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TRS Order, VoIP Hearings, and Captioning Exemption Requests

To: Consumer Contact List
Karen Peltz Strauss, RERC-TA
Re: Consumer Contact List - TRS Order, VoIP Hearings, Captioning Exemption Requests

Date: February 24, 2004

1. FCC releases Order on 3-way calling and TRS contribution rate. - On February 24, 2004, the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau released an Order addressing two issues. The first provides a one-year waiver for TRS providers to offer three-way relay calling. This waiver was granted in response to petitions filed by AT&T, Sprint, and Ultratec. Note that although the petitioners had only requested waivers with respect to the requirement for providers themselves to set up these calls (i.e. not a waiver from having to handle the calls if they were set up by the TRS parties), the Order seems to waive the entire standard - i.e., any type of three way calling functionality - for one year.

The second issue addressed in the Order is the amount of money that telephone carriers will have to contribute to the Interstate TRS Fund for this year. This Fund is used to support all kinds of relay services. Over the past year, there has been unusually significant growth in video relay service and IP relay service, causing a shortfall in the Fund. Without an increase in contributions from carriers, the Fund would not have enough money to pay TRS providers for this funding year. The Order adjusts the contribution factor for the July 2003 - June 2004 funding period from .00149 to .00220. This will increase the fund from $115,455,570 to $170,500,000.

Although the FCC had considered addressing the VRS rate and VRS waivers in this Order, concerns from consumers, providers, and carriers have caused the Commission to defer these issues to a later time.

The Order is available here. DA-04-465A1.doc DA-04-465A1.pdf DA-04-465A1.txt

2. Senate Hearings on VoIP - On February 24, 2004, the Senate Commerce Committee held hearings on Voice over the Internet. The hearings were brief and disability advocates were unable to get a disability witness on the scheduled panel of witnesses. However Senator McCain did reference a letter that he received from AAPD (attached) in his opening statement. A staffer in McCain's office has informed me that after Senator McCain noted the importance of meeting the needs of people with disabilities, several other Senators noted their own support of this issue. In addition, various panelists had positive things to say about this issue. This Friday, the Alliance for Public Technology is holding a briefing on VoIP as it may affect people with disabilities. The briefing will be held at 2:00 in the offices of Issues Dynamics, at 919 18th Street, NW, Washington DC, 10th floor.

3. Petitions for Captioning Exemptions. Three petitions for exemptions from the closed captioning rules have been filed with the FCC. All three are from religious organizations. Links to all three are listed below.

Released: 02/24/2004. REQUEST FOR EXEMPTION FROM COMMISSION'S CLOSED
CAPTIONING RULES. (DA No. 04-440) CSR 6284. MB. Contact: Sonia
Greenaway-Mickle or Steve Garner at (202) 418-7200
<http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-04-440A1.doc>
<http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-04-440A1.pdf>
<http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-04-440A1.txt>

Released: 02/24/2004. REQUEST FOR EXEMPTION FROM COMMISSION'S CLOSED
CAPTIONING RULES. (DA No. 04-441) CSR 6285. MB. Contact: Sonia
Greenaway-Mickle or Steve Garner at (202) 418-7200
<http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-04-441A1.doc>
<http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-04-441A1.pdf>
<http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-04-441A1.txt>

Released: 02/24/2004. REQUEST FOR EXEMPTION FROM COMMISSION'S CLOSED
CAPTIONING RULES. (DA No. 04-442) CSR 6287. MB. Contact: Sonia
Greenaway-Mickle or Steve Garner at (202) 418-7200
<http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-04-442A1.doc>
<http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-04-442A1.pdf>
<http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-04-442A1.txt>

Report No: 45678 Released: 02/24/2004. BROADCAST ACTIONS. MB
<http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-244141A1.txt>
<http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-244141A1.pdf>
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