While the U.S. government moves on plans to reform the video relay services (VRS) industry, it is also extending the current compensation rates for those services through the next VRS “fund year,” which runs from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012.
On May 2, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) posted a Federal Register notice—Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program; Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals With Hearing and Speech Disabilities—seeking comment on the plan to extend VRS compensation rates.
The notice says the FCC “seeks further comment on VRS market structure and compensation method proposals related to the structure and practices of the VRS program,” as well as comment “on specific proposals for VRS accounting.”
The FCC is also seeking comment on how to treat certain costs and expenses, and whether the commission “should limit or exclude the expenses of raising capital from VRS rates in general, or whether individual providers should not receive some or all compensation for the costs incurred in various methods of raising capital.” Similarly, the FCC invites comment on the proper regulatory treatment of various methods used by providers to raise capital, including appropriate disclosure and approval requirements that may be implemented.
In addition, if the FCC cannot “finalize the compensation structure for VRS in time to calculate a new rate for the fund year beginning July 1, 2011, the commission tentatively concludes that extending the current interim rates and compensation structure for VRS to the 2011-12 Fund year would be appropriate.”
The FCC says the current interim rates have resulted in significant savings for the VRS fund, that demand for VRS has remained stable during the 2010-11 fund year and data submitted to the fund administrator demonstrates that no VRS provider has failed to meet speed of answer requirements under the interim rates. The FCC also “recognizes the certainty and stability that the current compensation structure can offer” until final VRS’ rules are implemented, the notice says.
Comments are due on or before May 16, 2011, and reply comments are due on or before May 23, 2011. In addition, all comments must include any one of the following docket numbers: CG Docket Nos. 10-51 and 03-123, and/or FCC 11-62.
Comments can be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), through the commission's website. Filers should follow the instructions provided on the website for submitting comments. For ECFS filers, in completing the transmittal screen, filers should include their full name, U.S. Postal service mailing address, and CG Docket Nos. 10-51 and 03-123. Parties also may submit an electronic comment by Internet e-mail. To get filing instructions, filers should send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and include the following words in the body of the message, “get form.”
In addition, paper comments can be filed, but paper comments must include an original and four copies of each filing. Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail (although the commission continues to experience delays in receiving U.S. Postal Service mail). All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission’s Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St., SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes must be disposed of before entering the building. Commercial mail sent by overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, Md. 20743.
U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail should be addressed to 445 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20554. In addition, parties must serve one copy of each pleading with the FCC's duplicating contractor, Best Copy and Printing, Inc., 445 12th Street, SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554, or via e-mail to email@example.com.
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The deadline for comments is Apr. 1.