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VRS Emergency Access; New category of eligible VRS and Internet Relay Providers; CC exemption request

To: Consumer Contact List
From: Karen Peltz Strauss
Re: Consumer Contact List: VRS emergency access; new category of eligible VRS and Internet relay providers; CC exemption request
Date: December 12, 2005

1. VRS Emergency Call Handling Extended. In this Order (see URL below), the FCC extends for one more year (until January 1, 2007) the requirement for VRS providers to handle emergency calls.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS RELAY SERVICES AND SPEECH-TO-SPEECH SERVICES FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH HEARING AND SPEECH DISABILITIES. Extended the Waiver of the emergency (911) call handling requirement for providers of Video Relay Service. (Dkt No. 03-123). Action by: Chief, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau. Adopted: 12/02/2005 by ORDER. (DA No. 05-3139). CGB

2. Request for Exemption of Closed Captioning Rules by Rural Heritage:

Released: 12/07/2005. REQUEST FOR EXEMPTION FROM COMMISSION'S CLOSED CAPTIONING RULES. (DA No. 05-3150). CGB. Contact: Amelia Brown at (202) 418-2799, email:, TTY: (202) 418-7804 or
Traci Randolph at (202) 418-0569, email:, TTY: (202) 418-0537

3. New Category of Eligible VRS and Internet Relay Providers. See below for a brief summary of this order (URLs listed below), which creates a new category of providers who can receive compensation from the Interstate Fund for providing VRS or Internet relay services (sorry for the inconsistent typeface).

TELECOMMUNICATIONS RELAY SERVICES AND SPEECH-TO-SPEECH SERVICES FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH HEARING AND SPEECH DISABILITIES. Addressed the issue of the certification and oversight of TRS providers seeking compensation from the Interstate TRS Fund raised in the NPRM in the Second Improved TRS Order, and the FNPRM in the 2004 TRS R&O. by Order on Reconsideration. (Dkt No. 03-123). Action by: the Commission. Adopted: 12/08/2005 by R&O. (FCC No. 05-203). CGB

The above order creates a new category of providers that will be eligible to receive compensation from the Interstate TRS Fund for VRS and IP Relay. This category is for providers who are not part of a state certified program and have not contracted with other common carriers to receive Interstate compensation. In order to receive compensation, the providers will have to complete a Commission-level certification process. The FCC explains that this new category is "to reflect the present reality that the provision of TRS is migrating to these Internet-based services, and that VRS and IP Relay are presently operated as national services without regard to the provision of traditional PSTN-based telephony or the physical location of the users and the relay facilities."

Here are some excerpts and other points from the FCC's order:

Common carriers (who are not affiliated with a certified state program or a common carrier offering TRS) that want compensation from the Interstate fund to offer VRS or IP Relay must provide the following documentation to the Commission in order to receive federal certification:

1. a description of the forms of TRS to be provided;

2. a description of how the provider will meet all non-waived mandatory minimum standards applicable to each form of TRS offered;

3. a description of the provider's procedures for ensuring ongoing compliance with all applicable TRS rules;

4. a description of the provider's complaint procedures;

5. a narrative describing any areas in which the provider's service will differ from the applicable mandatory minimum standards;

6. a narrative establishing that services that differ from the mandatory minimum standards do not violate applicable mandatory minimum standards;

7. demonstration of status as common carrier; and

8. a statement that the provider will file annual compliance reports demonstrating continued compliance with these rules.

After the FCC reviews this documentation, it will certify the provider to be eligible for TRS compensation from the Interstate Fund if it finds that:

1. the provision of VRS or IP Relay will meet or exceed all non-waived operational, technical, and functional mandatory minimum standards contained in the Commission's rules;

2. the VRS or IP Relay provider makes available adequate procedures and remedies for ensuring ongoing compliance with the Commission's rules, including that it makes available for TRS users informational materials on complaint procedures sufficient for users to know the proper procedures for filing complaints; and

3. where the VRS or IP Relay provider's service differs from the mandatory minimum standards, the TRS provider establishes that its service does not violate applicable mandatory minimum standards.

Certification will be granted for a period of 5 years. Note that the entity applying must still apply for common carrier status under the FCC's rules in order to get federal TRS certification.

The FCC is also requiring providers who are certified in this fashion "to notify the FCC of substantive changes in their TRS programs, services, and features within 60 days of when such changes may occur, and to certify that they continue to meet federal minimum standards after implementing the substantive change." In addition, annually, these certified VRS or IP Relay providers must file with the FCC a detailed report providing evidence of ongoing compliance with all applicable TRS mandatory minimum standards.

The FCC explains why it has taken this action at paragraph 21: "Permitting common carriers to provide VRS and IP Relay and receive compensation from the Fund through certification by the Commission furthers the goals of Section 225. First, Commission certification will allow providers to offer service without contracting with a state or another TRS provider, possibly reducing the cost of providing service. Second, this Order will enhance competition in the provision of VRS and IP Relay by permitting new entities to offer service, thereby giving consumers greater choice. In addition, we anticipate that new providers will bring innovation to the provision of VRS and IP Relay, both with new equipment and new service features. Finally, and more broadly, because VRS requires broadband Internet service, new VRS providers may stimulate greater broadband deployment."

This page last updated:December 12, 2005

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