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Video Relay Service Program Structure and Practices

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Released: May 4, 2011

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 11-54

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
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Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service
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CG Docket No. 10-51
Program
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REPORT AND ORDER AND FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

Adopted: April 5, 2011

Released: April 6, 2011

Comment Date: [30 days after date of publication in the Federal Register]
Reply Comment Date: [45 days after date of publication in the Federal Register]

By the Commission:

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Heading
Paragraph #
I.
INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................. 1
II. BACKGROUND .................................................................................................................................... 2
III. REPORT AND ORDER......................................................................................................................... 9
A. Location of VRS Call Centers ......................................................................................................... 9
B. VRS CAs Working from Their Homes.......................................................................................... 13
C. VRS CA Compensation ................................................................................................................. 21
D. Procedures for the Suspension of Payment.................................................................................... 24
E. International VRS Calls ................................................................................................................. 31
F. Use of Privacy Screens; Idle Calls................................................................................................. 34
G. ProviderInvolved Remote Training.............................................................................................. 43
H. Ineligible Providers; Revenue Sharing Schemes ........................................................................... 47
I.
Whistleblower Protections ............................................................................................................. 64
J. Data, Audits and Record Retention Requirements......................................................................... 70
1. Data Filed with the Fund Administrator to Support Payment Claims..................................... 72
2. Automated Call Data Collection.............................................................................................. 76
3. Transparency and the Disclosure of Provider Financial and Call Data................................... 80
4. Provider Audits........................................................................................................................ 82
5. Record Retention ..................................................................................................................... 85
6. Provider Certification Under Penalty of Perjury ..................................................................... 88
IV. FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING ................................................................... 92
V. PROCEDURAL MATTERS.............................................................................................................. 104
A. Congressional Review Act........................................................................................................ 104
B. Regulatory Flexibility ................................................................................................................ 105

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C. Paperwork Reduction Act .......................................................................................................... 107
D. Ex Parte Presentations.................................................................................................................. 110
VI. ORDERING CLAUSES..................................................................................................................... 115
APPENDIX A: Commenters
APPENDIX B: Initial Regulatory Flexibility Certification
APPENDIX C: Final Regulatory Flexibility Certification
APPENDIX D: Proposed Rules
APPENDIX E: Final Rules

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
In this Report and Order (Order), we adopt rules to detect and prevent fraud and abuse in
the provision of video relay service (VRS), which allows users to communicate in sign language via a
video link.1 We recognize the valuable ways in which VRS fulfills the communication needs of persons
who are deaf and hard of hearing.2 The program's structure, however, has made it vulnerable to fraud
and abuse, which have plagued the current program and threatened its long-term sustainability. This
Order takes a number of actions intended to substantially reduce and ultimately eliminate this fraud and
abuse. These actions demonstrate the Commission's commitment to ensuring that VRS remains a viable
and a valuable communication tool for Americans who use it on a daily basis, while protecting the
Telecommunications Relay Service Fund (TRS Fund or Fund) from abusive practices. Specifically, we
take the following actions:3

Require that VRS providers submit a statement describing the location and staffing of their


1 VRS is described in greater detail in 2 below. Certain rules adopted in this Order also apply to other forms of
TRS, as indicated herein. TRS is defined as "telephone transmission services that provide the ability for an
individual who is deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or who has a speech disability to engage in communication by
wire or radio with one or more individuals, in a manner that is functionally equivalent to the ability of a hearing
individual who does not have a speech disability to communicate using voice communication services by wire or
radio." 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3). For traditional TRS, an individual uses a TTY to communicate with a third party
over the public switched telephone network through a communications assistant (CA). A TTY, also called a "text
telephone," is a text device that employs graphic communication in the transmission of coded signals through a wire
or radio communication system. See Telecommunications Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech
Disabilities and the Americans with Disabilities Act,
Report and Order and Request for Comments, 6 FCC Rcd 4657
at 4657, 1, n.1 (1991) (First TRS Report and Order). The CA converts everything that the TTY caller types into
voice and types all of the responses back into text so that the two users can have a conversation with each other. See
Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech
Disabilities
, Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 19 FCC Rcd
12475, 12479, 3 n.18 (2004) (2004 TRS Report & Order) (describing how a traditional TRS call works). As noted
below, although traditional TRS was the only type of TRS available in 1990 when section 225 was first enacted,
since that time, the Commission has approved several additional forms of this service, including services that use an
Internet connection between the TRS user and the CA to enable greater real-time communication and other
capabilities. See 2 infra.
2 According to the TRS Fund Performance Status Report by the National Exchange Carrier Association, Inc.
(NECA), VRS had approximately 8.5 million minutes of use for the month of October 2010, which is over three
million more minutes of use than the combined minutes of use of all five of the other Internet Protocol (IP)-based
and interstate forms of TRS in that month. See NECA, TRS Fund Performance Status Report (submitted for October
2010) https://www.neca.org/cms400min/NECA_Templates/PublicInterior.aspx?id=1253.
3 Unless otherwise indicated, the new rules adopted in this Order apply to all forms of TRS.
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call centers twice a year, and a notification at least 30 days prior to any change in the location
of such centers;

Prohibit VRS communications assistants (CAs) from relaying calls from their homes;

Prohibit VRS provider arrangements that involve tying minutes or calls processed by a CA to
compensation paid or other benefits given to that CA, either individually or as part of a
group;

Adopt procedures for the resolution of disputed provider payment claims when payment has
been suspended;

Prohibit compensation for VRS calls that originate from IP addresses that indicate the
individual initiating the call is located outside of the United States, with the exception of
callers who pre-register with their default provider for a specified time and location of travel;

Prohibit VRS CAs from using visual privacy screens; require VRS CAs to terminate a VRS
call, after providing a warning announcement, if either party to the call: (1) enables a privacy
screen or similar feature for more than five minutes, or (2) is unresponsive or unengaged for
more than five minutes, unless the call is to 9-1-1 or one of the parties is on hold;

Prohibit compensation for VRS calls for remote training when the provider is involved in any
way with such training;

Require automated recordkeeping of TRS minutes submitted to the Fund;

Amend the rules governing data collection from VRS providers to add requirements for the
filing of data associated with each VRS call for which a VRS provider is seeking
compensation;

Require that VRS be offered to the public only in the name of the eligible provider seeking
compensation from the Fund, and when sub-brands are used, that these identify such eligible
provider;

Require that calls to any brand or sub-brand of VRS be routed through a single URL address
for that brand or sub-brand;

Prohibit revenue sharing agreements for CA or call center functions between entities eligible
for compensation from the Fund and non-eligible entities;

When an eligible provider has contracts with third parties for non-CA or call center functions,
prohibit the third party subcontractor from holding itself out to the public as a VRS provider,
and require such contracts to be in writing and made available to the Commission or TRS
Fund administrator upon request;

Prohibit compensation on a per minute basis for costs related to marketing and outreach costs
performed through a subcontractor where such services utilize VRS;

Adopt whistleblower protection rules for current and former employees and contractors of
TRS providers;
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Require that VRS providers submit to audits annually or as deemed appropriate by the Fund
administrator or the Commission;

Require that all Internet-based TRS providers retain all records that support their claims for
payment from the Fund for five years; and

Make permanent the interim rule requiring the CEO, CFO, or another senior executive of a
TRS provider with first hand knowledge of the accuracy and completeness of the information
provided to certify, under penalty of perjury, to the validity of minutes and data submitted to
the Fund administrator.
In addition to the above actions, in the accompanying Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM),
we seek comment on ways to revise the current certification process to ensure that potential providers
receiving certification are qualified to provide Internet-based relay service in compliance with the
Commission's rules, and to improve the Commission's oversight of such providers.

II.

BACKGROUND

2.
Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), codified at section 225 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act), requires the Commission to ensure that TRS is
available, to the extent possible and in the most efficient manner, to persons with hearing or speech
disabilities in the United States.4 The Act specifically directs that TRS offer persons with hearing and
speech disabilities the ability to engage in communication by radio or wire in a manner that is
"functionally equivalent" to voice telephone service.5 When section 225 was first enacted and
implemented, there was only one type of TRS, which relayed calls between voice telephone users and
individuals who used TTYs connected to the public switched telephone network (which we now call
"traditional TRS").6 In March 2000, the Commission recognized several new forms of TRS, including
VRS.7 VRS requires the use of a broadband Internet connection between the VRS user and the CA,
which allows users to communicate in sign language via a video link. A VRS call is initiated when a
person using American Sign Language (ASL) connects to a VRS CA and the CA, in turn, places an
outbound telephone call to the called party, typically a hearing person.8 During the call, the CA relays
the communications between the two parties, signing what the hearing person says to the deaf or hard of
hearing user and responding in voice to the hearing person. In this manner, the conversation between the


4 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1); see Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Pub. L. No. 101-336, 401, 104 Stat. 327,
336-69 (1990).
5 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3).
6 See n. 2, supra.
7 Telecommunications Relay Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities, Report and Order and
Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 15 FCC Rcd 5140, 5152-54, 21-27 (2000) (2000 TRS Order).
8 A VRS call can also be initiated by having the hearing person connect to the CA, and having the CA place the call
to the ASL user. Note that the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) revises
the definition of TRS to also permit calls between VRS users and persons using other forms of relay services, in
which case the called party may also have a hearing or speech disability. Twenty-First Century Communications
and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-260, 124 Stat. 2751 (2010) (as codified at 47 U.S.C. 715).
The law was enacted on October 8, 2010 (S. 3304, 111th Cong.). See also Amendment of Twenty-First Century
Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Pub. L. 111-265, 124 Stat. 2795 (2010), also enacted on
October 8, 2010 (S. 3828, 111th Cong.) making technical corrections to the CVAA. Hereinafter, all references to the
CVAA will be to the CVAA, as codified in the Act, unless otherwise indicated.
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deaf person and the hearing person flows in near real-time. VRS therefore provides for persons who
wish to communicate in ASL a degree of "functional equivalency" that is not attainable with text-based
TRS.
3.
Section 225 of the Act and its implementing regulations provide that TRS users cannot be
required to pay rates that are greater than the rates paid for functionally equivalent voice telephone
service.9 To comply with this mandate, the costs for providing TRS are not charged to the consumers
using these services; rather, these costs are passed on to all consumers of telecommunications services
by intrastate and interstate common carriers, either as a surcharge on their monthly service bills or as
part of the rate base for the state's intrastate telephone services. Interstate relay calls and all calls made
via Internet-based forms of TRS, including VRS, are funded through mandatory contributions made to
the TRS Fund.10 Providers of compensable TRS services are entitled to recover their reasonable costs of
providing service in compliance with the Commission's service rules.11 Providers submit to the Fund
administrator on a monthly basis the number of minutes of service provided, and the Fund administrator
compensates them based on per-minute compensation rates.12 TRS compensation rates are presently set
annually by the Commission.13
4.
Although VRS has proven to be extremely popular, this service also has been subject to
fraud and abuse. For example, in November 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted 26 people for
allegedly manufacturing and billing the Fund for illegitimate calls, the vast majority of whom have either
pleaded guilty or been convicted.14 In addition, we continue to receive numerous allegations of abusive


9 See 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(1)(D) (regulations must "require that users of [TRS] pay rates no greater than the rates paid
for functionally equivalent voice communication services with respect to such factors as the duration of the call, the
time of day, and the distance from point of origination to point of termination"); 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(4).
10 See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(E) (implementing 47 U.S.C. 225(d)).
11 Id.; see also 2004 TRS Report & Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 12543-45, 179-82.
12 See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(E). The TRS Fund pays VRS providers for their cost of operations; users of VRS
pay for their own Internet service to access VRS.
13 See, e.g., Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and
Speech Disabilities
, 24 FCC Rcd 8628 (2009) (2009 TRS Rate Order) (annual rate order adopting compensation
rates for the various forms of TRS, the Fund size, and the carrier contribution factor).
14 See Twenty-six Charged in Nationwide Scheme to Defraud the FCC's Video Relay Service Program, United
States Department of Justice (DOJ) (Nov. 19, 2009) at http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2009/November/09-crm-
1258.html; see also Two Former Executives of Indicted Relay Services Company Plead Guilty to Defrauding FCC
Program,
DOJ (Jan. 13, 2010) at http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/January/10-crm-031.html; Two Former
Executives of Video Relay Services Company Plead Guilty to Defrauding FCC Program,
DOJ (Feb. 18, 2010) at
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/February/10-crm-157.html; Four Former Owners and Employees of Three
Video Relay Service Companies Plead Guilty to Defrauding FCC Program
, DOJ (March 5, 2010) at
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/March/10-crm-229.html; Three Former Owners and Employees of Two Video
Relay Service Companies Plead Guilty to Defrauding FCC Program
, DOJ (March 9, 2010) at
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/March/10-crm-237.html; Owner and a Former Executive of Indicted Video
Relay Services Company Plead Guilty to Defrauding FCC Program
, DOJ (Oct. 28, 2010) at
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/October/10-crm-1223.html; Individual Pleads Guilty to Defrauding FCC Video
Relay Service Program
, DOJ (Jan. 6, 2011) at http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/January/11-crm-018.html; Two
Individuals Plead Guilty to Defrauding FCC Video Relay Service Program
, DOJ (Jan. 24, 2011) at
http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/January/11-crm-100.html; See also, In the Matter of Hands On Video Relay
Services, Inc., Go America, Inc., and Purple Communications, Inc.
, Order and Consent Decree, 25 FCC Rcd 13090
(2010) (Purple Consent Decree). As we noted in the VRS Call Practices NPRM, among the many individuals
(continued....)
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practices by VRS providers or their subcontractors.15 Some of these allegations have resulted in criminal
investigations of VRS practices, which in turn have been the subject of semi-annual reports that the
Commission's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has submitted to Congress.16 The reports on these
investigations have noted evidence of the following illicit VRS activities:

VRS callers specifically requesting that their calls not be relayed by the CA to the parties that
they call; 17

Calls placed to numbers that do not require any relaying, for example a voice-to-voice call;

Calls initiated from international IP addresses18 by callers with little or no fluency in ASL
where the connection is permitted to "run" (i.e., the line is simply left open without any
relaying of the call occurring);19

Implementation of "double privacy screens" (i.e., where both users to the video leg of the call
block their respective video displays, thus making communication impossible);

VRS CAs calling themselves;
(Continued from previous page)


indicted for illegal VRS activities were call center managers, paid callers, and VRS CAs. Fraud uncovered by the
investigations associated with these indictments revealed tens of millions of dollars of payments that were
illegitimately collected from the Fund. Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, CG Docket
No. 10-51, Declaratory Ruling, Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 25 FCC Rcd 6012 at 6016, 6, n.22
(2010) (VRS Call Practices NPRM). Two primary sources of fraud uncovered through these investigations were
illegitimate calls made to taped programs and calls ostensibly made for the purpose of marketing and outreach.
15 We previously noted that these have included reports of the use of VRS for video remote interpreting services, the
hosting or promotion of teleseminars for the express purpose of generating VRS minutes, and payment to
individuals or organizations to place VRS calls using a particular provider's service. See Structure and Practices of
the Video Relay Service Program
, CG Docket No. 10-51, Notice of Inquiry, 25 FCC Rcd 8597 at 8607, 31 (2010)
(2010 VRS NOI).
16 See, e.g., Office of Inspector General, Semi Annual Report to Congress, April 1-September 30, 2009, available at:
http://www.fcc.gov/oig/SAR_12-22-09.pdf (OIG Semi Annual Report).
17 In the OIG Semi Annual Report, the term "video interpreter," or "VI," is used to refer to a CA who handles VRS
calls. In this Order, such individuals are referred to as CAs throughout.
18 We define calls made from international IP addresses as those that come from an IP address that the Fund
administrator detects as likely coming from a device associated with an individual initiating the call from a location
outside the United States.
19 See United States v. John T.C. Yeh et al., Criminal No. 09-856, D.N.J. (Nov. 18, 2009). ("Defendants John Yeh,
Joseph Yeh, and Viable would pay friends and acquaintances to generate VRS calls that Viable employees often
referred to as `r calls' or `run calls.' These run calls would be made for the sole purpose of generating illegitimate
VRS minutes for which NECA would be fraudulently billed."); United States v. Kim E. Hawkins et al., Criminal No.
09-857, D.N.J. (Nov. 18, 2009). ("Defendants L. Berke, D. Berke, and Goetz would generate and process certain
illegitimate VRS calls at Master Communications and KL Communications for the purpose of submitting those VRS
minutes to NECA, thus generating millions of dollars in revenue. These . . . `run calls' would be calls made for the
sole purpose of generating illegitimate VRS minutes for which NECA would be fraudulently billed.")
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CAs connecting videophones/computers and letting them run with no parties participating in
the call;

Callers disconnecting from one illegitimate call and immediately calling back to initiate
another; and

Callers admitting that they were paid to make TRS calls.
5.
These practices have resulted in fraudulent diversion of funds intended for TRS and
threaten the sustainability of the VRS program. They cannot be tolerated in a program that is designed
to deliver essential telecommunications services to persons who are deaf and hard of hearing. In
addition to robbing the TRS Fund for illicit gain, they abuse a highly valued Federal program that, for
the past twenty years, has been critical to ensuring that people with hearing and speech disabilities have
the same opportunities to communicate over distances with family, friends, colleagues, and others as
everyone else.
6.
On a number of prior occasions, the Commission has attempted to curb the fraud pervading
the VRS program by admonishing providers about improper call handling and other practices that
generate VRS calls that would not otherwise be made by consumers, as well as arrangements and
schemes that violate section 225 and our rules.20 In addition, in a 2009 Declaratory Ruling, the
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) identified certain calling practices that do not
comply with our rules, as well as categories of calls that are not compensable from the Fund.21 Other
stakeholders have also come forward with their suggestions of ways to address and eliminate
questionable provider call handling practices that threaten the viability of this program.22


20 See, e.g., Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and
Speech Disabilities,
Declaratory Ruling, 20 FCC Rcd 1466 (2005) (2005 Financial Incentives Declaratory Ruling);
see also Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and
Speech Disabilities
, CG Docket No. 03-123, Order, 20 FCC Rcd 12503 (2005)(stating that the offering of free or
discount long distance service to TRS consumers as an incentive for a consumer to use a particular TRS provider's
relay service, or as an incentive for a consumer to make more or longer TRS calls, constitutes an impermissible
financial incentive in violation of section 225 of the Act); Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) Providers Must
Make all Outbound Calls Requested by TRS Users and May Not "Block" Calls to Certain Numbers at the Request of
Consumers,
Public Notice, 20 FCC 14717 (2005). See also Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-
Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CG Docket No. 03-123, Report and Order
and Declaratory Ruling, 22 FCC Rcd 20140 at 20173-76, 89-96 (2007) (2007 TRS Rate Methodology Order);
Purple Consent Decree.
21 Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech
Disabilities
, 24 FCC Rcd 11985 (2009).
22 See, e.g., National Association of the Deaf, et al., Petition to Initiate a Notice and Comment Rulemaking
Proceeding,
CG Docket No. 03-123, CC Docket No. 98-67 (filed Jan. 27, 2010) (requesting that the Commission
initiate a rulemaking proceeding on the restriction of certain types of VRS calls); CSDVRS, LLC, Petition for
Rulemaking on Internal VRS Calls and VRS Conference Calls
, CG Docket No. 03-123, WC Docket No. 05-196
(filed Nov. 17, 2009) (requesting that the Commission seek comment on rules addressing VRS calls, including
conference calls, by VRS provider employees ); Ex Parte Notice of Snap Telecommunications, Inc., CG Docket No.
03-123 (Oct. 30, 2009) (urging the Commission to take enforcement actions against illegitimate call practices);
Sorenson Communications, Inc., Petition for Rulemaking, CG Docket No. 03-123 (filed Oct. 1, 2009) (Sorenson
VRS Call Practices Petition
) (requesting that the Commission propose and seek comment on rules that will ensure
that the Fund compensates only legitimate VRS calls); CSDVRS, LLC, Request for Expedited Clarification on
Marketing Practices,
CG Docket No. 03-123 (filed Sept. 1, 2009) (seeking clarification on the compensability of
(continued....)
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7.
In this Order we address a range of issues in a further effort to stem the fraud and abuse
that have plagued the VRS program. We consider this Order one of many steps designed to meet our
goals of ensuring that VRS is available to, and used by, the full spectrum of eligible users, encourages
innovation, and is provided efficiently so as to be less susceptible to the waste, fraud, and abuse that
threaten its long-term viability.23 In conjunction with this Order, we will also propose in the near future
changes to the VRS program infrastructure that are necessary to further reduce the incentives for fraud
and ensure that this service remains effective, efficient, and sustainable in the future.24
8.
This Order follows a Declaratory Ruling, Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (VRS
Call Practices NPRM) released on May 27, 2010.25 In the VRS Call Practices NRPM, we sought
comment on a number of ways to reduce and ultimately eliminate fraud and abuse, and to improve the
integrity and sustainability of the TRS Fund that pays for this program. Specifically, we sought
comment on: (1) the location of VRS call centers; (2) VRS CAs working from home; (3) compensation
for VRS CAs; (4) procedures for the suspension of payment from the TRS Fund; (5) the permissibility of
specific call practices; and (6) ways to detect and stop the billing of illegitimate calls. Based on the
record, the rules we adopt herein seek to clarify and strengthen our service and compensation rules to
preserve the integrity of the VRS program.
(Continued from previous page)


VRS calls placed by VRS providers for marketing and outreach); CSDVRS, LLC, Petition for Rulemaking or
Regulation of Provider Representations
, CG Docket No. 03-123 (filed Aug. 24, 2009) (seeking rulemaking to adopt
rules that provide for monetary penalties for VRS provider misrepresentations); Purple Communications, Inc.,
Petition for Rulemaking to Clarify Relay Rules (filed Aug. 12, 2009) (seeking rules to make clear that multi-party
deaf-to-deaf calls are compensable VRS calls and that address other provider marketing and call handling practices);
Reply Comments of the United States Telecom Association, CG Docket No. 03-123 (filed July 20, 2009) (arguing
that the Commission must increase efforts to stop waste, fraud, and abuse, and clarify all practices that are not
reimbursable); Letter to Acting Chairman Copps from Ed Bosson, CG Docket No. 03-123 (filed May 28, 2009)
(suggesting FCC enforcement action for certain call practices, including manufactured minutes); CSDVRS, LLC,
Petition for Clarification or Rulemaking on Automated Data Collection, CG Docket No. 03-123 (filed May 22,
2009) (Automated Call Data Petition) (seeking clarification that the TRS rules require automated record keeping of
TRS minutes submitted to the Fund for reimbursement); Ex Parte Notice of Snap Telecommunications, Inc., CG
Docket No. 03-123 (May 12, 2009) (urging the Commission to take enforcement actions against illegitimate call
practices; Ex Parte Notice of Sorenson Communications, Inc. (Sorenson), CG Docket No. 03-123 (filed May 12,
2009) (requesting that the Commission identify certain call practices as impermissible); Sorenson., Comments and
Petition for Declaratory Ruling of Sorenson Communications, Inc.,
CG Docket No. 03-123 (Filed April 24, 2009)
(addressing provider revenue sharing agreements and possible revisions to the provider certification rules);
GoAmerica, Inc., Petition for Rule Making, CG Docket No. 03-123 (filed Jan. 26, 2009) (seeking rulemaking to
revise the provider certification rules and prohibit "white label" providers) (GoAmerica VRS Certification Petition);
Ex Parte Comments of the National Association for State Relay Administration (NASRA), CG Docket No. 03-123
(filed Nov. 10, 2008) (seeking clarification on the permissibility of certain call practices).
23 2010 VRS NOI, 25 FCC Rcd at 6013, 1.
24 See generally 2010 VRS NOI.
25 See generally VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd 6012.
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III.

REPORT AND ORDER

A.

Location of VRS Call Centers

9.
In the VRS Call Practices NPRM, we noted that VRS call centers that currently operate
outside of the United States may not be appropriately suited to provide VRS.26 Specifically, we
expressed concerns that VRS providers may not be able to find qualified ASL interpreters in other
countries where ASL generally is not the primary form of sign language.27 We also pointed out that as a
result of inadequate supervision, VRS call centers located outside the United States may not always
operate in compliance with the Commission's rules and have become a source of illegitimate VRS
calls.28 Therefore, we tentatively concluded that we would amend the rules to require that all VRS call
centers be located in the United States.29
10. Commenters responding to these proposals are divided on this issue. Several providers
agree that limiting VRS call centers to locations in the United States would help to address VRS fraud.30
In addition, the Canadian Association of the Deaf urges us to prohibit the location of VRS call centers in
Canada that can claim reimbursement from the Fund because the employment of interpreters in these
centers has "detrimentally affected the interpreting resources for deaf Canadians."31 However, two
major interpreter organizations, the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and the Association of
Visual Language Interpreters of Canada, and several VRS providers oppose limiting call centers to
United States locations because they claim there is no evidence that non-United States-based call centers
are a source of fraud.32 Other commenters recommend that the Commission instead focus its attention
on addressing concerns about inadequate supervision of interpreters and centers that are susceptible to
fraud, regardless of the centers' locations.33 The Government of Canada asserts that a rule prohibiting
VRS call centers outside the United States appears to be in contravention of the United States'
obligations under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), because the Cross-Border Trade
in Services chapter of the NAFTA obligates the United States to treat Canadian-based service providers
no less favorably than United States-based service providers.34 Sorenson also requests an assurance from
the Commission that the FCC will not prohibit call centers in Canada because Sorenson operates eight


26 VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6021,17.
27 Id.
28 Id.
29 Id. at 6022, 18.
30 See, e.g., Convo Comments at 5, PAHVRS Comments at 1, CSDVRS Comments at 3, Hamilton Comments at 2;
SnapVRS Comments at 3.
31 See Canadian Association of the Deaf Comments at 1-2. SnapVRS similarly notes this reason as an appropriate
basis for banning VRS call centers in Canada. SnapVRS Reply Comments at 3.
32 RID Comments at 1; AT&T Comments at 3; Government of Canada Comments at 2-3; AVLIC Comments at 2-3;
Purple Comments at 2-3; CODAVRS Comments at 1; Sorenson Comments (Sept. 7, 2010) at 9; GraciasVRS
Comments at 1; Healinc Comments at 3-4; TDI Comments at 4; 258 Communications Comments at 1 (May 28,
2010).
33 TDI Comments at 4; Purple Comments at 3; Sorenson Reply Comments (Sept. 16, 2010) at 9.
34 Government of Canada Comments at 2-3.
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centers there and the Commission's proposal would impose unnecessary obstacles to international
trade.35
11. Discussion. We decline to adopt our tentative conclusion to require that all VRS call
centers be located in the United States.36 We are concerned about potential violations of international
trade agreements, and also agree with those commenters that argue that we can effectively control fraud
and ensure compliance with our mandatory minimum standards at any center, regardless of its location,
in other ways. For example, knowing the locations of all VRS centers will facilitate more effective
oversight of the VRS program. In particular, knowing the locations of these centers will assist in our
efforts to identify sources of potential fraud, as well as identify potential witnesses to information that
may eventually assist law enforcement authorities in their efforts to investigate such fraud and take
appropriate enforcement actions. Several investigations in the past have involved alleged fraud
committed at independently run or operated call centers that were not directly under the Commission's
oversight, and therefore difficult to find.37 It will assist our investigatory efforts to have information on
where all current and future call centers are located. No commenters oppose requiring providers to
report on these locations.38
12. Accordingly, we amend our rules to require all VRS providers to submit a written statement
to the Commission and the TRS Fund administrator containing the locations of all of their call centers
that handle VRS calls, including call centers located outside the United States, twice a year, on April 1st
and October 1st. 39 In addition to the street address of each call center, we further direct that these
statements contain (1) the number of individual CAs and CA managers employed at each call center; and
(2) the name and contact information (phone number and email address) for the managers at each call
center. We also amend our rules to require VRS providers to notify the Commission and the TRS Fund
administrator in writing at least 30 days prior to any change to their call centers' locations, including the
opening, closing, or relocation of any center. We believe that this new reporting obligation will provide
us with critical information that will facilitate oversight, including immediate and effective
investigations into suspicious activities.

B.

VRS CAs Working from Their Homes

13. In the VRS Call Practices NPRM, we sought comment on the extent to which VRS CAs
should be permitted to handle VRS calls from their homes.40 While noting the benefits that come from


35 See generally Sorenson Comments at 9-24; Sorenson Reply Comments (Sept. 16, 2010) at 9.
36 VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6022, 18.
37 For example, one indictment charged the following: "Defendants John Yeh, Joseph Yeh, and Viable would enter
[into] agreements with independently owned call centers for the purpose of generating additional bogus VRS
minutes for Viable. . . The subcontractor call centers would receive between approximately $2 and $3 per VRS call
minute billed to NECA that was processed through the call center." United States v. John T.C. Yeh et al., Criminal
No. 09-856, D.N.J. (Nov. 18, 2009).
38 But see AT&T Comments at 10-12 (recommending a less stringent reporting requirement that would require
providers to file annually and update the call center information within 30 days of any change).
39 In the VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6030, 43, we considered a quarterly reporting requirement on
the location of these centers. We now adopt a less burdensome semi-annual reporting requirement, which we
conclude will enable us to achieve the desired oversight. See Appendix E for final rule, 47 C.F.R.
64.604(c)(5)(iii)(N)(2).
40 See generally VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6022-6023, 19-21.
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the flexibility of such arrangements, we raised concerns about a VRS provider's ability to comply with
the TRS mandatory minimum standards, including standards pertaining to confidentiality,41 emergency
access, 42 and redundancy in call center operations,43 when its CAs handle calls from a residence.
Further, the Commission emphasized the need to ensure that VRS is provided in a manner that prevents
fraud and abuse and questioned whether this can be achieved when calls are relayed from individuals'
residences.44 Finally, we asked about technologies that would allow for appropriate supervision of CAs
who work from home, as well as specific examples of successful solutions that could serve as a model
for any future rules that might permit this arrangement.
14.
In response, AT&T and Purple contend that allowing VRS CAs to relay calls from their
homes will help alleviate the shortage of interpreters because such working options will attract potential
interpreters who seek flexible schedules.45 Similarly, RID points out that this arrangement would benefit
interpreters living in rural communities.46 PAHVRS claims that not allowing VRS CAs to relay calls
from their homes would be anti-competitive for new entrants and smaller providers because the costs
associated with running call centers are unattainably high.47 SnapVRS also supports permitting
residential-based VRS, noting that its in-home CAs have the "full capacity to handle an emergency call
and route it to the appropriate PSAPs."48 SnapVRS further suggests that the Commission adopt stringent
requirements for CAs working from their residences;49 it is joined by PAHVRS and Purple in proposing
the use of electronic video and audio monitoring to effectively supervise VRS CAs working from their
homes.50
15. Although TDI's comments neither support nor oppose home-based VRS, it recommends
that, if the Commission were to permit VRS CAs to relay calls in a residential environment, the
safeguards currently in place for call centers should be applied.51 In response, Sorenson points out that
"the very need for complex new safeguards . . . highlights the susceptibility of at-home interpreting to
waste, fraud, and abuse and, by contrast, the relative security of supervised interpreting centers."52
Sorenson also notes that the lack of certain technical capabilities in the home environment (such as back-


41 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(1)(F); 47 C.F.R. 64.604(a)(2) (prohibiting CAs from disclosing the content of any relayed
conversation regardless of content).
42 See 47 C.F.R. 64.605(b)(2)(ii) (requiring a VRS providers to transmit all 9-1-1 calls to "the PSAP, designated
statewide default answering point, or appropriate local emergency authority").
43 See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(b)(4)(ii) (requiring TRS providers to have "redundancy features functionally equivalent to
the equipment in normal central offices, including uninterruptible power for emergency use").
44 VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6022-6023, 19-21.
45 AT&T Comments at 5; Purple Comments (Sept. 7, 2010) at 6. Purple also supports CAs working from home
because of its perceived benefits of reducing costs. Purple Comments (Sept. 7, 2010) at 6.
46 RID Comments at 1.
47 PAHVRS Comments at 2.
48 SnapVRS Comments at 5.
49 Id. at 6.
50 SnapVRS Comments at 5; PAHVRS Comments at 2; Purple Comments (Sept. 7, 2010) at 6.
51 TDI Comments at 5-6.
52 Sorenson Reply Comments (Sept. 16, 2010) at 6.
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up power and system redundancy to prevent call interruptions) can endanger the lives or safety of deaf
callers who make emergency calls,53 and further suggests that at-home working conditions are more
prone to eavesdropping, random interruptions, and violations of a caller's confidentiality.54 Hamilton
argues against authorizing unsupervised CA activity for any form of TRS because it increases the
potential for fraud.55
16. Discussion. We agree with commenters who suggest that allowing VRS CAs to work from
their homes poses substantially more risks than benefits. Based on the evidence provided in the record,
we have serious concerns about allowing CAs to handle VRS calls from their homes, where they do not
have the direct supervision that is available in a call center environment. Specifically, we are concerned
that an unsupervised home environment is more conducive to fraud than a supervised call center with
on-site management. In the course of the Commission's ongoing investigations of fraud in the VRS
industry, we have identified numerous incidents in which unsupervised VRS CAs may have been
complicit in facilitating fraudulent calls.56 We agree with Hamilton that on-site supervisors "serve as an
additional layer of fraud protection [and that] removing the CA from the same workspace as the
supervisor simply increases the potential for fraud."57 Although some commenters suggest that we
permit home-based call handling only as a supplement to call centers rather than the principal means of
handling VRS calls,58 we decline to permit situations that we know to be susceptible to fraud under any
circumstances. As noted by Sorenson, although most CAs have high ethical standards, "if even a small
percentage of [CAs] are predisposed to commit unscrupulous acts absent supervision, allowing [CAs] to
work from home could cause a significant increase in waste, fraud, or abuse."59
17. Even were we to accept the argument that the fraud associated with the VRS program could
be contained in home environments through off-sight supervision, we remain concerned about the ability
of these arrangements to achieve full compliance with the Commission's TRS mandatory minimum
standards. First, we are not convinced that call handling in a home environment can meet the
Commission's TRS standard requiring strict confidentiality of all relay calls.60 The functional
equivalency principle dictates that a relay user has the same expectation of caller privacy as a non-relay


53 Id. at 4.
54 Id.
55 Hamilton Comments (September 7, 2010) at 4.
56 For example, the Commission is aware of circumstances in which VRS CAs working from home handled lengthy
relay calls solely on behalf of family members who placed these calls daily. In one situation, a family member
regularly placed VRS calls to another family member through yet a third family member serving as a VRS CA, and
spent the entirety of those calls reading from a book for hours at a time. See Transcript of Testimony at 197-199,
United States v. Pena, D.N.J. (2010) (No. 09-858) (VRS CAs knew that caller was being paid to make bogus calls);
See also United States v. Hawkins et al., Criminal No. 857, D.N.J. (Nov. 18, 2009); United States v. Verson et al.,
Criminal No. 859, D.N.J. (Nov. 18, 2009).
57 Hamilton Comments (Sept. 7, 2010) at 4. As Hamilton further explains, "[g]iven the fraud issues that are still
prevalent in this industry . . now is not the time to liberalize the CA workspace rules. Id.
58 See, e.g., CSDVRS Comments at 4; Convo Comments at 6-7, suggesting permitting the use of CAs for night and
weekend shifts, when the number of calls make call center operations less cost efficient. But even Convo notes that
such practice should only be permitted if we "assume[] that security issues are resolved to the FCC's satisfaction."
Id. at 7.
59 Sorenson Comments (Sept. 7, 2010) at 5.
60 47 C.F.R. 64.604(a)(2).
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user. In the very First Report and Order issued on TRS in 1991, the Commission noted the importance
of its prohibition against allowing CAs to divulge the content of any relayed conversation: "The ADA
prohibition of disclosure furthers the statutory purpose that TRS be functionally equivalent to regular
telephone service. We believe that confidentiality is essential to the service, and that users of TRS can
have confidence in the basic privacy of their conversations."61 Although some commenters have
recommended the use of cameras to prevent violations of our confidentiality rules, we are not convinced
that either video or audio equipment is capable of completely preventing eavesdropping by others who
may be present in the household. Even if a camera's angle could capture the entirety of a VRS CA's
physical station, neither its video or audio capability would be able to capture the presence of a person
standing just outside the door to that station, and therefore could not prevent someone from overhearing
or intentionally listening in on a conversation in a home setting without the provider's knowledge.62 By
contrast, provider call centers typically ensure structural or other arrangements that prevent sound from
carrying from call station to call station.63
18. Second, we are concerned about potential violations of the Commission's technical
standards in a home environment. Commission rules require TRS facilities to have redundancy features,
including uninterruptible power for emergency use,64 and further require TRS providers to be able to
handle all 9-1-1 calls.65 The record does not contain evidence that these critical capabilities, routinely
available in provider-operated call centers, are equally available in all home environments. For example,
as Sorenson notes, it is not clear that CAs working from home have back-up power in the event of a
power outage;66 nor is it clear that home-sites have the same reliable Internet capabilities as do call
centers, a problem that could especially pose problems in the event that the caller is seeking emergency
assistance via 9-1-1.67
19. Finally, we have concerns about the ability to achieve service quality standards in a home
environment. We note that provider-based call centers typically employ on-site supervisors who roam
the call center floor or are otherwise available to instantly resolve problems that arise during a relay


61 Telecommunications Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities and the Americans with
Disabilities Act,
Report and Order and Request for Comments 6 FCC Rcd at 4659, 13 (1991). See also
Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities,
Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 15 FCC Rcd 5164 54 (2000).
62 Convo notes that a VRS CA might have "a spouse, neighbor or friend who eavesdrops on relay calls," and asks
"[w]ithout on-site supervision, what is to stop VRSCAs from recording the calls?" Convo Comments at 5. Convo
further notes that "there is a segment of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community that is against [VRS CAs] working
from home because they are concerned that privacy [rules] may not be easily enforced at home offices." Id. See
also,
Sorenson Reply Comments (Sept. 16, 2010) at 4 (possible eavesdropping from repair or delivery personnel or
children could occur).
63 For example, Sorenson reports that its call centers utilize white noise emitters to prevent a conversation from
carrying outside the CA's immediate call station. Sorenson Comments (Sept. 7, 2010) at 4.
64 47 C.F.R. 64.604(b)(4)(ii) requires that these features be functionally equivalent to the equipment assuring
redundancy features in central office facilities.
65 47 C.F.R. 64.605 sets forth the Commission's extensive emergency call handling requirements.
66 Sorenson Comments (Sept. 7, 2010) at 5-6.
67 Id. at 7, noting that the below-business grade relay service likely to be installed in a person's home may result in
latency or congestion, which could cause inefficiencies in the handling of 9-1-1 calls.
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call.68 This managerial staff, for example, can intervene in the event that a CA is having difficulty
understanding someone's signs, assist with an emergency call to 9-1-1,69 or relieve a CA in the middle of
a call if the CA suddenly becomes ill. That is not the case in a home-based setting. Moreover, in a home
environment, even when the CA's door is locked and surveillance cameras are used, there is little
assurance that interruptions will not occur or that noises coming from outside the room, for example,
from other family members, will not adversely affect the CA's ability to accurately and effectively
interpret the call.70 Given the use of VRS as a critical tool for communication in employment and other
daily life activities, as well as our statutory mandate to ensure that functional equivalent relay services
are available to the extent possible , we have an obligation to do all that we can to ensure that relay
service enables communication that is as accurate and reliable as that of a direct voice telephone
conversation.71
20. For the above reasons, we conclude that the potential benefits of having VRS CAs work
from home are presently outweighed by concerns about potential fraud, confidentiality, reliability,
safety, and service quality 72 We agree with Convo that there are "simply too many privacy, security,


68 Although there is no Commission standard requiring a specific level of relay call quality, there are various
requirements contained in the Commission's rules to ensure that the quality of a relay call will be functionally
equivalent to the quality of a voice telephone call with respect to its accuracy. These include requirements for
qualified CAs who are trained to meet the specialized communications needs of people with hearing disabilities (47
C.F.R. 64.604(a)(1)(i)), are skilled in sign language (47 C.F.R. 64.604(a)(1)(iv)) and are familiar with hearing
disability cultures (47 C.F.R. 64.604(a)(1)(ii)). In addition, there are requirements prohibiting CAs from
intentionally altering a relayed conversation (47 C.F.R. 64.604(a)(2)(ii)), mandating that relay services handle any
type of call typically provided by telecommunications carriers (47 C.F.R. 64.604(a)(3)(ii)) and directing relay
providers to answer calls promptly so that the probability of a busy response due to CA unavailability is functionally
equivalent to what a voice caller would experience over the voice telephone network (47 C.F.R. 64.604(b)(2)).
Each of these speak to the need to ensure that the accuracy and reliability of a relay user's experience is as close as
possible to the telephone experience of hearing persons who do not have speech disabilities.
69 Sorenson notes that its call centers routinely handle 9-1-1 calls with a team of two interpreters to ensure that these
are "interpreted with the utmost accuracy," a practice that can not be duplicated in the home environment. Sorenson
Comments (Sept. 7, 2010) at 6; Sorenson Ex Parte (March 4, 2011) at 2.
70 Sorenson Comments (Sept. 7, 2010) at 4 (if a CA is handling calls in her home, the provider cannot ensure that a
family member or a refrigerator repairman will not interrupt or overhear those calls); Sorenson Ex Parte (March 4,
2011) at 1 (an off-site interpreter could be interrupted by unauthorized parties, such as family members, neighbors,
or repairmen).
71See generally, 2000 TRS Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 5144, 7. (TRS is a critical tool for employment . . . Being able to
place a phone call to a prospective employer, to answer an advertisement for a job, to receive training, and to
advance one's career through formal and informal networks depends largely on one's ability to communicate with
many different individuals and entities. Improving the quality of TRS will enhance employment opportunities for
people with hearing and speech disabilities . . ." See also id. at 5143, 5 ("[t]elecommunications relay service is
critical given the importance that telecommunications plays in a person's ability to participate in this information
age").
72 Although the National Broadband Plan recommended facilitating telework arrangements, see National Broadband
Plan Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan (rel. Mar. 16, 2010) at 272 (Chapter 13.3: Promoting
Telework) available at http://www.broadband.gov/plan, we believe that the specific concerns discussed above,
especially those pertaining to the need to ensure the privacy of all VRS calls to the same extent that non-VRS users
enjoy such privacy and fraud prevention, generally do not make working from a home environment appropriate for
CAs. While other permissible telework arrangements may at times involve the exchange of confidential
information, the employment duties in such other arrangements do not involve the transmission of an individual's
private conversations as they do in the relay context. There is precedent for disallowing telework for certain forms
(continued....)
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and [CA] performance issues to make [home-based VRS] a workable solution" at the present time,73 and
conclude that the record reflects serious concerns about the potential for fraud when CAs work in an
unsupervised home environment. Accordingly, we adopt a rule to prohibit VRS CAs from handling
relay calls from a location used primarily as their home, to take effect 120 days after publication of this
order in the Federal Register.74 We do not think that the rule we now adopt will have a significant
adverse impact on the provision of VRS to consumers because nothing in the record suggests that a large
number or significant percentage of CAs presently work from their homes. Further, we note that this
prohibition will not apply to other individuals employed by VRS providers. We remain open to re-
visiting this finding if, in the future, we determine that home-based VRS can be provided in a manner
that meets all of the Commission's requirements, achieves the Act's objectives of functional
equivalency, and can be monitored to prevent fraudulent practices.

C.

VRS CA Compensation

21. In the VRS Call Practices NPRM, the Commission sought comment on CA compensation
arrangements that could provide incentives for CAs to place calls for the purpose of generating minutes
in a way that could benefit either the VRS provider employing them or themselves.75 Because the TRS
Fund compensates providers based on a fixed rate per minute of calling, the number of minutes handled
is the key variable affecting a VRS provider's revenue. We sought input on how VRS CAs are typically
compensated, and asked about the types of safeguards that can be adopted to deter and prevent practices
that are designed solely to generate minutes. For example, some VRS CAs have been paid bonuses or
otherwise been given preferential treatment for working through scheduled breaks or overtime in order
to relay more minutes. We noted that these minute-based compensation arrangements and similar
compensation incentives have resulted in fraudulent VRS calls.76
22. Commenters that responded to our inquiries on this issue generally agree that compensation
arrangements that tie minutes processed by a CA to the compensation for that CA create incentives to
fraudulently generate minutes. For example, CSDVRS states that CA compensation should never be
allowed to incentivize a minute-pumping scheme, or otherwise be based on bonuses for extra call
handling.77 Similarly, Convo notes that providing an hourly rate to CAs guarantees a level of job
security that encourages these individuals to work to the best of their abilities, without creating any
(Continued from previous page)


of employment. For example, the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 excludes from telework those federal
employees "whose official duties require on a daily basis" the "direct handling of secure materials determined to be
inappropriate for telework by the agency head." Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, P.L. 111-292, 124 Stat. 3165
(2010); 5 U.S.C. 6502(b)(4)(A). In addition, most employment positions do not present the same demonstrated
potential for fraudulent activities as CA conduct. As noted above, we believe that only the type of on-sight
supervision available in VRS call centers can ensure the full confidentiality of relayed conversations and prevent
fraudulent practices at the present time.
73 Convo Comments at 5.
74 See Appendix E for final rule, 47 C.F.R. 64.604 (b)(4)(iii). The delayed effective date of this rule is intended to
allow providers time to reassign VRS CAs working from home where appropriate.
75 See generally VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6023, 21.
76 See, e.g., United States v. Hawkins et al., Criminal No. 09-857, D.N.J. (Nov. 18, 2009).
77 CSDVRS Comments at 8.
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incentives to earn additional compensation.78 Purple also notes its support for compensation
arrangements that promote productivity that "helps reduce the overall cost of the VRS program" but does
not incentivize fraudulently generated minutes.79 Some providers also suggest that such incentives,
beyond promoting VRS misuse, can deteriorate work performance because they can result in
overworking CAs. 80
23. Discussion. The indictments resulting from criminal investigations into VRS fraud are
replete with alleged instances in which CAs were rewarded for handling calls that otherwise would not
have been made,81 as well as alleged schemes directing VRS call center employees to make illegitimate
calls.82 In addition to being criminal, these arrangements do not support the goal of TRS, which is to
provide a telephone service equivalent that allows people with hearing and/or speech disabilities to make
or receive calls only when they want to do so. The Commission has previously made clear that the sole
obligation of relay providers is to make themselves "available to handle calls consumers choose to make,
when they choose to make them, i.e., to be the `dial tone' for a consumer that uses relay to call to a voice
telephone user. . . ."83 While it may be legitimate to reward VRS employees with bonuses and other
forms of compensation for a job well done, or for extra hours worked, incentives based on the number of
minutes or calls that these employees handle encourage such employees to generate minutes that would
not otherwise have been made by individuals using VRS. Such incentives encourage CAs to process
additional traffic, artificially lengthen the time of a call, or even engage in illicit schemes to create
fictional calls where no relaying takes place.84 As a consequence, these forms of compensation may be
the cause of a substantial amount of the fraud that has occurred over the past few years. Accordingly, we
now conclude that VRS CAs, either individually or as part of a group, are prohibited from receiving
compensation, being given preferential work schedules, or otherwise benefiting in any way based on the
number of minutes or calls that they relay.85


78 Convo Comments at 7.
79 Purple Comments (Sept. 7, 2010) at 7.
80 See, e.g., Convo Comments at 7; CSDVRS Comments at 8-9; TDI Comments at 6.
81 See, e.g., United States v. Hawkins et al., Criminal No. 09-857, D.N.J. (Nov. 18, 2009), in which "Defendants
Hawkins and Simmons would direct Mascom VIs [video interpreters] and other employees to make run calls using
Mascom's services and cause many of these individuals to be remunerated for making illegitimate run calls [calls
that are processed without the relaying of conversations]."
82 See, e.g., United States v. Hawkins et al., Criminal No. 09-857, D.N.J. (Nov. 18, 2009), in which "Defendants L.
Berke and Goetz would distribute lists of telephone numbers to employees of Master Communications and KL
Communications that highlighted numbers that would not be answered by live people, which the employees would
call for the purpose of generating fraudulent VRS minutes."
83See, e.g., 2004 TRS Report & Order at 19 FCC Rcd at 12479-12480, 3 n.18; 2005 Financial Incentives
Declaratory Ruling
, 20 FCC Rcd at 1469, 8. VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC RCD at 6015, 4.
84 See, e.g., United States v. John T.C. Yeh et al., Criminal No. 09-856, D.N.J. (Nov. 18, 2009) in which
"Defendants John Yeh and Joseph Yeh would, in and about the fall of 2007, arrange with Viable employees Mowl
and Tropp to recruit family members and friends, including other Viable employees, to be paid to make illegitimate
VRS calls using Viable VRS."
85 See Appendix E, 47 C.F.R. 64.604 (c)(5)(iii)(C)(5). For example, a provider would not be permitted to provide
bonuses to a team or shift of CAs if they reach a certain number of VRS minutes or calls.
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D.

Procedures for the Suspension of Payment

24. In the VRS Call Practices NPRM, the Commission sought comment on whether it should
implement specific procedures for the suspension, or withholding, of payments to providers for TRS
minutes in circumstances in which the Fund administrator believes that the minutes tied to those
payments may not be legitimate.86 The Commission proposed that its rules regarding payment
procedures should be amended to: (1) give timely notice to the providers of the minutes for which
payment is being withheld, as well as the reason(s) for the withholding; (2) afford providers an
opportunity to show why they believe the withheld minutes are in fact compensable; and (3) require that
providers be given a final determination in a timely fashion of whether payment will be made for the
disputed minutes with a supporting explanation.87 The Commission also tentatively concluded that
providers should have the burden of showing that the minutes in question are compensable and were
handled in accordance with our rules.88
25. Most TRS providers and consumers urge the Commission to adopt transparent procedures
to afford due process when payment is withheld for minutes submitted to the Fund administrator.89
Some TRS providers and consumers also request that the Commission notify providers of certain types
of calls for which the Fund administrator will withhold payments.90
26. Discussion. Delay or suspension of payment is expressly authorized by the TRS rules,
which state that the Fund administrator "may suspend or delay payments to a TRS provider if the TRS
provider fails to provide adequate verification of payment upon reasonable request, or if directed by the
Commission to do so."91 In the past, payment has been withheld either because the minutes have
appeared to be non-compensable under our rules or because we have a basis for believing that fraud is
associated with the minutes. To preserve the integrity of the TRS Fund, the Commission must continue
withholding payments for TRS minutes, where justified, to ensure compliance with our rules and to
prevent fraud and abuse of the TRS program.
27. However, to provide greater due process and transparency to TRS providers, we adopt a
one-year time frame (starting with the date of the provider's initial request for payment) for the
evaluation and resolution of disputed payment claims. The time frames set forth below relate only to
payment suspension or delay and not to the Commission's investigatory processes used to determine
whether a provider has violated the Act or any Commission rule or order. The procedures and time
frames for investigation and enforcement will continue to be governed by the provisions of the Act
relevant to the Commission's investigative and enforcement functions. The time frames discussed below
also are not intended to affect the investigatory processes of other law enforcement bodies, such as the
U.S. Department of Justice, in determining whether a provider has violated any provision of law that
such other law enforcement entity enforces.


86 See VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6023-24, 22-26.
87 Id. at 6023-24, 24.
88 Id.
89 See AT&T Comments at 6-7, TDI Comments at 6-8, Snap VRS Comments at 8, Hamilton Comments (Sept. 13,
2010) at 2-3; Convo Comments at 8-11, PAHVRS Comments at 14-15, GraciasVRS Comments at 2, and Sorenson
Comments at 4-6.
90 See SnapVRS Comments at 11, TDI Comments at 7, Sorenson Reply Comments (Sept. 27, 2010) at 2.
91 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(E).
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28. We amend our rules by adopting the following process for suspension or delay of payment
to a TRS provider:92

The Fund administrator will continue the current practice of reviewing monthly requests
for compensation of TRS minutes of use within two months after they are filed with the
Fund administrator.

If the Fund administrator in consultation with the Commission, or the Commission on its
own accord, determines that payments for certain minutes should be withheld, the TRS
provider will be notified within two months from the date the request for compensation
was filed, as to why its claim for compensation has been withheld in whole or in part.
The TRS provider then will be given two additional months from the date of notification
to provide additional justification for payment of such minutes of use. Such justification
should be sufficiently detailed to provide the Fund administrator and the Commission the
information needed to evaluate whether the minutes of use in dispute are compensable. If
the TRS provider does not respond, or does not respond with sufficiently detailed
information within two months after notification that payment for minutes of use is being
withheld, payment for the minutes of use in dispute will be denied permanently.

If the TRS provider submits additional justification for payment of the minutes of use in
dispute within two months after being notified that its initial justification was insufficient,
the Fund administrator or the Commission will review such additional justification
documentation, and may ask further questions or conduct further investigation to evaluate
whether to pay the TRS provider for the minutes of use in dispute, within eight months
after submission of such additional justification.93

If the provider meets its burden to establish that the minutes in question are compensable
under the Commission's rules, the Fund administrator will compensate the provider for
such minutes of use. Any payment from the Fund will not preclude any future action by
either the Commission or the U.S. Department of Justice to recover past payments
(regardless of whether the payment was the subject of withholding) if it is determined at
any time that such payment was for minutes billed to the Commission in violation of the
Commission's rules or any other civil or criminal law.

If the Commission determines that the provider has not met its burden to demonstrate that
the minutes of use in dispute are compensable under the Commission's rules, payment
will be permanently denied. The Fund administrator or the Commission will notify the
provider of this decision within one year of the initial request for payment.
29. We believe that adoption of this specific timeline to address payment claims will provide
the regulatory certainty that TRS providers seek while allowing the Fund administrator and the
Commission sufficient time to assess claims for compensation of TRS minutes, thus ensuring the
integrity of the TRS Fund.


92 Note that the periods of time indicated in this section refer to calendar days. See Appendix E for final rule, 47
C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(L).
93 We note that the Commission may utilize the full one-year period to make a final determination as to the
compensability of the minutes, even when the full amount of time allotted for each of the above steps is not needed.
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30. At this time, we decline to attempt to identify and adopt an all-inclusive list of the types of
calls for which payment may be withheld. Through fraud investigations and experience in managing the
Fund, the Commission has found that measures previously taken to specifically classify types of calls as
not compensable from the Fund have been met with attempts to circumvent such restrictions. When
directed not to engage in certain calling activities, some providers have shifted their incentives to
arrangements that are not specifically prohibited, and have engaged in attempts to make non-compliant
calls in ways that have made them more difficult to detect.94 For example, one provider instructed its
subcontracted call centers to vary the length of "run" calls, the telephone numbers that they dialed, and
the IP address that they used to make calls to avoid raising red flags with the FCC. 95 We therefore
believe that providing such a list may be counterproductive to our efforts to improve the integrity of the
TRS Fund.

E.

International VRS Calls

31. At present, the Commission does not permit compensation for VRS calls that both originate
and terminate outside the United States.96 Nor does the Commission allow compensation for IP Relay
calls that originate or terminate outside the United States.97 In the VRS Call Practices NPRM, the
Commission noted that a large volume of international VRS calls might be the product of schemes to
create calls for the purpose of receiving payment from the Fund.98 We sought comment on ways to
address fraud and abuse associated with these calls, and, in particular, how to help ensure that only
legitimate VRS calls are compensated.99 In response, some commenters argue that the ability to make a
VRS call that originates or terminates in another country is necessary to achieve functional
equivalency.100


94 See, e.g., United States v. Yosbel Buscaron et al., Criminal No. 09-810, D.N.J. (Nov. 18, 2009) in which
individuals who were indicted for VRS fraud allegedly employed schemes to disguise activities that they knew were
prohibited by the Commission: "Defendants Buscaron, Fernandez, and Valle would restart ICSD's internet router
every hour to disguise from NECA and the FCC the fact that the deaf and hard of hearing ICSD employees were
making so many run calls. Restarting the router would have the effect of changing the IP address used by the callers
and would disguise the source of the calls in the call detail records that would be submitted to NECA in support of
reimbursement for VRS services."
95 As noted above, 4 supra, these are called "run" calls because the individuals or providers making these calls
leave the VRS line open for a period of time (i.e., let the call "run") without any relaying of conversations occurring.
See e.g., United States v. John T.C. Yeh et al., Criminal No. 09-856, D.N.J. (Nov. 18, 2009); See Transcript of
Testimony at 117, 188-189, United States v. Pena, D.N.J. (2010) (No. 09-858)
96 Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, Declaratory Ruling, 25 FCC Rcd 1868 at 1872, 9
(2010) (VRS Declaratory Ruling).
97 See Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech
Disabilities
, Order, 19 FCC Rcd 12224, 12242, at 48, n.121 (2004) (noting that the Commission does not
compensate for international IP Relay calls).
98 VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6024-25, 28.
99 Id. at 6025, 29.
100 See, e.g., AT&T Comments at 9 (recommending that the Commission not take any additional preventive measure
for VRS); and PAHVRS Comments at 3 (opposing the proposed rule that prohibits compensation of international
VRS calls that either originate or terminate outside of the United States because it would be a violation of functional
equivalency).
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32. Discussion. In recent years, the TRS Fund call data has revealed a large number of VRS
calls from international IP addresses (i.e., wherein the originating party's IP address indicates that the
call originated from outside of the United States).101 In its 2009 Semi-Annual Report to Congress, the
Commission's OIG noted that some of the allegations of conspiracy, fraud, and other criminal activity
that have been associated with VRS minutes billed to the TRS Fund were based, among other things, on
evidence of "run" calls102 initiated by callers with little or no fluency in ASL from international IP
addresses in which no conversations were relayed. As many of these minutes are likely attributable to
fraudulent or abusive activities, we adopt rules to prohibit compensation for VRS calls that originate
with Internet connections from international IP addresses, regardless of where those calls terminate103
We adopt a limited exception to this prohibition for VRS calls originating from international IP
addresses that are made by a U.S. resident who has pre-registered with his or her default provider prior
to leaving the country, so long as the provider has an accurate means of verifying the identity of such
callers and their locations at the time such calls are made. When pre-registering, such individuals must
specify the locations to which the individual will be traveling,104 as well as a finite period of time during
which they will be on travel. Only calls made from those locations and during the specified time period
will be compensable if otherwise in compliance with the Commission's rules and not associated with
fraudulent activities.105 In addition, this prohibition against international calling does not apply to VRS
calls initiated by voice callers located outside the United States to deaf users physically located in the
United States.106 Individuals placing these calls use a wireline or wireless network to do so, and
therefore incur the costs of making these calls, thus eliminating much of the incentive to make calls to
illicitly generate VRS minutes. Legitimate VRS calls originated by individuals with IP addresses
associated with registered ten-digit numbers that are made from a location within the United States and
terminating outside the United States also will continue to be compensable because there is no
significant evidence of fraud associated with such calls.
33. Finally, some commenters suggest that we require providers to use geo-location software to
detect calls from international IP addresses.107 While we do not find it necessary to mandate a specific
technology for this purpose, we do require that providers be able to identify the location of a call's


101 IP addresses are not inherently "international" or "domestic." However, determining the country in which an
Internet user is located based simply on the user's IP address is very accurate, generally agreed to be in the range of
95-99%, because Internet address registration authorities require country name information when a block of Internet
Protocol addresses is allocated. See, e.g., FAQ "I want to have an IP to country conversion table; can I get it?" at
https://www.ripe.net/data-tools/db/faq/faq-db. In addition, database services based on more sophisticated
monitoring of IP addresses in traffic flows at key points of the Internet are available to confirm the national origin of
an IP source address. See, e.g., "Country Confidence Factor" at
http://developer.quova.com/docs/Data_Glossary#country_cf.
102 See OIG Semi Annual Report, supra, n. 17.
103 See Appendix E for final rule, 47 C.F.R. 64.604 (a)(7).
104 We understand that at times, travelers may alter their travel plans. However, at a minimum, pre-registered callers
must provide the regions to which they will be traveling.
105 We note that this exception is not intended to apply to calls made by individuals who remain outside the U.S. for
extended periods of time, which we define as more than four weeks.
106 All international IP Relay calls, regardless of where they originate or terminate, will continue to be
noncompensable.
107 See CSDVRS Comments at 12, Convo Comments at 12, GraciasVRS Comments at 2, and Sorenson Reply
Comments (Sept. 27, 2010) at 3.
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origination point in order to validate the call's legitimacy. Specifically, providers must be able to detect
calls that originate from international IP addresses, to prevent minutes generated from such calls from
being submitted for reimbursement if they do not fall within the exception noted above.

F.

Use of Privacy Screens; Idle Calls

34. The primary intent of section 225 is to ensure that individuals who need relay services to
communicate have a means of doing so that is functionally equivalent to voice telephone use. However,
in recent years, some VRS providers have engaged or participated in practices that effectively "suspend"
the communication that is supposed to be taking place between the parties to a relay call for what
appears to be excessive amounts of time. Such practices result in the generation of illegitimate VRS
minutes.
35. There are two such calling practices on which the Commission sought comment in the VRS
Call Practices NPRM. The first of these practices concerns the use of visual privacy screens, which we
define, for the purposes of VRS, as a visual screen or any other feature that is designed to prevent one
party or both parties on the video leg of a VRS call the CA or the deaf or hard of hearing caller from
viewing the other party during a call.108 Some VRS providers and VRS equipment allow either party on
the video leg of a VRS call to enable these screens.109 In the second of these calling practices, one or
both parties of a VRS call stops communicating, either by physically getting up and walking away from
the videophone, or by not responding to the other party to the call. For example, in some situations, CAs
have been known to simply stop interpreting,110 while in other situations, the deaf person simply has
stopped responding.
36. In the VRS Call Practices NPRM, we tentatively concluded that "[w]hen the CA is
confronted with only a blank screen, or a screen that otherwise does not display the face of the video
caller (including when the caller is using a privacy screen), the CA may disconnect the call if the caller's
face does not reappear on the screen within two minutes."111 We asked if this was an appropriate length
of time for a privacy screen to be used before the call is terminated, and further sought comment
generally on any other issues relevant to the use and abuse of privacy screens, including ways to ensure
that VRS users and providers do not use privacy screens to perpetuate illegitimate calls.112 In addition,
we tentatively concluded that calls should be terminated where a party to the call leaves the call or
becomes unavailable or unresponsive, causing the call to become "idle" for more than two minutes.


108 See Appendix E for the definition of visual privacy screen in the final rule. 47 C.F.R. 64.601(27).
109 We note that when both parties communicating via video use a privacy screen (i.e., the CA and the caller using
ASL), communication is no longer possible, and therefore the call is no longer a legitimate TRS call and should be
terminated. VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6025, 30, n.61.
110 United States v. Kim E. Hawkins et al., Criminal No. 09-857, D.N.J. (Nov. 18, 2009) ("[P]aid callers frequently
called podcasts which were prerecorded messages, like a recording of a radio program or a person reading a novel-
and would routinely instruct the VIs not to actually interpret the calls."); See e.g., United States v. Yosbel Buscaron
et al.,
Criminal No. 09-810, D.N.J. (Nov. 18, 2009) ("[C]allers would routinely instruct the VIs not to interpret the
calls."); United States v. Irma Azrelyant et al., Criminal No. 09-811, D.N.J. (Nov. 18, 2009) ("[C]allers would
routinely instruct the VIs not to actually interpret the calls, allowing the VIs to `rest.'").
111 VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6026, 31.
112 Sorenson VRS Call Practices Petition at App. A, page 17; VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6026, 31.
112 VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6026, 31.
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37. Commenters were divided as to the extent to which a VRS CA should be permitted to
terminate calls when the caller's face does not appear on the screen because a privacy screen is used or
because the call has become idle. No commenters oppose prohibiting the CA from using a privacy
screen, but GraciasVRS does support allowing the deaf or hard of hearing caller to use a privacy screen
for a limited amount of time.113 Although CSDVRS believes that the "VRS user should have access to
the CA at all times,"114 it opposes terminating idle calls after two minutes because it states there may be
legitimate reasons for idle calls, such as answering the door or searching for a document while on a
call.115 According to CSDVRS, "functionally equivalent [service] demands that only the parties to a call
should be permitted to disconnect."116 TDI further urges the Commission not to take any action with
respect to the use of privacy screens or idle calls because doing so would violate the VRS caller's
functionally equivalent right to make the decision as to the use of a privacy screen and "how long he or
she is willing to wait on hold."117
38. Several providers support a permissive rule that would grant VRS CAs authority to
disconnect calls, rather than a mandatory rule that would require them to terminate communications.118
CSDVRS proposes a supplemental rule disallowing CAs from placing outbound calls to voice users
unless a video connection is fully established.119 Sorenson agrees, but suggests a modified proposal that
would prohibit a CA from placing an outbound audio call until "a video connection has been established
of sufficient quality to enable the VI (CA) to interpret the call accurately, and a deaf caller's face is
visible on the CA's screen."120 Sorenson contends that such a rule is necessary to combat fraud
involving "interminable VRS calls" that contain no actual conversation.121 We note that some of the
commenters further support disconnection after a five-minute period.122
39. Discussion. When used appropriately i.e., by a deaf VRS user for brief periods of time
and for valid purposes (such as answering a doorbell, finding a document, etc.) use of privacy screens
is functionally equivalent to the ability of a voice telephone user to put a call on hold or to mute the
telephone line. However, recently we have seen an abuse of this VRS feature, with illegitimate use of


113 GraciasVRS Comments at 2.
114 CSDVRS Comments at 13.
115 Id. at 14.
116 Id. at 15.
117 TDI Comments at 9-10.
118 CSDVRS Comments at 14; Convo Comments at 13; Sorenson Comments (Sept. 10, 2010) at 10. But see
BISVRS Comments at 3 (cautions the Commission from putting a CA in the position of making judgment calls).
119 CSDVRS Comments at 14.
120 Sorenson Reply Comments (Sept. 27, 2010) at 4. Convo and Sorenson specifically propose that a VRS VCO call
should be terminated when the VCO user steps out of the screen and a hearing party steps in because such
arrangement becomes a call between two hearing persons, a violation of the February 25, 2010 Declaratory Ruling.
(Convo Comments at 13; Sorenson Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 8). We agree that the CA should terminate the
call in this situation because the call is no longer a TRS call. See VRS Declaratory Ruling, 25 FCC Rcd at 1872, 8.
"...VRS VCO may be used only when a person who is deaf or hard of hearing wants to use his or her own voice to
speak to the hearing party during the VRS call. If it becomes clear that what was initially set up as a VRS VCO call
is in fact a call between two voice telephone users, the call is no longer a TRS call compensable from the Fund."
121 Sorenson Reply Comments (Sept. 27, 2010) at 4.
122 AT&T Comments at 10; PAHVRS Comments at 4.
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these screens for extended periods by both VRS callers and VRS CAs. When a privacy screen is enabled
for a long period by a caller, there is no way for the CA to know whether a call has ended. In recent
years, the practice of some providers has been to engage in fraudulent activities that allow such calls to
continue running, accruing what are illegitimate minutes that are then billed to the Fund. Even without
privacy screens, long absences from a phone conversation whether because the caller is physically
gone from the video monitor or because that individual simply stops communicating suggest that the
caller never intended to make a legitimate relay call to begin with, and instead is fraudulently generating
minutes for the provider, who may in turn be kicking back illegitimate payments to that caller or to the
CA handling the call.
40. The Commission has an obligation to put a stop to the growing incidence of these planned
and illicit schemes that result in calls "running" without any communication between the parties for the
sole purpose of fraudulently billing the Fund.123 Accordingly, we adopt two rules to reduce the
frequency of these schemes. First, we adopt a rule prohibiting CAs from enabling privacy screens from
their side of the call at any time.124 There is no justification for a CA to ever prevent a caller from seeing
him or her, because the precise and sole function of the CA is to interpret the call using sign language, a
visual language. We agree with Convo that allowing the CA to put up a privacy screen "is contrary to
the communication culture of many deaf and hard of hearing persons for whom constant visual
connection with [VRS CAs] is needed."125
41. Second, we adopt a rule requiring CAs to terminate VRS calls if either or both the calling
or called party: (1) enables a privacy screen for more than five minutes; or (2) is completely
unresponsive or unengaged (creating an idle call) for longer than five minutes.126 Prior to disconnecting
a call, a CA must first announce to both parties the intent to terminate the call and may reverse the
decision to disconnect if one of the parties indicates that he or she is still actively participating on the
call. Although we initially proposed that this period be two minutes, and that the CA be permitted, but
not required, to terminate such calls, we believe that a longer period without any communication
whatsoever by either party to the call is a clearer indication of abuse of the VRS program. We are
convinced that there are legitimate activities, such as searching for a document, that could take a caller
away from the screen for more than two minutes without suggesting fraudulent intent. We also believe
that this rule will provide clarity that would not be afforded were we to give each CA the discretion to
determine when it is appropriate to disconnect calls; such a discretionary rule would require CAs to
make judgment calls, would engender a lack of uniformity in the treatment of calls, and would be
ineffective to halt fraudulent activity in which the CA is complicit. This rule will not apply to 9-1-1
calls. Nor will it apply to relay calls that are legitimately placed on hold (e.g., by a customer service
agent), where at least one of the parties to the call is still actively present and waiting for the other party
to return to the phone. To avoid any ambiguity as to the ongoing nature of the call, we expect that at
least one of the parties to the call will check in with the CA periodically, so that the CA knows the call
has not ended or become idle, requiring the CA to terminate the call.127


123 See, e.g., Transcript of Testimony at 129, 189, and 198, United States v. Pena, D.N.J. (2010)(No. 09-858).
124 See Appendix E for final rule. 47 C.F.R. 64.604(a)(6).
125 Convo Comments at 14.
126 See Appendix E for final rule, 47 C.F.R. 64.604 (a)(6).
127 As noted earlier, the relay program is only designed to handle calls that individuals otherwise would make in the
ordinary course of their daily lives, not to build minutes in order to fraudulently bill the Fund. See e.g., 4, 23
supra.
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42. In adopting these restrictions we are aware that we are striking a careful balance between
the need to preserve the ability to make relay calls in a manner that is functionally equivalent to voice
telephone communication service, and the need to curtail the pervasive fraud that has invaded the VRS
program. We believe that we have achieved this balance appropriately. Where parties stop participating
in a call by either disappearing from sight or failing to communicate, there is no legitimate relay call and
the call should not be compensable. Because our rule will allow a call to proceed for longer periods
when either party indicates that the call is on hold, or when the call is placed to 9-1-1, we believe that
functional equivalency will still be achieved. 128 These new limitations will help curb a growing trend of
illicit schemes to generate minutes through the use of calls or segments of calls in which no actual
telephone communication takes place.129

G.

ProviderInvolved Remote Training

43. The Commission noted in the VRS Call Practices NPRM that a significant number of VRS
minutes submitted for compensation from the TRS Fund are attributable to remote training.130 For the
purposes of this Order, we define remote training to include any training session, such as a classroom
lesson, tutorial lesson, seminar, speaker's conference or other event to which an individual connects
from a remote distance via a telephone or Internet-based connection. In the VRS Call Practices NPRM,
the Commission noted that CGB has already made it clear that schemes in which providers initiate or
promote the use of VRS for remote training for the purpose of generating minutes as a source of revenue
are prohibited under the Act and our rules.131 However, because this prohibition has never been codified
in a rule, the VRS Call Practices NPRM tentatively concluded that a rule specifically barring
compensation for remote training calls initiated or promoted by or on behalf of a provider would provide
an additional deterrent against such fraudulent behavior.132
44. Providers filing comments uniformly agree with this tentative conclusion.133 For example,
Sorenson notes that such a rule would "make clear that training is not a rationale that allows providers to
skirt the prohibitions on minute-pumping . . ."134 Similarly, Convo says that a way to remove incentives
to defraud the Fund is to not let VRS providers have any connection with entities providing remote
training, and that where such training does occur, providers should not be permitted to be reimbursed for
calls to such training.135 CSDVRS and SnapVRS generally suggest that the Commission define the


128 Accordingly, we believe that the rule adopted herein addresses the concerns raised by CSDVRS and TDI in 37,
supra, with respect to the need to maintain functional equivalency .
129 Transcript of Oral Argument at 129, 189, and 198, United States v. Pena, D.N.J. (2010)(No. 09-858). VRS calls
made or arranged, in whole or in part, for the purpose of generating compensable minutes of use are not and have
never been compensable from the TRS Fund. VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 1870-71, 6. We note that
elsewhere in this Order, we adopt whistleblower protections for the employees and contractors of TRS providers in
56-63 infra, and encourage individuals to report information about schemes like these, that they reasonably
believe evidence a violation of the Communications Act or TRS regulations.
130 VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6026, 33.
131 VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6027, 34, citing in part the VRS Declaratory Ruling, 25 FCC Rcd at
1870, 6.
132 VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6027, 35.
133 Convo Comments at 15; PAHVRS Comments at 18; Sorenson Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 11.
134 Sorenson Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 11.
135 Convo Comments at 15.
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parameters of the new rule to apply this restriction to those calls where a VRS provider, its affiliates, or
subcontractors, are involved in the scheduling, hosting, generating, and/or promoting of the remote
training.136
45. Discussion. The function of a VRS provider is to provide communication for people with
hearing and/or speech disabilities that is functionally equivalent to voice telephone communications.137
It is not common practice for a voice telephone user to receive promotions from his or her telephone
company to participate in seminars and other events that are designed to encourage greater telephone
use. Similarly, VRS providers should not create or promote remote training sessions that are designed to
encourage VRS users to place calls that they would not otherwise make. When a VRS provider engages
in activities that are designed to attract VRS users to remote training sessions, it is highly likely that the
provider is doing so for the sole purpose of generating minutes. For example, when a VRS provider
arranges for a remote training session to educate people about insurance options or how to file their taxes
and then instructs or encourages multiple participants to access such training through the provider's
VRS, it raises questions about whether such calls would have been made at the caller's own initiative.
Similarly, when a provider uses a hearing person to provide on-line training to several of its deaf
employees, all of whom work in the same location and then instructs all of these employees to
participate in these sessions using VRS rather than conduct this session in person using on-site sign
language interpreters, it is highly likely that the provider is engaging in these activities to pump minutes
to its service. In the VRS Call Practices NPRM, we noted that the as many as 232,000 VRS minutes
stemmed from these and similar types of remote training sessions in the second half of 2009, resulting in
at least $1.4 million billed to the Fund.138
46. Accordingly, we adopt a rule providing that where a VRS provider is involved, in any way,
with remote training, VRS calls to such training sessions are not reimbursable from the Fund.139 Non-
compensable arrangements shall include any program or activity in which a provider or its affiliates of
any kind, including, but not limited to, its subcontractors, partners, employees and sponsoring
organizations or entities, have any role in arranging, scheduling, sponsoring, hosting, conducting or
promoting such programs or activities to VRS users. We believe the adoption of this rule will serve as a
deterrent against fraud, and will further deter providers from using remote training as a substitute for
video remote interpreting (VRI) services, which are also not compensable from the Fund.140


136 CSDVRS Comments at 15; SnapVRS Comments at 18.
137 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3).
138 We explained in the VRS Call Practices NPRM that these totals represented only those calls that the Fund
administrator had been able to identify for that period and that the actual amount may have been higher. VRS Call
Practices NPRM
, 25 FCC Rcd at 6026, 33.
139 See Appendix E for final rule. 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(N)(4).
140 VRI is used when an interpreter cannot be physically present to interpret for two or more persons who are
together at the same location. This service uses a video connection to provide access to an interpreter who is at a
remote location. As with "in-person" interpreters, VRI services are generally contracted, arranged in advance, and
paid for on a fee-for-service basis. See Reminder that Video Relay Service (VRS) Provides Access to the Telephone
System Only and Cannot Be Used As A Substitute For "In-Person" Interpreting Services or Video Remote
Interpreting (VRI)
, Public Notice, 20 FCC Rcd 14528, 14529 (2005) ("VRS cannot be used as a substitute for using
an in-person interpreter or VRI in situations that would not, absent one of the parties' hearing disability, entail the
use of the telephone"). See also Federal Communications Commission Clarifies that Certain Telecommunications
Relay Services (TRS) Marketing and Call Handling Practices are Improper and Reminds that Video Relay Service
(VRS) May Not be Used as a Video Remote Interpreting Service,
Public Notice, 20 FCC Rcd 1471 (2005) (2005 TRS
(continued....)
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H.

Ineligible Providers; Revenue Sharing Schemes

47. Our rules define the means for entities to become eligible to receive payment from the TRS
Fund.141 These rules permit eligibility for four types of entities: (1) a certified state TRS provider or an
entity operating relay facilities under contract with a certified state TRS program; (2) an entity that owns
or operates relay facilities under contract with a common carrier providing interstate services; (3)
interstate common carriers offering TRS; and (4) video relay service and IP relay providers certified by
the Commission.142
48. Notwithstanding these rules, there are now approximately fifty companies that are not
directly eligible for payment from the Fund but that nevertheless independently market or offer VRS
under their own names. This is accomplished through subcontracting/revenue sharing agreements with a
provider that has obtained eligibility through one of the above means. Although only the eligible
provider is able to receive reimbursement directly from the Fund, under these arrangements, the eligible
provider acts as the billing agent for the non-eligible entity. In some of these arrangements, the
ineligible provider has its own call center operations, and the eligible provider simply bills for calls
handled by that ineligible entity. In these situations, after getting reimbursed, the eligible provider
retains a small portion of the revenues paid from the Fund and gives the remainder to the non-eligible
entity that actually handled the calls through its call center operations. Because the ineligible entities
have not gone through the state review process or FCC certification process required to become an
eligible provider, they have no direct accountability to any state or to the FCC.
49. In other arrangements, eligible providers use ineligible entities to provide one or more
other components in the handling of VRS calls and then reimburse such entities for those services from
the money they receive from the Fund. Many such revenue sharing arrangements are created so that the
eligible provider can use ineligible entities to market their VRS services under a variety of brand names
and websites.143 For example, the eligible provider may pay an ineligible entity a portion of the
reimbursement it receives from the TRS Fund for marketing or branding the eligible provider's relay
services under one or more of a variety of names (e.g., "DeafVRS"). Under many such arrangements,
the ineligible entity only markets or brands the service, but provides no core components of the service
at all.
50. Where an ineligible entity uses names or URLs for its services that are different from those
used by the eligible provider with whom it contracts, consumers placing VRS calls using such an
(Continued from previous page)


Marketing Practices PN); Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with
Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, Order on Reconsideration, 20 FCC Rcd 13140, at 13154, n.109 (2005);
Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech
Disabilities, Misuse of Internet Protocol (IP) Relay Service and Video Relay Service
, Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, 21 FCC Rcd 5478, 5482-83, 10 (2006).
141 See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(F)(1-4)(provider eligibility rules); see generally Telecommunications Relay
Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities,
Report and Order and
Order on Reconsideration, 20 FCC Rcd 20577 (2005).
142 Id.
143 For example, some certified providers have subcontracted with local consumer groups to market and brand VRS
under their own names and websites, but it is the certified provider that does the actual interpreting and maintains
and operates the infrastructure for the service. The Commission understands that there are several such
arrangements throughout the United States.
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ineligible entity generally do not know that the "brand" or service through which they are making calls is
really just a different marketing name linked to the eligible provider that is actually processing the call.
Nor do these callers generally have a way to determine which eligible provider is actually responsible for
their calls. Evidence also demonstrates that some providers have used multiple URL addresses as a tool
to generate illicit minutes. Specifically, the providers engage callers to make illicit calls through one of
several URL addresses, track these callers' minutes through the different URL addresses to which they
have been assigned, and then reward these callers financially.144
51. In the VRS Call Practices NPRM, we sought comment on a proposal to disallow
compensation from the Fund unless the provider seeking compensation "clearly identified itself to the
calling parties at the outset of the calls as the TRS provider for those calls." 145 We also sought comment
on prohibiting uncertified (or ineligible) entities from billing the TRS Fund through certified providers,
as well as other ways to ensure that the entities that actually relay calls are accountable for compliance
with our rules and that relay users know, on a call-by-call basis, which eligible provider is providing
their service. We asked whether any entity receiving payments from the Fund, either directly or
indirectly, should be required to register with the Commission. We further sought input on what
limitations should be placed on subcontracting, to the extent it is allowed. For example, we sought
comment on whether to adopt rules requiring that any subcontractor be disclosed to the Fund
administrator before calls generated by that subcontractor are compensable, and whether we should
require all subcontractors or entities actually handling calls to be identified in a provider's monthly
submission of minutes for payment.146
52. In its comments, CSDVRS (which acts as billing agent for many ineligible providers or
"white labels" 147) argues that banning such "white label" arrangements would be harmful to the deaf and
hard of hearing community and would diminish competition in the VRS market.148 CSDVRS proposes
that the Commission allow subcontracting arrangements as long as the subcontractor is a facility-based
entity, identifies itself as a subcontractor, and registers with the Commission or the Fund
administrator.149 BISVRS and PAHVRS (two "white labels") also oppose banning "white-label"


144 Indictments have alleged that some providers have assigned unique URLs to individuals who have received
payments for making calls to those URLs. This provides incentives for callers to increase the number of calls that
they make to the URL to which they are assigned. See, e.g., United States v. Verson et al., Criminal No. 859, D.N.J.
(Nov. 18, 2009) ("Defendants Velasquez, Thompson, and Martinez would arrange with Company 1 for each of the
defendants' paid callers to be assigned a unique URL-an internet web address such as AKLLVRS.com-that the
caller could use to make VRS call through Company 1. The defendants and Company 1 referred to each URL as a
separate `queue.' Identifying each caller by his or her URL, or queue, allowed the defendants to track how many
VRS minutes were generated by each paid caller."); See also United States v. John T.C. Yeh et al. Criminal No. 09-
856, D.N.J. (Nov. 18, 2009) ("Defendants John Yeh and Joseph Yeh would track the number of VRS call minutes
generated by paid callers using the callers' IP addresses or their Viable screen names that Mowl and Tropp would
provide.")
145 VRS Call Structure and Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6031, 47 .
146 Id. at 6021-32, 47-48.
147 "White label" is a term coined by GoAmerica (which merged into Purple) and used by some commenters to refer
to entities that are not eligible relay providers offering relay service, yet bill the Fund through an eligible provider.
See GoAmerica VRS Certification Petition at 2.
148 CSDVRS Comments at 21.
149 Id. at 22.
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arrangements because they say that such arrangements are vital to their businesses, allowing them to be
competitive and make the service of their high-quality interpreters available.150
53. Convo recommends that one way of addressing problems with fraud would be to require
"white label" providers to either apply for provisional certification or leave the VRS market; in this way
Convo suggests that the Commission would have a vehicle to track these providers.151 TDI supports
Convo's proposal for provisional certification as it would allow start-ups to provide service. TDI further
suggests that all providers be certified by the Commission prior to offering VRS, and that a provider
should become eligible for certification only after it has handled a minimum number of minutes, to be
determined by the Commission.152 Purple agrees that all entities wishing to offer VRS should have to
apply for certification.153 Finally, Sorenson proposes allowing subcontracting if the eligible provider
seeking compensation from the Fund actually provides the core components of the relay service, and that
such entity is "clearly identified...to the calling parties at the outset of the calls as the TRS provider for
those calls."154
54. Discussion. As described above, the Commission's VRS eligibility requirements provide
several avenues for entities to become eligible to receive compensation from the Fund, including
interstate common carrier status, a contractual relationship with a state or interstate common carrier, and
certification by the Commission. These eligibility requirements and service mandates are intended to
ensure an adequate level of governmental oversight over relay providers, compliance with the
Commission's rules, and accountability in the operations of all VRS providers. Yet, virtually none of the
fifty or so ineligible carriers that are now providing VRS have been vetted through any of these
processes or are accountable for compliance with our rules, even though each has held itself out to the
public as providing VRS service.
55. The proliferation of ineligible VRS providers that are providing VRS has had substantial
adverse consequences. Most significantly, in addition to effectively rendering our eligibility process
meaningless, it has hampered the Commission's ability to exercise oversight over the provision of VRS
and to prevent fraud. Several of the indictments have involved alleged illicit activities by individuals
associated with or employed by ineligible providers.155 Because these ineligible providers circumvent


150 BISVRS Comments at 4; PAHVRS Comments at 5.
151 Convo Comments at 17.
152 TDI Comments at 10, 12.
153 Purple Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 13.
154 Sorenson Comments (September 13, 2010) at 14-15.
155 See, e.g., United States v. John T.C. Yeh et al. Criminal No. 09-856, D.N.J. (Nov. 18, 2009). ("On or about
September 20, 2006, defendant John Yeh signed an agreement with Company 1, in which Company 1 agreed to bill
NECA for Viable VRS services provided by Viable and that Viable would receive approximately 90% of the NECA
reimbursement. On or about September 20, 2006, Defendant John Yeh signed a Memorandum of Understanding
with a Las Vegas, Nevada based call center to provide VRS call center services for Viable and which provided that
the call center would receive 55% of all money billed by or through Viable to NECA for VRS calls processed by the
Las Vegas call center."); ("On or about September 15, 2007, defendants John Yeh and Joseph Yeh signed a contract
with a New York, New York based call center to provide VRS call center services for Viable in return for $2.25 per
VRS call minute processed by the call center. On or about February 29, 2008, defendant John Yeh signed a contract
with a Round Rock, Texas based call center to provide VRS call center services for Viable in return for $2.00 per
VRS call minute processed by the call center. On or about October 10, 2008, defendant Joseph Yeh signed a
contract with a Miami Lakes, Florida based call center to provide VRS call center services for Viable in return for
$2.00 per VRS call minute processed by the call center.")
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our eligibility requirements, proper oversight by the Commission and the Fund administrator is nearly
impossible. Because the providers neither hold a Commission license, permit, certificate or other
authorization, nor are they interstate common carriers, the Commission, as well as other investigatory
authorities, often has a difficult time identifying who these entities are or what services they provide.
This, in turn, has impacted the ability of the Commission to take swift and effective enforcement action
when such action is deemed necessary.156 Although the eligible provider is responsible for ensuring that
the calls it bills to the Fund are legitimate, we are concerned that in many instances, the eligible provider
may exercise very little oversight over the call handling operations of these affiliates and subcontractors.
We note that the majority of all the fraud that has been reported to the Commission has been through the
use of these ineligible providers, and that all of the individuals indicted to date in the ongoing criminal
investigations of fraud in the VRS industry worked for ineligible providers.157 We believe that this
behavior will continue in the absence of affirmative Commission action.158
56. The record before us reveals other abuses involving schemes in which VRS providers paid
others to use their service for the sole purpose of generating VRS minutes in order to inflate the
compensation that the provider received from the TRS Fund. Criminal investigations have revealed that
tens of millions of dollars have been fraudulently billed to the TRS Fund. Several of the fraudulent
schemes perpetrated by individuals who have already pled guilty to the charges involved schemes
whereby callers were paid ostensibly to make marketing calls to potential customers and outreach calls
to entities that interact with deaf or hard-of- hearing callers.159 In reality, these calls were made for the
sole purpose of generating minutes of use. We are also aware of schemes whereby VRS providers
engaged in revenue-sharing arrangements with entities acting as marketing firms, which hired people to
make calls using the provider's VRS service for the sole purpose of generating billable minutes.160 The
VRS provider then paid the "marketing firm" a percentage of the compensation it received from the TRS
Fund. Only when the Commission learned, usually through information provided by a whistleblowing


156 See 47 U.S.C. 503.
157 See the series of indictments and guilty pleas listed in n.14 supra, along with the list of questionable VRS
practices in the OIG Semi Annual Report of the criminal investigations to Congress, 17, supra.
158 These arrangements also have made reliable ratemaking more challenging because it is difficult, if not
impossible, to ascertain the actual cost of providing VRS when these entities are not required (and therefore do not)
report their cost and demand data to the Commission; nor is such data necessarily reflected, in requisite detail, in the
eligible providers' rate filings. While it may be that the Commission could require each VRS eligible provider that
submits claims for these entities to gather such data and submit it to the Fund administrator, we are not convinced,
given the track record to date of these ineligible companies, that such data would always be reliable. Many of these
entities consist of only a handful of individuals who lack expertise in the field of relay services, and are hired by the
eligible provider solely to publicize that provider's service.
159 See, e.g. United States v. Kim E. Hawkins et al., Criminal No. 09-857, D.N.J. (Nov. 18, 2009) ("Defendant
Hawkins would establish a marketing company to employ deaf individuals to make calls to hearing individuals
through Mascom for the stated purpose of `marketing' Mascom, but with the actual purpose of generating
illegitimate VRS minutes that would be billed to NECA."). United States v. Verson et al., Criminal No. 859, D.N.J.
(Nov. 18, 2009) ("Deaf Studio 29 contracted with Company 1 to provide `marketing services' using Company 1's
VRS service. In return for providing the purported `marketing services,' Deaf Studio 29 would receive
approximately 25% of the money paid by NECA to Company 1 for the VRS call minutes generated by Deaf Studio
29."); See also Transcript of Testimony at 281-285, United States v. Pena, D.N.J. (2010)(No. 09-858).
160 For example, individuals were paid by the marketing firm on a per-call or hourly basis to make calls, often
following a script, to individuals and businesses (sometimes by just getting names from a phone book) with no
intention of actually marketing the provider's VRS service, but rather to generate billable minutes on behalf of the
provider.
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employee, that such calls were made as part of a deliberate scheme to manufacture minutes, were they
revealed as being illegitimate.
57. In order to reduce fraud and establish better oversight of the VRS program, and address the
unauthorized revenue sharing arrangements that have escalated in the VRS program, we amend our rules
in the following ways.161 First, we require that only entities determined to be eligible to receive
compensation from the TRS Fund under section 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(F) of our rules will be eligible to
provide VRS and hold themselves out as providers of VRS to the general public. To ensure that this is
achieved, we further require that VRS service be offered under the name by which the provider became
certified and in a manner that clearly identifies that provider of the service. The foregoing requirement
will not prevent a VRS provider from also utilizing sub-brands, such as those dedicated to particular
states, communities or regions in which it provides service, but requires that each sub-brand clearly
identify the eligible entity as the actual provider of the service. We further require that calls to any brand
or sub-brand of VRS be routed through a single URL address for that brand or sub-brand.162 Consumers
have been hindered in making informed choices when selecting their VRS companies because of the
complex branding and commercial relationships that have existed between white labels and eligible
providers. Moreover, the use of multiple URLs facilitates fraud by enabling providers to track minutes
of calls made by users assigned to specific URLs, as described above.163
58. Second, we amend our rules to make clear that an eligible provider is prohibited from
engaging any third party entity to provide VRS CAs or call center functions (including call distribution,
routing, call setup, mapping, call features, billing for compensation from the TRS Fund, and
registration), on its behalf, unless that third party entity also is an eligible provider under our rules.164
This provision will ensure that an eligible provider is responsible for providing the core components of
VRS, rather than subcontracting out these responsibilities to third party entities, whose operations are not
under the direct supervision of the Commission.
59. Third, to the extent an eligible provider contracts with or otherwise authorizes a third party
to provide any other services or functions related to the provision of VRS other than interpretation
services or call center functions, that third party entity must not hold itself out to the public as a provider
of VRS and must clearly identify the eligible VRS provider to the public. This will make it easier for
consumers, the Commission and the Fund administrator to tie service to the company providing that
service.
60. Fourth, to provide effective oversight, we require that all third-party contracts or
agreements be executed in writing and that copies of these agreements be available to the Commission
and the TRS Fund administrator upon request. Such contracts or agreements shall provide detailed
information about the nature of the services to be provided by the subcontractor.


161 See Appendix E for final rule, 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(N)(l).
162 For example, to the extent that an eligible provider offers Spanishto-ASL VRS service, the provider may add a
separate URL address dedicated to this particular version of service that nevertheless still identifies the eligible
provider.
163 See 50, supra.
164 This exception will allow eligible VRS providers to contract with other entities who are also eligible providers to
provide core components of its VRS. We are satisfied that because eligible entities have already met the
Commission's eligibility requirements, they pose less risk to the integrity of the program. This prohibition against
subcontracting also does not preclude eligible providers from directly hiring VRS CAs on a part-time basis, so that
they may continue some of their community interpreting assignments. In addition, this does not preclude eligible
providers from purchasing licensing rights to use certain technologies necessary to support call center functions.
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61. Lastly, we seek to reduce the risk that marketing and outreach efforts will continue to be
vehicles for manufacturing fraudulent minutes, such as those described above. To the extent an eligible
VRS provider contracts with a third party to provide any services or functions related to marketing or
outreach, and such services utilize VRS, the costs for such services cannot be compensated from the
TRS Fund on a per-minute basis.165 In addition, we require that all agreements in connection with
marketing and outreach activities, including those involving sponsorships, financial endorsements,
awards, and gifts made by the provider to any individual or entity, be described in the providers' annual
submissions to the TRS Fund administrator.166 We note that because purported outreach and marketing
efforts have been a significant source of fraud167 we caution providers that the Commission will
scrutinize carefully all marketing and outreach efforts, including any contracts providing such services.
We are hopeful that the above actions will go a long way toward reducing the fraud and abuse that has
pervaded the VRS program.
62. We recognize that some companies currently offering VRS through an arrangement with an
eligible provider may wish to continue providing this service on their own, yet may require additional
time to make adjustments to their operations in order to come into compliance with the new
requirements adopted in this Order. To give these entities an opportunity to continue to provide VRS as
a subcontractor with an eligible provider until such time as they obtain certification under new
procedures to be adopted pursuant to the accompanying FNPRM, we will consider requests for a
temporary waiver of the new requirements.168 A company requesting a waiver of the rules adopted in
this Order will have the burden of showing that the waiver is in the public interest, that grant of the
waiver request will not undermine the purposes of the rules that we adopt today, and that it will come
into compliance with those rules within a short period of time.
63. Accordingly, we require applicants requesting a temporary waiver to provide, in writing, a
description of the specific requirement(s) for which it is seeking a waiver, along with documentation
demonstrating the applicant's plan and ability to come into compliance with all of these requirements
(other than the certification requirement) within a specified period of time, which shall not exceed three


165 We remind providers that if the marketing is performed in-house, rather than through third parties, they cannot be
compensated for VRS calls associated with such marketing on a per-minute basis because the calls would then be
considered internally generated, and thus noncompensable. They may, however, include the expenses associated
with in-house marketing in their cost submissions to the Fund administrator, to the extent these costs are reasonable
and permissible. See generally VRS Declaratory Ruling.
166 At present, such annual submissions are only required by providers that have become eligible to provide VRS
through the Commission's certification program. 47 C.F.R. 64.606(g). However, in the accompanying Notice, we
seek comment on a proposal to require all VRS providers to receive certification from the Commission, to better
verify their qualifications before they begin providing service and to improve the Commission's oversight over their
operations after service is initiated.
167 See, e.g. United States v. Kim E. Hawkins et al., Criminal No. 09-857, D.N.J. (Nov. 18, 2009); United States v.
Verson et al.,
Criminal No. 859, D.N.J. (Nov. 18, 2009); See e.g., Transcript of Testimony at 281-285, United States
v. Pena, D.N.J. (2010)(No. 09-858).
168 Generally, the Commission's rules may be waived for good cause shown. 47 C.F.R. 1.3. The Commission
may exercise its discretion to waive a rule where the particular facts make strict compliance inconsistent with the
public interest. Northeast Cellular Telephone Co. v. FCC, 897 F.2d 1164, 1166 (D.C. Cir. 1990) (Northeast
Cellular
); see also WAIT Radio v. FCC, 418 F.2d 1153, 1159 (D.C. Cir. 1969). Waiver of the Commission's rules is
appropriate only if special circumstances warrant a deviation from the general rule, and such deviation will serve the
public interest. Northeast Cellular, 897 F.2d at 1166.
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months from the date on which the rules become effective.169 In addition, the waiver applicant must file
for certification within thirty days after the final certification rules become effective. Evidence of the
applicant's plan and ability to come into compliance with the new rules shall include the applicant's
detailed plan for modifying its business structure and operations in order to meet the new requirements,
along with submission of the following relevant documentation to support the waiver request: (1) a copy
of each deed or lease for each call center the applicant currently owns or plans to acquire; (2) a list of
individuals or entities that hold at least a 10 percent equity interest in the applicant, have the power to
vote 10 percent or more of the securities of the applicant, or exercise de jure or de facto control over the
applicant, a description of the applicant's organizational structure, and the names of its executives,
officers, partners, and members of its board of directors; (3) a list of the applicant's full-time and part-
time employees; (4) proofs of purchase or license agreements for the use of equipment and/or
technologies that the applicant currently uses or intends to use for its call center functions, including but
not limited to, call distribution, routing, call setup, mapping, call features, billing for compensation from
the Fund and user registration; (5) copies of employment agreements for the provider's executives and
CAs; and (6) a list of financing arrangements pertaining to the provision of VRS, including
documentation for financing of equipment, inventory, and other property. If the waiver applicant has not
yet employed CAs, the applicant should provide a complete description of its plan for hiring new CAs
within a specific period of time. The Commission will grant waivers only after a rigorous showing that
the applicant has workable plans and the ability to continue providing VRS in a manner that will not
undermine the measures adopted in this Order to eliminate the fraud and abuse that have plagued the
VRS program.

I.

Whistleblower Protections

64. As stated in the VRS Call Practices NPRM, we recognize that CAs and other employees of
providers are often in the best position to detect possible fraud and misconduct by providers.170 At the
same time, we recognize that employees are often reluctant to report possible wrongdoing because they
fear they may lose their jobs or be subject to other forms of retaliation. For this reason, there are
numerous federal and state whistleblower laws that protect employees who report misconduct by their
employers.171
65. Given the evidence of substantial relay fraud associated with the billing of illegitimate VRS
minutes,172 we sought comment on the following tentative conclusions: (1) that we should adopt a
specific whistleblower protection rule for the employees and subcontractors of TRS providers; (2) that
such a rule should protect any employee or subcontractor of any TRS provider who reports possible
wrongdoing to his or her employer or to the Commission, the Fund administrator, or any federal or state
law enforcement entity from retaliation by the employer; (3) that the rule should require providers to
inform their employees that they can report fraud and misuse to the Commission's OIG; and (4) that
given the importance of detecting and deterring fraud, this rule should become effective immediately.


169 We believe that the rules we adopt today are necessary to prevent fraud and abuse of the Fund, and we find that
three months is an adequate time for companies to come into compliance with the new requirements.
170 VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6032 49.
171 See, e.g., Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, P.L. 101-12, 103 Stat. 16 (1989).
172 See n.14, supra.
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The VRS Call Practices NPRM also sought comment on any other issues related to whistleblower
protections under the VRS program.173
66. Commenters in this proceeding generally support whistleblower protections for VRS CAs
and other employees and contractors. Although some commenters express concern that whistleblower
protections may be misused by disgruntled employees,174 others indicate that VRS CAs are the "front
line" and "key line of defense" when it comes to fraudulent practices.175 CSDVRS asks the Commission
to make sure that interpreters who make whistleblower claims are protected from possible violations of
any ethical rules imposed by their certifying organizations and of the confidentiality rules imposed by
the Act.176 Sorenson disagrees that whistleblower rules should exonerate VRS CAs and providers for
violating confidentiality rules since any whistleblower rules should not conflict with these rules, and, in
most cases, call content would not need to be disclosed in a complaint.177
67. Discussion. Much of the information collected during the investigations of fraud and abuse
in the VRS industry has come from current and former employees of VRS providers. Many of these
individuals have expressed their belief that more relay employees would report activity that seems to run
afoul of the Act and the TRS rules were they not afraid of retaliation from their employers. We note that
most commenters focused on VRS CAs as potential whistleblowers, but that our questions in the VRS
Call Practices NPRM
, and the protections we adopt now, apply to all employees and contractors of all
relay providers.
68. We herein adopt specific whistleblower protections for the employees and contractors of
TRS providers.178 Notwithstanding the existence of other federal and state whistleblower regulations,
establishing a specific TRS whistleblower protection rule here will provide an explicit layer of protection
for employees who are interested in disclosing information necessary to combat waste, fraud, and abuse
with respect to relay services, and thus encourage them to do so. We further note that individuals always
have been able to confidentially and anonymously provide to the Commission's OIG or Enforcement
Bureau information that they believe evidences a violation of the TRS statutory or regulatory
requirements, including activity that could result in the improper billing of minutes to the Interstate TRS
Fund.179


173 VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6032, 49-50.
174 PAHVRS Comments at 23. BISVRS Comments at 1 (indicating that there should be consequences for those who
file "false, inaccurate, or frivolous" complaints).
175 PAHVRS Comments at 22; CSDVRS Comments at 24. Although in its comments, Hamilton notes that current
federal and state whistleblower regulations already protect these individuals, Hamilton Comments (Sept. 7, 2010) at
4-6, in a subsequent communication with the Commission, Hamilton notes that it does not oppose an FCC
whistleblower rule if it is not inconsistent with state rules, and is designed to protect CAs and deter TRS fraud.
Hamilton Ex Parte Letter at 2. (October 6, 2010).
176 CSDVRS Comments at 24.
177 Sorenson Reply Comments (Sept. 16, 2010) at 2, n.9.
178 This rule applies to all TRS providers and their subcontractors, not only Internet-based forms of TRS. These
protections also apply to any companies that may be phasing out their VRS operations, per other requirements in this
order.
179 The OIG Hotline may be reached at (202) 418-0473 (voice), (888) 863-2244 (toll free voice), e-mail:
hotline@fcc.gov, or FCC OIG, 445 12th Street, S.W., Room 2-C762, Washington, D.C. 20554. The Enforcement
(continued....)
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69. Current or former employees of TRS providers or any contractors ("covered individuals")
will be protected from reprisal in the form of a personnel action if they disclose information they
reasonably believe evidences a violation of the Act or TRS regulations (including any activities that
could result in the improper billing of minutes to the TRS Fund) to a designated manager of the eligible
TRS provider billing for those minutes, the Commission, the Interstate TRS Fund administrator, or any
federal or state law enforcement entity.180 For a disclosure to be protected, the covered individual must
have a reasonable belief that the information is true.181 The actual veracity of any disclosure, however,
will not affect whether a disclosure is protected. If a TRS provider violates the TRS whistleblower
protection rule, as with any rule violation, the Commission may take enforcement action.
70. We agree with those commenters who say that providers should be required to inform and
notify their employees of the whistleblower protections,182 and amend our rules accordingly.183
Providers shall provide an accurate and complete description of these TRS whistleblower protections,
including the right to notify the Commission's OIG or its Enforcement Bureau, to all employees and
contractors, in writing. Providers that already disseminate their internal business policies to their
employees in writing (e.g. in employee handbooks, policies and procedures manuals, or bulletin board
postings either online or in hard copy) must include an accurate and complete description of these TRS
whistleblower protections in those written materials. The Commission will also take steps to
disseminate information about the TRS whistleblower protection rule.
71. With respect to the concern by some commenters that certified VRS CAs who make
whistleblower claims be protected from potential ethical violations that are related to their community
interpreter responsibilities, we note that the Commission does not have jurisdiction over organizations
that certify sign language interpreters or any actions these organizations may initiate over an interpreter
holding their certifications. Moreover, although the TRS rules define "qualified interpreter,"184 and
require CAs who handle VRS calls to meet those qualifications, the role of a CA during a VRS call is
different than the role assumed by "interpreters" in community settings.185 Unlike interpreters, CAs are
(Continued from previous page)


Bureau may be reached at: (202) 418-7320, or FCC EB, 445 12th Street, S.W., Room 4-C224, Washington, D.C.
20554.
180 For purpose of this new rule, we define a personnel action as any significant change in duties, responsibilities,
performance evaluations, working conditions, benefits, or pay that is inconsistent with a covered individual's
professional qualifications, training, or rank.
181 We have no reason to believe that this rule will be misused by disgruntled employees. Individuals have always
been allowed to disclose such information, many have done so, and we have not seen instances of misuse or
frivolous claims.
182 See, e.g., BISVRS Comments at 1; RID Comments at 2; PAHVRS Reply Comments at 9 (whistleblower
protections should be easy to understand and widely disseminated). Purple suggests that providers be required to
have an internal compliance plan for whistleblower protections. Purple Comments (Sept. 7, 2010) at 8-9.
183 See Appendix E for final rule, 47 C.F.R. 64.604 (c)(5)(iii)(M).
184 47 C.F.R. 64.601(a)(16).
185 On previous occasions, the Commission has attempted to clarify the VRS CA's role as compared to the role of a
community interpreter. See Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with
Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, 19 FCC Rcd 12475 at 12532-12537, 149-162 (2004) (2004 TRS Report & Order). The fundamental
(continued....)
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strictly bound by the standards set forth in our regulations. Thus, whatever ethical codes may be
imposed upon these individuals by their certifying bodies in community interpreting situations do not
necessarily govern VRS situations; rather the specific rules, including those dealing with confidentiality,
that are contained in the Commission's mandatory minimum standards are the governing standards for
CAs who handle VRS calls. We do not see any potential conflict between the TRS whistleblower
protections and the TRS confidentiality rules. We also agree with Sorenson that, in most cases, call
content will not need to be disclosed in a complaint.186 Rather, disclosure will most likely entail "behind
the scenes" schemes to generate relay calls that are made or arranged, in whole or in part, for the purpose
of generating compensable minutes of use as a source of revenue. We note that these calls are not, and
have never been, considered relay calls to which TRS confidentiality protections apply.187

J.

Data, Audits and Record Retention Requirements

1.

Data Filed with the Fund Administrator to Support Payment Claims

72. In 2008, the Fund administrator instructed VRS providers that, beginning with May 2008
usage, monthly minutes of use submitted for payment must be supported by call data records that include
the following information: (1) the call record ID sequence; (2) CA ID number; (3) session start and end
times; (4) conversation start and end times; (5) incoming telephone number or IP address; (6) outbound
telephone number or IP address; (7) total conversation minutes; and (8) total session minutes.188 In the
VRS Call Practices NPRM, the Commission asked what other call-related data should be required to
support payment claims.189 In response, NECA suggests that all call detail records (CDRs) also be
required to contain both ten-digit numbers and IP addresses for incoming and outgoing calls, and that the
ID number of the call center that handles the call be included as well.190
73. Discussion. We agree with the approach recommended by NECA. The data that NECA
requests is necessary to properly detect anomalies in submitted minutes, which can alert the Fund
administrator and the Commission on the need to inquire further about, and if necessary, conduct an
investigation into the legitimacy of such minutes. For example, with this expanded information, the
Fund administrator will be better able to detect patterns of calls made to or from a particular IP address
(Continued from previous page)


differences between the roles of a VRS CA and an interpreter should not be confused simply because both situations
involve interpreting. Id., 19 FCC Rcd 12535 at 157.
186 Sorenson Comments (Sept. 16, 2010) at 2, n.9.
187 See VRS Declaratory Ruling, 25 FCC Rcd at 1870-1871, 6. These calls do not meet the definition of a "TRS
call" and are not subject to the same statutory and regulatory restrictions as are compensable TRS calls. See also
VRS Call Practices NPRM
, 25 FCC Rcd at 6025, 30, n.61 ("[W]hen both parties communicating via video use a
privacy screen . . . communication is no longer possible, and therefore the call is no longer a TRS call and should be
terminated").
188 VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6028-29, 38 (citing Letter from Cathy Seidel and Kris Monteith to
NECA (Nov. 26, 2008) (NECA Letter).
189 Id.
190 NECA Letter at 2. CSDVRS suggests that CDRs be required to contain ten-digit numbers as well as IP addresses
for each call. CSDVRS Comments at 17. We note that Convo supports this with the caveat that this information
should be required "if available" because it may not be available if a user calls through Apple's iChat video. Convo
Comments at 16.
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or telephone number, as well as patterns related to the length of calls made to or from certain locations.
Once investigations are initiated, this data will further prove useful in locating specific instances of
illegitimate calling practices. Accordingly, the Commission now expands the data collection rules to
require the filing of the following data associated with each VRS call for which a VRS provider seeks
compensation:191 (1) the call record ID sequence; (2) CA ID number; (3) session start and end times; (4)
conversation start and end times; (5) incoming telephone number and IP address (if call originates with
an IP-based device) at the time of call; (6) outbound telephone number and IP address (if call terminates
with an IP-based device) at the time of call; (7) total conversation minutes; (8) total session minutes; (9)
the call center (by assigned center ID number) that handles the call; and (10) the URL address through
which the call was initiated. As recommended, these data collection requirements will be codified.192
74. The Commission also amends its functional TRS mandatory minimum standards to require
VRS and IP Relay providers to submit speed of answer compliance data, as proposed in the VRS Call
Practices NPRM.
193 Under the Commission's rules, VRS providers are required to answer 80 percent of
all calls within 120 seconds.194 The provision of this data will enable the Commission to ensure
compliance with this mandatory minimum standard, which is critical to ensuring that VRS providers
promptly answer the calls that come into their centers. Although providers have been submitting such
data at the request of the Fund administrator for the past several years, we believe that this obligation
should be reflected in our rules to make clear that VRS and IP Relay providers must submit such data in
order to be compensated from the Fund.
75. Finally, in the VRS Call Practices NPRM, the Commission tentatively concluded that its
rules should be amended to require that the call record and speed of answer data be submitted
electronically and in a standardized format in order to reduce the burden associated with compiling and
filing this data and to facilitate the collection and analysis of this data by the Fund administrator and the
Commission.195 Commenters generally support this proposal.196 We now amend our rules accordingly,
to require such standardized electronic filings, which we believe will reduce the burden on TRS
providers and facilitate efforts by the Fund administrator and the Commission to efficiently analyze the
incoming data.197
2.

Automated Call Data Collection

76. During the course of a VRS call, CAs must report call data at four intervals: (1) when the
call session begins; (2) when the conversation begins; (3) when the conversation ends; and (4) when the
call session terminates. In the VRS Call Practices NPRM, we sought comment on CSDVRS's petition
requesting the Commission to clarify that our TRS rules require VRS providers to utilize an automated


191 The current data collection rules are at 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(C).
192 See SnapVRS Comments at 20 (recommending that filing requirements be codified).
193 VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6029, 40.
194 47 C.F.R. 64.604(b)(2)(iii).
195 VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6029, 41.
196 See, e.g., CSDVRS Comments at 18, SnapVRS Comments at 20, and Sorenson Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 13,
and Sorenson Reply Comments (Sept. 27, 2010) at 4-5.
197 See Appendix E for final rule, 47 C.F.R. 64.604
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system of tracking these start and end times of minutes submitted to the Fund for payment.198 A similar
petition subsequently submitted by Sorenson agreed that compliance with our rules requires submission
of "true and adequate data" that can only be accomplished by automated record keeping of TRS
minutes.199 The VRS Call Practices NPRM tentatively concluded that the TRS rules should be modified
to make clear that providers must automatically capture the conversation time, to the nearest second, for
each call submitted for payment from the Fund.200
77. Commenters unanimously support a requirement for providers to use an automated system
of keeping records of TRS minutes for submission to the Fund administrator.201 Several providers
support the Commission's proposal to require VRS providers to automatically capture the conversation
and session time to the nearest second, though both Hamilton and Sorenson urge that this be set as a
minimum only, to allow more accurate recording times.202 BISVRS further proposes that the
Commission define the required data elements, classification of time, reporting of time increments,
rounding methodology and reporting format.203 CSDVRS asks the Commission to define an automated
system as a system that prohibits human intervention in the start or termination of data collection for a
call detail record, to prevent an "automated" system from being manipulated by the CA.204
78. Discussion. As noted in CSDVRS' petition, at the start of a VRS call, a CA must obtain
the telephone number of the party being called, acquaint him or herself with the sign language style of
the caller, and then establish contact with the called party and explain the nature of the call, if necessary.
These various tasks can distract CAs, and cause errors in tracking the initiation of session and
conversational minutes where these are manually recorded. Moreover, all such tasks must be completed
within seconds, in order to swiftly get the call connected and enable the conversation to begin. CSDVRS
further notes that "[t]he likelihood of making mistakes when the reporting of such data is performed
manually by the VI is further exacerbated by the need for the interpreter to systematically capture precise
minutes to the nearest tenth of a second, all the while giving his or her undivided attention to the call in


198 VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6027-28, 36. See also CSDVRS, LLC, Petition for Clarification or
Rulemaking on Automated Data Collection
, CG Docket No. 03-123, at 2 (filed May 22, 2009) (Automated Call Data
Petition
) (seeking clarification that the TRS rules require automated record keeping of TRS minutes submitted to the
Fund for reimbursement).
199 Sorenson VRS Call Practices Petition at 18 (requesting that the Commission propose and seek comment on rules
that will ensure that the Fund compensates only legitimate VRS calls). Sorenson cited to 47 C.F.R.
64.604(c)(5)(iii)(C), which states, in part: "Data collection from TRS providers. TRS providers shall provide the
administrator with true and adequate data, and other historical, projected and state rate related information
reasonably requested by the administrator, necessary to determine TRS Fund revenue requirements and payments."
200 VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6028, 37.
201 BISVRS Comments at 2; CSDVRS Comments at 16; GraciasVRS Comments at 2; Hamilton Comments (Sept.
13, 2010) at 4; Purple Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 10; Sorenson Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 11.
202 CSDVRS Comments at 16; Hamilton Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 3-4 (recommending that providers be
permitted to use a stricter measurement of less than a second if the Commission adopts a requirement to
automatically capture data to the nearest second.); Sorenson Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 12 (recommending
adoption of a rule that requires providers to automatically record session and conversation time to "at least the
nearest second, with more accurate recordings permitted"). See also Sorenson Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 11;
Sorenson Reply Comments (Sept. 27, 2010) at 4-5.
203 BISVRS Comments at 2.
204 CSDVRS Comments at 17.
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progress."205 We agree with CSDVRS and other commenters that when such minute tracking is done
manually, it is ripe for unintentional errors. Moreover, we agree that allowing the CA to manually
determine start and end times can also facilitate fraud through the manipulation of such records.206
Accordingly, we modify our rules to specifically require automated record keeping of all TRS minutes
submitted to the Fund administrator.207 As Hamilton notes, this will provide a method to help ensure the
accuracy and integrity of minutes submitted to the Fund administrator.208
79. The rule that we now adopt requires all TRS providers to use an automated record keeping
system to capture the following data when seeking compensation from the Fund: (1) the call record ID
sequence; (2) CA ID number; (3) session start and end times, at a minimum to the nearest second; (4)
conversation start and end times, at a minimum to the nearest second;209 (5) incoming telephone number
(if call originates with a telephone) and IP address (if call originates with an IP-based device) at the time
of the call; (6) outbound telephone number and IP address (if call terminates to an IP-based device) at
the time of call; (7) total conversation minutes; (8) total session minutes; and (9) the call center (by
assigned center ID number) that handles the call.210 We define automated recordkeeping system for
purposes of these rules as a system that captures data in a computerized and electronic format in a
manner that does not allow human intervention during the call session (for either conversation or session
time). An electronic system that requires the CA or provider's employee to manually press a start and/or
end command key in order to capture the required data or to terminate the data recording does not
constitute an automated system under this requirement.
3.

Transparency and the Disclosure of Provider Financial and Call Data

80. In 2009, in response to the 2009 Rate NPRM seeking comment on whether the VRS rates
should be modified for the 2009-2010 Fund year,211 a consumer group filed a Motion for Protective
Order seeking access to VRS providers' cost data.212 The consumer group argued that, absent access to


205 See Automated Call Data Petition at 3.
206 Id. at 2.
207 See Appendix E for final rule. 47 C.F.R. 64.604 (c)(5)(iii)(C)(4)
208 Hamilton Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 3.
209 The Interstate TRS Fund compensates for conversation minutes, which begin when the called party answers the
outbound telephone call from the CA and end when either party to the call hangs up. See generally 47 C.F.R.
64.604(c)(5)(iii)(E). Conversation minutes do not include time for call set-up, ringing, waiting for an answer, and
wrap-up, or calls that reach a busy signal or no answer. This is compared to session minutes, which do include these
tasks, to the extent they are necessary to dial and set up a call. We note that the requirement we adopt above to
capture conversation and session start and end times to the nearest second are minimum thresholds only, and that
providers are free to exceed this measurement by automatically capturing shorter periods of time for these start and
end times, for example to the nearest 10th ,100th , or even thousandth of a second.
210 These requirements apply to all forms of TRS calls, including VRS, traditional TRS, speech-to-speech, IP Relay,
captioned telephone relay service, and IP captioned telephone relay service, whether the calls originate by a voice
caller or by an individual using a video device or any type of specialized customer premises equipment.
211 See Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech
Disabilities,
Public Notice and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 24 FCC Rcd 6029 (May 14, 2009) (2009 VRS Rate
NPRM
).
212 Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc., Motion for Protective Order, CG Docket No. 03-
123 (May 20, 2009). Specifically, the consumer group proposed that it have access to the cost data associated with
(continued....)
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the underlying cost data, it could not meaningfully comment on the appropriateness of any particular
VRS rates.213 Several providers filed oppositions to that Motion, arguing that there would be no way to
guarantee that sensitive proprietary data could be sufficiently protected by a protective order that grants
access to their data to consumers.214 In the VRS Call Practices NPRM, we sought comment on the need
for the type of transparency that had been requested in the consumer group's Motion. Specifically we
asked whether we should require that all VRS provider cost and demand data be made available to the
public and, if so, how such a requirement should be implemented.215 Most VRS providers strongly
oppose requiring full disclosure of a provider's financial and call detail data because they say doing so
would harm innovation and competition.216
81. Discussion. We conclude that the information requested for disclosure in the Motion for
Protective Order is proprietary, and therefore, should not be subject to public scrutiny. The Commission
recognizes consumer advocates' interests in obtaining this type of data in order to provide effective
advice to the Commission. However, public disclosure of such data is not typically required under
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) rules.217 We believe that access to individual provider cost data
should be limited to the Commission, the Fund administrator, and designated auditors because of its
highly proprietary nature, and in light of the significant fraud and abuse that has taken place in this
industry. The Commission must consider cost and demand data as part of the VRS compensation rate-
setting process, and we will work in conjunction with the Fund administrator to carefully scrutinize data
submitted by providers.
4.

Provider Audits

82. In the VRS Call Practices NPRM, we sought comment on whether we should amend the
TRS mandatory minimum standards to include more specific and stringent auditing rules in order to
better safeguard the integrity of the Fund.218 Commenters generally support more specific and stringent
auditing rules but several providers stress that the Commission already has the power to enforce and
(Continued from previous page)


the VRS compensation rates noted in the 2009 VRS Rate NPRM, subject to a protective order, so that it could more
meaningfully comment on the appropriate VRS rate.
213 Id.
214 See, e.g., Sorenson Opposition, CG Docket No. 03-123 (June 1, 2009); AT&T, Inc. et al., Opposition to Motion
for a Protective Order (June 1, 2009).
215 See VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6034, 54.
216 See AT&T Comments at 14 (pointing out that "no other competitive industry, regardless of whether the members
of that industry receive public funding, is required to disclose competitively sensitive information"). See also
Hamilton Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 6; PAHVRS Comments at 24; CSDVRS Comments at 25; Sorenson
Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 17. Convo recommends a partial disclosure whereby providers would be required to
disclose certain expenses to the Commission, such as the costs of outreach, research and development, regulatory
compliance, and so forth, which then would be available to the public in an aggregated format. Convo Comments at
20. Hamilton suggests that increasing transparency on the scheduling and progress of audits would improve public
confidence that the submitted data is being scrutinized to ensure the integrity of the TRS Fund. Hamilton Comments
(Sept. 13, 2010) at 76.
217 See 47 C.F.R. 0.441-0.470.
218 VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6034, 55.
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exercise its existing audit authority and that adopting new rules is not necessary.219 Providers agree that
frequent and effective audits will help alleviate some problems of cost miscalculation, abuse and fraud
that "plague the relay" program.220 With respect to the timing and frequency of auditing, CSDVRS
suggests that audits be scheduled at the provider's convenience so that these do not "coincide with their
annual tax deadlines or conflict with their annual accounting cycles."221 Convo suggests that audits be
scheduled every five years, unless an audit is needed to address repeated incidences of minor violations
or upon noting a pattern of minutes needing to be withheld for payment.222 Hamilton and SnapVRS each
propose a similar approach.223 Verizon recommends conducting an annual audit of newly certified
providers for the first few years and doing so periodically thereafter.224
83. Several providers suggest that the Fund administrator conduct audits as it is familiar with
the TRS rules and compensation process.225 Providers recommend that the scope of audits should be as
broad as possible to include provider data, practices, and procedures, as well as compliance, regular
revenue, call records, and the call system.226 Commenters further suggest that providers be subject to
substantial financial penalties and withholding of compensation for failure to comply with the
Commission audits.227
84. Discussion. We strongly believe in the importance of conducting regular audits to ensure
the integrity of the TRS Fund. In order to provide the Commission the flexibility and discretion it needs
in determining when audits are necessary, we amend the TRS mandatory minimum standards to require
that all TRS providers submit to audits annually or, if necessary, at any other time deemed appropriate
by the Commission, the Fund administrator, or by the Commission's OIG.228 We also conclude that
providers that fail to fully cooperate in audits, for example, by failing to provide documentation
necessary for verification upon reasonable request, will be subject to an automatic suspension of TRS
payments until sufficient documentation is provided. We believe that this policy will promote greater
transparency and accountability in the compensation process.
5.

Record Retention

85. In the VRS Call Practices NPRM, we sought comment on a proposed rule to require
Internet-based TRS providers, which includes all VRS providers, to retain their call detail records, other
records that support their claims for payment from the Fund, and records used to substantiate the costs


219 Hamilton Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 7; Purple Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 14; Sorenson Comments (Sept.
13, 2010) at 20.
220 CSDVRS Comments at 27; Hamilton Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 7; Verizon Comments at 3.
221 CSDVRS Comments at 27. CSDVRS also proposes that providers be required to submit to an audit within 60
days of the request. Id. at 28.
222 Convo Comments at 21.
223 Hamilton Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 7; SnapVRS Comments at 26-27.
224 Verizon Comments at 4.
225 Convo Comments at 21; SnapVRS Comments at 27.
226 See, e.g., Sorenson Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 20; SnapVRS Comments at 27.
227 CSDVRS Comments at 28; Verizon Comments at 3.
228 We note that such audits may, as necessary, include on-site visits to the provider. See Appendix E for final rule.
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and expense data submitted in the annual relay service data request form, for five years.229 We also
sought comment on how we might define more specifically the scope of the records subject to the
proposed rule.230
86. No providers oppose our proposed rule for record retention.231 BISVRS suggests that if this
is for auditing purposes, then it should be included in the auditing requirements.232 Sorenson proposes
that records specifically include "conversation dates and start and end times, session dates and start and
end times, incoming and outgoing telephone numbers or IP addresses for each call, CA IDs for each call,
and total monthly conversation minutes and total monthly session minutes."233
87. Discussion. We amend the TRS rules to require that providers of all forms of Internet-
based TRS retain all required call detail records, other records that support their claims for payment from
the Fund, and records used to substantiate the costs and expense data submitted in the annual relay
service data request form for a minimum of five years, in an electronic format that is easily retrievable
for the Commission and Fund administrator for possible future use, including audits.234 We conclude
that the retained records must include the following data that is used to support payment claims
submitted to the Fund administrator: (1) the call record ID sequence; (2) CA ID number; (3) session
start and end times; (4) conversation start and end times; (5) incoming telephone number and IP address
(if call originates with an IP-based device) at the time of call; (6) outbound telephone number and IP
address (if call terminates with an IP-based device) at the time of call; (7) total conversation minutes; (8)
total session minutes; and (9) the call center (by assigned center ID number) that handles the call. The
records subject to this rule are critical to providing information necessary for effective oversight of all
Internet-based TRS services, including VRS, and for conducting audits of individual providers. In
addition, the data identified above may be necessary for the Commission or law enforcement agencies to
investigate violations of the Commission's rules and orders or civil or criminal statutes. Because the
time required to complete comprehensive reviews and possible investigations into the operations of VRS
providers may be significant, we believe it is reasonable to require retention of these records for a period
of five years.
6.

Provider Certification Under Penalty of Perjury

88. In the VRS Call Practices Order, the Commission adopted an interim rule requiring the
CEO, CFO, or other senior executive of a relay service provider for all forms of TRS to certify, under
penalty of perjury that: (1) minutes submitted to the Fund administrator for compensation were handled
in compliance with section 225 of the Act and the Commission's rules and orders, and are not the result
of impermissible financial incentives, payments or kickbacks to generate calls, and (2) cost and demand


229 VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6035, 57. Five years is the amount of time E-Rate eligible entities
are required to retain records in accordance with section 54.516(a)(2) of the Commission's rules. 47 C.F.R.
54.516(a)(2). We find these entities to be similarly situated to VRS providers seeking compensation from the Fund,
and therefore conclude that we should adopt an analogous document retention time requirement.
230 Id. We did not see the need to apply this requirement to traditional TRS providers because these providers are
subject to rigorous recording and reporting requirements under their contracts with the states.
231 Convo Comments at 21; Purple Comments at 14; SnapVRS Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 27; Verizon
Comments at 4.
232 BISVRS Comments at 3.
233 Sorenson Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 20-21; see also Sorenson Reply Comments (Sept. 27, 2010) at 4-5.
234 See Appendix E for final rule, 47 C.F.R. 64.604 (c)(5)(iii)(C).
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data submitted to the Fund administrator in connection with the determination of compensation rates or
methodologies are true and correct. 235 We sought comment on whether the Commission should make
this interim rule permanent 236
89. All commenters support provider certification, but some differ as to who should be the
certifying individual.237 For example, AT&T suggests that, rather than rely on a designated executive
officer, any "mandated officer" be permitted to certify as to a provider's submissions on an annual basis,
and that either that officer or an "authorized employee of the TRS provider" be allowed to certify as to
the monthly submissions submitted to the Fund administrator. Similarly, AT&T claims that this
arrangement would be similar to other Commission filings in other areas,238 and that requiring a
designated executive officer to certify as to their submissions on a monthly basis would be burdensome
and therefore cause delays.239 Several other providers also note that the provider certification rule will
not necessarily reduce the risk of fraud because the executives listed do not always have full knowledge
about or control over the information contained in their submissions; rather, they rely on their staff for
the collection of this information.240 Nevertheless, two providers CSDVRS and PAHVRS agree that
this requirement will help meet the Commission's goal of holding providers accountable for their
submissions.241 SnapVRS further recommends that the Commission develop standardized certification
language to ensure that the certifying officer not be held personally liable for "undiscovered information,
either a minor error or a more serious issue being purposefully concealed by someone" else.242
90. Discussion. We note that the interim provider certification rule became effective on
February 15, 2011, when OMB approved the new information collection requirement. In compliance
therewith, VRS providers' senior executive officers have been certifying their submissions under penalty
of perjury on a monthly basis. The Commission and the Fund administrator have not received any
reports on the record of problems, delays with these submissions or further complaints that submission
of this form is at all burdensome for providers. We determine that the continuance of this practice is a
critical component of our efforts to curtail fraud and abuse. Requiring a signed statement sworn to be
true under penalty of perjury is a vehicle long and regularly used in a myriad of legal contexts to
guarantee the veracity of the declarations, as well as to provide a means for civil enforcement and
criminal prosecution to hold high level officials accountable for the actions of their companies.243
Providers' suggestions in their comments that their executives may not have full knowledge about, or
clear control over, the information submitted to the Fund administrator illustrates why the rule is
necessary. It would be irresponsible for the Commission, which is charged with maintaining the


235 VRS Call Practices Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 6013-21, 1-16. In light of evidence of fraud against the Fund and in
order to protect the integrity of the Fund, the Commission found that it was consistent with the public interest to
adopt an immediate interim rule without notice and comment, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B).
236 VRS Call Practices NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 6035, 58.
237 CSDVRS Comments at 29; PAHVRS Comments at 6; Purple Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 14; Sorenson
Comments (Sept. 13, 2010) at 21; SnapVRS Comments at 27-28.
238 AT&T Comments at 14-15.
239 AT&T Comments at 15.
240 BISVRS Comments at 4; CSDVRS Comments at 29; PAHVRS Comments at 6; SnapVRS Comments at 27-28.
241 CSDVRS Comments at 29; PAHVRS Comments at 6.
242 SnapVRS Comments at 28.
243 See, e.g., 47 C.F.R. 1.16.
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integrity of the VRS Fund, to continue to remit hundreds of millions of dollars annually to providers who
admit that their chief executives are unable, or chose not, to attest to the veracity of their claims for
compensation.
91. The Commission therefore permanently adopts the rule set forth in the NPRM, requiring
the CEO, CFO, or other senior executive of a TRS provider with first hand knowledge of the accuracy
and completeness of the information provided, to make the required certifications under penalty of
perjury.244 We concur with SnapVRS's recommendation to include standardized language in this
certificate that addresses the liability of the certifying officer and the provider. Accordingly, we adopt
the following language for the necessary certificate:
I swear under penalty of perjury that (1) I am __(name and title), _an officer of the
above-named reporting entity and that I have examined the foregoing reports and that all
requested information has been provided and all statements of fact, as well as all cost
and demand data contained in this Relay Services Data Request, are true and accurate;
and (2) the TRS calls for which compensation is sought were handled in compliance
with Section 225 of the Communications Act and the Commission's rules and orders,
and are not the result of impermissible financial incentives or payments to generate
calls.
The Commission believes that this certification will provide an added deterrent against fraud and abuse of
the Fund by making senior officers of providers more accountable for the compensation data submitted to
the Fund administrator.

IV.

FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

92. As noted in the attached Order,245 our rules establish that four types of entities are eligible
to provide Internet-based TRS and receive payment from the interstate TRS Fund:246 (1) a certified state
TRS provider or an entity operating relay facilities operated under contract with a certified state TRS
program; (2) an entity that owns or operates relay facilities under contract with a common carrier
providing interstate services; (3) interstate common carriers offering TRS; and (4) VRS and IP Relay
providers certified by the Commission. In the 2010 VRS NOI, we raised concerns about the extent to
which the Commission's current eligibility requirements are effective to ensure that potential VRS
providers are qualified to provide VRS in accordance with our rules, and in particular, what due
diligence we should exercise prior to granting certification to a VRS provider.247 Specifically, we noted
that some providers seeking to receive compensation from the Fund may not have had prior TRS or
telecommunications experience, and asked about the extent to which such experience should be a
requirement for certification.248 We also asked about the extent to which entities that do not own or


244 See Appendix E for final rule, 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(C)(5).
245 See 47, supra.
246 See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(F)(1-4) (provider eligibility rules); see generally Telecommunications Relay
Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities,
Report and Order and
Order on Reconsideration, 20 FCC Rcd 20577 (2005).
247 2010 VRS NOI, 25 FCC Rcd at 8605-8606, 25-26.
248 Id. at 8605, 25.
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operate any TRS facilities, but merely subcontract out the call center functions needed to handle VRS
calls, should be eligible for VRS certification.249
93. In addition to seeking comment on ways to improve the VRS program, the NOI sought
comment on ways to strengthen our oversight of certified carriers to ensure that, once certified, providers
operate in accordance with our rules.250 For example, we sought comment on whether we should
conduct on-site visits to the provider's physical VRS facilities before and after certification.251 We also
asked about the extent to which states are effectively exercising oversight over the VRS providers with
which they contract, and whether Commission certification of all VRS providers is necessary to ensure
that only qualified providers are certified and that all eligible providers are subject to effective
supervision by the Commission.252 In addition, we sought input on whether re-certification should be
required on an annual basis, and whether demonstration of common carrier status should continue to be a
condition of certification.253
94. Commenters generally support revising the certification process to ensure that all VRS
providers are qualified and held accountable for both their own and their subcontracted operational
practices and activities.254 Several commenters suggest that the key to improving the Commission's
oversight of certified providers is to discontinue the provision of services by uncertified (or "white
label") providers.255 Convo specifically urges that certified providers be required to own, operate and
manage facilities, including owning or leasing an automatic call distribution (ACD) platform.256 Nearly
all commenting parties recommend that providers not be eligible to receive compensation from the Fund
based on their status as providers under a certified state program, and propose that all VRS providers
instead be certified directly by the Commission.257 For example, Purple indicates that the states lack the
incentive to properly oversee VRS providers because they do not pay for the service.258 Many
commenters similarly point out that effective oversight can only be accomplished by Commission
adoption of rigorous compliance requirements, including frequent auditing and reporting, as well as a
revised certification process.259


249 Id. The accompanying Order explains that such call center functions, include call distribution, routing, call
setup, mapping, call features, billing for compensation from the TRS Fund, and registration. See 56, supra.
250 Id. at 8606, 26. Rules governing the current certification process are at 47 C.F.R. 64.606 et. seq.
251 Id. at 8605, 25.
252 Id at 8606, 25, 26.
253 Id.
254 AT&T Comments at 16; Convo Comments at 21-23; CSDVRS Comments at 26-27; PAHVRS Comments at 25-
28; Purple Comments at 24 and 35; Sprint Comments at 13; SkyVRS Comments at 1;TDI Comments at 15; Verizon
Reply Comments at 4-5.
255 Convo Comments at 22-23; Purple Comments at 24; TDI Comments at 15. We have addressed this concern in
the accompanying Order. See 47-57 supra.
256 Convo Comments at 22-23.
257 AT&T Comments at 16; Purple Comments at 35; Sprint Comments at 13; Verizon Reply Comments at 4. But see
Sorenson Reply Comments at 6, asserting that there is "no evidence that providers that participate in state programs
are more prone to misconduct than are FCC-certified providers."
258 Purple Comments at 35.
259 Convo Comments at 22; CSDVRS Comments at 26-27; Purple Comments at 24; TDI Comments at 15.
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95. In this FNPRM, we seek comment on a number of proposed modifications to our
certification process for all Internet-based relay providers, including VRS providers,260 to ensure that all
entities seeking certification in the future or currently certified entities seeking re-certification are
fully qualified to provide Internet-based relay service in compliance with our rules and requirements,
including all of the new obligations adopted in the accompanying Order, to reduce waste, fraud and
abuse, and improve oversight.261 To the extent that we have procedures in place to effectively verify the
qualifications of an entity prior to allowing that entity to become certified as an eligible provider, we will
be better able to limit fraud and minimize our oversight burden once such entities are providing service.
We approach this process with the goal of establishing clear criteria for granting certification to
qualifying entities for a limited period of time, and adopting measures that will enable us to exercise the
oversight needed to determine whether we should revoke such certification when a provider is not
complying fully with our rules. At the outset, we note that any modifications to our certification process
that we adopt in this proceeding will be only one part of the Commission's larger plans to reform the
structure of the VRS program.262 Accordingly, such modifications may be transitional until a more
comprehensive, permanent structure for the VRS program is established by the Commission.263
96. We make the following proposals to ensure that the certification process enables the
Commission to identify providers that are qualified to provide Internet-based relay services in
accordance with our rules. First, we propose that all Internet-based relay providers be required to
receive certification from the Commission, under the procedures and guidelines proposed herein, to be
eligible to receive compensation from the TRS Fund. Under this proposal, certification by the
Commission would be the sole method by which an Internet-based TRS provider could become eligible
to receive compensation from the TRS Fund. An Internet-based relay provider would no longer be
permitted to receive compensation from the TRS Fund merely: (1) by virtue of its contract with a
certified state TRS program; (2) through its contract with an interstate common carrier; (3) because it is
an interstate common carrier; or (4) because it is certified by a state. Eligibility through these methods
has failed to ensure that providers are qualified to provide VRS or to provide the Commission with the
requisite information to determine whether providers are complying with our TRS rules. We believe that
these alternative eligibility methods have facilitated participation in the VRS program by unqualified,
non-compliant providers.264 Moreover, they have hampered the Commission's efforts to exercise
stringent Commission oversight over entities providing service. For example, although an entity
currently may become eligible to seek reimbursement from the TRS Fund for its provision of Internet-
based relay services through a state contract, states generally do not have their own rules governing
Internet-based relay services; nor do they directly compensate Internet-based relay providers. Therefore,
they generally have little or no incentive to either verify the qualifications of the providers with which
they contract or exercise the oversight needed to ensure full compliance with the Commission's TRS


260 We note that although the 2010 VRS NOI asked only about the certification for VRS providers, this FNPRM
extends our proposals to all Internet-based relay providers, including providers of VRS, IP Relay and IP-based
captioned telephone relay service.
261 Under the new rules, all certified providers will also be subject to stringent auditing requirements, including
possible on-site visits. See 71, supra.
262 See generally 2010 VRS NOI.
263 At such time, the certification process that we adopt initially in this proceeding may be superseded.
264 We note, for example, that CAC, a VRS provider certified under a state program, served as a billing agent for
Viable, whose executives and associates pled guilty for defrauding the FCC. Transcript of Testimony at 47, 48, and
74, United States v. Pena, D.N.J. (2010)(No. 09-858).
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rules once those contracts are executed and service commences.265 In short, because the Commission
bears the responsibility for managing the TRS Fund, it must have the exclusive responsibility to certify
providers as eligible to collect from the Fund; this will ensure that Internet-based TRS is provided by
qualified providers and will enable the Commission to exercise effective oversight over these providers.
We seek comment on this proposal.
97. We propose that all providers that are not already certified by the Commission, be required
to apply to the Commission for certification to provide Internet-based TRS. We seek comment on this
proposal. We further propose that an applicant be certified or be permitted to renew its certification266
only upon a determination by the Commission that such applicant has adequately demonstrated its ability
to comply with all of the Commission's rules, including those adopted in the accompanying Order. We
propose that mere attestations be inadequate to satisfy this standard. Instead, we propose requiring
evidence of an applicant's ability to comply with our rules governing the qualifications of CAs,
including speed of answer, facility redundancy to ensure continuance of the service, and other
operational and technical standards designed to assure provision of a service that is functionally
equivalent to voice telephone service.267 Specifically, we propose that applicants provide documentary
and other evidence demonstrating that the applicant owns and operates facilities associated with TRS
call centers, and employs interpreters, on a full or part-time basis, to staff such call centers at the date of
the application.268 Such evidence shall include, but is not limited to:

a copy of each deed or lease for each call center operated by the applicant;

a list of individuals or entities that hold at least a 10 percent equity interest in the applicant,
have the power to vote 10 percent or more of the securities of the applicant, or exercise de
jure or de facto control over the applicant, a description of the applicant's organizational


265 The rationales for allowing interstate TRS providers to become eligible to provide compensable TRS through a
state contract do not apply to Internet-based TRS providers. In fact, when the Commission first adopted rules in
1991 allowing TRS providers to obtain eligibility to receive compensation from the TRS Fund through a state
contract, there were no Internet-based relay services. At that time, it was determined that TRS providers, all of
whom provided TRS over the public switched telephone network (PSTN), should be permitted to receive direct
compensation from the TRS Fund for the services they provided under contract with a state, so that the state could
select a single provider to offer both intrastate and interstate TRS for that state and pay the provider for the intrastate
portion of the provider's TRS minutes. Under these arrangements, which still exist for the traditional forms of TRS,
a provider is selected by a state to handle PSTN-based relay services for the state, and is then subject to the direct
supervision of that state for both the intra- and interstate relay services that it provides. This is not the case for
Internet-based relay, where the provider is reimbursed directly by the TRS Fund for all services provided, and the
state has no real connection to the provider. Indeed it is somewhat of a fiction that an Internet-based relay provider
is "operating under contract" with the state (even when it otherwise also has a relay contract with a state for non-
Internet-based relay services) because the state conducts no monitoring of the provider's Internet-based relay
activities, and is generally not even aware of the extent to which the provider is handling Internet-based relay calls
for its residents.
266 Currently, certified providers must renew their certifications once every five years. 47 C.F.R. 64.606(c)(2).
267 47 C.F.R. 64.604(a); (b).
268 See 56, supra, requiring a provider to be responsible for providing the core components of Internet-based TRS,
rather than subcontracting out these responsibilities to a third party.
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structure, and the names of its executives, officers, partners, and members of its board of
directors;269

a list of all of the names of applicant's full-time and part-time employees;

proofs of purchase or license agreements for use of all equipment and/or technologies,
including hardware and software, used by the applicant for its call center functions, including
but not limited to, ACD, routing, call setup, mapping, call features, billing for compensation
from the TRS fund, and registration;

copies of employment agreements for all of the provider's executives and CAs;

copies of any subcontracting agreements for services not directly essential for the provision
of Internet-based relay (such as maintenance and transportation services);

a list of all financing arrangements pertaining to the provision of Internet-based relay service,
including documentation on loans for equipment, inventory, property, promissory notes, and
liens;

copies of all other agreements associated with the provision of Internet-based relay service;
and

a list of all sponsorship arrangements (e.g., those providing financial support or in-kind
interpreting or personnel service for social activities in exchange for brand marketing),
including any associated agreements.270
98. In addition, we propose that the certification process include, at the Commission's
discretion, other measures, including on-site visits to the premises of applicants, to assess the merits of
certification applications; we seek comment on this proposal as well as what those measures may be.
We believe that these requirements will enable the Commission to determine applicants' qualifications
and enable the Commission and the Fund administrator to oversee the providers' operations and
activities so as to ensure that they are in compliance with the new TRS rules adopted in the
accompanying Order. We seek comment on the extent to which the detailed information set forth above
is necessary to achieve our objectives. We further seek input on what other types of documentation we
should require, including the level of detail we should require, to ensure that we are able to assess
whether an applicant is fully qualified to provide Internet-based relay service in compliance with our
rules and requirements.


269 We believe that individuals or entities with a smaller ownership or voting interest would not have sufficient
control or influence over the applicant to warrant reporting unless they exercise de jure or de facto control by other
means. This 10 percent threshold has been applied in other contexts. See, e.g., 47 C.F.R. 52.12(a)(1)(i)(A)&(B)
(defines when the North American Numbering Plan Administrator and its agent would be considered an "affiliate"
of a telecommunications service provider or interconnected VoIP provider because these entities are supposed to be
impartial and not aligned with telecommunications industry segments); 47 C.F.R 63.04(a)(4) (requires a carrier
seeking approval of a transfer of control under section 214 of the Act to report the name of any entity with 10
percent or more equity in such carrier). Cf. 47 C.F.R. 73.3555 note 2 (broadcast attribution standards).
270 Providers could request confidential treatment of information submitted that they believe should not be made
routinely available for public inspection under our rules. See 47 C.F.R. 0.457, 0.459.
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99. We also note that our rules require providers to file annual reports containing evidence that
they are in continued compliance with section 64.604 of our rules.271 We propose that providers be
required to submit updates to the information listed above with these annual reports, and seek comment
on this proposal. We also seek comment on whether the provision of this information on an annual basis
would eliminate the need for renewal of certification every five years, as is now required by our rules.272
100.
At present, our rules require providers to notify the Commission of substantive changes
in their TRS programs within 60 days of when these changes occur, and to further certify that their
service continues to meet mandatory minimum standards after implementing such changes.273 However,
our rules do not specify what constitutes a "substantive change." For example, would the use of new
equipment and/or technologies to facilitate the manner in which relay services are provided constitute a
substantive change? Should providing relay services from a facility that we have not specifically
authorized trigger this requirement to notify the Commission? Should a change in a provider's
management, name branding of its product, or marketing and outreach activities be considered a
substantive change that warrants notification? We seek comment on what types of changes should
trigger this requirement to notify the Commission.
101.
In order to be entitled to compensation from the TRS Fund for providing Internet-based
TRS, the TRS provider's facilities must have redundancy features in the event of call center or network
outages, as well comply with the other minimum standards that apply to all TRS.274 At present,
however, our rules do not explicitly address the obligations associated with a provider's decision to
temporarily cease its operations. Such interruptions of service are of concern to the Commission, given
the impact that these might have on relay users. To avoid future interruptions in service that may
hamper the ability of relay customers to place Internet-based TRS calls, we propose requiring that each
certified provider seek prior Commission authorization of any voluntary interruption in the provision of
Internet-based TRS. In order to comply with this requirement, we propose that a provider be directed to
submit a written request to the Commission's CGB at least 60 days prior to any planned interruption,
with detailed information of (1) its justification for such service interruption; (2) its plan to notify
customers about the impending interruption; and (3) its plans for resuming service, so as to minimize the
impact of such interruption on consumers through a smooth transition of temporary service to another
provider, and restoration of its service at the completion of such interruption.275 We further propose


271 47 C.F.R. 64.606(g).
272 Currently, providers must re-apply for a renewal of their certification after five years by filing documentation
with the Commission at least 90 days prior to the expiration of such certification. 47 C.F.R. 64.606(c)(2).
273 47 C.F.R. 64.606(f)(2).
274 See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(b)(4)(i),(ii). See Provision of Improved Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-
to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities,
Declaratory Ruling and Second Further
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 17 FCC Rcd 7779, at 7789, 7790, 29, 33 (2002) ("In order to be certified and
eligible for reimbursement, IP Relay must meet these minimum standards, or request and receive waivers of the
standards."); See Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing
and Speech Disabilities
, Declaratory Ruling, Declaratory Ruling, 22 FCC Rcd 379, at 391, 29 (2007) ("We do not
mandate the provision of IP captioned telephone service at this time. Nevertheless, to be eligible for compensation
from the Fund, providers must offer service in compliance with all applicable TRS mandatory minimum
standards.").
275 This proposed rule is comparable to the section 214(a) process that domestic telecommunications service
providers must follow with respect to having to apply for and obtain permission for a planned discontinuance or
reduction in its service. Section 214(a) requires that a domestic interstate common carrier apply for service
discontinuance, as well as notify its customers of such planned discontinuance to ensure minimal or no service
(continued....)
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delegating authority to CGB to grant or deny such requests for service interruption, and to provide a
response to the provider within 30 days of the proposed interruption, in order to afford an adequate
period of notification to consumers. We propose to direct that CGB, in deciding whether to grant or
deny such requests, consider, among other things, the length of time for the proposed interruption, the
reason for such interruption, the frequency with which such requests have been made by the same
provider in the past, the potential impact of the interruption on consumers, and the provider's plans for a
smooth service restoration. We seek comment on these criteria and whether any others should be
considered in making such determinations. Finally, we propose that providers be subject to revocation
of their certifications by the Commission.
102.
With respect to brief, unforeseen service interruptions due to circumstances beyond a
provider's control, we propose that the affected provider submit a written notification to CGB within two
business days of when the service disruption first occurred, with an explanation of how the provision of
its service had been restored or will be restored imminently. Finally, we propose taking enforcement
action against certified providers, including, but not limited to, the revocation of certification and/or
suspension of payment, in the event that a voluntary interruption of service occurs without obtaining
authority from the CGB or in the event that the requested cessation proceeds notwithstanding CGB's
denial of the provider's request. We seek comment on these proposals.
103.
In order to ensure the seamless delivery of Internet-based TRS during any transition
period following Commission establishment of new eligibility requirements and certification procedures,
we propose that any provider currently eligible to receive compensation from the TRS Fund via a means
other than FCC certification,276 be permitted, concurrently with the submission of its application for
Commission certification, to seek temporary waiver of any new requirements to obtain certification from
the Commission prior to offering Internet-enabled TRS, while its application is pending.277 This will
enable the provider to continue to receive compensation from the Fund and to continue providing
Internet-based TRS during this interim period.278 We request comment on these proposals generally, as
well as a time frame for these providers to seek Commission certification and a temporary waiver. In
addition, we seek feedback on what an applicant seeking such a waiver should have to demonstrate in
order to establish that a temporary waiver of the certification requirement would serve the public
interest? Further, in the event that an applicant's request for temporary waiver and/or application for
certification is denied, we propose that the applicant be given at least 30 days to discontinue its service in
order to allow its affected consumers sufficient time for transition to another eligible provider's service.
(Continued from previous page)


disruption for its customers. See 47 U.S.C. 214; 47 C.F.R. 63.71. The Commission applied those rules to
interconnected VoIP in 2009. See IP-Enabled Services, Report and Order, 24 FCC Rcd 2039 (2009).
276 As noted above, this will include Internet-based TRS providers that are presently [eligible] because they are
operating relay facilities under contract with a certified state TRS program, own or operate relay facilities under
contract with a common carrier providing interstate services, or are an interstate common carrier
277 Persons seeking waiver of a Commission rule must show good cause, and that waiver would be in the public
interest. 47 C.F.R. 1.3; Northeast Cellular Telephone Co, v. FCC,897 F.2d 1164, 1166 (D.C. Cir. 1990)(citing
WAIT Radio v. FCC
, 418 F.2d 1153, 1159 (D.C. Cir. 1969)).
278 This proposed application and waiver process would also pertain to those providers whose Commission
certifications are due to expire before the new certification requirements go into effect.
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V.

PROCEDURAL MATTERS

A.

Congressional Review Act

104.
The Commission will send a copy of this Order in a report to be sent to Congress and the
Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act. 279 See 5 U.S.C.
801(a)(1)(A).

B.

Regulatory Flexibility

105.
Final Regulatory Flexibility Certification. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act
of 1980 (RFA),280 the Commission has prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Certification in which it
concludes that, under the terms of the RFA, there is no significant economic impact on small entities as a
result of the policies and rules addressed in this document. The certification is set forth in Appendix C.
106.
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Certification. With respect to this FNPRM, an Initial
Regulatory Flexibility Certification (IRFC) is contained in Appendix B. As required by Section 603 of
the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the Commission has prepared an IRFC of the expected impact on small
entities of the proposals contained in the FNPRM. Written public comments are requested on the IRFC.
Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFC and must be filed by the deadlines for comments
on the FNPRM. The Commission will send a copy of the FNPRM, including the IRFC, to the Chief
Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.281

C.

Paperwork Reduction Act

107.
Final Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 Analysis. The Order contains new and modified
information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law
104-13. It will be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review under Section
3507(d) of the PRA. OMB, the general public, and other Federal agencies are invited to comment on the
new or modified information collection requirements contained in this proceeding. In addition, we note
that pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198,282 we
previously sought specific comment on how the Commission might further reduce the information
collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.
108.
In this present document, we have assessed the effects of imposing various requirements
on VRS providers as well as providers of other forms of TRS. We recognize that these requirements are
necessary to detect and prevent fraud, abuse and waste in the VRS program. We take these actions to
ensure the sustainability of the program upon which individuals of hearing and speech disabilities have
come to rely for their daily communication needs. In doing so, we have balanced preserving the
integrity of the VRS program and minimizing the information collection burden for small business
concerns, including those with fewer than 25 employees. For example, in adopting procedures for the


279 See 5 U.S.C. 801 (a)(1)(A).
280 The RFA, see 5 U.S.C. 601 et. seq., has been amended by the Contract With America Advancement Act of
1996, Pub. L. No. 104-121, 110 Stat. 847 (1996) (CWAAA). Title II of the CWAAA is the Small Business
Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA).
281 See 5 U.S.C. 603(a). In addition, the FNPRM and IRFC (or summaries thereof) will be published in the
Federal Register.
282 See 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).
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resolution of disputed provider payment claims when payment has been suspended, the Order allows
providers, including small businesses, to submit claims for payment in a process that is uniform,
predictable and equitable for all providers, thereby reducing burdens associated with disputed payments.
The Commission also requires automated recordkeeping of TRS minutes submitted to the Fund. The
Commission believes that providers automatically receiving records of TRS minutes and submitting
them in an electronic format should entail minimal burden and will prove critical to ensuring that
submitted data for compensation is accurate. The Commission also finds that requiring providers to
provide reports and retain records in an electronic format that is retrievable will provide a seamless
transaction for the purpose of compensation from the TRS Fund, which will alleviate burdens on
providers, including small businesses. Further, the Commission believes that the whistleblower
protection rule adopted in this Order will benefit all providers, including small businesses, because it
provides their employees with guidance with guidance that will reduce uncertainty associated with
employee's rights. Finally, the Commission concludes that all TRS providers, including small entities,
will be eligible to receive compensation from the Interstate TRS Fund for their reasonable costs of
complying with the requirements adopted in this Order. These measures should substantially alleviate
any burdens on businesses with fewer than 25 employees.
109.
Initial Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 Analysis. The NPRM contains proposed
information collection requirements. The Commission, as part of its continuing effort to reduce
paperwork burdens, invites the general public and OMB to comment on the information collection
requirements contained in this document, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public
Law 104-13. Public and agency comments are due 60 days after date of publication of this Order in the
Federal Register. Comments should address: (a) whether the proposed collection of information is
necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the
information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the Commission's burden estimates; (c) ways
to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; (d) ways to minimize the burden
of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques
or other forms of information technology; and (e) ways to further reduce the information collection
burden on small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.. In addition, pursuant to the Small
Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198,283 we seek specific comment on how we
might "further reduce the information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25
employees."

D.

Ex Parte Presentations

110.
This proceeding shall be treated as a "permit-but-disclose" proceeding in accordance with
the Commission's ex parte rules.284 Persons making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that
memoranda summarizing the presentations must contain summaries of the substance of the presentations
and not merely a listing of the subjects discussed. More than a one or two sentence description of the
views and arguments presented is generally required.285 Other requirements pertaining to oral and
written presentations are set forth in section 1.1206(b) of the Commission's rules.286


283 See 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).
284 47 C.F.R. 1.12001.1216.
285 47 C.F.R. 1.1206(b)(2).
286 47 C.F.R. 1.1206(b).
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E.

Comment Filing Procedures

111.
Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules,287 interested parties may
file comments and reply comments regarding the FNPRM on or before the dates indicated on the first
page of this document.

Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the
Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS): http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/ or
the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 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 the applicable docket number, which in this instance is CG Docket No.
10-51.

Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file 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. 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 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 must be addressed to 445 12th
Street, SW, Washington DC 20554.
112.
In addition, parties shall also serve one copy with the Commission's copy contractor,
Best Copy and Printing, Inc. (BCPI), Portals II, 445 12th Street, SW, Room CY-B402, Washington,
D.C. 20554, (202) 488-5300, or via e-mail to fcc@bcpiweb.com.
113.
Documents in CG Docket No. 10-51 will be available for public inspection and copying
during business hours at the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street SW, Room
CY-A257, Washington, D.C. 20554. The documents may also be purchased from BCPI, telephone (202)
488-5300, facsimile (202) 488-5563, TTY (202) 488-5562, e-mail fcc@bcpiweb.com.
114.
People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible formats for people with
disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an e-mail to fcc504@fcc.gov or call
the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice) (202) 418-0432 (TTY). This
Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking can also be downloaded in Word or
Portable Document Format (PDF) at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro/trs.html#orders.

VI.

ORDERING CLAUSES

115.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Sections 1, 4(i), (j) and (o), 225, and
303(r), of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), (j) and (o), 225, and
303(r), this Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking IS ADOPTED.


287 47 C.F.R. 1.415, 1.419.
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116.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 1.427(a) of the Commission's
rules, 47 C.F.R. 1.427(a), this Report and Order and the rules adopted herein shall be effective 30 days
after date of publication of a summary in the Federal Register, except for rule, 64.604(b)(4)(iii), which
shall be effective 120 days after publication in the Federal Register, and except for the rules containing
information collections, which require approval by OMB under the PRA and which shall become
effective after the Commission publishes a notice in the Federal Register announcing such approval and
the relevant effective date.
117.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Commission's Consumer and Governmental
Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, SHALL SEND a copy of this Report and Order
including the Final Regulatory Flexibility Certification, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small
Business Administration.
118.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Commission's Consumer and Governmental
Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, SHALL SEND a copy of this FNPRM, including the
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Certification, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business
Administration.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Marlene H. Dortch
Secretary
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APPENDIX A

List of Commenters

Comments:

258 Communications, Inc.
Association of Visual Language Interpreters of Canada (AVLIC)
AT&T, Inc. (AT&T)
Birnbaum Interpreting Services (BIS)
CallCODAVRS
Canada Association of the Deaf (CAD)
Convo Communications, Inc. (Convo)
Government of Canada
CSDVRS, LLC
GraciasVRS
Hamilton Relay, Inc. (Hamilton)
Healinc Telecom, LLC (Healinc)
PAH!VRS and Interpretel, LLC (PAH and Interpretel)
Purple Communications, Inc. (Purple)
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID)
SKYVRS
Snap!VRS (Snap)
Sorenson Communications, Inc. (Sorenson)
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc.; Association of Late-Deafened Adults, Inc.;
National Association of the Deaf; Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network; California
Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; and American Association of the Deaf-
Blind (Consumer Groups)
Verizon and Verizon Wireless
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Whitaker, Michelle

Individual Comments:

Individual commenters (approximately 175) can be found in CG Docket No. 10-51 at:
http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/comment_search/input?z=l4yai

Reply Comments:

GraciasVRS
PAH and Interpretel
Sorenson

Ex Parte Filings:

CSDVRS
Florida Public Service Commission (Florida PSC)
Hamilton
HKNC
National Exchange Carrier Association (NECA)
Snap
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APPENDIX B

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Certification

Docket No. 10-51

1.
The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA),1 requires that an initial
regulatory flexibility analysis be prepared for notice-and-comment rulemaking proceedings, unless the
agency certifies that "the rule will not, if promulgated, have a significant economic impact on a
substantial number of small entities."2 The RFA generally defines the term "small entity" as having the
same meaning as the terms "small business," "small organization," and "small governmental
jurisdiction."3 In addition, the term "small business" has the same meaning as the term "small business
concern" under the Small Business Act.4 A "small business concern" is one that: (1) is independently
owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria
established by the Small Business Administration (SBA).5
2.
In the FNPRM, the Commission seeks further comment on a number of proposed
modifications to our current eligibility requirements for Internet-based TRS providers, including VRS
providers, that seek certification from the Commission to be eligible for compensation from the TRS
Fund. The Commission seeks comment on these proposals to ensure that all entities seeking certification
in the future or currently certified entities seeking re-certification are fully qualified to provide
Internet-based relay service in compliance with our rules and requirements, including all of the revised
obligations adopted in the accompanying Report and Order, to reduce waste, fraud and abuse, and
improve oversight.
3.
Specifically, the FNPRM seeks comment on whether the Commission should require that
all Internet-based TRS providers be certified by the Commission to become eligible to receive
compensation from the TRS Fund. In addition, the Commission seeks comment on whether new and
renewing applicants should provide specific documentary evidence of their ability to comply with our
TRS rules. The Commission seeks comment on whether the certification process should include, at the
Commission's discretion other measures, on-site visits to the premises of applicants, to assess the merits
of certification applications. The Commission also proposes to revise its annual report filing guidelines to
require further documentation.6
4.
The Commission further proposes to require that providers seek approval from the
Commission for voluntary interruption of service, and to require providers to notify the Commission of


1 See 5 U.S.C. 603. The RFA, see 5 U.S.C. 601612, has been amended by the Small Business Regulatory
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), Pub. L. No. 104-121, Title II, 110 Stat. 857 (1996).
2 5 U.S.C. 605(b).
3 5 U.S.C. 601(6).
4 5 U.S.C. 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition of "small-business concern" in the Small Business
Act, 15 U.S.C. 632). Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 601(3), the statutory definition of a small business applies "unless an
agency, after consultation with the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and after opportunity
for public comment, establishes one or more definitions of such term which are appropriate to the activities of the
agency and publishes such definition(s) in the Federal Register."
5 15 U.S.C. 632.
6 See 95-96, supra.
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unforeseen service interruptions in the provision of Internet-based TRS. Finally, the Commission
proposes to allow a provider that is currently eligible to receive compensation from the TRS Fund via a
means other than FCC certification, to file an application for certification under the Commission's new
rules. While such a provider's application is pending, the Commission proposes to permit the applicant to
seek a temporary waiver of any new requirements to obtain certification from the Commission prior to
offering Internet-enabled TRS, to enable the provider to continue to receive compensation from the Fund
and to continue providing Internet-based TRS while such provider's application is pending.
5.
With regard to the criterion of the economic impact of this FNPRM, the Commission
notes that all providers potentially affected by the proposed rules, including those deemed to be small
entities under the SBA's standard, would be entitled to receive prompt reimbursement for their reasonable
costs of compliance. Therefore, the Commission concludes that the FNPRM, if adopted, will not have a
significant economic impact on any entities. In addition, even if there were an adverse economic impact,
no more than five of the eleven providers impacted by the proposed rules meet the definition of a small
entity. The SBA has developed a small business size standard for Wired Telecommunications Carriers,
which consists of all such firms having 1,500 or fewer employees.7
6.
Therefore, we certify that the proposals in this FNPRM if adopted, would not have a
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.
7.
The Commission will send a copy of the FNPRM, including a copy of this Initial
Regulatory Flexibility Certification, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the SBA.8 This initial
certification will also be published in the Federal Register.9
8.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Commission's Consumer and Governmental
Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, SHALL SEND a copy of this FNPRM, including the
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Certification, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business
Administration.


7 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517110. According to Census Bureau data for 2007, there were 3,188 firms in
this category which operated for the entire year. Of this total, 3,144 firms had employment of 999 or fewer
employees, and an additional 44 firms had employment of 1,000 employees or more. Thus, under this size standard,
the majority of firms can be considered small. (The census data do not provide a more precise estimate of the
number of firms that have employment of 1,500 or fewer employees; the largest category provided is "Firms with
1,000 employees or more.")
8 5 U.S.C. 605(b).
9 5 U.S.C. 605(b).
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APPENDIX C

Final Regulatory Flexibility Certification

Docket No. 10-51

1.
The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA),1 requires that a regulatory
flexibility analysis be prepared for rulemaking proceedings, unless the agency certifies that "the rule will
not, if promulgated, have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities."2 The
RFA generally defines "small entity" as having the same meaning as the terms "small business," "small
organization," and "small governmental jurisdiction."3 In addition, the term "small business" has the
same meaning as the term "small business concern" under the Small Business Act.4 A small business
concern is one which: (1) is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of
operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the Small Business Administration
(SBA).5
2.
This Report and Order adopts rules to minimize fraud, waste, and abuse in the TRS
industry, particularly for VRS. Specifically, this Report and Order takes the following measures: It
adopts rules requiring that VRS providers submit a statement describing the location and staffing of their
call centers twice a year, and a notification at least 30 days prior to any change in the location of such
centers. It prohibits VRS CAs from relaying calls from their homes. It prohibits VRS provider
arrangements that involve tying compensation paid or other benefits given to CAs to minutes or calls
processed by that CA, either individually or as part of a group. In addition, the Commission adopts
procedures for the resolution of disputed provider payment claims when payment has been suspended.6
3.
In addition to the above, in this Report and Order, the Commission adopts a rule
prohibiting compensation for VRS calls that originate from IP addresses that indicate the individual
initiating the call is located outside of the United States. Under new rules, VRS CAs will be required to
terminate a VRS call if either party to the call: (1) enables a privacy screen or similar feature for more
than five minutes, or (2) is unresponsive or unengaged for more than five minutes, unless the call is to 9-
1-1 or one of the parties is on hold. In addition compensation for VRS calls for remote training when the
provider is involved in any way with such training will be prohibited. The Report and Order also requires
automated recordkeeping of TRS minutes submitted to the Fund, and amends the rules governing data
collection from VRS providers to add requirements for the filing of data associated with each VRS call
for which a VRS provider is seeking compensation.


1 See 5 U.S.C. 603. The RFA, see 5 U.S.C. 601-612, has been amended by the Small Business Regulatory
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996, (SBREFA) Pub. L. No. 104-121, Title II, 110 Stat. 857 (1996).
2 5 U.S.C. 605(b).
3 5 U.S.C. 601(6).
4 5 U.S.C. 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition of "small business concern" in Small Business Act, 15
U.S.C. S 632). Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 601(3), the statutory definition of a small business applies "unless an
agency, after consultation with the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and after opportunity
for public comment, establishes one or more definitions of such term which are appropriate to the activities of the
agency and publishes such definition(s) in the Federal Register."
5Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. S 632.
6 See 24-30, supra.
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4.
The Report and Order prohibits revenue sharing agreements between entities eligible for
compensation from the Fund and non-eligible entities. Providers will be prohibited from engaging third
party entities to provide CAs or call center functions unless the third party is also an eligible provider.
Where providers contract with or otherwise authorize other entities to provide other services or functions
related to the provision of VRS, the third party may not hold itself out to the public as a service provider.
Any such third party contracts must be in writing and available to the Commission and Fund
administrator upon request. In addition, each VRS provider will be required to offer VRS only under the
name by which the provider became certified and in a manner that clearly identifies that provider of the
service, or a sub-brand name that identifies that provider. All calls to any brand or sub-brand of TRS
must be routed through a single URL for that brand or sub-brand.
5.
The Commission adopts whistleblower protection rules for current and former
employees and contractors of TRS providers. The Commission also will require that VRS providers
submit to audits annually or as deemed appropriate by the Fund administrator or the Commission.
Internet-based TRS providers will be required to retain all records that support their claims for payment
from the Fund for five years. Finally, the Commission makes permanent the emergency rule that requires
the CEO, CFO, or another senior executive of a TRS provider with first-hand knowledge of the accuracy
and completeness of the information provided to certify, under penalty of perjury, to the validity of
minutes and data submitted to the Fund administrator.
6.
In order to be compensated, TRS providers are required to comply with all of the
Commission's rules governing the provision of TRS. All reasonable costs of providing service in
compliance with this Report and Order are compensable from the Fund. Thus, because the providers will
recoup the costs of compliance within a reasonable period, the Commission asserts that the providers will
not be detrimentally burdened. Therefore, the Commission certifies that the requirements of the Report
and Order
will not have a significant adverse economic impact on any entities, large or small.
7.
The Commission has previously limited its RFA considerations to those entities
collecting money directly from the TRS Fund. Although there may be various impacted entities that
subcontract with providers eligible for direct compensation from the TRS Fund, the Commission does not
have oversight of such entities. Therefore, in addressing only those entities currently eligible to receive
compensation from the TRS Fund, the Commission also notes that, of the fourteen providers affected by
the Report and Order, no more than five meet the definition of a small entity. The SBA has developed a
small business size standard for Wired Telecommunications Carriers, which consists of all such firms
having 1,500 or fewer employees.7 Currently, fourteen providers receive compensation from the
Interstate TRS Fund for providing any form of TRS. Because no more than five of the providers will be
affected by this Report and Order, if adopted, are deemed to be small entities under the SBA's small
business size standard, the Commission concludes that the number of small entities potentially affected by
our proposed rules is not substantial. In addition, because those providers that meet the definition of
small entity will be promptly compensated within a reasonable period for complying with this Report and
Order
, the Commission concludes that the financial impact of the Commission's decisions in this Report
and Order
is not substantial.


7 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS code 517110. According to Census Bureau data for 2007, there were 3,188 firms in
this category which operated for the entire year. Of this total, 3,144 firms had employment of 999 or fewer
employees, and an additional 44 firms had employment of 1,000 employees or more. Thus, under this size standard,
the majority of firms can be considered small. (The census data do not provide a more precise estimate of the
number of firms that have employment of 1,500 or fewer employees; the largest category provided is "Firms with
1,000 employees or more.")
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8.
Therefore, we certify that the requirements of the Report and Order will not have a
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.
9.
The Commission will send a copy of the Report and Order, including a copy of this Final
Regulatory Flexibility Certification, in a report to Congress pursuant to the Congressional Review Act.8
In addition, the Report and Order and this final certification will be sent to the Chief Counsel for
Advocacy of the SBA, and will be published in the Federal Register.9
10.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Commission's Consumer and Governmental
Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, SHALL SEND a copy of this Report and Order including
the Final Regulatory Flexibility Certification, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business
Administration.


8 See 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).
9 See 5 U.S.C. 605(b).
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APPENDIX D

Proposed Rules

For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission proposes to amend
47 C.F.R. part 64 as follows:

Part 64 MISCELLANEOUS RULES RELATING TO COMMON CARRIERS

1. The authority citation for part 64 continues to read as follows:

Authority:

47 U.S.C. 154, 254 (k); secs. 403 (b)(2) (B), (c), Public Law 104-104,
110 Stat. 56. Interpret or apply 47 U.S.C. 201, 218, 225, 226, 228, and 254 (k) unless otherwise noted.

SUBPART F TELECOMMUNICATIONS RELAY SERVICES AND RELATED CUSTOMER
PREMISES EQUIPMENT FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

2. The authority citation for subpart F continues to read as follows:

Authority:

47 U.S.C. 151-154; 225, 255, and 303(r).
3. Amend 64.604 of subpart F to re-number paragraph (c)(5)(iii)(F) and revise to read as follows:
64.604 Mandatory minimum standards.
*****
(c)***
(5)***
(iii)***
(F) Eligibility for Payment from the TRS Fund
(1) TRS providers, except Internet-based TRS providers, eligible for receiving payments from the TRS
Fund must be:
(i) TRS facilities operated under contract with and/or by certified state TRS programs pursuant to
64.606; or
(ii) TRS facilities owned or operated under contract with a common carrier providing interstate services
operated pursuant to 64.604; or
(iii) Interstate common carriers offering TRS pursuant to 64.604.
(section omitted)
(2) Internet-based TRS providers eligible for receiving payments from the TRS fund must be
certified by the Commission pursuant to 64.606.

* * * * *
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4. Revise 64.606 of subpart F to read as follows:
64.606 TRS certification.
* * * * *
(a) (2)

Internet-based TRS provider

. Any entity desiring to provide Internet-based TRS and to receive
compensation from the Interstate TRS Fund, shall submit documentation to the Commission addressed to
the Federal Communications Commission, Chief, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, TRS
Certification Program, Washington, DC 20554, and captioned "

Internet-based TRS

Certification
Application." The documentation shall include, in narrative form:
(i) A description of the forms of Internet-based TRS to be provided (i.e., VRS,

IP Relay, and/or IP
captioned telephone relay service

);
(ii) A detailed description of how the applicant will meet all non-waived mandatory minimum standards
applicable to each form of TRS offered, including documentary and other evidence that the applicant
owns and operates facilities associated with TRS call centers and employs interpreters, on a full or
part-time basis, to staff such call centers at the date of the application. Such evidence shall include,
but not be limited to:

(A) a copy of each deed or lease for each call center operated by the applicant;
(B) a list of individuals or entities that hold at least a 10 percent equity interest in the
applicant, have the power to vote 10 percent or more of the securities of the applicant, or exercise
de jure or de facto control over the applicant, a description of the applicant's organizational
structure, and the names of its executives, officers, partners, and members of its board of directors;

(C) a list of all of the names of applicant's full-time and part-time employees on payroll;
(D) proof of purchase or license agreement for use of all equipment and/or technologies,
including hardware and software, used by the applicant for its call center functions, including but
not limited to, automatic call distribution, routing, call setup, mapping, call features, billing for
compensation from the TRS fund, and registration;

(E) copies of employment agreements for all of the provider's executives and CAs;
(F) copies of any subcontracting agreements pertaining to the provision of the Internet-
based relay service other than services not directly essential for the provision of Internet-based
relay (such as maintenance and transportation services);

(G) a list of all major financing arrangements pertaining to the provision of Internet-based
relay service, including documentation on loans for equipment, inventory, property, promissory
notes, and liens;

(H) copies of all other agreements associated with the provision of Internet-based relay
service; and
(I) a list of all sponsorship arrangements (e.g., those providing financial support or in-kind
interpreting or personnel service for social activities in exchange for brand marketing),, including
any associated written agreements;

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(iii) A description of the provider's complaint procedures;
(iv) Demonstration of the provider's status as a common carrier; and
(v) A statement that the provider will file annual compliance reports demonstrating continued compliance
with these rules.
(a)(3) Assessment of Internet-based TRS Provider Certification Application. In order to assess the
merits of a certification application submitted by an Internet-based TRS provider, the Commission
may conduct one or more on-site visits of the applicant's premises, to which the applicant must
consent.

* * * * *
(b)(2)

Requirements for Internet-based TRS

Provider FCC certification. After review of certification
documentation, the Commission shall certify, by Public Notice, that the Internet-based TRS provider is
eligible for compensation from the Interstate TRS Fund if the Commission determines that the
certification documentation:
(i) Establishes that the provision of Internet-based TRS will meet or exceed all non-waived operational,
technical, and functional minimum standards contained in 64.604;
(ii) Establishes that the Internet-based TRS provider makes available adequate procedures and remedies
for ensuring compliance with the requirements of this section and the mandatory minimum standards
contained in 64.604, 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
(section omitted)
* * * * *
(c)(2)

Internet-based TRS Provider

FCC certification period. Certification granted under this section
shall remain in effect for five years. An Internet-based TRS provider may apply for renewal of its
certification by filing updated documentation with the Commission, at least 90 days prior to expiration of
certification, containing the information described in paragraph (a)(2) of this section.
* * * * *
(e)(2) Suspension or revocation of Internet-based TRS Provider FCC certification. The Commission may
suspend or revoke the certification of an Internet-based TRS provider if, after notice and opportunity for
hearing, the Commission determines that such certification is no longer warranted. The Commission
may, on its own motion, require a certified Internet-based TRS provider to submit documentation
demonstrating ongoing compliance with the Commission's minimum standards if, for example, the
Commission receives evidence that a certified Internet-based TRS provider may not be in compliance
with the minimum standards.
* * * * *
(g)

Internet-based TRS

providers certified under this section shall file with the Commission, on an
annual basis, a report demonstrating that they are in compliance with 64.604.

Such reports must
include the information required in subsection (a)(2) supported by current documentation.

5. Revise 64.606 of subpart F to add a new subsection as follows:
(h) Unauthorized service interruptions.
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(1) Each certified Internet-based service provider must provide Internet-based TRS without
unauthorized voluntary service interruptions.

(2) An Internet-based service provider seeking to voluntarily interrupt service must first obtain
Commission authorization by submitting a written request to the Commission's Consumer and
Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB) at least 60 days prior to any planned service interruption,
with detailed information of: (1) its justification for such interruption; (2) its plan to notify
customers about the impending interruption; and (3) its plans for resuming service, so as to
minimize the impact of such disruption on consumers through a smooth transition of temporary
service to another provider, and restoration of its service at the completion of such interruption.
CGB will grant or deny such a request and provide a response to the provider within 30 days of the
proposed interruption, in order to afford an adequate period of notification to consumers. In
evaluating such a request, CGB will consider such factors as the length of time of the proposed
interruption, the reason for such interruption, the frequency with which such requests have been
made by the provider in the past, the potential impact of the interruption on consumers, and the
provider's plans for a smooth service restoration.

(3) In the event of a brief, unforeseen service interruption due to circumstances beyond a provider's
control, the provider must submit a written notification to CGB within two business days of the
commencement of the service interruption, with an explanation of how it has restored service or its
plan to do so imminently.

(4) A certified provider that fails to obtain prior Commission authorization for a voluntary service
interruption , or fails to provide written notification after the commencement of a service
interruption in accordance with this subsection, may be subject to revocation of certification,
suspension of payment from the TRS Fund, or other enforcement action by the Commission, as
appropriate.

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APPENDIX E

Final Rules

For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission amends 47 C.F.R.
part 64 as follows:

PART 64 MISCELLANEOUS RULES RELATING TO COMMON CARRIERS

1. The authority citation for part 64 continues to read as follows:

Authority:

47 U.S.C. 154, 254(k); secs. 403(b)(2)(B), (c), Public Law 104-104, 110 Stat. 56. Interpret
or apply 47 U.S.C. 201, 218, 225, 226, 228, and 254(k) unless otherwise noted.

SUBPART F TELECOMUNICATIONS RELAY SERVICES AND RELATED CUSTOMER

PREMISES EQUIPMENT FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

2. The authority citation for subpart F continues to read as follows:

Authority:

47 U.S.C. 151-154; 225, 255, and 303(r).
3. Revise 64.601 to add the following new paragraph (27) and to re-number the subsequent paragraphs
accordingly:
(27) Visual privacy screen. A screen or any other feature that is designed to prevent one party or both
parties on the video leg of a VRS call from viewing the other party during a call.
4. Revise 64.604(a) of subpart F to add paragraphs (6)(7) to read as follows:
64.604 Mandatory Minimum standards.
*****
(a)***
(6) Visual privacy screens/idle calls. A VRS CA may not enable a visual privacy screen or similar feature
during a VRS call. A VRS CA must disconnect a VRS call if the caller or the called party to a VRS call
enables a privacy screen or similar feature for more than five minutes or is otherwise unresponsive or
unengaged for more than five minutes, unless the call is a 9-1-1 emergency call or the caller or called
party is legitimately placed on hold and is present and waiting for active communications to commence.
Prior to disconnecting the call, the CA must announce to both parties the intent to terminate the call and
may reverse the decision to disconnect if one of the parties indicates continued engagement with the call.
(7) International calls. VRS calls that originate from an international IP address will not be compensated,
with the exception of calls made by a U.S. resident who has pre-registered with his or her default provider
prior to leaving the country, during specified periods of time while on travel and from specified regions of
travel, for which there is an accurate means of verifying the identity and location of such callers. For
purposes of this section, an international IP address is defined as one that indicates that the individual
initiating the call is located outside the United States.
5. Revise 64.604(b)(4) of subpart F to add paragraph (iii) to read as follows:
(b) ***
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(4) * * *
(iii) A VRS CA may not relay calls from a location primarily used as his or her home.
5. Revise 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(C) of subpart F to read as follows:
(c) ***
(5) ***
(iii) ***
(C) Data Collection and Audits from TRS Providers. (1)TRS providers seeking compensation from the
TRS Fund
shall provide the administrator with true and adequate data, and other historical, projected and
state rate related information reasonably requested to determine the TRS Fund revenue requirements and
payments. TRS providers shall provide the administrator with the following: total TRS minutes of use,
total interstate TRS minutes of use, total TRS investment in general in accordance with part 32 of this
chapter, and other historical or projected information reasonably requested by the administrator for
purposes of computing payments and revenue requirements. The administrator and the Commission shall
have the authority to examine, verify and audit data received from TRS providers as necessary to assure
the accuracy and integrity of TRS Fund payments.
(2) Call data required from all TRS providers. In addition to the data requested by section
64.604(c)(5)(iii)(C)(1), TRS providers seeking compensation from the TRS Fund shall submit the
following specific data associated with each TRS call for which compensation is sought: (1) the call
record ID sequence; (2) CA ID number; (3) session start and end times noted at a minimum to the nearest
second; (4) conversation start and end times noted at a minimum to the nearest second; (5) incoming
telephone number and IP address (if call originates with an IP-based device) at the time of the call; (6)
outbound telephone number (if call terminates to a telephone) and IP address (if call terminates to an IP-
based device) at the time of call; (7) total conversation minutes; (8) total session minutes; (9) the call
center (by assigned center ID number) that handled the call; and (10) the URL address through which the
call is handled.
(3) Additional call data required from Internet-based Relay Providers. In addition to the data required by
section 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(C)(2), Internet-based Relay Providers seeking compensation from the Fund shall
submit speed of answer compliance data.
(4) Providers submitting call record and speed of answer data in compliance with sections
64.604(c)(5)(iii)(C)(2) and (3) shall (i) employ an automated record keeping system to capture such data
required pursuant to section 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(C)(2) for each TRS call for which minutes are submitted to
the fund administrator for compensation; and (ii) submit such data electronically, in a standardized
format. For purposes of this subparagraph, an automated record keeping system is a system that captures
data in a computerized and electronic format that does not allow human intervention during the call
session for either conversation or session time
(5) Certification. The chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), or other senior
executive of a TRS provider with first hand knowledge of the accuracy and completeness of the
information provided, when submitting a request for compensation from the TRS Fund must, with each
such request, certify as follows:
I swear under penalty of perjury that (1) I am __(name and title), _an officer of the
above-named reporting entity and that I have examined the foregoing reports and that all
requested information has been provided and all statements of fact, as well as all cost
and demand data contained in this Relay Services Data Request, are true and accurate;
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and (2) the TRS calls for which compensation is sought were handled in compliance
with Section 225 of the Communications Act and the Commission's rules and orders,
and are not the result of impermissible financial incentives or payments to generate
calls.
(6) Audits. The fund administrator and the Commission, including the Office of Inspector General, shall
have the authority to examine and verify TRS provider data as necessary to assure the accuracy and
integrity of TRS Fund payments. TRS providers must submit to audits annually or at times determined
appropriate by the Commission, the fund administrator, or by an entity approved by the Commission for
such purpose. A TRS provider that fails to submit to a requested audit, or fails to provide documentation
necessary for verification upon reasonable request, will be subject to an automatic suspension of payment
until it submits to the requested audit or provides sufficient documentation.
(7) Call data record retention. Internet-based TRS providers shall retain the data required to be submitted
by this section, and all other call detail records, other records that support their claims for payment from
the TRS Fund, and records used to substantiate the costs and expense data submitted in the annual relay
service data request form, in an electronic format that is easily retrievable, for a minimum of five years.
6. Revise 64.604(c)(5)(iii) of subpart F to add paragraphs L, M, and N, to read as follows:
(L) Procedures for the suspension/withholding of payment.
(1) The Fund administrator will continue the current practice of reviewing monthly requests for
compensation of TRS minutes of use within two months after they are filed with the Fund administrator.
(2) If the Fund administrator in consultation with the Commission, or the Commission on its own accord,
determines that payments for certain minutes should be withheld, a TRS provider will be notified within
two months from the date for the request for compensation was filed, as to why its claim for
compensation has been withheld in whole or in part. TRS providers then will be given two additional
months from the date of notification to provide additional justification for payment of such minutes of
use. Such justification should be sufficiently detailed to provide the Fund administrator and the
Commission the information needed to evaluate whether the minutes of use in dispute are compensable.
If a TRS provider does not respond, or does not respond with sufficiently detailed information within two
months after notification that payment for minutes of use is being withheld, payment for the minutes of
use in dispute will be denied permanently.
(3) If, the VRS provider submits additional justification for payment of the minutes of use in dispute
within two months after being notified that its initial justification was insufficient, the Fund administrator
or the Commission will review such additional justification documentation, and may ask further questions
or conduct further investigation to evaluate whether to pay the TRS provider for the minutes of use in
dispute, within eight months after submission of such additional justification.
(4) If the provider meets its burden to establish that the minutes in question are compensable under the
Commission's rules, the Fund administrator will compensate the provider for such minutes of use. Any
payment by the Commission will not preclude any future action by either the Commission or the U.S.
Department of Justice to recover past payments (regardless of whether the payment was the subject of
withholding) if it is determined at any time that such payment was for minutes billed to the Commission
in violation of the Commission's rules or any other civil or criminal law.
(5) If the Commission determines that the provider has not met its burden to demonstrate that the minutes
of use in dispute are compensable under the Commission's rules, payment will be permanently denied.
The Fund administrator or the Commission will notify the provider of this decision within one year of the
initial request for payment.
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(M) Whistleblower protections. Providers shall not take any reprisal in the form of a personnel action
against any current or former employee or contractor who discloses to a designated manager of the
provider, the Commission, the TRS Fund administrator or to any federal or state law enforcement entity,
any information that the reporting person reasonably believes evidences known or suspected violations of
the Communications Act or TRS regulations, or any other activity that the reporting person reasonably
believes constitutes waste, fraud, or abuse, or that otherwise could result in the improper billing of
minutes of use to the TRS Fund and discloses that information to a designated manager of the provider,
the Commission, the TRS Fund administrator or to any federal or state law enforcement entity. Providers
shall provide an accurate and complete description of these TRS whistleblower protections, including the
right to notify the FCC's Office of Inspector General or its Enforcement Bureau, to all employees and
contractors, in writing. Providers that already disseminate their internal business policies to its employees
in writing (e.g. in employee handbooks, policies and procedures manuals, or bulletin board postings
either online or in hard copy) must include an accurate and complete description of these TRS
whistleblower protections in those written materials.
(N) In addition to the provisions set forth above, VRS providers shall be subject to the following
provisions:
(1) Eligibility for reimbursement from the TRS Fund.
(i) Only an eligible VRS provider, as defined in subsection (c)(5)(iii)(F), may hold itself out to the
general public as providing VRS.
(ii) VRS service must be offered under the name by which the eligible VRS provider offering such
service became certified and in a manner that clearly identifies that provider of the service. Where a TRS
provider also utilizes sub-brands to identify its VRS, each sub-brand must clearly identify the eligible
VRS provider. Providers must route all VRS calls through a single URL address used for each name or
sub-brand used.
(iii) An eligible VRS provider may not contract with or otherwise authorize any third party to provide
interpretation services or call center functions (including call distribution, call routing, call setup,
mapping, call features, billing, and registration) on its behalf, unless that authorized third party also is an
eligible provider.
(iv) To the extent that an eligible VRS provider contracts with or otherwise authorizes a third party to
provide any other services or functions related to the provision of VRS other than interpretation services
or call center functions, that third party must not hold itself out as a provider of VRS, and must clearly
identify the eligible VRS provider to the public. To the extent an eligible VRS provider contracts with or
authorizes a third party to provide any services or functions related to marketing or outreach, and such
services utilize VRS, those VRS minutes are not compensable on a per minute basis from the TRS fund.
.
(v) All third-party contracts or agreements entered into by an eligible provider must be in writing. Copies
of such agreements shall be made available to the Commission and to the TRS Fund administrator upon
request.
(2) Call center reports. VRS providers shall file a written report with the Commission and the TRS Fund
administrator, on April 1 and October 1 of each year for each call center that handles VRS calls that the
provider owns or controls, including centers located outside of the United States, that includes: (a) the
complete street address of the center; (b) the number of individual CAs and CA managers; and (c) the
name and contact information (phone number and email address) of the manager(s) at the center. VRS
providers shall also file written notification with the Commission and the TRS Fund administrator of any
change in a center's location, including the opening, closing, or relocation of any center, at least 30 days
prior to any such change.
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(3) Compensation of CAs. VRS providers may not compensate, give a preferential work schedule or
otherwise benefit a CA in any manner that is based upon the number of VRS minutes or calls that the CA
relays, either individually or as part of a group.
(4) Remote training session calls. VRS calls to a remote training session or a comparable activity will not
be compensable from the TRS Fund when the provider submitting minutes for such a call has been
involved, in any manner, with such a training session. Such prohibited involvement includes training
programs or comparable activities in which the provider or any affiliate or related party thereto, including
but not limited to its subcontractors, partners, employees or sponsoring organizations or entities, has any
role in arranging, scheduling, sponsoring, hosting, conducting or promoting such programs or activities.
7. Revise 64.606(g) of subpart F to read as follows:
(g) VRS and IP Relay providers certified under this section shall file with the Commission, on an annual
basis, a report providing evidence that they are in compliance with 64.604. VRS providers shall include
within these annual submissions a description of all agreements in connection with marketing and
outreach activities, including those involving sponsorship, financial endorsements, awards, and gifts made
by the provider to any individual or entity.
*****
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