) yet it remains very popular. (I don't know actual subscriber base, but FWIW almost everyone I know has it in both work and home and all cell phones have it.) Indeed, some carriers offer it free as part of a package.

Sure, a "non-standard" feature. But it seems to me, given all the problems of spoofing and misuse, that it ought to be a 'standard' feature. Per above, I think the cost would be minimal.

I don't understand the relevance of "forwarded calls". If a call is forwarded, that is, Amy calls Ben and Ben calls Caz, it seems to me that Ben's number should appear on Caz's box. I believe that's how it work's now. As the forwarder, Ben is the caller and responsible for the call, not Amy.

***** Moderator's Note *****

Central Office design is an _extremely_ conservative environment. Every software change is tested exhaustively, both for its intended functionality and to reveal any unintended side-effects.

I'm not sure I can describe just _how_ conservative it is, so I'll ask that you take my word for it: if it isn't going to be in the switch until the heat death of the universe, they don't want it in there at all.

Changing ANI into CLID just isn't something Nortel or Lucent is going to do.


Bill Horne Temporary Moderator

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That's very understandable.

But on the other hand, we're not still using the inter-office protocols used by panel switches of the 1920s, or those of crossbar of the 1960s. The Bell System, while moving slowly, still evolved over time, as did other computer systems.

I forgot to mention, in response to the 'sabotage' concern, that the old Bell System was a tightly closed environment. Pre-divesture business customers had very limited access to the interfaces between a C.O. and a customer switch. Today, as others describes, the customer will get a "super trunk" to connect to their own PBX, so they could send out whatever the heck they want.

As we've seen many times in this newsgroup over the years, some customers accidently or intentionally abuse that connection priviledge. That needs to be addressed or the network reliability is at risk.

To put it another way, if people can't trust their Caller ID boxes, they will stop paying for the service and the local companies will lose out on revenue. It's also bad public relations.

Aside from technical improvements, IMHO we need better policy to control this sort of thing. In the old days the Bell System was Lord and Master of all. Who calls the shots for protocols and standards today? Who says what rules carriers must follow in determining whether they must accept a partner or must refuse a partner? Clearly with all of today's problems improvements are needed.

Telephone service is NOT the same as a convenience store or gas station. It's not as if you don't like McDonald's you simply go across the street to Burger King. You can't do that with your telephone service. You can't see your hamburger, you can't see the kitchen as you can with fast food. With fast food there is some hope that the local health dept monitors the place and the FDA monitors the meat source. (It's not perfect but the occurence of foulups are very rare).

See above. As stated, the old network mgmt function of the Bell System is gone, and nothing has replaced it. Looks like we do need an external regulator to develop and enforce technical requirements to protect the public, just as the FDA inspects meat at the slaughterhouse.

***** Moderator's Note *****

While it's true that the Bell System evolved over time, IMNSHO the period of evolution could be measured only in glacial epochs, and that's too long an interval to be perceptable to mere mortals.

The sabotage problem isn't academic: both IXC and CLEC companies have access to the SS7 network as peers, and that means that they also have the ability to set up calls that won't appear on ANI records at the originating switch. I suspect this is the reason that most IXC's hand off their calls at access tandems, which can keep separate records. Opinions?

Bill Horne Temporary Moderator

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And, there is a legal issue to contend with. The rules governing CLID say that the calling party must be able to block their number from appearing. If you convert ANI to use as CLID you'd not be honoring that blocking. This is fine for 800 service and 911, where there is specific exception to the rules, but for regular home or even business non-800 service that would violate FCC regulations.

I just wish they would crack down on the CLID spoofing that telemarketers do. I have no problem with, say, a hospital putting their general number on all outgoing calls, or any business for that matter, but calls with 000-000-0000 as their CLID should not go through. Blocking is fine, people can decide not to answer blocked calls, but intentionally bogus CLID should be stopped.

Bill Ranck Blacksburg, Va.

***** Moderator's Note *****

Years ago, one telemarketeer appealed for help in this forum: he bluntly stated that his firm was in the business of hyping record sales, and that his employees called up the "request" lines of radio stations all over the country, to generate airplay for releases which he had been paid to promote.

He wanted, of course, to know how to falsify CLID info, which radio stations had learned to depend on so as to keep their request lines from being used for unpaid advertising. I don't recall if he ever got a response, but the incident brings to my mind the slippery nature of "truth" when money is at stake.

Bill Horne Temporary Moderator

"I hate graveyards and old pawnshops for they always bring me tears - I can't forgive the way they rob me of my childhood souvenirs." - John Prine

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[Moderator snip]

"Proven reliable" software is *extremely* expensive. For critical high-reliability items, the _testing_ regimen -- to _prove_ that it "does what it's supposed to, _all_ the time", can easily exceed 95% of the total development cost.

You're wrong.

It's not a "problem" for the carriers, just for the _customers_.

And the carriers are not in the business of making life simpler/easier/more- convenient for customers. They're in the business of making money. Making as much money as they can, while keeping the 'annoyance' level "just below" that which will run off customers. No need to reduce annoyances below that point, it doesn't affect their bottom line.

[There is a lot of effort] involved, [including] the amount of testing required (the amount of dedicated 'lab' equipment to do that testing on, and the man-hours required), nor the difficulty of coordinating the capability across _all_ the (a) manu- facturers, (b) models, and (c) software versions of the existing central office infrastructure. *ALL* of which have to be tested separately, and in combination.

I don't know _anybody_ that shells out hard dollars for it.

$6/line with a base cost for dial-tone of around $17 (before taxes, which also run up the $6/line) is an over 33% increase in the cost of basic phone service.

For *FREE*??? *snicker*

It isn't free. It just _looks_ that way, because the extra cost of providing it is "bundled" into the base price that everybody pays, whether they want it or not.

Look at the typical monthly cost for a cell-phone 'package' today, and compare it with a no-frills land-line, _or_ a basic service cell-phone from years ago, and you'll begin to have an idea of what you're actually paying for all those 'free' features -- WHETHER OR NOT you want/use them. Those who don't use those 'gee whiz' features are subsidizing those who do. Do you think _that_ is right?

Why? How does it benefit the switch _operator_?

Do you have any idea how many separate functions are in a C.O. switch?

What it takes to test *every*one* of them to make sure they still work properly, under _all_ conditions, after you make a change to some part of the system? *Even* *if* that change isn't "supposed" to affect this function, you have to test it to make sure that it _didn't_.`

So, you don't know what you don't know. :)

If Amy calls Ben, and Ben's number is "call forwarded" to Caz's number, then the Caz's CLID shows _AMY_'s number. After all that *is* who is calling -- AND the number you should call back to reach the party who called you. (the whole point of "caller ID", originally)

*BUT* the billing situation is different. *AMY* pays for the call to where Ben's number is located. And Ben pays for the cost of a call from his number location to Caz's.

Now, _if_ the number Ben's phone is 'call forwarded' to is a toll-free number, Ben doesn't pay anything, instead the called party picks up the cost of the call from Ben's number. Amy however, is _still_ paying for the cost of the call from Amy to Ben.

In the case of the toll-free number, they are paying for the call only from Ben to them, the ANI shows BEN's number, not Amy's.

Reply to
Robert Bonomi

I do know my Skype outbound display 001-234-5678 for my CLID.

And MagicJack - there was a PERL script where you could easily spoof the CLID data. Useful if you want to hack a Sprint cellphone since Sprint absolutely trusts CLID on their switches.

Reply to

That is true.

But on the other hand, the cost of this effort is amortized among the thousands of switches deployed.

Further, software development for switches is not frozen due to the high cost. They are continually developing new features or revising existing ones.

This is true.

But it is also true that due to the increased spoofing of caller-ID plus failure to send anything ("111-111-1111"), subscribers will get upset they're not getting what they've paid for. This will lead to lost revenue as subscribers disconnect the service or disconnect the provider altogether out of frustration. (It may not be the provider's fault, but they'll get blamed for it just the same.) It's also possible there could be nasty litigation against a carrier by a subscriber or regulatory agency.

Many people pay a la carte for Caller ID.

It is true many services are bundled today. But that has always been the trend in many products and services, especially in technology. Can one buy a black and white television set today? One without remote control? These were once expensive premium options but are standard today. In computers, things like floating point instructions were once optional but are now standard.

In the pre-divesture days, it was public policy to offer the cheapest policy bare bones phone service so as to make a phone affordable to as wide a range of possible. Today many places won't even offer a party line which was the way to save money; a private line is in essence "bundled", along with other 'extras'.

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Do carriers have any immunity against lawsuits for incorrect or spoofed caller-ID when their marketing department makes no mention of this? (assuming, for the moment, that they can't lay it off on some OTHER telco providing the bad information). Consider a worst-case situation, where the lawsuit is a wrongful death suit, and the one (suspected of) spoofing the caller-ID is a homicidal stalker, who only managed to get through because of spoofed caller-ID. I think a case could happen where it seems quite plausible that the telco is responsible.

Reply to
Gordon Burditt

As far as I know, carriers have no immunity.

In your scenario I would think all telcos involved would be found liable. In matters where personal safety is compromised by a false claim, such as from stalkers and robbers, juries can be rather sympathetic.

In the early years of cellphones, someone was attacked and their cellphone couldn't get through to the police. They sued over false advertising claims. I believe after that cell phones included 'softening' adjectives.

I think a greater chance would be trouble from the FTC (or FCC) for selling a false claim. I would guess telcos want to keep the spoofing and fudging as quiet as possible so as not discourage subscribers from buying caller-ID service and from them spending any money to fix the problems. As an aside, I think many carriers have migrated premium services like Caller-ID over to the 'unregulated' side so the PUC/FCC no longer has jurisdiction.

My guess is the telcos will add some fine print to cover their butts.

My hope is that the govt will set a policy outlawing spoofing and go after those who violate it. I also hope the govt will continue to go after illicit telemarketers as described early in this discussion; and not wait until the violations are so enormous. A lot of players know as long as they don't push it too far they can get away with stuff.

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Can you find _any_ representation, anywhere, that the telco promises that the information *is* accurate?

_Some_ telcos that have customers who have the capabilities to supply their own caller-id data *do* filter the customer-supplied data against the telco's understanding of what numbers that customer has/owns.

Others do _not_. They don't see a reason to spend the money for something that brings _them_ "little to no" benefit, as they see things.

As long as _anybody_ allows non-trustworthy data into the system/network,

*nobody* can =rely= on the data provided to be accurate.

Sad, but true, nonetheless.

Reply to
Robert Bonomi

It seems to me that this problem is a close analog of source address spoofing in TCP/IP -- a method of denial-of-service attack that has mostly disappeared from the civilized world, now that well-behaved ISPs insist on validating the source addresses before sending the packets out.

Is there any reason telcos can't similarly validate, at the very least, that any CLID they forward during call setup (with or without the privacy flag set) is that of an existing line in the area served by the first telco switch the call passes through?

If the "common carrier" rules prohibit telcos doing this, they should be changed. If telcos could but just won't, they need more competition.

The next step, of course, would be for well-behaved telcos to block or flag (for possible filtering) calls originating from badly-behaved telcos.

Reply to
John David Galt

Yes, in the *name* of the service, Caller-ID (it's not called Caller-Guess for a reason). A two-sentence description of what it does would also let them hang themselves.

I'm one of those people who think ads should be (but hardly ever are) the literal truth, so if you say your cookies are made by elves, they darn well better be made by elves, not Teamsters with Spock ears. And if I happen to be allergic to cookies made by Teamsters with Spock ears, expect a lawsuit for some very large medical expenses.

Reply to
Gordon Burditt

Can you find any representation where the telco acknowledges that the information may not be accurate?

Many advertising claims today are accompanied with fine print on the TV screen or in an advertisement with disclaimers. Things like "professional driver on closed course" or "subject to availability" or "some restrictions apply".

The telcos always have stated that some calls might not have a caller ID associated with them (eg "out of area"). But AFAIK they never said it could be wrong.

Note that while the traditional telephone companies publish a directory which includes disclaimers; newcomer phone companies do not have a directory. So if a subscriber dumps the baby bell and switches to Joe's Phone Company, where does "Joe" explain his services and limitations?

I'm not a lawyer, but I would think if someone's caller ID displayed the correct name and phone number of someone's bank, and because of seeing that, a subscriber gives out personal information and gets robbed as a result, a telco might be liable. I don't think a jury would be very sympathetic to a telco if the victim was an elderly person and the caller ID display was offered in evidence.

IMHO, this greatly increases the chance that hackers would break into the network and causes all sorts of problems. Say a troubled or malicious technical person is employed at a large concern and has access to the firm's PBX.

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At one time the telepone industry was strictly 'what you see is what you get'. If you called them to ask the price of a service or to make a particular call, they would tell you. Today if you call to ask about most services you'll get a different answer each time you call, from a retail outlet, or from their web page. Cell phone plans and high speed data services have 'official' costs that few people pay and all sorts of 'specials' that vary by the roll of a dice. Likewise, the quality of said services varies quite a bit; they might promise " 'up to' 500 terabytes per nanosecond' but actually deliver 300 baud. Note the "up to" in the claim. I will note that in their data service and cellphone ads they do offer lots of disclaimers in the fine print.

If it were up to me, all the "FCC line charge" and other 'special fees' they collect and keep should not be allowed; all of that should be included in the stated monthly price. It bugs me that 'fees' and taxes add 30% to the claimed price.

They all do it, so it's not like 'competition" helps; indeed, it make things worse.

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"ID" can be 'whatever the party chooses to identify themselves as'. that name does not restrict it to being their telephone number.

I agree with you about what it _should_ be, but there is no legal leg, at present, to -force- it to be that way.

Reply to
Robert Bonomi

I don't have to. They promise to deliver an ID string for the caller. They do that. If the caller provides his own ID string they 'accurately' pass it on.

The calling party _is_ free, under the law, to identify themselves "however they d*mn well please". It is not a crime to do so, _unless_ one is doing it to defraud. Note well, the operative word is "defraud", not 'deceive'.

Reply to
Robert Bonomi

Yeah. 1) nobody beyond the second switch knows who the first switch is. 2) there are *LOTS* of legitimate cases where the 'correct' call-back number does _not_ match the locale from which the call originated. 3) The correct 'call back' number may not even be with the same telephone company as the line the outgoing call is placed on.

The place the CLID string _should_ be validated is at the point where the end-user connects to the LEC. Some carriers _do_ do this, even for their "big" clients. Some do not. The reason is 'money'. It costs extra to do so, and by _not_ doing so, they can still be profitable, while charging that customer a lower price (compared to what they would have to charge if they were validating). That 'small difference' *IS* enough to make non- trivial numbers of customers change dial-tone providers.

Erm. There's one thing you're overlooking. *WHO*PAYS* for that extra work that said telco is doing? People _will_ switch dial-tone providers to save the small amounts of money a thing like this costs.

Common-carrier rules -do- prohibit doing _that_.

And, believe me, you _don't_ want that rule changed. Ask anybody who remembers what it was like when there were competing telephone companies that were _not_ interconnected. When you had to have a phone for _each_ phone company, so that _their_ subscribers could reach you; when you had to advertise _all_ those *different* phone numbers, _and_ which number went with which phone company, so as to tell everybody how you could be reached by phone.

(Either the phone company can decide -- on whatever basis -- whom they want to accept calls from, or they *cannot*. there is no middle ground on the matter.)

Reply to
Robert Bonomi

I'm not a lawyer, but in law there is a basic principle of "what a reasonable person thinks". If I buy a quart of milk in the store there are several characteristics I can reasonably assume about that milk even if it is not expressly stated on the container. They don't say anywhere it's cow's milk but we can assume it's that. They don't say it's been handled under sanitary conditions but we can assume that (it does expressly say homogenized and pasteurized).

Indeed, I'm staring a can of soda pop and nowhere on the can does it say "soda" (or "pop"), it merely gives the flavor. No where is there a warning that the contents are pressurized and it could fizz out on the person opening the can. (The bottles have that warning). The point is that certain things may be safely assumed by a reasonable person.

Today a reasonable person is not at all familiar with telephone switch internals. They assume the name and number shown on the box is the name and number of the caller. I think they're ok if it says "BAYSHORE HOSP 555-2000" instead of "DR. SMITH 555-2368", but not beyond that.

On cell phones, where one could be paying quite dearly to receive a call, the information better be accurate. Today there is a problem with spammer texters.

Previously the legal definition of defraud was posted and it seemed pretty broad I suppose if someone changed their display-name to something obviously silly like "Mickey Mouse" there is no mispresentation.

But if the law freely allows the caller to spof the law must be changed.

The other issue the liability of the telco for knowingly selling a service that isn't what is seems. But the solution for them is simple--just put a disclaimer in the fine print with all the other disclaimers.

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_ALL_ carriers should be required by law to properly validate input to the network. This is for more than mere caller-ID accuraucy, but also control of fraud from sleazy intermediaries, or accidental or deliberate network disruption from major customers by an incompetent or disgruntled technician.

In the old days of 'green on glass' mainframe on-line services, computers were relatively slow compared to today and network managers took great care to protect the network from screwups, both internal and external.

There can be, by law, standards that must be met when calls are exchanged.

After divesture, the newcomers demanded and received easy access to make it easier for newcomers to get a foot in the door. We saw all sorts of fraud and problems as a result--PBXs with bad dial-out tables, unauthorized LD carrier switching, etc.

In the field of public utilities, we must remember that the holy grail "competition" does not automatically equate to "public service". Indeed, as we've seen, competition in some cases have led to _worse_ service since carriers are forced by price to drop down to the lowest denonminator.

***** Modertor's Note *****

Previous posts have mentioned the conservative environment that surrounds software development in the telecom world, and that conservatism applies to modifying switches to perform caller-id verification as well. If the software engineers were to add such a capability to the network, they would have to make it compatible with existing standards for international signalling, with legacy switches owned by companies that don't choose to upgrade, and with CALEA requirements.

I won't pick apart the problems that would follow: I'll just point out that telco signalling has always been done with trusted endpoints, i.e., that there is no provision in the system architecture to verify either the validity of the data exchanged to set up a call, or the authority of the endpoint to send it.

Like Internet spam, caller-id spoofing is a problem that can't be solved by technical means: the cost to do so isn't worth the results obtained. Passing laws isn't going to work either, since everyone involved - and I mean _EVERYONE_ - would have to agree to enforce a uniform standard.

Bill Horne Temporary Moderator

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As late as 2001, long after divestiture, in Massachusetts there was a separate charge of 47 cents/month to equip a residential telephone line for touch-tone dialing as well as pulse dialing. In

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asked the Public Utilities Commision to eliminate the separate touch-tone charge and roll it into the basic rate. I don't know whether this request was granted.

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