The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued regulations governing providers of video relay services (VRS)—which hearing and speech disabled individuals use to communicate—in order to reduce the likelihood of fraud that has been perpetrated in those services.
On Sept. 26, the FCC posted on the Federal Register the notice “Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program,” and on Sept. 27 it posted the notice “Internet-Based Telecommunications Relay Service Numbering.”
The Sept. 26 notice—Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program—says on Sept. 16 the White House Office of Management and Budget approved, for three years, FCC information collection from VRS providers in support of the program’s structure and practices.
The FCC issued a “report and order” adopting final rules “designed to eliminate the waste, fraud and abuse that has plagued the VRS program and had threatened its ability to continue serving Americans who use it and its long-term viability. “The commission’s Report and Order contains VRS providers’ information collection requirements that are to support the sustainability and the integrity of the telecommunications relay service (TRS) program and the TRS Fund, the FCC says.
Among the information that has to be reported by VRS providers in support of payment claims is the call record identification (ID) sequence; communication assistant (CA) ID number; session start and end times; conversation start and end times; incoming telephone number and Internet protocol (IP) address (if call originates with an IP-based device) at the time of call; outbound telephone number and IP address (if call terminates with an IP-based device) at the time of call; total conversation minutes; total sessionminutes; the call center (by assigned center ID number) thathandles the call; and the URL address through which the call wasinitiated.
The Sept. 27 notice—Internet-Based Telecommunications Relay Service Numbering—says it becomes effective Oct. 27, and it lists rules adopted by the FCC “to improve assignment of telephone numbers associated with Internet-based Telecommunications Relay Service (iTRS).”Those rules specifically address the part of the VRS that allows hearing and speech disabled individuals to communicate using sign language through video equipment and IP relay. It also allows those individuals to communicate by text using a computer. The final rules set forth in that order reflect the objectives laid out in the iTRS “toll free notice” to promote the use of geographically appropriate local numbers, while ensuring that the deaf and hard-of-hearing community has access to toll free telephone numbers that is equivalent to access enjoyed the hearing community, the FCC says.