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Released: June 10, 2013

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 13-82

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)
Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service )
CG Docket No. 10-51
Program
)
)
Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-
)
CG Docket No. 03-123
to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing
)
and Speech Disabilities
)

REPORT AND ORDER AND FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

Adopted: June 7, 2013

Released: June 10, 2013

Comment Date: [45 days after date of publication in the Federal Register]
Reply Comment Date: [75 days after date of publication in the Federal Register]

By the Commission: Acting Chairwoman issuing a statement.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Heading
Paragraph #
I. INTRODUCTION.................................................................................................................................. 1
A. Video Relay Service ........................................................................................................................ 2
B. VRS Reform .................................................................................................................................... 5
C. Legal Authority.............................................................................................................................. 12
II. STRUCTURAL REFORMS ................................................................................................................ 19
A. Research and Development............................................................................................................ 20
B. Outreach......................................................................................................................................... 23
1. TRS Broadband Pilot Program................................................................................................ 24
2. National Outreach.................................................................................................................... 26
a. Background....................................................................................................................... 26
b. Discussion......................................................................................................................... 31
C. Interoperability and Portability Requirements............................................................................... 40
1. Defining iTRS Access Technologies....................................................................................... 45
2. Promoting Standards to Improve Interoperability and Portability .......................................... 47
3. VRS Access Technology Reference Platform......................................................................... 53
D. TRS User Registration Database and Eligibility Verification ....................................................... 62
1. TRS-URD................................................................................................................................ 68
2. Certification of Eligibility and Verification of Identity........................................................... 78
a. Certification of Eligibility................................................................................................. 80
b. Verification of Identity ..................................................................................................... 84
E. Neutral Video Communication Service Provider .......................................................................... 87
1. Neutral Video Communication Service Provider Performance Requirements ....................... 93

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2. Stakeholder Concerns............................................................................................................ 103
3. Standalone VRS CA Service Provider Standards ................................................................. 109
4. Delineating Responsibility Between the Neutral Video Communication Service
Provider and Standalone VRS CA Service Providers ........................................................... 115
F. Implementation of Structural Reforms ........................................................................................ 116
1. Neutrality Requirements........................................................................................................ 116
2. Cost Recovery ....................................................................................................................... 119
III. ADDITIONAL REFORMS................................................................................................................ 121
A. Improving the Commission's Operations .................................................................................... 122
B. General Prohibitions on Practices Causing Unreasonable Discrimination and Waste,
Fraud, and Abuse ......................................................................................................................... 127
C. Provider Compliance Plans.......................................................................................................... 134
D. Speed of Answer.......................................................................................................................... 135
E. Preventing Slamming................................................................................................................... 142
F. Consumer Privacy........................................................................................................................ 155
G. Certification Under Penalty of Perjury for Certification Application and Annual Reports......... 173
H. Other Issues.................................................................................................................................. 176
1. CA Qualifications.................................................................................................................. 176
2. Skill-Based Routing .............................................................................................................. 180
IV. VRS COMPENSATION RATE STRUCTURE AND RATES ......................................................... 181
A. Background.................................................................................................................................. 181
B. Per-User Compensation Mechanism............................................................................................ 186
C. Short-term Rate Methodology Pending Implementation of Structural Reforms ......................... 188
1. Outreach ................................................................................................................................ 192
2. User Equipment..................................................................................................................... 193
3. Capital Costs and Income Taxes ........................................................................................... 195
4. Rate Tiers .............................................................................................................................. 197
D. Determination of a Cost-Based Rate and a Transitional Rate Plan ............................................. 209
V. FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING................................................................... 217
A. Transition to a Market-Based Compensation Methodology ........................................................ 217
1. Using the Cost of the Neutral Video Communication Service Provider Contract as a
Benchmark ............................................................................................................................ 222
2. Using Auctions to Establish a Per Minute Rate for CA Service ........................................... 223
3. Other Issues ........................................................................................................................... 236
B. Cost Recovery.............................................................................................................................. 239
C. Research and Development.......................................................................................................... 241
D. TRS Fund Contribution Calculations and Reporting................................................................... 242
E. Allowing Hearing Individuals to Purchase Access to the Neutral Video Communication
Service Provider for Point-to-Point Calls .................................................................................... 243
F. TRS Fund Advisory Council ....................................................................................................... 244
1. Background ........................................................................................................................... 245
2. Discussion ............................................................................................................................. 246
G. Consistent Regulation of All Forms of iTRS............................................................................... 250
H. Disaggregation of Emergency Calls to 911 ................................................................................. 256
I. Speed of Answer.......................................................................................................................... 261
J. Administrative, Oversight, and Certification Rules..................................................................... 266
K. Restructuring Section 64.604....................................................................................................... 269
L. Use of Customer Information ...................................................................................................... 270
M. Unjust and Unreasonable Practices.............................................................................................. 271
N. Temporary Registration ............................................................................................................... 272
O. Access to Video Mail................................................................................................................... 275
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P. Non-Competition Agreements in VRS CA Employment Contracts............................................ 278
Q. CAs Working from Home Environments During Overnight Hours ............................................ 280
VI. PROCEDURAL MATTERS.............................................................................................................. 283
A. Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis ............................................................................................. 283
B. Congressional Review Act........................................................................................................... 284
C. Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis.......................................................................................... 285
D. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis......................................................................................... 286
E. Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ..................................................................................... 287
VII. ORDERING CLAUSES.................................................................................................................... 290
APPENDIX A Final Rules
APPENDIX B Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
APPENDIX C Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
APPENDIX D List of Commenters

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
This Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is an important step
in the Commission's continuing effort to reform the video relay service (VRS) program,1 which for many
years has been beset by waste, fraud, and abuse,2 and by compensation rates that have become inflated
well above actual cost.3 In this Report and Order (Order), we adopt further measures to improve the
structure, efficiency, and quality of the VRS program, reducing the noted inefficiencies in the program, as
well as reducing the risk of waste, fraud, and abuse, and ensuring that the program makes full use of
advances in commercially-available technology. In the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
(FNPRM), we solicit further comment on options and proposals to ensure that VRS continues to offer
functional equivalence to all eligible users and is as immune as possible from any additional waste, fraud,
and abuse. The steps we take today and the further steps proposed herein are designed to ensure that this
vital program fulfills the goals set in section 225 of the Communications Act ("the Act")4 for the benefit
of all consumers, and is an effective, efficient, and sustainable program for the future.

A.

Video Relay Service

2.
Under Title IV of the ADA, the Commission must ensure that telecommunications relay
services (TRS) "are available, to the extent possible and in the most efficient manner" to persons in the
United States with hearing or speech disabilities.5 Section 225 defines TRS as a service enabling

1 See Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, CG Docket No. 10-51, Notice of Inquiry, 25 FCC
Rcd 8597 (2010) (2010 VRS NOI); Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, Further Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking, CG Docket Nos. 10-51, 03-123, 26 FCC Rcd 17367 (2011) (2011 VRS Reform FNPRM).
2 See id. at 17372-73, 6.
3 See Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech
Disabilities
, CG Docket No. 03-123, Order, 25 FCC Rcd 8689, 8694, 9 (2010) (2010 TRS Rate Order), aff'd
Sorenson Communications, Inc. v. FCC
, 659 F.3d 1035 (10th Cir. 2011) (Sorenson II) (finding that in each of the
years 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009, VRS compensation rates were more than $2.00 per minute higher than actual
costs).
4 47 U.S.C. 225.
5 Id. 225(b)(1); see also H.R. Rep. No. 485, Pt. 2, 101st Cong., 2d Sess. at 129 (1990) (House Report) (the "goal of
universal service has governed the development of the nation's telephone system for over fifty years" and "the
inability of over 26 million Americans to access fully the Nation's telephone system poses a serious threat to the full
attainment of [this goal]").
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communication in a manner that is "functionally equivalent" to voice telephone services6 and directs the
Commission to prescribe regulations that establish functional requirements, minimum standards, and
other requirements to carry out the statutory mandate.7 In addition, the Commission's regulations must
encourage the use of existing technology and must not discourage the development of new technology.8
Finally, the Commission must ensure that TRS users "pay rates no greater than the rates paid for
functionally equivalent voice communication services."9 To this end, the costs of providing TRS on a call
are supported by shared funding mechanisms at the state and federal levels. The federal fund supporting
TRS is the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Services Fund (TRS Fund or Fund).10
3.
In March 2000, the Commission recognized VRS as a reimbursable relay service.11 VRS
allows persons with hearing or speech disabilities to use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate
in near real time through a communications assistant (CA), via video over a broadband Internet
connection.12
4.
As discussed in the 2010 VRS NOI, VRS communications require the interaction of three
separate yet interlinked components: VRS access technologies (e.g., a videophone like Sorenson's VP-
200), video communication service (the "platform" that providers use to route calls to and from their
users), and relay service provided by ASL-fluent CAs.13 To initiate a VRS call, a consumer uses a VRS
access technology to connect to an ASL-fluent CA over the Internet via a broadband video
communication service.14 The CA, in turn, places an outbound telephone call to the called party.15
During the call, the CA relays the communications between the two parties, signing what the hearing
person says to the ASL user and conveying the ASL user's responses in voice to the hearing person. In
this manner, a conversation between an ASL user and a hearing person can flow in near real-time. The

6 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3) (defining TRS 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").
7 Id. 225(d)(1).
8 Id. 225(d)(2).
9 Id. 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").
10 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii).
11 See Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech
Disabilities
, CC Docket No. 98-67, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 15 FCC Rcd
5140, 5152-54, 21-27 (2000) (2000 TRS Order).
12 See 47 C.F.R. 64.601(a)(27)(2012). In this Order, references to people with "hearing or speech disabilities"
includes people who are hard of hearing, deaf, or deaf-blind, as well as people with speech disabilities. See 47
U.S.C. 225(a)(3).
13 2010 VRS NOI, 25 FCC Rcd at 5608, 32.
14 See Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech
Disabilities; E911 Requirements for IP-Enabled Service Providers
, Report and Order and Further Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking, CG Docket No. 03-123, WC Docket No. 05-196, 23 FCC Rcd 11591, 11593, 2 (2008)
(First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order).
15 Alternatively, a VRS call can be initiated by a hearing person connecting to the CA, and the CA, in turn, placing
the call to a deaf or hard-of-hearing ASL user.
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Commission remains committed to fulfilling the intent of Congress to ensure the provision of VRS that is
functionally equivalent to conventional voice telephone services.

B.

VRS Reform

5.
The Commission has taken a number of steps in recent years to improve the efficiency
and effectiveness of the VRS program, including addressing some of the issues that had the potential to
harm the viability of the program, in order to maintain and enhance this valuable service to individuals
who are deaf and hard of hearing.16 On December 15, 2011, the Commission released the 2011 VRS
Reform FNPRM
, seeking comment on wide-ranging proposals to improve the structure and efficiency of
the VRS program, to ensure that the program is as immune as possible from the waste, fraud, and abuse
that threaten its long-term viability, and to revisit the rate methodology used for compensating VRS
providers. As the Commission noted then, the FCC's implementation of section 225 of the Act has relied
heavily on competition in order to allow VRS users to choose among providers who compete on factors
such as quality of service, customer service, and technological development.17 There are several
shortcomings, however, to this approach. First, multiple providers offer substantially similar services
with no opportunity for price competition, as end users receive the service at no cost.18 The result is that
the rates paid for VRS will be efficient solely insofar as the Commission can itself determine and mandate
appropriate rates, which has been a matter of particular controversy.19 Further, the record clearly

16 See, e.g., Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, CG Docket No. 10-51, Declaratory Ruling,
25 FCC Rcd 1868 (CGB 2010) (Compensable VRS Calls Declaratory Ruling) (reiterating the scope of compensable
VRS calls and curbing certain abusive practices); see also Hands On Video Relay Services, Inc., Go America, Inc.,
and Purple Communications, Inc.
, Order and Consent Decree, 25 FCC Rcd 13090 (2010) (approving settlement for
in excess of $22 million of alleged rule violations involving abuse of the TRS Fund); 2010 TRS Rate Order, 25
FCC Rcd 8689 (changing the basis for per-minute compensation from provider projected costs to an average of the
Fund administrator's proposed per-minute rates, calculated as a measure of actual, historical provider costs, and
existing rates based on providers' projected costs); Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, CG
Docket No. 10-51, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 5545 (2011) (VRS
Call Practices R&O
) (adopting rules to detect and prevent fraud and abuse in the provision of VRS); Structure and
Practices of the Video Relay Service Program
, Second Report and Order and Order, CG Docket No. 10-51, 26 FCC
Rcd 10898 (2011) (2011 iTRS Certification Order) (revising the provider certification process to ensure that
providers of Internet-based TRS (iTRS), including VRS, receiving certification are qualified to provide services in
compliance with the Commission's rules); Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program; Healinc
Telecom, LLC, Request for Reimbursement of July 2011 and August 2011 Video Relay Service Minutes
, Order, CG
Docket No. 10-51, 27 FCC Rcd 9314 (2012) (denying payment to Healinc, a VRS provider, of amounts withheld by
the TRS Fund administrator for non-compliance with the TRS rules).
17 See 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17378, 14; 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 Order on Reconsideration, 20 FCC Rcd 20577, 20588, 21, 20590, 26 (2005) (2005 TRS
Certification Order
); 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
, CC Docket Nos. 90-571, 98-67, 03-123, 19 FCC Rcd 12475, 12523, 121 (2004) (2004 TRS Order).
We note that all VRS providers must comply with the mandatory minimum standards, including those related to
quality of service, set forth in the TRS rules.
18 2010 VRS Reform NOI, 25 FCC Rcd at 8612, 48.
19 See 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, 20145, 6
(2007) (2007 TRS Rate Methodology Order); see also 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17373-74, 7-9
(discussing the history of compensation rates for VRS). Indeed, the Commission long has noted the significant
difficulty of determining a "reasonable" per-minute compensation rate for VRS due to issues concerning CA
staffing, labor costs, and engineering costs particular to VRS. See Telecommunications Services for Individuals with
(continued...)
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indicates that the FCC's existing rate-setting process inefficiently supports providers that have failed to
achieve economies of scale.20 In addition, rates are based on cost information supplied by providers, and
the FCC historically has not has not had a meaningful opportunity to measure providers' self-interested
claims against facts or cost information from neutral or independent sources.21
6.
Second, providers' self-interest in maximizing their compensation from the Fund may
make them less effective at carrying out the Commission's TRS policies. The vulnerability of the
program to waste, fraud, and abuse by providers (as well as Commission attempts to reduce that
vulnerability) has been well established.22 For example, the Commission and various stakeholders
repeatedly have raised concerns about the effectiveness of outreach efforts on the national level, and the
extent to which providers have characterized as "outreach" actions that would better be described as
"branded marketing," both for TRS in general and for VRS in particular.23 Also, despite encouragement
for VRS providers "to work together to develop systems and standards that will facilitate compliance with
our rules," the VRS industry has not fully achieved the standardization needed for full interoperability and
portability; a result that is perhaps not surprising given that effective interoperability and portability rules
increase the risk that a provider will lose the revenue generated by an existing user.24
7.
The 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM and the subsequent VRS Structure and Rates PN25 sought
comment on a range of possible solutions to these problems. At one end of the spectrum of policy
solutions, the Commission sought comment on whether to fundamentally depart from the historical
approach and shift to bidding contracts for one or a few VRS providers to provide service subject to more
direct Commission supervision.26 At the other end of the spectrum, the Commission sought comment on
leaving the existing structure fundamentally intact and attempting incremental improvements as it has
done in prior reforms.27
8.
We believe there is merit in exploring an approach that is less dependent on the actions of
providers operating in an environment where their self-interested decisions may not align--at least
fully--with Commission policies. At the same time, the existing structure has been in place for many
years, and it is not clear that the disruption that would be caused by a wholesale abandonment of that
structure is appropriate at this time. Consequently, as an important first step in our reforms, we have
(Continued from previous page)
Hearing and Speech Disabilities, Recommended TRS Cost Recovery Guidelines, Request by Hamilton Telephone
Company for Clarification and Temporary Waivers
, CC Docket No. 98-67, Memorandum Opinion and Order and
Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 16 FCC Rcd 22948, 22956-57, 23 (2001) (2001 TRS Cost Recovery
MO&O
); 2004 TRS Report and Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 12490, 23, 12565-67, 234-240.
20 See 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17382-83, 24-25.
21 See, e.g., Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, Declaratory Ruling, Order and Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking, CG Docket No. 10-51, 25 FCC Rcd 6012, 6018-21, 11-16 (2010) (VRS Call Practices
NPRM
); 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17422-23, 154-155.
22 See id. at 17372-73, 6-8.
23 See infra section II.B.2.a, which details concerns raised by consumers and the Commission about the failures of
provider-initiated outreach for more than a decade.
24 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17441-44, Appendix B 11-18.
25 Additional Comment Sought on Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service (VRS) Program and on
Proposed VRS Compensation Rates
, Public Notice, CG Docket Nos. 03-123, 10-51, 27 FCC Rcd 12959 (2012)
(VRS Structure and Rates PN).
26 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17380, 18; VRS Structure and Rates PN, 27 FCC Rcd at 12961-64.
27 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17417-19, 138-142.
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identified certain discrete areas in which we can explore a new approach of relying on the efforts of one
or more non-provider third parties, either in whole or in part, to carry out the Commission's VRS policies.
Specifically, we:
Direct the Managing Director, in consultation with the Chief Technology Officer (CTO), the
Chief of the Office of Engineering and Technology (OET), and the Chief of the Consumer and
Governmental Affairs Bureau (CGB), to determine how best to structure, fund, and enter into an
arrangement with the National Science Foundation (NSF) (or cause the TRS Fund administrator
to enter into such an arrangement) to enable research designed to further the Commission's
multiple goals of ensuring that TRS is functionally equivalent to voice telephone services and
improving the efficiency and availability of TRS;
Direct the Managing Director, in consultation with the Chief of CGB, to establish a two-to-three
year pilot iTRS National Outreach Program (iTRS-NOP) and to select one or more independent
iTRS Outreach Coordinators to conduct and coordinate IP Relay and VRS outreach nationwide
under the Commission's (or the TRS Fund administrator's) supervision;
Promote the development and adoption of voluntary, consensus interoperability and portability
standards, and facilitate compliance with those standards by directing the Managing Director to
contract for the development and deployment of a VRS access technology reference platform;
Direct the Managing Director to contract for a central TRS user registration database (TRS-
URD) which incorporates a centralized eligibility verification requirement to ensure accurate
registration and verification of users, to achieve more effective fraud and abuse prevention, and
to allow the Commission to know, for the first time, the number of individuals that actually use
VRS; and
Direct the Managing Director to contract for a neutral party to build, operate, and maintain a
neutral video communication service platform, which will allow eligible relay interpretation
service providers to compete without having to build their own video communication service
platforms.
9.
Because we are not yet fully departing from the historical regulatory approach for VRS,
we accompany these actions with more targeted, incremental measures to improve the efficiency of the
program, help protect against waste, fraud, and abuse, improve our administration of the program, and
generally ensure that VRS users' experiences reflect the policies and goals of section 225. Specifically,
we:
Clarify responsibility for disability access policy and TRS program administration within the
Commission;
Adopt a general prohibition on practices resulting in waste, fraud, and abuse;
Require providers to adopt regulatory compliance plans subject to Commission review;
More closely harmonize the VRS speed of answer rules with those applicable to other forms of
TRS by reducing the permissible wait time for a VRS call to be answered to 30 seconds, 85
percent of the time, and by requiring measurement of compliance on a daily basis;
Adopt rules to protect relay consumers against unauthorized default provider changes, also
known as "slamming," by VRS and Internet Protocol Relay Service (IP Relay) providers;28

28 See 47 C.F.R. 64.601(a)(13)(2012) (defining IP Relay).
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Adopt rules to protect the privacy of customer information relating to all relay services
authorized under section 225 of the Act and to point-to-point video services offered by VRS
providers;
Adopt permanently the interim rules adopted in the 2011 iTRS Certification Order29 requiring
that providers certify, under penalty of perjury, that their certification applications and annual
compliance filings required under section 64.606 of the Commission's rules are truthful,
accurate, and complete.30
10.
In addition to seeking comment on the need for incremental or structural reforms to the
VRS program, the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM sought comment on how and whether to modify the current
compensation methodology for VRS and the rates paid within that structure.31 The Commission
subsequently sought comment in the VRS Structure and Rates PN on a proposal submitted by the TRS
Fund administrator to establish modified VRS compensation rates for the remainder of the 2012-13 Fund
year and for subsequent years and other ratemaking issues.32 Consistent with the Commission's
incremental approach to reform of the structure of this program, we initiate in this Order a step-by-step
transition from existing, tiered TRS Fund compensation rates for VRS providers toward a unitary,
market-based compensation rate.
11.
Although we seek comment in the accompanying FNPRM on the final end point for those
rates, we know enough about the flaws in the existing rates to begin reforming them today. We note that
our inquiry will be informed by the valuable independent evidence of the underlying costs of VRS service
that will be provided by the structural reforms we adopt today. We also seek comment in the FNPRM on
whether, or to what extent, it is appropriate to more fundamentally depart from the historical approach to
the Commission's implementation of section 225. The two discrete sets of reforms we adopt today will
facilitate this process by allowing the Commission to evaluate the areas where it is departing from the
historical approach of relying primarily on projected cost data from self-interested providers, while at the
same assessing the success of our more incremental efforts.

C.

Legal Authority

12.
Section 225 sets forth several overarching principles governing the provision and
regulation of TRS. First, section 225 defines TRS as a service that allows persons with hearing or speech
disabilities to communicate in a manner that is "functionally equivalent" to voice telephone service.33
Second, section 225 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.34 Third,
the statute requires that the Commission's regulations encourage the use of existing technology and not

29 2011 iTRS Certification Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 10923-25, 62-67.
30 47 C.F.R. 64.606(a)(2)(v), (g).
31 See 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17394-98, 53-63, 17417-19, 138-142. Under the current
approach, the Fund compensates VRS providers on a per-minute basis, employing a three-tier rate structure that
allows smaller providers to receive a higher average per-minute rate than larger providers. See 2007 TRS Rate
Methodology Order
, 22 FCC Rcd at 20164-70, 47-56, 20173-75, 67-72; 2010 TRS Rate Order, 25 FCC Rcd at
8697-98, 16-17. Tier I rates apply to a provider's first 50,000 monthly VRS minutes; Tier II rates apply to a
provider's monthly call volumes between 50,001 and 500,000 minutes; and Tier III rates apply to a provider's
monthly call volumes above 500,000 minutes. Id. at 8697, 16.
32 VRS Structure and Rates PN, 27 FCC Rcd at 12964-68.
33 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3).
34 Id. 225(b)(1); see also House Report at 129.
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discourage the development of new technology.35 Section 225 further requires that the Commission
prescribe regulations that, among other things, "establish functional requirements, guidelines, and
operations procedures for telecommunications relay services"36 and "establish minimum standards that
shall be met in carrying out [the provision of TRS]."37 Each of the actions we take today is grounded in
one or more of our obligations under section 225.
13.
Functional Equivalence. Our obligation to ensure the functional equivalence of TRS is a
continuing one. As the Commission previously stated:
TRS is required by statute to provide telecommunication services which
are functionally equivalent to voice services to the extent possible.
Functional equivalence is, by nature, a continuing goal that requires
periodic reassessment. The ever-increasing availability of new services
and the development of new technologies continually challenge us to
determine what specific services and performance standards are
necessary to ensure that TRS is functionally equivalent to voice
telephone service.38
14.
As discussed in greater detail below, our decision to promote research and development
in VRS and other forms of TRS in cooperation with the NSF will allow the Commission to better assess
whether VRS and other forms of TRS are functionally equivalent to voice telephone services and to take
measures to enhance these services as needed. Our actions to improve the effectiveness of the TRS
outreach program will help to ensure that all Americans are familiar with the TRS program, and thus
increase the likelihood that TRS calls are completed regularly. The establishment of well-defined
interoperability and portability standards and the deployment of the VRS access technology reference
platform will ensure that VRS users actually experience the functional equivalency upon which the
Commission's interoperability rules were predicated.39 Harmonizing the VRS speed of answer rules with

35 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(2).
36 Id. 225(d)(1)(A).
37 Id. 225(d)(1)(B).
38 2000 TRS Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 5144, 4; see also Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech
Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, Second Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration,
and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, CC Docket No. 98-67 and CG Docket No. 03-123, 18 FCC Rcd 12379, 12426,
103 (2003) (Second Improved TRS Order & NPRM) ("More broadly, we recognize that the functional equivalency
standard itself contemplates the periodic reassessment of our TRS regulations."). We note that the Commission's
obligation to conduct a periodic reassessment does not govern the obligations or services of providers or the costs
for which they may claim compensation from the Fund. The Commission has stated, and the 10th Circuit has
agreed, that "[f]or a particular provider, the requirement of functional equivalency is met when the service complies
with the mandatory minimum standards applicable to the specific service." Sorenson II, 659 F.3d at 1042, citing
2004 TRS Order
, 19 FCC Rcd at 12548, 189. The Commission explained its logic in the 2004 TRS Order: "For a
particular provider, the requirement of functional equivalency is met when the service complies with the mandatory
minimum standards applicable to the specific service. In this way, the Interstate TRS Fund does not become an
unbounded source of funding for enhancements that go beyond these standards, but which a particular provider
nevertheless wishes to adopt." Id.
39 See Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech
Disabilities
, CG Docket No. 03-123, Declaratory Ruling and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 21 FCC Rcd
5442, 5456, 34 (2006) (VRS Interoperability Declaratory Ruling) ("[C]onsistent with functional equivalency, all
VRS consumers must be able to place a VRS call through any of the VRS providers' service, and all VRS providers
must be able to receive calls from, and make calls to, any VRS consumer. Therefore, a provider may not block calls
so that VRS equipment cannot be used with other providers' service. In addition, a provider may not take other steps
(continued...)
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those applicable to other forms of TRS and adopting anti-slamming and CPNI rules all will make the
VRS user's experience more functionally equivalent to voice telephone service.
15.
"Availability" and "Efficiency." Our actions today also will help to ensure that TRS is
"available, to the extent possible and in the most efficient manner."40 Research will be conducted more
efficiently under an arrangement with the NSF than it would be if conducted by individual providers with
disparate incentives. Our changes to the outreach program will improve the efficiency of our outreach
efforts while simultaneously improving the availability of TRS through education of TRS users and the
hearing population alike. The establishment of well-defined interoperability and portability standards and
the deployment of the VRS access technology reference platform are consistent with our obligation to
establish minimum standards for provider performance, and will promote efficiency in VRS provider
operations. Establishment of a neutral video communication service provider will promote the
availability of VRS by allowing the entrance of new, eligible, "standalone" VRS CA service providers,
and will promote efficiency through a reduction in duplicative expenditures on video communication
service platforms and through provider compliance with our interoperability mandates. The TRS-URD
and the eligibility certification and identity verification requirements we adopt today will help to reduce
the potential for waste, fraud, and abuse, improving the efficiency of the program and the availability of
TRS.41
16.
Fund Expenditures. Our authority to establish compensation rates for TRS providers is
well established. Congress determined that the Commission should ensure that compensation is provided
for the costs caused by interstate TRS.42 As a result, for interstate TRS calls,43 the Commission adopted a
cost recovery framework that entails collecting contributions from providers of interstate
telecommunications services to create a fund from which eligible TRS providers are compensated for the
costs of eligible TRS services.44 Contributions to the fund are based on the carrier's interstate end-user
revenues. All contributions are placed in the TRS Fund, which is administered by the TRS Fund
administrator.45
(Continued from previous page)
that restrict a consumer's unfettered access to other providers' service. This includes the practice of providing
degraded service quality to consumers using VRS equipment or service with another provider's service.").
40 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1); see also House Report at 129.
41 As the Commission has previously found, fraudulent diversion of funds robs the TRS Fund for illicit gain and
"abuses 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." VRS Call Practices R&O, 26 FCC at 5551. Moreover, such
practices unlawfully shift improper costs to consumers of other telecommunications services, including local and
long distance voice subscribers, interconnected VoIP, and others.
42 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(3)(B).
43 Section 225 distinguishes between intrastate and interstate TRS services, and provides that states are responsible
for the reimbursement of the costs of intrastate TRS and the Interstate TRS Fund is responsible for the
reimbursement of the costs of interstate TRS. Id. 225(d)(3)(B). Presently, however, all VRS calls are
compensated from the Fund because it is not possible to determine when a particular call is intrastate or interstate.
See 2004 TRS Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 12565-67, 234-242.
44 See 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(3); 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5). The regulations, addressing these matters separately,
characterize contributions to the Fund as "cost recovery" (id. 64.604(c)(5)(ii), (iii)(A)(D)) and payments from
the Fund as "payments to TRS providers" (id. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(E), (F)).
45 See Telecommunications Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities, and the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990
, CC Docket No. 90-571, 8 FCC Rcd 1802 (1993) (TRS II); Telecommunications Relay
Services, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
, CC Docket No. 90-571, 8 FCC Rcd 5300 (1993) (TRS
(continued...)
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17.
The Commission often must balance the interests of contributors to the Fund, who are
ratepayers, with the interests of users of TRS. Our obligation to ensure that the goals of the statute are
met "in the most efficient manner"46 necessitates adopting reasonable compensation rates that do not
overcompensate entities that provide TRS. As noted earlier, the Commission has had four years of data
demonstrating that VRS providers were significantly overcompensated, evidenced by a comparison of the
best available data concerning their actual costs per minute to the per minute compensation they have
been receiving based on their projected costs per minute. Because the rates we adopt herein are
demonstrably sufficient to cover the costs caused by VRS as reflected in the VRS providers' reported
average actual and projected costs, we conclude that these are consistent with the requirements in section
225, and are consistent with the Commission's commitment to further the goals of functional equivalency
through strengthening and sustaining VRS.
18.
Our authority for the other expenditures from the TRS Fund described in this Order is
likewise grounded in section 225(d)(3)(B) of the Act.47 As discussed above, each of the actions we take
in this Order will fulfill our statutory mandate by making VRS, and the TRS program more generally,
more available, efficient, and technologically advanced, and therefore the costs associated with these
actions are "caused by interstate telecommunications relay services."48 This conclusion is consistent with
Commission decisions to disallow recovery of certain costs incurred by providers or end users from the
Fund.49 By directly authorizing these Fund expenditures, we can ensure that Fund resources are directed
towards fulfilling our statutory responsibilities while at the same time continuing to ensure that the Fund
does not "become an unbounded source of funding for enhancements that go beyond these standards."50

II.

STRUCTURAL REFORMS

19.
The wide-ranging proposals set forth in the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM and the VRS
Structure and Rates PN elicited an equally wide range of responses from providers, consumers, and other
stakeholders interested in helping the Commission fulfill its goal of improving the VRS program and,
more generally, TRS programs.51 The reforms set forth in this section implement a new approach of
(Continued from previous page)
III). The amount of each carrier's contribution is the product of the carrier's interstate end-user telecommunications
revenue and a contribution factor determined annually by the Commission. 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii).
46 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1)
47 Id. 225(d)(3)(B).
48 Id.
49 See, e.g., 2004 TRS Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 12547-48, 188-190 (stating that "costs directed at providing
advanced VRS features that fall outside the functional equivalency mandate of section 225 are not compensable
from the Interstate TRS Fund as a `reasonable' cost"); Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech
Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CG Docket No. 03-123, Memorandum Opinion and
Order, 21 FCC Rcd 8063, 8071, 17 (2006 MO&O) ("[C]ompensable expenses must be the providers' expenses in
making the service available and not the customer's costs of receiving the service. Compensable expenses,
therefore, do not include expenses for customer premises equipment--whether for the equipment itself, equipment
distribution, or installation of the equipment or any necessary software.") (emphasis in original, footnote omitted).
50 See 2004 TRS Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 12548, 190. Various portions of this Order address systems and service
requirements related to the Order's reforms. All contract actions necessitated by the requirements of this Order shall
be conducted in accordance with Federal procurement requirements, including the provisions of the Federal
Acquisition Regulation (FAR).
51 In this document, comments filed in response to the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM are cited as "FNPRM Comments"
or "FNPRM Reply Comments," and comments filed in response to the VRS Structure and Rates PN are cited as "PN
Comments" or "PN Reply Comments."
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relying primarily on the efforts of one or more non-provider third parties to carry out the Commission's
policies. These reforms are designed to improve our administration of VRS and the TRS program as a
whole, to ensure compliance with our interoperability and portability requirements, and to further
minimize the potential for waste, fraud, and abuse.

A.

Research and Development

20.
In the past, the Commission has disallowed expenses associated with research and
development (R&D) except to the extent that such expenses are necessary to meet our mandatory
minimum standards.52 Recognizing that there may be a broader role for the TRS Fund to play in
supporting R&D, the Commission sought comment in the 2010 VRS NOI on how and whether to revise
its rules regarding compensation for R&D, including how to ensure that the results of any research and
development supported by the Fund are fairly shared so that all providers and ultimately all users are able
to enjoy the results.53 In addition, the Commission asked in the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM what other
steps the Commission could take to promote research and development in VRS and other forms of TRS.54
21.
Commenters generally argue that that the Commission should provide additional
compensation to providers for research and development, insisting that additional funding is required to
ensure "innovations and improvements in technology for people with disabilities."55 We agree that
additional research and development on VRS and other TRS issues will help to further our statutory
mandate to ensure the availability and encourage technological advancement of these services.56 We do
not, however, believe that providing such support through a per-minute compensation rate by allowing
providers to claim individual R&D costs as a cost of providing TRS--which potentially could allow such
funding to be unlimited and only end up benefitting that individual provider--is the most effective or
efficient means of supporting such R&D.57 Such a mechanism would allow spending in a duplicative
way, because multiple providers would be able to expend R&D funds on similar or identical
enhancements and would not share the results with existing or potential competitors.58

52 See, e.g., 2004 TRS Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 12547-48, 189.
53 2010 VRS NOI, 25 FCC Rcd at 8603-04, 20.
54 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17389, 40.
55 Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. ("TDI"), National Association of the Deaf ("NAD"),
Association of Late-Deafened Adults, Inc. ("ALDA"), et al., Consumer Groups' TRS Policy Statement at 8 (Goal
3.1) (filed April 12, 2011) (Consumer Groups' TRS Policy Statement). This policy statement was submitted on
behalf of a coalition of consumer organizations, the composition of which overlaps with but is not identical to the
composition of the coalition that filed joint comments in response to the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM. See also TDI
and NAD, Ex Parte Letter (filed Oct. 17, 2012); Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on
Telecommunications Access (RERC-TA) PN Comments at 4 (identifying open research areas); but see CSDVRS
LLC (CSDVRS), Ex Parte Letter at 1 (filed Apr. 11, 2013) (CSDVRS Apr. 11, 2013 Ex Parte) (asserting that "the
open market has succeeded in developing a robust range of innovative products which work well in VRS").
56 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1), (d)(2).
57 2004 TRS Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 12547-48, 189-190.
58 Id. at 12548, 190 ("We believe that this conclusion best reconciles the Commission's interest in avoiding
placing undue burdens on the Interstate TRS Fund with the statutory mandate that the Commission's regulations `do
not discourage or impair the development of improved technology.'). We disagree that efficiently conducted
research and development of the sort contemplated here, on issues beyond the scope of what an individual VRS
provider finds necessary to meet our mandatory minimum standards, is "wasteful." See CSDVRS Apr. 11, 2013 Ex
Parte
at 1.
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22.
In order to ensure that R&D on TRS not directly related to provider compliance with our
mandatory minimum standards is conducted in an efficient manner, and that the results of that research
benefit the public, we direct the Managing Director, in consultation with the CTO, the Chief of OET, and
the Chief of CGB, to determine how best to structure and fund research designed to further the
Commission's multiple goals of ensuring that TRS is functionally equivalent to voice telephone services
and improving the efficiency and availability of TRS. We direct the Managing Director to enter into an
arrangement (or contract with the TRS Fund administrator to enter into an arrangement, if appropriate)
with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to conduct the research. After the arrangement is in place,
the CTO (or, in the absence of a CTO, the Chief of OET, or the OET Chief's designee), shall serve as the
Commission's primary point of contact with the NSF. In the accompanying FNPRM, we seek comment
on the appropriate budget and funding mechanism for research conducted pursuant to the arrangement.59
We further propose to restructure and redefine the TRS Advisory Council and seek comment on what role
the new advisory body should have with respect to providing input on the types of research it believes
should be funded under the arrangement.60

B.

Outreach

23.
For the reasons discussed below, we conclude that relying on iTRS providers to conduct
program outreach has not been effective and that an independent national outreach program is necessary
to educate the general public about IP Relay and VRS. We therefore revise our rules to initiate a pilot
national program to conduct TRS outreach, and as a result we will no longer allow IP Relay and VRS
providers to include the cost of outreach in their yearly cost submissions.
1.

TRS Broadband Pilot Program

24.
In the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM the Commission sought comment on two methods by
which the availability of VRS could be expanded. First, the Commission sought comment on a proposal
to implement a TRS Broadband Pilot Program (TRSBPP) that would offer discounted broadband to
potential VRS users who could not otherwise afford the costs of Internet access service "[t]o the extent
that the record shows that there is unaddressed demand for VRS."61 The data in our record are
insufficient to produce an accurate estimate of the number of Americans with hearing or speech
disabilities who are fluent enough in ASL to use VRS, or the subset of those individuals who do not
subscribe to VRS due to the expense of a broadband connection.62 Without better data on whether or to
what extent broadband affordability constrains the availability of VRS, and without relevant demographic
data on the number of Americans fluent in ASL, it is difficult to determine the demand or need for a
TRSBPP.63 We therefore decline to implement a TRSBPP at this time.

59 See infra section V.C.
60 See infra section V.F.
61 See 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17384, 28, 17426-39, Appendix A 1-46. Specifically, the
proposal sought to provide such assistance to "low-income deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and speech disabled
Americans who use ASL as their primary form of communication." Id. at 17438, Appendix A 44.
62 Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc. provided data regarding the size of the population of individuals living
in American who have hearing and speech disabilities. See Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc. FNPRM
Reply Comments at 2. That data did not, however, include figures regarding ASL fluency. See id.; see also Video
Relay Services Consumer Association (VRSCA) FNPRM Comments at 4 ("The number of individuals with hearing
or speech disabilities who use ASL and have access to broadband is unknown.").
63 The 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM's request for comment on the costs of implementing a TRSBPP generated no
response. See 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17438-39, Appendix A 45.
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25.
We will continue to work to ensure the availability and affordability of broadband to
individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and speech disabled not only to enable access to
VRS, but generally to facilitate integration into and participation in various aspects of society. To the
extent there are individuals with hearing or speech disabilities for whom difficulty in affording broadband
prevents their use of VRS, we are hopeful that the Commission's existing, wider-reaching broadband
adoption initiatives will offer avenues for obtaining the necessary Internet access service.64 In order to
promote awareness of these opportunities, we direct CGB to include within its national outreach plan
efforts to build such awareness of these ongoing broadband adoption initiatives for this community.65 In
addition, we note that our decision to implement a TRS user registration database in this Order will allow
us to identify the actual number of current VRS users, thereby helping us to properly assess the need for a
standalone TRSBPP in the future.
2.

National Outreach

a.

Background

26.
Second, the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM sought comment on a proposal to cease
reimbursing providers for marketing and outreach based on their individual expenses for these activities,
and to instead implement a one-time, fixed incentive payment to VRS providers from the TRS Fund for
each new-to-category VRS user they sign up.66 We decline to adopt new-to-category incentives for the
same reason we decline to implement a TRSBPP: given the available data, we cannot effectively
determine whether there are sufficient potential new-to-category VRS customers to warrant the creation
of such an incentive.67 In lieu of these approaches, we act to improve the efficiency of TRS outreach, to
ensure that potential TRS users and the general public are aware of the program and its role in providing
functionally equivalent service to individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or who have a
speech disability.

64 In 2011, the Commission created the Connect America Fund to help "make broadband available to homes,
businesses, and community anchor institutions in areas that do not, or would not otherwise, have broadband."
Establishing Just and Reasonable Rates for Local Exchange Carriers, High-Cost Universal Service Support,
Developing a Unified Intercarrier Compensation Regime, Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service, Lifeline
and Link-Up, Universal Service Reform Mobility Fund
, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, WC Docket Nos. 10-90, 07-135, 05-377, 03-109, GN Docket No. 09-51, CC Docket Nos. 01-92, 96-
45, WT Docket No. 10-208, 26 FCC Rcd 17663, 17673, 20 (2011). In January 2012, the Commission created a
universal service-funded broadband pilot program to provide discounted broadband service to low-income
Americans through the Lifeline program. Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization, Lifeline and Link Up,
Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service, Advancing Broadband Availability Through Digital Literacy
Training, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, WC Docket Nos. 11-42, 03-109, 12-23,
CC Docket No. 96-45,
27 FCC Rcd 6656, 6794, 322 (2012) (Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization
Order
). In March 2012, Chairman Genachowski announced a Public-Private Initiative through which the
Commission will "drive collaboration among government and private sector entities, including non-profit
organizations, on broadband-related national priorities," including broadband adoption goals outlined in the National
Broadband Plan. Press Release, Federal Communications Commission, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski
Announces Public-Private Initiative to Help Drive FCC Broadband Agenda
(Mar. 7, 2012), available at
http://www.fcc.gov/document/chairman-genachowski-announces-public-private-initiative-broadband. This
Initiative builds on ongoing efforts to foster broadband adoption through Connect to Compete, a program that,
through the collaboration of government and private-sector (including non-profit) organizations, is now providing
digital literacy and low-cost broadband offerings. Id.; see also Our Mission,
http://www.connect2compete.org/about-us (last visited Mar. 1, 2013).
65 See infra section II.B.2.
66 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 17385, 31.
67 See supra section II.B.21.
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27.
The Commission's rules currently require all common carriers to provide the public with
information to ensure that "callers in their service areas are aware of the availability and use of all forms
of TRS."68 While this obligation is on common carriers, and not directly on all TRS providers, outreach
on TRS has been an important component of this program since the Commission's adoption of TRS rules
in 1991.69 At that time, TRS was a relatively novel service, unknown to most of the American public.
Although various states had initiated their own TRS programs, the state programs were generally limited
in scope, and little had been done to make either potential TRS users or the general public aware of their
existence. The Commission sought to correct this, to ensure that both the general public and people who
were deaf, hard of hearing, or speech disabled gained sufficient familiarity with TRS to meet Congress's
goal of making available, to the extent possible and in the most efficient manner, a nationwide relay
service that was functionally equivalent to conventional voice telephone services.
28.
Notwithstanding various state efforts to implement this directive,70 the Commission and
various stakeholders repeatedly have raised concerns about the effectiveness of outreach efforts on the
national level, and the extent to which providers have characterized as "outreach" actions that would
better be described as "branded marketing," both for TRS in general and for VRS in particular.71 The
failure to effectively educate the general public about the nature of TRS calls has had a negative effect on
consumers' ability to use these services, as TRS calls are often rejected, frequently because of mistaken
assumptions about their purpose.72 At various times the Commission has had to remind merchants who

68 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(3) ("Public access to information").
69 See Telecommunications Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities and the Americans with
Disabilities Act,
CC Docket No. 90-571, Report and Order and Request for Comments, 6 FCC Rcd 4657, 4663, 28
(1991) (TRS I) (adopting the outreach requirement).
70 For example, in the 1990s, Maryland's outreach campaign included television advertisements and other targeted
efforts to inform businesses about the need to accept relay calls. See, e.g., Comment by Gil Becker, Maryland
Department of Management and Budget (MD DBM), FCC Public Forum on 711 Access to Telecommunications
Relay Services, CC Docket No. 92-105 (Sep. 8, 1999).
71 For example, when it initially approved VRS as a reimbursable form of TRS, the Commission concluded that its
outreach rule "has not effectively ensured that callers are aware of TRS, and that the lack of awareness adversely
affects the quality of TRS," as evidenced by the "alarming number of hang-ups by people receiving the TRS call
who are not familiar with, and do not understand, the service." 2000 TRS Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 5161-62, 104. At
the time, TRS users reported finding it difficult to communicate with callers who were unaware of the existence of
TRS, noting in particular the reluctance of employers to use this service for business transactions. Id. The
Commission reiterated its concerns about the failure of existing outreach measures to effectively inform the general
public about TRS in 2003. Second Improved TRS Order & NPRM, 18 FCC Rcd at 12441-42, 130-133. In the
2004 TRS Order, the Commission again noted, in response to a recommendation from its Consumer Advisory
Committee (CAC), that outreach "is an issue of recurring and serious importance for TRS users . . . [t]hose who rely
on TRS for access to the nation's telephone system, and thereby for access to family, friends, businesses, . . . gain
little from the mandate of Title IV if persons receiving a TRS call do not understand what a relay call is and
therefore do not take the call, or if persons desiring to call a person with a hearing or speech disability do not know
that this can easily be accomplished through TRS. . . ." 2004 TRS Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 12514, 95. Yet again, in
2006, the Commission expressed frustration with the manner in which provider-conducted outreach was occurring,
and tentatively concluded that provider-specific "branded" marketing was inappropriate for compensation, because
"the Fund should not be used to promote any particular provider's service over the service of competing providers,
or to encourage consumers to switch providers." Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech
Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities,
Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, CG Docket
No. 13-123, 21 FCC Rcd 8379, 8395, 36 (2006) (2006 TRS Cost Recovery FNPRM).
72 For example, in 2003, the CAC reported that many members of the public associated TRS calls with
telemarketing-type calls, and that as much as 10 percent of relay calls result in "hang-ups . . . from a lack of
(continued...)
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accept telephone orders that they are prohibited from hanging up on calls made through TRS because of
their obligation under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 to provide people with disabilities with
access to their services.73 In light of these concerns, on several occasions, the Commission sought
comment on whether to create a coordinated national outreach effort.74 Commenters generally were
supportive of a migration to such a national campaign.75 However, the Commission in the past declined
to take such action, in part because it believed that it was more appropriate for state TRS programs and
providers to take "the lead in providing meaningful outreach" at a time when the majority of TRS calls
were intrastate.76 In addition, on at least one occasion, the Commission noted that before shifting
outreach efforts to a national program, it needed to balance the amount of money needed from the TRS
Fund for such a campaign with the Commission's efforts "to more precisely define and manage the costs
that determine the compensation rates from the TRS Fund in an effort to safeguard the integrity of the
Fund," taking into consideration other outreach costs already supported by the Fund.77
(Continued from previous page)
understanding of the service." CAC Letter of Recommendation, CG Docket No. 03-123 (filed Dec. 15, 2003) (CAC
Letter
).
73 See e.g., FCC Alerts Public and Merchants of Fraudulent Credit Card Purchases Through Internet Protocol (IP)
Relay Service, a Form of Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS)
, Public Notice, 22 FCC Rcd 8554 (2007);
Telecommunications Relay Service (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 Rcd 14717 (2005)
(reminding businesses and other members of the general public who request TRS providers to block their telephone
numbers, that TRS providers cannot refuse to make an outbound call requested by a TRS user, because it is
"fundamentally inconsistent with . . . the functional equivalency principle . . . for TRS providers to decline to make
the outbound call requested by a TRS user, even if the called party has requested that the relay provider not make
relay calls to his or her number"). Misuse of Internet Protocol (IP) Relay Service, First Report and Order, CG
Docket Nos. 12-38 & 03-123, 27 FCC Rcd 7866, 7867, 2 (2012) (2012 IP Relay Misuse Order) (noting that misuse
of IP Relay by fraudsters has caused many merchants to reject TRS calls).
74 For example, in a 2000 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the Commission proposed to establish "a nationwide
awareness campaign that would reach potential TRS users, consumers with disabilities, senior citizens, speech-to-
speech users, and the general public. 2000 TRS Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 5195, 134. The Commission again sought
comment on implementing a national outreach program in 2003. Second Improved TRS Order & NPRM, 18 FCC
Rcd at 12441-42, 130-133. More recently, in the 2010 VRS NOI, the Commission queried whether it should
impose definitional safeguards or caps on funded outreach activities or whether it would be more effective to
conduct a TRS outreach program through a coordinated, nationwide effort, in place of individual provider efforts.
2010 VRS NOI, 25 FCC Rcd at 8603, 19. This suggestion was made in response to comments submitted by
various parties that provider-sponsored outreach was too similar to marketing, and that only the Commission or the
Fund administrator would be sufficiently neutral to effectively conduct an outreach program.
75 See e.g., 2000 TRS Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 5195, 134 (noting commenters' support for a nationwide outreach
effort to more effectively reach and educate consumers and the general public about TRS); 2004 TRS Order, 19 FCC
Rcd at 12513, 91 (noting consumer group's view that "despite the Commission's exhortations for carriers to
voluntarily engage in outreach, adequate successful outreach is not occurring"), n. 269 (noting, among other
favorable comments, a state program administrator's assertion that a national non-branded outreach effort would
allow for consistency in providing information to the general public, and benefit all relay users), 12513-14, 92
(noting commenter's recommendation that Commission procure vendors for a coordinated and comprehensive
outreach program to promote universal access to all forms of TRS and to avoid duplication occurring across state
programs); CAC Letter (urging adoption of a "coordinated information and outreach program" funded by monies
approved by the Commission).
76 2004 TRS Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 12515, 97.
77 Id.
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29.
In the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, the Commission reiterated the importance of
providing outreach to the hearing community, again noting the refusal of some businesses to accept relay
calls, perhaps due to a failure to understand the nature of TRS.78 Adding that it did not believe that
relying on VRS providers to conduct effective outreach had been effective, the Commission sought
comment on whether to establish an independent outreach program to educate the general public about
TRS, including VRS.79 In addition, the Commission again sought comment on whether to terminate
reimbursement for marketing and outreach activities based on individual provider expenses,80 noting that
the appropriateness of certain marketing and outreach costs claimed by providers has been the source of
controversy.81 Specifically, the Commission explained that providers have had a greater incentive to
target existing VRS users than to focus outreach either on "new-to-category users," i.e., potential VRS
users that are not yet registered with any provider as a VRS user, or on members of the general public.82
30.
The Commission also sought comment on whether a national outreach program should be
conducted specifically by the Commission, a specialized contractor, consumer organizations, state and
local governments, or some other entity or combination of entities.83 Noting that the Commission had
recently authorized the expenditure of $500,000 annually from the TRS Fund to allow entities that have
significant experience with and expertise in working with the deaf-blind community to conduct outreach
to deaf-blind individuals to make them aware of the availability of specialized CPE to low-income
individuals who are deaf-blind, the Commission inquired whether that effort would serve as a model for
VRS.84
b.

Discussion

31.
In light of our continued concerns regarding the effectiveness of IP Relay and VRS
providers' outreach efforts, we conclude that an iTRS National Outreach Program (iTRS-NOP)85 that
does not rely on the efforts of individual IP Relay and VRS providers is necessary and appropriate to
achieve the purposes of section 225 of the Act; that is, to fulfill Congress's intent to make TRS available

78 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17405-06, 90.
79 Id.
80 Id. at 17386, 33. The Commission further asked about ways to provide incentives for providers to ensure,
among other things, that VRS is available to more potential users, and to build familiarity about VRS within the
general public. Id., 32. Specifically, the Commission asked whether to provide incentive payments for providers
to direct their promotional activities at the recruitment of new-to-category VRS consumers in conjunction with a
possible transition to a per-user rate methodology. Id., 33. Because we have declined to adopt this rate
mechanism, we no longer consider such an incentive program to be necessary.
81 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17385-86, 31, citing 2007 TRS Rate Methodology Order, 22 FCC
Rcd at 20175-76, 92-96; VRS Call Practices R&O, 26 FCC Rcd at 5575-76, 61-63; Structure and Practices of
the Video Relay Service Program
, Declaratory Ruling, CG Docket No. 10-51, 25 FCC Rcd 1868, 1869-70, 3-5
(2010) (2010 VRS Declaratory Ruling).
82 Id.
83 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17405-06, 90.
84 Id. at 17406, 90, citing Implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility
Act of 2010, Section 105, Relay Services for Deaf-Blind Individuals
, Report and Order, CG Docket No. 10-210, 26
FCC Rcd 5640, 5675-76, 80 (2011) (NDBEDP Pilot Program Order).
85 Although the name of this program uses the term "iTRS," we again clarify that for the time being, the focus of this
program will be only on two forms of Internet-based TRS, namely IP Relay and VRS.
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to the extent possible and in the most efficient manner.86 The vast majority of iTRS Fund monies
expended for "outreach" to date appears to have been devoted to individual branded marketing
campaigns, which--rather than inform the general public about the nature and functions of relay services
or even attract new-to-category users--focus primarily on efforts to win back TRS users from
competitors, often in conjunction with expensive and enticing giveaways of free products, such as iPads
and TV sets.87 As a consequence, outreach as conducted by individual providers continues to be
ineffective as a means to effectively educate the general public about the purpose and functions of TRS.88
Additionally, as noted in the 2010 VRS NOI, it remains difficult to determine the extent to which any
outreach expenditures by iTRS providers that have been directed to the general public have overlapped
with one another, and therefore, the extent to which the funds devoted for this purpose have been
reasonable or excessive.89 Accordingly, we believe that section 225's directive for the Commission to
prescribe regulations that ensure relay services are "available . . . in the most efficient manner"90 both
makes it appropriate to take new steps to better educate the public about the purpose and functions of
TRS, and provides us with sufficient authority to direct that the iTRS-NOP be funded for this purpose
from TRS contributions as a necessary cost caused by TRS.91

86 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3), (b)(1). We include within this nationwide effort outreach for IP Relay along with VRS, in
response to the ongoing resistance of retailers to accept IP Relay calls--resulting from individuals without hearing
or speech disabilities calling merchants to place orders using fake, stolen, or otherwise invalid credit cards. See
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
, CG Docket No. 03-123,
Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 21 FCC Rcd 5478 (2006) (2006 IP Relay Misuse FNPRM); 2012 IP Relay
Misuse Order
, 27 FCC Rcd 7866. Because similar resistance by retailers or other called parties has not come to the
Commission's attention with respect to IP CTS, and because the Commission has an open proceeding on IP CTS
issues, at this time we will reserve any decision on how to handle the provision and financing of outreach for IP
CTS. See Misuse of Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service; Telecommunications Relay Services and
Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CG Docket Nos. 13-24, 03-123,
Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 28 FCC Rcd 703 (2013) (IP CTS Interim Rules Order).
87 This particularly has been the case with respect to VRS "outreach." See, e.g. Purple Communications, Inc.
(Purple) FNPRM Comments at 21, 28; CSDVRS, Ex Parte Letter (filed Aug. 27, 2012) (CSDVRS Aug. 27, 2012 Ex
Parte
).
88 See, e.g., Washington Relay, Don't Hang Up Washington, http://www.washingtonrelay.com/hangup.html (last
visited March 5, 2013); Alaska Relay, Don't Hang Up!, http://www.akrelay.com/hangup.aspx (last visited March 5,
2013); New York Relay, Please, Don't Hang Up, http://www.nyrelay.com/donthangup.htm (last visited March 5,
2013); NAD, Message to Businesses: Don't Hang Up!, http://www.nad.org/issues/telephone-and-relay-
services/relay-services/message-businesses-dont-hang (last visited March 5, 2013). See also Settlement Agreement
between the United States of America and Wells Fargo & Company under the Americans with Disabilities Act
, DJ #
202-11-239, found at http://www.ada.gov/wells_fargo/wells_fargo_settle.htm. Wells Fargo acknowledged that,
fearful of fraudulent activities taking place via the relay program, some of its call centers stopped accepting calls
made through relay services. Thus, we do not agree that "the VRS industry does [outreach] very well today."
CSDVRS Apr. 11, 2013 Ex Parte at 2.
89 2010 VRS NOI, 25 FCC Rcd at 8603, 17; see also 2006 TRS Cost Recovery FNPRM, 21 FCC Rcd at 8394-95,
36 (suggesting that marketing or outreach campaigns conducted by each provider "may largely be duplicative and
directed at the same audience").
90 See 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1) (directing the Commission to "ensure that . . . telecommunications relay services are
available, to the extent possible and in the most efficient manner . . . ."), (d)(1) (directing the Commission to
"prescribe regulations to implement this section").
91 We see less need to handle outreach for PSTN-based relay services (i.e., traditional TRS, CTS, and STS) at the
national level because such outreach is addressed by, tailored to, and financed by individual states through their
contracts with TRS providers. See 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(3) (jurisdictional separation of TRS costs caused by interstate
(continued...)
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32.
As the Commission has stated previously, the Commission intended that TRS outreach
"mak[e] the public aware of the use and availability of TRS generally and encourag[e] hearing persons
and merchants to stay on the line and accept relay calls."92 According to the TRS Policy Statement
submitted by the Consumer Groups, however, countless Americans on fixed incomes may not be aware of
resources for accessing TRS, or the capabilities and features that TRS has to offer.93 Consumer Groups
note that "[r]elay services are . . . just as useful and critically important for those with or without hearing
and speech disabilities," and so TRS promotional activities should acquaint the public and private sectors,
including employers, educational institutions, and businesses, about TRS to "build familiarity and
acceptance of TRS nationwide."94 The iTRS-NOP will achieve these objectives by educating merchants
and other businesses in a neutral fashion about the importance of accepting legitimate relay calls95 and by
eliminating duplicative outreach efforts by multiple providers. The record in this proceeding-- as well as
the records developed in various TRS proceedings preceding this one-- provides considerable support for
the Commission to establish a program to handle and coordinate non-branded national outreach and
education for IP Relay and VRS, and to support such outreach efforts with monies from the Fund.96
33.
We believe that our first efforts to coordinate IP Relay and VRS outreach on a
nationwide basis are best carried out through a pilot program of limited duration and that the outreach
directives under the NDBEDP provide a useful model for such efforts.97 The Commission designated a
(Continued from previous page)
versus intrastate services). We continue to believe that states are best equipped to handle outreach in their localities
through their individual programs. In addition, unlike in the iTRS market, there are fewer or no incentives for
providers operating under state programs to use outreach funds for branded marketing campaigns and other
marketing efforts to win back customers because all states but one (California) have contracted with a single TRS
vendor.
92 2006 TRS Cost Recovery FNPRM, 21 FCC Rcd at 8394-95, 36; 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(3) ("Public access to
information").
93 Consumer Groups' TRS Policy Statement at 4.
94 Id. at 4, 8 (Objective 2.2).
95 To the extent that merchants have fallen prey to fraudulent schemes that have taken advantage of the anonymity of
certain forms of iTRS, such national outreach efforts can also help to educate these businesses on ways to prevent
them from becoming victims of such misuse.
96 Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network, TDI, NAD, ALDA, California Coalition of Agencies
Serving Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc., American Speech-Language Hearing Association, Registry of Interpreters
for the Deaf, Deaf Seniors of America, National Black Deaf Advocates, Inc., Alexander Graham Bell Association
for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (Consumer Groups) FNPRM Comments at 34 (recommending that "the
Commission contract a third-party unaffiliated with any VRS provider to engage in education and outreach activities
and to fund the activities from the Interstate TRS Fund," and "to build trust and confidence for all businesses to use
relay service for transactions" and citing Consumer Groups' TRS Policy Statement (Objective 2.6)); CSDVRS
FNPRM Comments at 47 ("the FCC should sponsor a nationwide outreach campaign to inform the public that relay
calls are a legitimate means for deaf and hard of hearing persons to use telecommunications services, that they are
not necessarily telemarketing calls, and that businesses must accept such calls"). Even parties who advocate for
continued funding support for individual provider outreach see a benefit to a coordinated approach that will inform
the public more generally about the availability and use of VRS. See e.g., Purple FNPRM Comments at 21
(recommending an outreach campaign that includes televised public service announcements to educate the nation
about the availability of iTRS and to remind the public not to hang up on relay calls); Sorenson Communications,
Inc. (Sorenson) FNPRM Reply Comments at 57-58 (supporting creation of an independent outreach entity to
educate the general public, though claiming that VRS providers are best situated permitted to conduct outreach to
users who have disabilities).
97 See generally 47 C.F.R. 64.610, implementing 47 U.S.C. 620.
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portion of funding appropriated for implementation of the NDBEDP to support an independent, third
party entity with significant experience with and expertise in working with the deaf-blind community to
inform potential program users, service providers, and the general public about the NDBEDP.98
34.
Accordingly, for each of the next two Fund years, with an option to extend the program
for one additional year, we direct the TRS Fund administrator to set aside a portion of the TRS Fund, as
discussed below, to be available for VRS outreach. We direct the Managing Director, in consultation
with the Chief of CGB, to (i) select one or more iTRS Outreach Coordinators to conduct and coordinate
IP Relay and VRS outreach nationwide and be compensated through the Fund or (ii) contract with the
TRS Fund administrator to enter into such arrangements under objectives and factors determined by the
Managing Director in consultation with the Chief of CGB. The iTRS Outreach Coordinators shall not be
affiliated with any iTRS provider and shall disseminate non-branded information to potential new-to-
category users and to the general public about IP Relay and VRS, their purposes and benefits, and how to
access and use these services. We direct CGB to oversee outreach activities, which may include, but are
not limited to:
Consulting with consumer groups, IP Relay and VRS providers, the TRS Fund administrator,
other TRS stakeholders, and other iTRS Outreach Coordinators, if any;
Establishing clear and concise messaging about the purposes, functions, and benefits of IP
Relay and VRS;
Educating the deaf, hard of hearing, and speech disability consumers about the broadband
adoption programs available to low-income families without access to broadband and VRS;
Determining media outlets and other appropriate avenues for providing the general public and
potential new-to-category subscribers with information about IP Relay and VRS;
Preparing for and arranging for publication, press releases, announcements, digital postcards,
newsletters, and media spots about IP Relay and VRS that are directed to retailers and other
businesses, including trade associations;
Creating electronic and media tool kits that include samples of the materials listed in the
previous bullet, and which may also include templates, all of which will be for the purpose of
facilitating the preparation and distribution of such materials by consumer and industry
associations, governmental entities, and other TRS stakeholders;
Providing materials to local, state, and national governmental agencies on the purposes,
functions, and benefits of IP Relay and VRS; and
Exploring opportunities to partner and collaborate with other entities to disseminate
information about IP Relay and VRS.
35.
The iTRS Outreach Coordinator(s) will be expected to submit periodic reports to the
Managing Director and the Chief of CGB on the measures taken pursuant to the directives above. In
addition, the iTRS Outreach Coordinator(s) will be expected to work with and assist the Chief of CGB
and Managing Director, as appropriate, to measure and report on the effectiveness of the outreach efforts
taken under the iTRS-NOP.

98 The Commission has directed funding in the amount of $500,000 for a national outreach campaign (out of the
overall amount of $10 million annually allocated for the NDBEDP) from the TRS Fund during each year of the pilot
program. See NDBEDP Pilot Program Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 5675-76, 80; Perkins School for the Blind to
Conduct National Outreach for the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program
, CG Docket No. 10-210,
Public Notice, 27 FCC Rcd 6143 (2012).
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36.
The iTRS Outreach Coordinator(s) selected to conduct such outreach must have
experience in conducting nationwide promotional and informational programs and experience with and
expertise in working with the deaf, hard of hearing and speech disability communities. We direct the
Chief of CGB, in consultation with the Managing Director, to further define the selection criteria and the
nature and scope of the IP Relay and VRS outreach program. In addition, we direct the Chief of CGB, in
consultation with the Managing Director, to assess the reasonableness and appropriateness of individual
outreach expenses proposed by the selected iTRS Outreach Coordinator(s).
37.
We believe that in the first year, a maximum expenditure of $2 million is reasonable and
sufficient funding for the iTRS-NOP. We note that because this amount is only a fraction of the amounts
spent in recent years on provider outreach activities, the action we take today will achieve greater
efficiency in making TRS available and usable by more Americans. For example, from 2010-2012, VRS
providers reported spending more than $80 million on outreach.99 Recognizing that these provider
expenditures probably involved substantial overlap and duplication of effort on the part of the providers,
and were, in large part, devoted to branded marketing activities, we believe it is reasonable to expect that
a far more effective educational impact can be achieved by the careful allocation and expenditure of $2
million to an independent entity or entities.100
38.
Because of the novel nature of these national outreach efforts, we establish a two-year
pilot program that we may extend for up to an additional one year, for a total of three years. We are
hopeful that the experience gained during this pilot program will help inform future Commission action to
establish a permanent national outreach program for IP Relay and VRS, and potentially other forms of
iTRS.101 We expect that this 24- to 36-month period will give the Commission sufficient time to conduct
and analyze the effectiveness of the pilot program, and determine next steps to make such program
permanent, or take such other actions that are necessary to ensure effective education on IP Relay and
VRS to the American public. In determining such next steps, we will consider the extent to which the

99 See 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1). We note that the $2 million allocated for the pilot program is about 7 percent of the
roughly $28 million reportedly spent in Fund year 2012 on compensable outreach activities by iTRS providers. The
approximate amount reportedly spent on outreach by iTRS providers is derived as follows. Providers' projected
costs of VRS outreach for 2012 averaged $0.2594 per minute. See Rolka Loube Saltzer Associates, LLC (RLSA),
Supplemental Filing of the Telecommunications Relay Services Administrator Regarding Reasonable Rates for VRS
Service, CG Docket Nos. 03-123, 10-51, at 3, Table 2 (filed October 15, 2012) (2012 VRS Rate Filing). With 2011-
2012 VRS demand projected to be 105,971,457 minutes and 2012-13 VRS demand projected to be 110,950,144
minutes, a rough estimate of 2012 VRS demand would be the average of those two figures, or 108,460,800.5
minutes. See RLSA, Interstate Telecommunications Relay Services Fund Payment Formula and Fund Size
Estimate, CG Docket No. 03-123, Exhibit 2 (filed April 30, 2012) (2012 TRS Rate Filing). Multiplying the
projected 2012 VRS outreach cost of $0.2594 per minute by 2012 VRS demand of 108,460,800.5 minutes yields
$28,134,732, or about $28 million. We note, however, that these are the amounts reported by VRS providers; it is
unclear to what extent such expenditures actually resulted in the type of outreach activities contemplated by our
rules. In addition to costs associated with outreach, VRS providers reported spending over $15 million on
marketing, advertising and free equipment. 2012 VRS Rate Filing at 3, Table 2, 5, Table 5; 2012 TRS Rate Filing,
Exhibit 2.
100 While $2 million is more than the amount allocated for the NDBEDP, that program is specifically targeted to a
discrete group of individuals and the $500,000 for outreach is apportioned from a very restricted funding pool of $10
million that must be divided among 53 certified local equipment distribution programs. We believe that a greater
amount is necessary and appropriate in this case, in order to effectively reach not only potential iTRS subscribers but
also retailers and other segments of the general public that are still not acquainted with IP Relay and VRS.
101 Among other things, we hope to develop a practical understanding of how to best apply the funding that we
allocate under this program for the intended program goals.
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iTRS-NOP is meeting our goals of ensuring that all Americans are familiar with the TRS program, and
increasing the likelihood that TRS calls are accepted by third parties.
39.
We recognize that the creation of the iTRS-NOP will impose costs that are covered by
the TRS Fund, and we believe that the resultant improvement in outreach, which will better acquaint the
American public with the use and function of IP Relay and VRS in a more efficient manner, justifies the
imposition of these costs. We also note that the action we take today in directing the selection of iTRS
Outreach Coordinator(s) does not prohibit IP Relay or VRS providers from otherwise providing the
public with information about their individual relay service features, but also note that the cost of such
efforts may no longer be included in their cost submissions used to determine per minute compensation
for IP Relay and VRS as "outreach" costs.102 In addition, the Commission will consider using its
Accessibility Clearinghouse, created pursuant to the CVAA, as a central repository for providers who
wish to provide information about any such features designed to address specific communication needs.103

C.

Interoperability and Portability Requirements

40.
In this section, we act to improve the effectiveness of our interoperability and portability
rules. These rules, first adopted in 2006, are intended to (i) allow VRS users to make and receive calls
through any VRS provider, and to choose a different default provider,104 without changing the VRS
access technology they use to place calls, and (ii) ensure that VRS users can make point-to-point calls to
all other VRS users, irrespective of the default provider of the calling and called party.105 Providers also
must ensure that videophone equipment that they distribute retains certain, but not all, features when a
user ports her number to a new default provider.106 For example, a default provider that furnishes
videophone equipment to a consumer need not ensure that all the videophone equipment's "enhanced

102 Several providers have expressed an interest in providing information about their products and services to the
public. See, e.g., CSDVRS FNPRM Comments at 22 (marketing and outreach are necessary to provide the public
with information on services and product availability of individual providers); Purple FNPRM Comments at 20 (the
failure to fund provider marketing and outreach is counterintuitive to a competitive process). Nor does the action we
take today prohibit states from conducting their own outreach programs or from directing outreach by their
contracting providers with respect to their state-operated PSTN-based TRS.
103 47 U.S.C. 618(d). The Accessibility Clearinghouse is a web-based repository of information about accessibility
solutions for telecommunications and advanced communications services and equipment. The Commission
launched its Accessibility Clearinghouse, available at http://apps.fcc.gov/accessibilityclearinghouse/index.html, in
October 2011.
104 Every VRS provider is required to provide its users with the capability to register with that VRS provider as a
"default provider." First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 11609, 42. Such registration is
required: (1) to allow the VRS provider to take steps to associate the VRS user's telephone number with their IP
address to allow for the routing and completion of calls; (2) to facilitate the provision of 911 service; and (3) to
facilitate the implementation of appropriate network security measures. Id.
105 47 C.F.R. 64.611(e); Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with
Hearing and Speech Disabilities; E911 Requirements for IP-Enabled Service Providers
, CG Docket No. 03-123, CC
Docket No. 98-67, WC Docket No. 05-196, Second Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration, 24 FCC Rcd.
791, 818-20, 60-64 (2008) (Second Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order); see generally VRS Interoperability
Declaratory Ruling
, 21 FCC Rcd 5442. A point-to-point call is one where TRS equipment is used by individuals
with speech or hearing disabilities to communicate directly with each other, without the assistance of an interpreter.
106 See First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 11615, 60; Second Internet-Based TRS
Numbering Order
, 24 FCC Rcd at 822, 68; 47 C.F.R. 64.611(c)(1). This requirement was waived until July 1,
2010. See Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and
Speech Disabilities, E911 Requirements for IP-Enabled Service Providers, Structure and Practices of the Video
Relay Service Program,
CG Docket Nos. 03-123, 10-51, WC Docket No. 05-196, Order, 25 FCC Rcd 3331 (2010).
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features" can be used when the consumer ports the number to and uses the videophone equipment with
the new provider.107
41.
The Commission noted in the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM that despite encouragement for
VRS providers "to work together to develop systems and standards that will facilitate compliance with
our rules,"108 the VRS industry has not fully achieved the standardization needed for full interoperability
and portability.109 The Commission further noted that the record indicates that ineffective interoperability
rules appeared to be hindering competition between VRS providers and frustrating VRS users' access to
off-the-shelf VRS access technology.110 The Commission therefore sought comment in the 2011 VRS
Reform FNPRM
"on the effectiveness of our current interoperability and portability requirements, and the
role that existing VRS access technology standards--or the lack thereof--may play in frustrating the
effectiveness of those requirements."111
42.
The record uniformly supports the need for action to improve the effectiveness of our
interoperability and portability requirements.112 As an initial step, we codify the existing interoperability
and portability requirements in new section 64.621 of our rules.113 In the following sections, we (i) adopt
the proposal from the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM to clarify the scope of providers' interoperability and
portability obligations by eliminating use of the term "CPE" in the iTRS context in favor of "iTRS access
technology;" (ii) take steps to support the development of voluntary, consensus standards to facilitate
interoperability and portability; and (iii) direct that a "VRS access technology reference platform" be
developed to provide a benchmark for interoperability.114

107 We note that the Commission previously rejected a request that the Commission require "a default provider that
furnishes CPE to a consumer must ensure that the CPE's enhanced features (e.g., missed call list, speed dial list) can
be used by the consumer if the consumer ports his or her number to a new default provider and uses the CPE with
the new default provider," on the grounds that "[p]roviders may offer such features on a competitive basis, which
will encourage innovation and competition." Second Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, 24 FCC Rcd at 819-20,
63. Our actions today do not disturb this prior decision, but instead are designed to ensure that our existing
interoperability and portability requirements are fully implemented and effective. See generally Sorenson FNPRM
Reply Comments at 8-32 (arguing that other commenters appear to be requesting an expansion of the
interoperability and portability rules). As explained in paragraph 50 below, we do require that standards for address
book and speed dial list portability be developed.
108 See Second Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, 24 FCC Rcd at 822, 68.
109 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17451-54, Appendix B 11-18.
110 Id. at 17378, 15.
111 Id. at 17380, 18.
112 See, e.g., Purple FNPRM Comments at 13 ("[o]pen technical standards are necessary for marketplace balance");
Sorenson FNPRM Comments at 63 ("a lack of standards has made it impossible for any provider fully to meet them,
and frustrated the effectiveness of those requirements"); Convo Communications, LLC (Convo) PN Comments at
18, n. 46 ("VRS interoperability policy is sufficiently vague that it has proven difficult for the Commission to timely
enforce").
113 See Appendix A.
114 CSDVRS' proposed "default provider selection" is, at best, premature pending completion of our actions to
improve the effectiveness of our interoperability and portability rules. See CSDVRS Apr. 11, 2013 Ex Parte at 2
(urging the Commission to require VRS providers "to sustain all features and functions of CPEs even when the
number associated with the CPE is ported or the call routed to a different provider").
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43.
The Commission adopted interoperability and portability requirements to ensure that TRS
is provided in a functionally equivalent manner,115 and our actions to improve the effectiveness of those
requirements are likewise grounded in section 225 of the Act.116 Our actions also will improve the
availability of VRS by ensuring that consumers have ready access to all VRS providers without the need
to switch equipment.117 Further, the development of interoperability and portability standards and the
availability of a VRS access technology reference platform will improve the efficiency of the program by
making it far easier for providers to design VRS access technologies to the appropriate standard, and to
test their compliance with those standards prior to deployment.
44.
Although we recognize that these actions, particularly the development and deployment
of the VRS access technology reference platform, will impose costs to be covered by the TRS Fund, we
believe that the resultant improvement in functional equivalence and VRS availability for consumers, ease
of compliance by providers, and overall efficiency in the operation of the TRS program justifies these
imposition of these costs.
1.

Defining iTRS Access Technologies

45.
We adopt the proposal from the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM to clarify the scope of
providers' interoperability and portability obligations by eliminating use of the term "CPE" in the iTRS
context in favor of "iTRS access technology." The Commission in the Internet-based TRS Numbering
Order
used the defined term "CPE" to describe "TRS customer premises equipment," or the technology
used to access Internet-based TRS.118 The Commission proposed in the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM to
amend sections 64.605 and 64.611 of its rules119 by replacing the term "CPE" where it appears with the
term "iTRS access technology."120 The Commission further proposed to define "iTRS access
technology" as "any equipment, software, or other technology issued, leased, or provided by an Internet-
based TRS provider that can be used to make or receive an Internet-based TRS call." Under this
definition, any software, hardware, or other technology issued, leased, or otherwise provided to VRS or IP
Relay users by Internet-based TRS providers, including "provider distributed equipment" and "provider
based software," whether used alone or in conjunction with "off-the-shelf software and hardware," would
qualify as "iTRS access technology." Given the potential differential treatment of VRS and IP Relay
proposed by the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, the Commission further proposed to refer separately to iTRS
access technology as "VRS access technology" and "IP Relay access technology" where appropriate.
Only Purple responded to this proposal with specificity, stating that it agreed with the Commission's
proposal, and suggesting that the Commission further divide "iTRS Access Technology" into four sub-
categories.121
46.
We adopt the original proposal, with one modification. "iTRS access technology" will be
defined as "any equipment, software, or other technology issued, leased, or otherwise provided by an
Internet-based TRS provider that can be used to make and receive an Internet-based TRS call" to make

115 See also VRS Interoperability Declaratory Ruling, 21 FCC Rcd at 5454, 29 (stating that the failure to provide
interoperability is "inconsistent with the functional equivalency mandate, the public interest, and the TRS regime as
intended by Congress"); 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17378-80, 16-17.
116 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3).
117 Id. 225(b)(1); VRS Interoperability Declaratory Ruling, 21 FCC Rcd at 5455, 31-32.
118 First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 11614, 55.
119 47 C.F.R. 64.605, 64.611.
120 See 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17389-90, 41.
121 Purple FNPRM Comments at 14.
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clear that iTRS access technologies must provide both inbound and outbound functionality.122 This
modification is consistent with existing Commission policies which require that Internet-based TRS users
have the ability to make and receive calls.123 Given the differential treatment of VRS and IP Relay, we
further adopt the proposal to refer separately to iTRS access technology as "VRS access technology" and
"IP Relay access technology" where appropriate, but decline to further disaggregate iTRS access
technology into further sub-categories of iTRS access technology at this time.
2.

Promoting Standards to Improve Interoperability and Portability

47.
The Commission previously has noted the importance of developing voluntary,
consensus interoperability and portability standards as a means for meeting the Commission's policy
objectives for VRS,124 and noted that "that this work would best be undertaken by VRS providers and
equipment suppliers under the umbrella of an existing organization open to such members and dedicated
to interoperability, in which a Working Group focused on VRS can be established."125
48.
There is universal support in the record for the development of voluntary, consensus
standards to facilitate interoperability and portability.126 Commenters specifically urge the Commission
to support the work being conducted by the SIP Forum's VRS Task Group.127 We note with favor the
progress being made under the auspices of the SIP Forum, and believe the public interest is best served by
allowing that process to continue. We also continue to believe that the Commission should play the role
of an active observer in this process.128 We therefore direct the CTO and the Chief of OET, in
consultation with the Chief of CGB, to coordinate Commission support of and participation in that
process in order to ensure the timely development of voluntary, consensus standards to facilitate
interoperability and portability.129

122 Calls that are completed using a technology that does not provide both inbound and outbound functionality are
not compensable from the TRS Fund.
123 See First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 11593, 2.
124 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17462-3, Appendix D 2-8.
125 Id. at 17464, Appendix D 21.
126 See generally, e.g., Sorenson, Ex Parte Letter (filed Feb. 12, 2012) (Sorenson Feb. 12, 2012 Ex Parte); ASL
Services Holdings, LLC (ASL Services Holdings) FNPRM Comments at 15; CSDVRS FNPRM Comments at 39;
Purple FNPRM Comments at 16; Sorenson FNPRM Comments at 8; Consumer Groups FNPRM Reply Comments
at 4-5; Convo FNPRM Reply Comments at 12-13.
127 See, e.g., Sorenson, Ex Parte Letter (filed July 31, 2012) (Sorenson July 31, 2012 Ex Parte); ASL Services
Holdings PN Comments at 8; RERC-TA PN Comments at 7, 11; Sorenson PN Comments at 8; Purple PN Reply
Comments at 4. The Consumer Groups object "to the development of standards by any group that does not include
consumers." Consumer Groups PN Reply Comments at 4. We note that the SIP Forum has three categories of
membership, including "[p]articipant membership," which "is open to individuals and is free." See SIP Forum,
Membership Overview, available at http://www.sipforum.org/content/view/17/47/. In addition, the input afforded
to consumers through participation in Commission proceedings allows consumers significant input on VRS
mandatory minimum requirements, which ultimately drive the standards process. Convo expressed concerns
regarding the suitability of the SIP Forum due to questions about its treatment of disclosure of participant
intellectual property rights. Convo FNPRM Reply Comments at 14, n. 57. We note that the SIP Forum is
developing an Intellectual Property Right Recommendation, and urge those participating in the process to ensure
that the draft IPR Recommendation is updated and adopted as appropriate. See SIP Forum, Documents, available at
http://www.sipforum.org/component/option,com_docman/task,cat_view/gid,48/Itemid,261/.
128 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17464, Appendix D 21.
129 Such support and participation shall be consistent with the guidance set forth in OMB Circular No. A-119, 7
(setting out the policy for federal participation in voluntary consensus bodies).
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49.
We also delegate to the Chief of CGB, after consultation with the CTO and the Chief of
OET, the authority to conduct rulemaking proceedings to incorporate into our rules by reference any
interoperability and portability standards developed under the auspices of the SIP Forum, now or in
future, or such other voluntary, consensus standard organization as may be formed to address these issues.
Recognizing that the scope of the SIP Forum VRS Task Group charter extends beyond our current
mandatory minimum standards,130 we also delegate to Chief of CGB, after consultation with the CTO and
the Chief of OET, the authority to conduct rulemaking proceedings to incorporate into our rules by
reference as new or updated mandatory minimum standards any standards or recommended standards
developed by the SIP Forum (or such other voluntary, consensus standard organization as may be formed
to address these issues) that the Chief of CGB finds will advance the statutory functional equivalency
mandate or improve the availability of TRS, in the most efficient manner. In conducting such
rulemakings, the Chief of CGB shall provide guidance on implementation, including the need for a
transition period for existing VRS access technologies, complaint resolution, or other actions necessary to
ensure full interoperability and portability.
50.
We find that VRS interoperability and portability standards should include the portability
of address book and speed dial list features. In the 2011VRS Reform FNPRM the Commission proposed,
among other things, that "[t]he VRS access technology and VRS Provider will support a standard data
interchange format for exporting and importing the following user private data between VRS access
technologies and VRS Providers. . . . [:] (a) User personal contacts list (also referred to as an address
book); (b) User speed dial list."131 We conclude that the proposal in the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM
should be adopted because the record demonstrates that the portability of such features is indeed critical
to effective competition and the provision of consumer choice in VRS.132 If the standards developed and
incorporated into our rules by reference pursuant to paragraphs 48 and 49 above do not require that VRS
access technology and VRS providers support a standard data interchange format for exporting and
importing user personal contacts lists (i.e., address books) and user speed dial lists between VRS access
technologies and VRS providers, we direct the Chief of CGB, after consultation with the CTO and Chief
of OET, to conduct an accelerated rulemaking to adopt such standards.

130 See SIP Forum, VRS Task Group Charter, http://www.sipforum.org/content/view/404/291/ (last visited Apr. 1,
2013) (designating items such as "Visual messaging waiting feature" and "Session security" as "other features for
investigation").
131 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17447-48, Appendix B 30 (proposing to adopt a standard format for
transferring address book and speed dial data). See also id. at 17449, Appendix B 32 (listing "personal contact
list" and "speed dial list" as among the features for which VRS access technology standards were proposed). Noting
that the development of standards for interoperability and portability "may help to resolve the issue of VRS user
lock by giving VRS users assurance . . . that they will not lose access to enhanced features that have proven to be of
particular importance to end users" (id. at 17390, 43), the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM stated that the proposal for
such standards "is intended to develop an open, competitive VRS market, and is designed to facilitate
interoperability, portability, affordability, supportability and compatibility goals that the Commission has long
pursued and consumers have requested. Establishing VRS access technology standards may give providers a fair
chance to compete and grow and could resolve the problem of users being locked in to their existing providers
because of iTRS access technology constraints" (id. at 17391, 44).
132 See Sorenson FNPRM Comments at 63, 64, 68 (stating that initial efforts should also focus on defining a
standard format allowing VRS consumers to transfer personal data they had inputted, such as contact lists and
speed-dial lists, to another provider); VRSCA FNPRM Comments at 4 (stating that videophone should allow
consumers to easily transfer information such a list of contacts from one videophone to another videophone);
Sorenson FNPRM Reply Comments at 32 (proposing that the VRS industry "work together in the near term to
define standards and processes to ensure that consumers can obtain their personal data such as their speed-dial lists
and personal contacts list (i.e., address book) when they change providers").
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51.
Pending action to incorporate interoperability and portability standards into our rules by
reference by the Chief of CGB, we will accept a demonstration that a provider is fully compliant with
completed SIP Forum standards or recommended standards as prima facie evidence of compliance with
our interoperability and portability requirements. Compliance with any standards incorporated into our
rules by reference or otherwise shall be a prerequisite for compensation from the Fund. No VRS provider
shall be compensated for minutes of use generated by non-standards compliant VRS access technologies
or otherwise generated in a manner inconsistent with our rules. If a provider cannot reliably separate
minutes of use generated through standards compliant VRS access technologies from those generated
through non-standards compliant VRS access technologies, the provider will not receive compensation
for any of the minutes.
52.
As discussed above, the Commission has previously urged the industry to develop
interoperability and portability standards, but such efforts have proven ineffective. We strongly
encourage the SIP Forum's VRS Task Group to adhere to its proposed schedule, and to take any further
steps identified as necessary by the Task Group with alacrity.133 Given the critical importance of this
issue, we will take such steps as are necessary to ensure the development and promulgation of
interoperability and portability standards-- including the adoption of standards developed outside the
context of the SIP Forum--if it becomes apparent that the current effort has bogged down or is unlikely to
produce the desired results.
3.

VRS Access Technology Reference Platform

53.
The record indicates that the lack of clearly defined interoperability and portability
standards has made it difficult for providers to determine whether VRS access technologies--theirs or a
competitors--are, in fact, compliant with our requirements, and what steps must be taken to resolve
interoperability and portability issues.134 We address this in part, as discussed above, through efforts to
promote standards for interoperability and portability and, as appropriate, incorporate them by reference
in our rules.135 In addition, RERC-TA has suggested that our interoperability goals would be furthered by
the development of a VRS access technology reference platform.136 A reference platform compliant with
standards developed consistent with section II.C.2 above will provide a concrete example of a standards
specific VRS access technology implementation and will allow providers to ensure that any VRS access
technology they develop or deploy is fully compliant with our interoperability and portability
requirements. In particular, as described by RERC-TA, the VRS access technology reference platform
"would provide a known-good implementation of the detailed set of specifications and standards agreed
on for VRS interoperability, against which providers could test their own devices and apps to ensure that

133 See SIP Forum, Video Relay Service (VRS) Task Group Charter, available at
http://www.sipforum.org/content/view/404/291/ (last visited Apr. 4, 2013) (identifying November 2013 as latest
target publication date).
134 Compare Sorenson FNPRM Reply Comments at 19 (stating that "the VP-200 currently complies with the
Commission's VRS interoperability requirements") with CSDVRS, Ex Parte Letter (Mar. 13, 2013) (CSDVRS Mar.
13, 2013 Ex Parte) (alleging interoperability issues were created by Sorenson's introduction of new firmware to the
VP-200 in late 2012).
135 See supra section II.C.2.
136 RERC-TA PN Comments at 8-9 (supporting "the provision of a reference platform for VRS functionality").
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they meet the VRS interoperability standards."137 We agree with RERC-TA and note that there was
universal support for this proposal in the record.138
54.
We further agree with the RERC-TA that the reference platform should be developed and
maintained by a neutral third party.139 Given the history of disputes over whether a given VRS access
technology does, in fact, comply with the Commission's interoperability requirements,140 it is important
that all parties be assured that the developer is not biased in favor of a particular VRS provider. We
therefore direct the FCC's Managing Director, in consultation with the CTO and the Chief of OET, to
select, consistent with our neutrality criteria discussed in section II.F.1 below, a neutral party (or have the
TRS Fund administrator select a neutral party) to develop a VRS access technology reference platform
under contract to the Commission (or the TRS Fund administrator) and compensated through the Fund.
55.
The VRS access technology reference platform shall be a software product that is
compliant with the standards developed consistent with section II.C.2 above, and useable on commonly
available off the shelf equipment and operating systems.141 We recognize that this process will take time
to conclude, and therefore direct the Managing Director to allow the neutral party chosen to develop the
VRS access technology reference platform to release "beta" versions of this platform at appropriate points
in the development process, so long as procedures are in place to update the application as standards are
established. The neutral party chosen to develop the VRS access technology reference platform also shall
be required to provide appropriate levels of technical support during the term of the contract to entities,
including developers, that license the VRS access technology reference platform and to end users,
including troubleshooting technical issues that may arise in the placing or processing of VRS or point-to-
point calls.142
56.
The VRS access technology reference platform will be fully functioning VRS access
technology; that is, it will function as current provider-specific products function to provide the ability to

137 Id. at 8.
138 Id. at 8-9; see also Consumer Groups PN Comments at i (recommending "adoption of a VRS `reference
platform' that will serve as a basis for interoperability testing among multiple VRS applications and for third-party
tests to ensure that VRS services are compatible with the reference platform and are interoperable"); Purple PN
Comments at 4-5; VRSCA PN Comments at 2; ASL Services Holdings PN Reply Comments at 6 ("...development
of a standard platform would serve as a base line test for platform and application interoperability."); Sorenson PN
Reply Comments at 50.
139 RERC-TA FNPRM Comments at 9.
140 See, e.g., supra n. 137.
141 Desktop operating systems with greater than five percent market share include Microsoft Windows and the Apple
MacOS desktop operating systems and Apple iOS. See Netmarketshare, Desktop Operating System Market Share,
http://www.netmarketshare.com/operating-system-market-share.aspx?qprid=10&qpcustomd=0 (last visited Apr. 2,
2013) (worldwide shares); StatCounter GlobalStats, Top 7 Operating Systems on W14 2013,
http://gs.statcounter.com/#os-ww-weekly-201314-201314-bar (last visited Apr. 2, 2013) (United States market).
Mobile operating systems with greater than five percent market share include the Google Android and Apple iOS
operating systems. See Netmarketshare, Mobile/Tablets Operating System Market Share,
http://www.netmarketshare.com/operating-system-market-share.aspx?qprid=8&qpcustomd=1 (last visited Apr. 2,
2013) (worldwide shares); StatCounter GlobalStats, Top 8 Mobile Operating Systems on W14 2013,
http://gs.statcounter.com/#mobile_os-US-weekly-201314-201314-bar (last visited Apr. 2, 2013) (United States
market).
142 We direct the Managing Director to ensure that that the initial term of the contract is for a period of time
sufficient to attract the interest of a broad range of qualified applicants (e.g., three years) and can be extended by
agreement. We further direct the Managing Director to periodically recompete the contract as required.
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place VRS and point-to-point calls, including dial-around functionality, the ability to update the users
registered location, and such other capabilities as are required by our rules.143 In order to maximize the
benefit of this investment from the TRS Fund, the VRS access technology reference platform shall be
available for use by the public and by developers.144 Therefore, the Managing Director shall ensure that
the VRS access technology reference platform, in addition to being compliant with standards developed
consistent with section II.C.2 above, performs consistently with the Commission's rules, including
allowing users to select any VRS provider as their default provider and providing dial around capability
and such other rules as may be adopted in future.145
57.
RERC-TA also suggests that the reference platform be "licensed under fair, reasonable,
and non-discriminatory terms to any interested party."146 We defer to the Managing Director to determine
the terms under which the VRS access technology reference platform will be licensed, but direct that he
or she consider "open source" licensing to ensure the widest possible distribution of and use of the VRS
access technology reference platform and, to the extent possible, underlying developed code.147 We also
direct that the Managing Director consider licensing the VRS access technology reference platform
consistent with the tiered approach suggested by ASL Services Holdings, which would allow VRS
providers and other developers to tailor the appearance and interface of the VRS access technology
reference platform while ensuring that its core functionality remains fully standards compliant.148 In any
event, the VRS access technology reference platform shall be made available to the public and to
interested developers.
58.
We decline at this time to designate an entity responsible for certifying interoperability
among VRS providers' VRS access technologies.149 The availability of the VRS access technology
reference platform should enable providers to test their own products prior to introducing them into the
market or issuing upgrades. However, interoperability with the VRS access technology reference
platform will be a minimum condition for a provider's VRS access technology to be in compliance with
our rules and thus will be a minimum condition for receiving compensation from the Fund for calls using
such technology. In other words, once the VRS access technology reference platform is available for use,
and after completion of a reasonable testing period that will be announced in advance, no VRS provider
shall be compensated for minutes of use generated by the provider's VRS access technologies that are
found to be non-interoperable with the reference platform. To the extent the Commission receives
complaints regarding a VRS provider or application developer's failure to comply with standards

143 We define VRS access technology in section II.C.1 above.
144 The public availability of this reference platform, taken in combination with the other actions we take to improve
the effectiveness of our interoperability and portability standards, will facilitate the use of off-the-shelf equipment to
access VRS, and may well affect consumer behavior with respect to their choice of VRS access technology. We
therefore decline to mandate "a requirement to transition to off-the-shelf hardware to access video relay service . . .
within a synchronized time period" at this time. See Convo, CSDVRS, and Hancock, Jahn, Lee & Puckett, LLC,
d/b/a Communication Axess Ability Group (CAAG), Ex Parte Letter at 1 (filed Apr. 29, 2013).
145 See 47 C.F.R. 64.611(f).
146 RERC-TA FNPRM Comments at 9.
147 See 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17440-55, Appendix B. See also RERC-TA PN Comments at 11
("[w]hether the components are open-source or not is less important than having fair, reasonable, and non-
discriminatory licensing terms for any interested party, including third parties not affiliated with the VRS industry").
148 ASL Services Holdings PN Comments at 6.
149 See, e.g., Purple PN Comments at 5; RERC-TA PN Comments at ii, 12; CSDVRS Mar. 13, 2013 Ex Parte
(urging that a "a third party test and certification system be established to have the CPE (hardware and software) and
gateways tested and certified as interoperable").
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developed consistent with section II.C.2 above, we will rely on our existing processes to determine
whether compliance with our rules is being achieved, whether it is appropriate to withhold payments,
initiate an enforcement proceeding, or take other appropriate actions.
59.
We note three concerns regarding the development of a VRS access technology reference
platform raised by Sorenson.150 Sorensen first urges that "care should be taken to choose the best possible
platform" and that "choice of reference platform should be chosen by industry consensus through the SIP
Forum VRS Task Group currently in operation."151 We agree that it is important to choose the best
possible platform and, to this end, believe that the Commission, in its role as custodian of the Fund and
the enforcer of our interoperability rules, must ensure that the platform is developed and released in an
expeditious manner, can be updated and/or modified at the Commission's direction as standards and
regulations evolve, is licensed in an appropriate manner, and otherwise is developed and maintained in a
manner consistent with our statutory obligations and the public interest. In the interest of avoiding the
same conflicts and delays that have hindered the development of consensus industry standards to date,152
we believe the best possible platform will be procured through our contracting process.
60.
We also agree with Sorenson that the VRS access technology reference platform should
"set a baseline for interoperability and should in no way impede future innovation."153 The VRS access
technology reference platform will help to ensure interoperability and portability as required by our
mandatory minimum standards, but should be considered only a floor, not a ceiling on functionality. To
the extent providers wish to provide additional features and functions beyond those required by the
industry standards process discussed in paragraph 56 above or by our rules, the VRS access technology
reference platform should not serve as barrier.
61.
Finally, we disagree with Sorenson that "the reference platform should be used to test for
interoperability between providers' endpoints, but should have no impact on the ways that a provider
chooses to structure its own internal network."154 If a VRS provider's network and the VRS access
technology reference platform do not interoperate properly, the problem may be with the provider's
network architecture--if only at the edge where the provider's network and the reference platform
interface. While we do not dictate how providers are to comply with our interoperability and portability
requirements, they are nevertheless obligated to meet them--and to achieve this, they may have to alter
the operation of their networks to ensure compatibility with the VRS access technology reference
platform and the standards-based features of other VRS access technologies.155

D.

TRS User Registration Database and Eligibility Verification

62.
In this section, we act to improve the mechanism used to register and verify the eligibility
of VRS users through creation of a TRS user registration database (TRS-URD) and implementation of
centralized eligibility verification requirements. The creation of a centralized TRS-URD will facilitate
Commission efforts to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse and improve our ability to efficiently manage the
program.

150 Sorenson PN Reply Comments at 50-51.
151 Id.
152 See supra 41-42.
153 Sorenson PN Reply Comments at 51.
154 Id.
155 See RERC-TA PN Reply Comments at 5-6 (noting that "proprietary back office information" can serve as a
barrier to interoperability with standards based VRS access technologies).
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63.
Ensuring that the VRS program is as immune as possible from the waste, fraud, and
abuse that threaten the long-term viability of the program as it currently operates has been a core goal of
this proceeding. To the extent that VRS providers discriminate in the manner in which they handle calls
(e.g., the type of call or caller), except as provided for in the Commission's rules, they create
inefficiencies in the VRS call processing system.156 Likewise, when a VRS provider engages in
fraudulent practices by, e.g., encouraging or causing VRS calls to be made that would not otherwise be
made, or ineligible VRS users to be enrolled, simply to drive up compensation from the TRS Fund, the
VRS system is made inefficient. These types of unlawful practices also artificially tie up CAs and limit
the availability of VRS to legitimate users contrary to section 225 of the Act.157
64.
Unlawful VRS provider practices not only allow dishonest providers to obtain a
competitive advantage over providers that operate in compliance with the Act and our rules, but
undermine the key goals of Congress in enacting section 225. VRS provider practices that result in waste,
fraud, and abuse threaten the sustainability of the TRS Fund and are directly linked to the efficiency and
effectiveness of the TRS Fund support mechanisms upon which VRS providers rely for compensation.
As the Commission has previously found, fraudulent diversion of funds robs the TRS Fund for illicit gain
and "abuses 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."158 Moreover, such practices
unlawfully shift improper costs to consumers of other telecommunications services, including local and
long distance voice subscribers, interconnected VoIP, and others.159
65.
To help combat such fraud, the Commission proposed in the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM
to implement a user database that "would provide a reliable source of data on the number of VRS users
data the Commission does not currently possess, . . . [and] would facilitate efforts by the TRS Fund
Administrator and the Commission to conduct audits, determine compliance with the Commission's rules,
and minimize the possibility of waste, fraud, and abuse."160 The Commission also proposed to adopt
other regulations prohibiting VRS providers from engaging in practices that result in waste, fraud, and
abuse of the TRS Fund, including discriminatory practices.
66.
There is widespread record support for a user registration database; commenters agree
that a user registration database will provide the Commission, for the first time, a definitive count of the
number of unique, active VRS users, and a tool that will allow for more effective auditing and compliance
procedures.161 Commenters also asserted that a centralized eligibility verification system would help to

156 See 47 C.F.R. 64.605(a)(2)(ii) (iTRS providers shall "[i]mplement a system that ensures that the provider
answers an incoming emergency call before other non-emergency calls (i.e., prioritize emergency calls and move
them to the top of the queue)").
157 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1).
158 VRS Call Practices FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 5551, 5.
159 VRS users are not charged for use of the service. Rather, these costs are passed on to all consumers of
telecommunications service 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. Telecommunications Relay
Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CC Docket No. 98-
67, CG Docket No. 03-123, Declaratory Ruling, 20 FCC Rcd 1466, 1468, 6 (CGB 2005) (2005 Financial
Incentives Declaratory Ruling
). When a VRS provider engages in fraudulent practices, the costs are unlawfully
passed on to the public.
160 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17462, Appendix D 5.
161 See, e.g., CSDVRS, Convo, Sorenson, and Snap Telecommunications, Inc. (Snap), Ex Parte Letter at 1 (filed
March 6, 2012) (Joint Providers Ex Parte); ASL Services Holdings FNPRM Comments at 18; Convo FNPRM
(continued...)
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prevent the registration of fraudulent users and therefore ensure the compensability of VRS calls handled
and increase the efficiency of the VRS program.162 On the basis of this record, we (i) direct the
development and implementation of a TRS user registration database and (ii) adopt a centralized
eligibility verification requirement to ensure that registration for VRS is limited to those who have a
hearing or speech disability. We note that the benefits of a user registration database are likely to be
applicable to forms of TRS other than VRS, and therefore seek comment in the accompanying FNPRM
on how and whether to expand the scope of and obligations associated with the TRS-URD.163
67.
Development and deployment of the TRS-URD, including the ability to conduct
eligibility verification, will impose costs that are covered by the TRS Fund. We note that the price for
startup and implementation of the TRS numbering directory database and a one year base operating
period was $1,541,000.164 The cost of the TRS-URD is likely to be comparable, if not significantly
less.165 We believe that the resultant improvement in functional equivalence and VRS availability for
consumers, ease of compliance by providers, and overall efficiency in the operation of the TRS program
justifies imposition of these costs.
1.

TRS-URD

68.
We direct the FCC's Managing Director, in consultation with the CTO, the Chief of
OET, and Chief of CGB, to select (or have the TRS Fund administrator select under objectives and
factors determined by the Managing Director in consultation with the CTO, the Chief of OET, and Chief
of CGB), consistent with our neutrality criteria discussed in section II.F.1 below,166 a neutral party to
build, operate, and maintain a user registration database under contract to the Commission (or the TRS
Fund administrator) and compensated through the Fund.167 Each VRS provider shall be required to
(Continued from previous page)
Comments at 24; Purple FNPRM Comments at 3, 11; Sorenson FNPRM Comments at 30, 63-65; Convo PN
Comments at 18.
162 See CAAG FNPRM Comments at 4; CDSVRS FNPRM Comments at 32; Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments
at 17; Convo FNPRM Comments at 18-20; Purple FNPRM Comments at 9-10; Purple PN Comments at 5
("Centralizing [registration and verification functions] would provide significant administrative benefits and audit
capabilities to both the Commission and the TRS Fund Administrator while allowing VRS providers to focus on
innovation and service quality for the benefit of consumers."); Convo PN Reply Comments at 13-15.
163 We note that the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM referred to the proposed user registration database as the "VRS user
registration database" or "VRSURD." See, e.g., 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 12402, 80, 12462-66,
Appendix D. Given the possibility that we will expand the use of the user registration database, we prefer to
identify the database as the "TRS user registration database" or "TRS-URD."
164 See FCC, Post-Award: Information on Awarded Contracts, available at
http://transition.fcc.gov/omd/contracts/post-award/ (last visited Apr. 4, 2013) (describing award of RFQ08000022--
Internet Based Telecommunications Relay Service).
165 See Neustar, Inc. (Neustar) FNPRM Comments at 2-3 (arguing that the existing TRS numbering directory
contract could be modified to perform TRS-URD functions for less than the cost of two databases).
166 Commenters generally supported use of an independent, neutral third party to administer a registered user
database. See, e.g., Purple FNPRM Comments at 11, 16; Experian Information Solutions, Inc. (Experian) FNPRM
Comments at 3 (filed Mar. 30, 2012).
167 We direct the Managing Director to consider whether modifying and/or rebidding the TRS numbering directory
contract to include the features and functions of the TRS-URD is the most effective and efficient way to "build,
operate and maintain" the TRS-URD, and to conduct its contracting process accordingly. See Neustar FNPRM
Comments at 2-3.
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register each of its users, populate the database with the necessary information for each of its users, and
query the database to ensure a user's eligibility for each call.
69.
The TRS-URD must have certain capabilities to allow the TRS Fund administrator and
the Commission to: (a) receive and process subscriber information provided by VRS providers sufficient
to identify unique VRS users and ensure each has a single default provider; (b) assign each VRS user a
unique identifier; (c) allow VRS providers and other authorized entities to query the database to
determine if a prospective user already has a default provider; (d) allow VRS providers to indicate that a
VRS user has used the service; and (e) maintain the confidentiality of proprietary data housed in the
database by protecting it from theft, loss, or disclosure to unauthorized persons.168
70.
The TRS-URD cannot serve its intended purpose unless VRS providers populate the
database with the necessary information and query the database to ensure a user's eligibility for each call.
We therefore adopt a rule requiring each VRS provider to submit to the TRS-URD administrator the
following information for each of the users for which it serves as the default provider:169
Full name, full residential address, ten-digit telephone number assigned in the TRS numbering
directory, last four digits of the Social Security number, and date of birth;170
The user's registered location information for emergency calling purposes;171
VRS provider name and dates of service initiation and termination;172
A digital copy of the user's self-certification of eligibility for VRS and the date obtained by the
provider;173

168 We note that the Commission recently established a National Lifeline Accountability Database as part of its
efforts to reform and modernize the Universal Service Fund's Lifeline program, and we rely on the Commission's
experience in that proceeding here. See Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization Order, 27 FCC Rcd at
6734-54, 179-225.
169 Throughout this Order, the phrase "to the TRS-URD" means to the third party administering the database and/or
the database itself.
170 The Commission's experience in the Lifeline context indicates that this basic identifying information is necessary
to ensure that the validation process discussed below is effective. See id. at 6737-38, 191, n. 495. We
acknowledge commenters' concerns that users will react negatively to being required to provide personal
information. See, e.g., Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 45; Convo FNPRM Comments at 25. While we are
cognizant of these concerns, the collection of such information is consistent with our practices in the Lifeline
context, and the privacy and security practices we mandate below should be sufficient to allay such concerns. See
infra
75-76. Consistent with the Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization Order, for those consumers
living on Tribal lands who lack a Social Security number, an official Tribal identification card number may be
provided in lieu of the last four digits of a Social Security number. This is the case everywhere noted in the Order
where a consumer is required to provide the last four digits of a Social Security number. The database and related
processes also must be able to accommodate non-traditional addresses, such as addresses on Tribal lands not
recognized by the U.S. Postal Service. See Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization Order, 27 FCC Rcd at
6728, 165-66, in which we note record support for the fact that residential addresses are frequently non-existent
on Tribal lands and, where present, often differ significantly from residential addresses off Tribal lands.
171 See 47 C.F.R. 64.605(b)(4). Maintaining users' registered location data in the TRS-URD will allow users to
switch providers without having to reenter that data.
172 In addition to helping the Commission and the TRS Fund administrator fight waste, fraud, and abuse by
providing the ability to detect and track calling patterns associated with a particular provider, his information also
will allow the Commission to track market share and churn in the VRS market, and should be retained after a user
switches providers so as to provide time series data.
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The date on which the user's identification was verified;174 and
The date on which the user last placed a point-to-point or relay call.175
Furthermore, prior to providing subscriber information to the database, the VRS provider must obtain
consent from the subscriber. In doing so, the VRS provider must describe to the subscriber in writing
using clear and easily understandable language the specific information being provided, that the
information is being provided to the TRS-URD to ensure the proper administration of the TRS program,
and that failure to provide consent will result in the registered user being denied service. VRS providers
must obtain and keep a record of affirmative acknowledgment by every registered user of such consent.
71.
All personally identifying information will only be accessible for access and modification
via network connections using commercially reasonable encryption. VRS providers must submit this
information for existing registered users to the TRS-URD within 60 days of notice from the Commission
that the TRS-URD is ready to accept such information. Calls from existing registered users that have not
had their information populated in the TRS-URD within 60 days of notice from the Commission that the
TRS-URD is ready to accept such information shall not be compensable. VRS providers must submit this
information (except for the date on which the user last placed a point-to-point or relay call, which is not
required for newly registered users) for users registered after the TRS-URD is operational upon initiation
of service. We require that the TRS-URD be capable of receiving and processing data provided by VRS
providers both in real-time and via periodic batches. We direct the Managing Director to ensure that the
TRS-URD administrator specifies how VRS providers must submit data to the database subject to both
real-time and batch processes.
72.
Per-Call Validation. In order to ensure the compensability of each call, VRS providers
shall validate the eligibility of a user by querying the TRS-URD on a per-call basis. Such validation shall
occur during the call setup process, prior to the placement of the call.176 If a caller's eligibility cannot be
validated using the TRS-URD, the call shall not be placed, and the VRS provider shall either terminate
the call or, if appropriate, offer to register the user if they are able to demonstrate eligibility. Calls that
are not completed because the user's eligibility cannot be validated shall not be included in speed of
answer calculations.177 In order to ensure that emergency calls are processed as expeditiously as possible,
we except emergency calls from this requirement.178
73.
Unique User Identifiers. The TRS-URD shall assign a unique identifier to each user in
the TRS-URD.179 In the absence of suggestions in the record on this point, we decline to specify the
nature of that unique identifier, and instead direct the TRS-URD administrator to determine the form that
(Continued from previous page)
173 See infra 79.
174 See infra section II.D.2.b.
175 This data will enable identification of individuals who are registered in the database but are no longer using VRS.
See infra 74.
176 See infra 140.
177 See infra section III.D.
178 For the sake of clarity, emergency calls are calls to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP),
designated statewide default answering point, or appropriate local emergency authority that corresponds to the
caller's location. See 47 C.F.R. 64.605.
179 See Convo FNPRM Comments at 25; Purple FNPRM Comments at 12.
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this unique identifier should take, and the standards and practices associated with assigning and managing
the unique identifier, in connection with the contracting process.
74.
Ensuring Data Integrity. In order to ensure the integrity of the data in the TRS-URD, it
is important to periodically remove information for users who are no longer using VRS (e.g., due to death
of the user). The Commission proposed in the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM to define an active user as "a
VRS user who makes at least two minutes of outbound calls to parties that are not affiliates of any VRS
provider" in a given month.180 Sorenson proposed that the definition be broadened to include inbound
and outbound calls over a six month period.181 Given that we retain a compensation mechanism based on
usage rather than subscribership,182 it reasonable to take an even more cautious approach in this context,
and find it reasonable for the Managing Director to ensure that the TRS-URD administrator removes
users from the TRS-URD if they have neither placed nor received a VRS or point to point call in a one
year period. Users that are removed from the TRS-URD may, of course, reregister at a later time. If a
VRS provider is notified by one of its registered users that the user no longer wants use of a ten-digit
number or the provider obtains information that the user is not eligible to use the service, the VRS
provider must request that the TRS-URD administrator remove the user's information from the database
and may not seek compensation for providing service to the ineligible user. The TRS-URD administrator
shall honor such requests.
75.
Security. We acknowledge that the data housed in the TRS-URD may include sensitive
personal information.183 There is widespread consensus that the information in the database must be
subject to the highest protections.184 The TRS-URD must, therefore, have sufficient safeguards to
maintain the proprietary or personal nature of the information in the database by protecting it from theft
or loss.185
76.
An important component of maintaining the appropriate level of privacy and data security
will be limiting access to the database to authorized entities and then only for authorized purposes.186 The
TRS-URD is not to be used for purposes that do not further the efficient operation and administration of
the VRS program, and we authorize use by providers only for the reasons specified herein, and to
determine whether information with respect to its registered users already in the database is correct and

180 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17456, Appendix C 9.
181 Sorenson FNPRM Comments at 49 ("two minutes of VRS usage initiated by the user over the trailing six months
or any 911 call in the trailing six months").
182 See infra section IV.B.
183 See Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 6, 45; see also Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization
Order,
27 FCC Rcd at 6745, 207.
184 See, e.g., Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 22, 45; Neustar FNPRM Comments at 3 (maintains a high
level of security for the iTRS Directory and would extend such security to additional data); Sorenson FNPRM
Comments at 61 (Commission should appoint a skilled and reputable entity with a long track record of fastidious
data management as database administrator); CSDVRS PN Comments at 32; RERC-TA PN Comments at 17;
Sorenson PN Comments at 85-86; Dean DeRusso PN Reply Comments at 3; VRSCA PN Reply Comments at 4.
No commenter suggested that there are other pre-existing regulatory or statutory requirements pertaining to data
collection that must be addressed in this proceeding. See 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17422, 152.
185 See Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 22, 45; Neustar FNPRM Comments at 3; Sorenson FNPRM
Comments at 61; CSDVRS PN Comments at 32; RERC-TA PN Comments at 17; Sorenson PN Comments at 85-86;
Dean DeRusso PN Reply Comments at 3; Sorenson PN Reply Comments at 65-66; VRSCA PN Reply Comments at
4.
186 See Neustar FNPRM Comments at 3; Sorenson FNPRM Comments at 61; Consumer Groups FNPRM Reply
Comments at 6-7; Sorenson FNPRM Reply Comments at 56-57; Dean DeRusso PN Reply Comments at 3.
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complete. Moreover, we specifically prohibit providers from conducting lookups in the TRS-URD to
identify other VRS providers' customers for marketing purposes, including win-back efforts.187 The
Managing Director shall ensure that the minimum number of entities has access to the TRS-URD, that
such access is utilized only for authorized purposes, and that the data available to a provider in a given
circumstance is limited to the minimum necessary.188
77.
The exact form of the data elements in the database, the structure of the database, and
other detailed implementation issues shall be specified during the contracting process. Our experience
with the TRS numbering directory has taught us that it may become necessary, over time, to modify the
data that is to be stored in the database or otherwise make changes to the way the database is
administered, structured, or interacted with so as to ensure the efficient administration of the program. To
facilitate the ability to respond to such necessary changes efficiently, we delegate to the Managing
Director (or the TRS Fund administrator, if appropriate with the approval of the Managing Director) the
authority to modify the TRS-URD contract as necessary to implement changes that are necessary to
ensure the efficient administration of the program.
2.

Certification of Eligibility and Verification of Identity

78.
Consistent with the Commission's actions in the context of IP CTS and reform of the
Lifeline program,189 we require every VRS provider to obtain from each registered user a self-certification
of eligibility and to implement a centralized identity verification requirement to ensure that registration
for VRS is limited to those who have a hearing or speech disability.
79.
We decline to relieve VRS providers of their obligation to register users for whom they
are the default provider by centralizing that process as some commenters suggest.190 VRS providers
identify and sign up users through their marketing efforts, and have staff who are trained in ASL and
customer registration, and are therefore well equipped to gather from users and potential users the
information necessary to register, certify, and verify the eligibility of registrants.191 We agree with

187 See, e.g., Sorenson FNPRM Reply Comments at 60 (stating that the user registration database should "secure
name and address information so that it could not be used by competing VRS providers with access to the database
as a source of marketing leads").
188 For example, a VRS provider processing a dial-around call may need to validate the caller's unique identifier
against the TRS-URD, but should not need to access the user's address or the last four digits of their social security
number. Several commenters suggested compartmentalizing access to the database so that querying entities are only
able to view the data they are authorized to see. See, e.g., Neustar FNPRM Comments at 3 (can compartmentalize
access to the iTRS Directory); Sorenson FNPRM Comments at 61 (allow complete access only to appropriate
Commission staff, the Fund administrator, and the database administrator; only a limited number of employees with
each provider should be permitted to access only that provider's default subscriber information); Consumer Groups
FNPRM Reply Comments at 6-7 (adopt a rule setting forth the general principle of limited access and memorialize
the details in an agreement between the database administrator and each VRS provider); Sorenson FNPRM Reply
Comments at 56-57 (include robust protections, including data firewalls that prevent providers from obtaining
information about another provider's customers; prohibit providers from conducting reverse number look-ups);
Dean DeRusso PN Reply Comments at 3.
189 See Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6734-54, 179-225; IP CTS Interim
Rules Order
.
190 See e.g., Convo PN Reply Comments at 13; Purple PN Reply Comments at 5-6. The Commission's iTRS
registration requirements are set forth in section 64.611 of our rules. See 47 C.F.R. 64.611.
191 Id.
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Sorenson that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a third party with the incentive and ability to
conduct those tasks effectively.192
a.

Certification of Eligibility

80.
In order to be eligible for compensation from the TRS Fund for providing service to their
registered VRS users,193 each provider is required to obtain from each registered user and submit to the
TRS-URD a written self-certification that the user has a hearing or speech disability that makes them
eligible to use VRS to communicate in a manner that is functionally equivalent to communication by
conventional voice telephone users, described in greater detail below.
81.
We decline at this time to require VRS providers to obtain from end users a certification
of eligibility issued by an independent third party. By definition, a VRS call originates with or terminates
to a party with a hearing or speech disability who uses sign language to communicate.194 Thus, unlike
other forms of TRS, VRS requires users to communicate with a CA in ASL during each call. CAs
therefore can help to ensure that the service is used only by eligible users.195 Specifically, VRS providers
shall require their CAs to terminate any call that does not involve an individual that uses ASL or that
otherwise, pursuant to the provider's policies, procedures, and practices as described in its annual
compliance plan,196 does not appear to be a legitimate VRS call, and VRS providers may not submit such
calls for compensation from the Fund.197
82.
VRS providers shall submit to the TRS-URD a properly executed certification of
eligibility for each of their existing registered users within 60 days of a public notice from the Managing
Director providing notice that the TRS-URD is ready to accept information. VRS providers shall submit
a properly executed certification for "new to category" users at the time of registration. When registering
a user that is transferring service from another VRS provider, VRS providers shall obtain and submit a
properly executed certification if a query of the TRS-URD shows a properly executed certification has not
been filed.198 We also require each VRS provider to maintain the confidentiality of such registration and
certification information obtained by the provider, and to not disclose such registration and certification
information, as well as the content of such information, except upon request of the FCC, the TRS Fund
administrator, or the TRS-URD administrator or as otherwise required by law.
83.
The user self-certification mandated by these rules must adhere to several requirements.
In particular, a VRS provider must obtain from each user self-certification that: (1) the user has a hearing
or speech disability that makes the user eligible to use VRS; and (2) the user understands that the cost of
the VRS calls is paid for by contributions from other telecommunications users to the TRS Fund.199 In

192 See Sorenson PN Comments at 90.
193 We note that VRS providers already are required to register their users, and so do not adopt a duplicative
requirement here.
194 See 47 C.F.R. 64.601(a)(27)(2012).
195 See CSDVRS FNPRM Comments at 32.
196 See infra section III.C.
197 We note that a VRS CA is a "covered individual" under the Commission's TRS whistleblower protections and
may bring the ineligible caller to the attention of his/her designated manager, the Commission, the Interstate TRS
Fund administrator, or any federal or state law enforcement entity. See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(M).
198 Consistent with the security requirements described in 75-76, supra, the TRS-URD should not provide access
to a copy of the certification provided, but instead return a simple "yes" or "no" response.
199 Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) states in its comments filed in regard to IP CTS: "[W]e suggest
that plain language should be used. For example, `the user has a hearing loss that necessitates IP CTS to
(continued...)
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addition, this self-certification must be made on a form separate from any other user agreement (such as
on a separate page), and requires a separate signature specific to the self-certification.200 The first of these
requirements is intended to highlight important information that may be relevant to the consumer's
decision to use the service. The requirement to obtain a separate signature on a standalone document--as
opposed to the method currently used by some providers of simply adding a check box to a lengthy
service agreement--will highlight the importance of providing a true and accurate certification.
b.

Verification of Identity

84.
Commenters also note that a centralized process by which the identity of users is verified
would help to prevent the registration of fraudulent users and therefore ensure the compensability of VRS
calls handled and increase the efficiency of the VRS program.201 We agree.
85.
Consistent with our actions regarding the user registration process, we believe that VRS
providers are in the best position to gather information necessary to verify user identity.202 That said,
conducting all verifications through a single, centralized process will ensure that all users meet the
verification standards mandated by the Commission.203 Further, it is highly likely that requiring all VRS
providers to conduct identity verification through a central process will result in cost savings. The Fund
will almost certainly be able to negotiate a contract for verification services for all providers that is less
expensive than the sum of the individual contracts that would need to be negotiated by each VRS
provider. Consistent with the Commission's actions in the Lifeline Reform Order,204 and given that VRS
providers already are required to submit user information to the TRS-URD,205 the TRS-URD is a logical
central point from which user verification can be conducted.
(Continued from previous page)
communicate in a manner that is functionally equivalent to communication by conventional voice telephone users'
will not be understood by many if not most consumers. We suggest instead language such as `the user has a hearing
loss and needs captions to be able to fully understand phone conversations.'" HLAA Comments at 11, CG Docket
Nos. 13-24, 03-123 (filed February 26, 2013). We agree that the certification should use plain language to ensure
that consumers understand the nature of their required certification, and therefore require the following language for
VRS: "The consumer has a hearing or speech disability and needs VRS to be able to communicate with other
people." We will address the issue of the language to be used for consumers in the IP CTS context when we adopt
final rules for IP CTS registration and certification.
200 For the purposes of this requirement, an electronic signature, defined by the Electronic Signatures in Global and
National Commerce Act, as an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a
contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record, has the same legal
effect as a written signature. Cf. 47 C.F.R. 54.419(a) (allowing electronic signatures under the Lifeline program).
201 See CAAG FNPRM Comments at 4; CDSVRS FNPRM Comments at 32; Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments
at 17; Convo FNPRM Comments at 18-20; Purple FNPRM Comments at 9-10; Convo PN Reply Comments at 13-
15; Purple PN Reply Comments at 5. We also agree with Sorenson that centralizing the verification function with
the TRS-URD is unlikely to have an impact on video mail messages left for inactive ten-digit numbers, and that
there is no evidence in the record of consumer confusion related to registration and verification. Convo PN
Comments at 18-19; Sorenson PN Reply Comments at 61-62. However, the reduction in the potential for fraud and
increased efficiency of program are sufficient to justify implementation a verification process.
202 See supra 79. Given that we require VRS providers to gather and submit registration and verification
information, Sorenson is correct that each provider will need to maintain their systems for gathering and submitting
registration and verification information. See Sorenson PN Reply Comments at 63-64.
203 See supra 70. See also Consumer Groups PN Comments at 21; Convo PN Comments at 19; Purple PN
Comments at 10.
204 See Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6743, 201.
205 See supra section II.D.1.
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86.
We therefore direct the Managing Director to ensure that the TRS-URD has the
capability of performing an identification verification check when a VRS provider or other party submits
a query to the database about an existing or potential user.206 The criteria for identification verification
(e.g., information to be submitted, acceptable level of risk, etc.) shall be established by the Managing
Director on consultation with the CTO and the Chief of OET.207 VRS providers shall not register
individuals that do not pass the identification verification check conducted through the TRS-URD, and
shall not seek compensation for calls placed by such individuals.

E.

Neutral Video Communication Service Provider

87.
As discussed in the 2010 VRS NOI, VRS communications require the interaction of three
separate yet interlinked components: VRS access technologies, video communication service, and relay
service provided by ASL-fluent CAs.208 In the VRS Structure and Rates PN, the Commission sought
comment on specific proposals to disaggregate these components,209 including a proposal by CSDVRS to
require an industry structure in which all providers of VRS CA services would utilize an enhanced
version of the TRS numbering directory to provide features such as user registration and validation, call
routing, and usage accounting. In effect, the CSDVRS proposal would separate the video communication
service component of VRS from the VRS CA service component by providing the functions of the former
from an enhanced database ("enhanced iTRS database").210
88.
Commenters generally opposed the CSDVRS proposal, arguing that requiring all
providers to use a single VRS access technology and a single video communication service platform
would, among other things, reduce competition, inhibit innovation, reduce quality of service, create
consumer confusion, and threaten consumer privacy.211 While we do not necessarily find these objections

206 The Commission required that the National Lifeline Accountability Database have the same functionality. See
Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization Order
, 27 FCC Rcd at 6743, 201.
207 One company, Experian, filed comments in this proceeding describing how their product offerings might support
such a function. See Experian FNPRM Comments. Our citation of Experian's comments in no way indicates a
preference for use of their products for this function.
208 See 2010 VRS NOI, 25 FCC Rcd at 8608, 32-33. The 2010 VRS NOI identified the first of these interlinked
components as "videophone equipment." In the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, the Commission proposed to adopt a
broader term, "iTRS access technology," defined as "any equipment, software, or other technology issued, leased, or
provided by an Internet-based TRS provider that can be used to make or receive an Internet-based TRS call." 2011
VRS Reform FNPRM
, 26 FCC Rcd at 17389, 41. In the 2010 VRS NOI, the Commission also noted that "the video
communication service component of VRS consists of both a transmission medium (i.e., a broadband connection) as
well as a service (audio and video) that is provided over that transmission medium." 2010 VRS NOI at 8608, 32 n.
42.
209 VRS Structure and Rates PN, 27 FCC Rcd at 12961.
210 See CSDVRS FNPRM Comments at 15-22; CSDVRS, Ex Parte Letter at 2, Attachment (filed May 9, 2012).
CSDVRS also proposed that all VRS provider be required to use a single VRS access technology. See CSDVRS, Ex
Parte Letter, Attachment 2 (filed July 10, 2012); CSDVRS, Aug. 27, 2012 Ex Parte at 2-3. We decline to mandate
that all providers use the same VRS access technology, and note that the VRS access technology reference platform
discussed in section II.C.3 above should help to address the concerns CSDVRS raised regarding interoperability and
portability.
211 See generally Convo PN Comments at 15-16; Purple PN Comments at 9-11; RERC-TA PN Comments at 19;
Sorenson PN Comments at 46-98; ASL Services Holdings PN Reply Comments at 3; Purple PN Reply Comments at
5: Sorenson PN Reply Comments at 56-69; VRSCA PN Reply Comments at 4; but see CAAG PN Comments at 12.
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persuasive,212 we choose not to require that all providers utilize a single video communication service
provider at this time.
89.
We find merit, however, in the concept of disaggregating VRS CA service from video
communication service. In lieu of requiring all VRS providers to use a single video communication
service platform, we establish, by contract, a neutral video communication service provider that will
allow consumers to connect to the "standalone" VRS CA service provider of their choice.213 As discussed
in greater detail below, the neutral video communication service provider will provide user registration
and validation, authentication, authorization, ACD platform functions,214 routing (including emergency
call routing), call setup, mapping, call features (such as call forwarding and video mail), and such other
features and functions not directly related to the provision of VRS CA services.215
90.
The creation of a neutral video communication service provider will have multiple
beneficial effects, the most obvious being in the promotion of more efficient and effective VRS CA
service competition. The availability of a neutral platform will eliminate a significant barrier to entry:
the cost of building and maintaining a video communication service platform. Standalone VRS CA
service providers are likely to focus their efforts on distinguishing themselves through innovation in the
provision of high-quality ASL interpretation and the hiring of interpreters who can meet a wide variety of
VRS user communication needs.216 A neutral video communication service provider also will provide the
Commission direct insight into the operation of the video communication service component of VRS. In
addition to allowing the Commission to assess some of the claims made by VRS providers in opposition
to the CSDVRS proposal,217 the Commission will be better able to assess the costs of operating a platform
and to develop platform related performance metrics, potentially including metrics that go beyond simple
"speed of answer" requirements.
91.
Further, a neutral video communication service provider will serve, at least in part, the
same functions as the VRS access technology reference platform with respect to ensuring interoperability
between providers. As discussed above, the interface between VRS access technologies and video
communication service platforms can be the source of barriers to interoperability.218 The neutral video
communication service provider contract will mandate full compliance with industry established
interoperability standards, thereby providing a neutral platform against which interoperability issues can
be tested.219 The availability of this neutral video communication service provider also will allow the
Commission to be better able to assess claims that independent products or services are not compliant

212 Given that we do not choose to adopt the CSDVRS proposal at this time, we do not need to respond to each
objection raised in the record.
213 A "standalone VRS CA service provider" is a VRS CA service provider that relies on the neutral video
communication service platform for the non-VRS CA service components of VRS.
214 By the term "ACD platform," the Commission means the hardware and/or software that comprise the essential
call center function of call distribution, and that are a necessary core component of iTRS. See 2011 iTRS
Certification Order
, 26 FCC Rcd at 10906, n. 44.
215 For the sake of clarity, standalone VRS CA service providers are responsible for their own billing for
compensation from the TRS fund.
216 The accompanying FNPRM seeks input on the eligibility criteria that should be used to determine whether a
standalone VRS CA service provider qualifies for Commission certification to receive compensation from the Fund
for the provision of VRS. See section V.JJ, infra.
217 See supra n. 213.
218 See supra 61.
219 See infra 95.
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with our interoperability rules. As with the VRS access technology reference platform, all providers'
VRS access technologies and (in the case of vertically integrated providers) video communication service
platforms must be interoperable with the neutral video communication service provider's service
platform, including for point-to-point calls. After completion of a reasonable testing period that will be
announced in advance, the neutral video communication service provider will begin providing service to
standalone VRS CA service providers, and from that point on, no VRS provider shall be compensated for
minutes of use involving VRS access technologies or video communication service platforms that are not
interoperable with the neutral video communication service provider's platform.
92.
Aside from this interoperability obligation, existing, vertically integrated providers of
VRS are in no way obligated to utilize the neutral video communication service provider, and may
continue to deliver VRS over their existing platforms consistent with our rules.220 Indeed, given the
complexity that would result from allowing vertically integrated providers to process calls both over their
own video communication service platforms and the neutral video communication service platform we
adopt today, only providers choosing to operate as standalone VRS CA service providers will be
permitted to utilize the neutral video communication service platform to process VRS calls. Existing,
vertically integrated VRS providers that wish to transition to operation as a standalone VRS CA service
provider may do so upon 60 days notice to the Commission.
1.

Neutral Video Communication Service Provider Performance Requirements

93.
We direct the FCC's Managing Director, in consultation with the CTO, the Chief of
OET, and the Chief of CGB, to select, consistent with our neutrality criteria discussed in section II.F.1
below, a neutral party to build, operate, and maintain a neutral video communication service platform
under contract to the Commission and compensated through the Fund.221 We recognize that this is a
complicated undertaking that will require significant interaction between the Commission and the neutral
video communication service provider. We therefore direct the Managing Director to take the following
guidance into account when contracting for the neutral video communication service provider.
94.
Quality of service. The Managing Director, in consultation with the Chief of CGB, shall
specify appropriate benchmarks for service quality, including benchmarks for availability, dropped calls,
and call signaling delay, consistent with existing Commission requirements.
95.
Standards compliance. The neutral video communication service platform must conform
to all standards incorporated into our rules by reference.222 By extension, the neutral video
communication service platform must be interoperable with the VRS access technology platform and
other standards compliant VRS access technologies. To the extent the neutral video communication
service provider develops and releases iTRS access technology, that iTRS access technology must comply
with our rules.223
96.
Backwards compatibility. The neutral video communication service platform should
provide a reasonable level of backwards compatibility with the installed base of existing VRS access
technologies.

220 The benefits identified in paragraphs 90-91 of this section are sufficient justification for the creation of a neutral
video communication service platform, regardless of whether existing providers choose to take advantage of its
availability. See CSDVRS Apr. 11, 2013 Ex Parte at 2.
221 Commenters generally supported use of an independent, neutral third party to administer a registered user
database. See Experian FNPRM Comments at 3; Purple FNPRM Comments at 11, 16. We discuss our neutrality
requirements in greater detail in section II.F.1 below.
222 See supra section II.C.1.
223 See 47 C.F.R. 64.611(f).
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97.
Functionality. The Managing Director shall ensure that the neutral video communication
service provider provides all of the operational, technical, and functional capabilities specified in our rules
that are not otherwise fulfilled by VRS access technology or a standalone VRS CA service provider.
Such requirements include, but are not limited to, routing and delivery of VRS calls to and from the
PSTN with interpretation from the user's registered provider, , routing of point-to-point calls,224 and
delivery of calling party identifying information.225 The neutral video communication service platform
shall be available 24 hours a day.
98.
Of particular importance, the neutral video communication service platform shall ensure
appropriate processing of emergency calls,226 using the user's registered standalone VRS CA service
provider for interpretation services. Specifically, the technical requirements shall specify that the neutral
video communication service provider provides each standalone VRS CA service provider with the
functionality necessary to comply with section 64.605(b) of our rules.227
99.
The neutral video communication service provider also shall provide such functionality
as is required to allow standalone VRS CA service providers to fulfill their registration obligations under
section 64.611 of our rules. Specifically, the neutral video communication service provider will act on
behalf of standalone VRS CA service providers to obtain and assign ten digit telephone numbers to
consumers during the user registration process,228 route and deliver inbound and outbound calls,229

224 The Commission has historically required the provision of point-to-point functionality by VRS providers,
holding that "any loss of such basic functionality is simply not acceptable." See Second Internet-Based TRS
Numbering Order
, 24 FCC Rcd at 820-21, 65. See also, e.g., GoAmerica, Comments, WC Docket No. 05-196, at
15 (filed Aug. 8, 2008) (GoAmerica August 8, 2008 Comments) (asserting that point-to-point calls are "often the
most functionally equivalent form of telecommunications for many individuals"). (In this document, comments
filed in response to the Commission's 2008 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on TRS numbering issues are cited as
"August 8, 2008 Comments.") Insofar as the Commission has stated that point-to-point calls are not "compensable
from the Fund," we interpret that simply to mean that providers were not entitled to compensation at the per-minute
rates established by the Commission for the minutes of point-to-point calls VRS providers transmitted. See Second
Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order
, 24 FCC Rcd at 820-21, 65. To comply with the requirement that each VRS
provider route point-to-point calls, such providers of necessity must ensure that their networks are capable of doing
so. We thus believe that the associated cost of provisioning a network capable of routing point-to-point calls is a
cost sufficiently "caused by interstate TRS" to justify funding it from the TRS Fund. 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(3)(B). We
continue to believe it is not appropriate to provide compensation for each minute of point-to-point traffic carried
based on existing TRS rates, which include many costs that do not arise in the case of point-to-point calls. We do,
however, allow compensation from the TRS Fund for the neutral video communication platform provider to provide
a network that includes that capability, just as we understand providers likewise historically have included the costs
of provisioning a network capability of routing point-to-point calls in the costs submitted to the TRS Fund
administrator for purposes of developing TRS rates.
225 47 C.F.R. 64.604(b)(6).
226 Id. 64.605.
227 Id. 64.605(b) (setting forth specific requirements for routing emergency calls placed by registered users to the
appropriate PSAP or other authorized answering point and for transmitting callers' registered locations and other
information with emergency calls). As described below, however, standalone VRS CA service providers shall be
responsible for ensuring that the neutral video communication service provider has the information it needs to fulfill
these obligations (e.g., by obtaining from each registered user, prior to the initiation of service, the physical location
at which the service will first be utilized and providing that information to the neutral video communication service
provider pursuant to 47 C.F.R. 64.605(b)(4)(i)).
228 Id. 64.611(a)(1).
229 Id. 64.611(a)(2).
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interface with the TRS Numbering Directory,230 interface with the TRS-URD,231 and facilitate any
necessary actions as pertain to toll-free numbers.232
100.
The neutral video communication service provider shall provide standard interfaces and
protocols through which standalone VRS CA service providers will provide interpretation services and
send and receive such information as is necessary to ensure compliance with our rules. The neutral video
communication service provider shall deliver to standalone VRS CA service providers such information
as is necessary for the standalone VRS CA service provider to process the call and maintain such records
(e.g., usage accounting) as are necessary to allow them to seek compensation from the TRS Fund. The
neutral video communication service platform also shall provide advanced capabilities as specified by
CGB including, for example, video mail and address book capabilities.
101.
Scalability. The neutral video communication service platform will necessarily carry few
minutes of use at the initiation of its operations, but is likely to attract additional minutes of use over time.
The neutral video communication service platform provider therefore must ensure that the platform, in
addition to having the capacity to process initial levels of call volume, be scalable (i.e., be able to handle
increasing amounts of traffic over time as demand warrants) on a reasonable timeline.
102.
Customer service. The neutral video communication service provider shall provide
appropriate levels of customer service both to standalone VRS CA service providers and to end users,
including troubleshooting technical issues that may arise in the placing or processing of VRS or point-to-
point calls.
2.

Stakeholder Concerns

103.
Given that no VRS provider will be required to utilize the neutral video communication
service provider, we need not address general concerns expressed by commenters regarding a "command
and control" approach to VRS that would disrupt existing business models and putatively damage
competition, innovation, and customer satisfaction.233 Nevertheless, to the extent that some of these
concerns could be applicable to the approach we adopt today, we address each in turn.
104.
Privacy and Security. Sorenson argues that "centralized" network operations could result
in increased risks to customer privacy.234 While it is not clear how the neutral video communication
service provider would pose any greater (or lesser) risk to consumer data than does an integrated provider
like Sorenson, we acknowledge that the neutral video communication service provider may possess or
have access to sensitive personal information. The neutral video communication service provider must,
therefore, have sufficient safeguards to maintain the proprietary or personal nature of the information in
its possession by protecting it from theft or loss.
105.
Fraud. Sorenson argues that the availability of a centralized communication service
platform increases the risk that "fly-by-night" VRS CA service providers will seek to defraud the TRS
Fund.235 As discussed below, standalone VRS CA service providers must go through a certification
process like other VRS providers before they are eligible to seek compensation from the TRS Fund.236

230 Id. 64.611(c), 64.613(a).
231 See supra section II.D.1.
232 47 C.F.R. 64.611(d), (e).
233 See generally Sorenson Reply Comments at 56-59, Purple PN comments at 9.
234 See, e.g., Sorenson PN Reply Comments at 64-66.
235 Id. at 66-67.
236 See infra section II.E.3.
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We are confident that this certification process, taken in combination with our improved ability to audit
data on VRS calls processed by the neutral video communication service provider, will be sufficient to
protect the Fund against this kind of waste, fraud, and abuse.
106.
Service quality. Sorenson argues that a centralized provider will not be incented to
provide quality services.237 The services of the neutral video communication service provider are
essentially "mechanical" in nature and can be quantified using well-understood industry-standard metrics
such as call signaling delay and availability. We believe that appropriately developed service quality
benchmarks specified by contract are sufficient to ensure that the neutral video communication service
provider will provide an appropriate level of performance.238 Any neutral video communication service
provider that hopes to win a renewal of its contract will be strongly incented to perform.
107.
Compensation. Sorenson expresses concern that changes to the structure of the VRS
program will require changes to the existing compensation system, which it argues is working as
intended.239 We disagree that the existing compensation system is working as intended, and, as described
in section IV of this Order, modify the way that vertically integrated providers are compensated and set in
place a reasonable glide path to market based rates--a process the Commission began years ago. Further,
as we discuss in the FNPRM in section V below, we propose to transition to a ratemaking approach that
makes use of competitively established pricing, i.e., contract prices set through a competitive bidding
process, where feasible.
108.
Customer confusion. Finally, Purple and Sorenson argue that the provision of VRS
through disaggregated service providers will result in customer confusion and poor customer service,
stemming primarily from the fact that "consumers will frequently have no idea whom to contact to
resolve problems and technical difficulties. . . ."240 We believe this concern is overstated, as Americans
obtain service from disaggregated providers every day, whether they use an "over the top" voice service
provider like Vonage over their separately acquired broadband connection, or if they download an
application onto their smart phone. In any event, this Order ensures that consumers may choose to obtain
service from an integrated provider or from a standalone VRS CA service provider utilizing the neutral
video communication service platform. To the extent consumers are dissatisfied with their existing
registered provider, they may choose a different one.
3.

Standalone VRS CA Service Provider Standards

109.
The availability of a neutral video communication service platform will lower the barriers
to entry in the provision of VRS CA service--an issue that Commenters have raised in past
proceedings.241 This will promote more effective and efficient competition on the basis of service quality,
including interpreter quality and the capabilities to handle the varied needs of VRS users. We believe that
this can be accomplished consistently with maintaining strong certification criteria and service standards
and without affording additional opportunities for fraud, abuse, or waste. To this end, the accompanying
FNPRM seeks comment on whether and how to modify our VRS certification rules to ensure that
standalone VRS CA service providers meet high standards of service and to eliminate incentives for
waste, fraud, and abuse by such providers.

237 See Sorenson PN Reply Comments at 67.
238 See supra 94.
239 See Sorenson PN Reply Comments at 67-68.
240 Id. at 69; see also Purple PN Comments at 10.
241 2011 Certification Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 10905, 14.
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110.
General obligations. Standalone VRS CA service providers shall be providers of VRS
and shall be obligated to comply fully with the Commission's TRS regulations, with one general
exception: a standalone VRS CA service provider must utilize the neutral video communication service
platform to fulfill those obligations not directly related to the provision of VRS CA service.242 We
therefore revise section 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(N)(1)(iii) of our rules to allow standalone VRS CA service
providers to utilize the neutral video communication service platform for the provision of platform
functions.243 The functionality we will require to be available from the neutral video communication
service provider is described in section II.E.1 above. Standalone VRS CA service providers shall be
responsible for providing VRS CA service and ensuring that the neutral video communication service
provider has the information it needs to fulfill these obligations on its behalf.244 We will not, however,
hold a standalone VRS CA service provider responsible for any action, or failure to act, by the neutral
video communication service provider involving the non-CA service functions for which the neutral
video communication service provider is responsible.245
111.
Certification. As noted above, the Commission has taken significant steps in recent
years to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse through the adoption of rigorous rules governing iTRS provider
practices and eligibility, certification, and oversight.246 As is the case with any other iTRS provider,
standalone VRS CA service providers must comply with these rules. In complying with the certification
requirements set forth in section 64.606 of our rules,247 standalone VRS CA service providers shall, in
their description of the technology and equipment used to support their call center functions, describe (a)
how they provide connectivity to the neutral video communication service provider, and (b) how they
internally route calls to CAs and then back to the neutral video communication service provider.248
Standalone VRS CA service providers need not describe ACD functionality if it is not used for these
purposes, as standalone VRS CA service providers will not operate their own video communication
service platforms.
112.
Registration. For the purposes of the registration and call routing requirements set forth
in section 64.611 of our rules,249 a standalone VRS CA service provider shall fulfill its obligations under
64.611(a), (c), (d), and (e) through the Commission-contracted neutral video communication service
provider.250 The standalone VRS CA service provider shall be responsible for providing interpretation

242 To be clear, standalone VRS CA service providers may not provide VRS except through the neutral video
communication service provider. Allowing a single entity to provide CA service on both an integrated and a
standalone basis would severely complicate both the implementation of the reforms set forth in this Report and
Order and the administration of the TRS Fund.
243 See Appendix A.
244 E.g., by obtaining from each registered user, prior to the initiation of service, the physical location at which the
service will first be utilized and providing that information to the neutral video communication service provider
pursuant to 47 C.F.R. 64.605(b)(4)(i).
245 See infra section II.E.4. Violations attributable to the neutral video communication service provider will be
addressed through contract enforcement provisions.
246 See supra section I.B.
247 47 C.F.R. 64.606.
248 See Appendix A, 64.606(a)(4).
249 47 C.F.R. 64.611.
250 Id. 64.611(a) (requiring providers to facilitate number porting or number assignment for newly registered
users and to route calls to and from registered users), (c) (requiring providers to obtain routing information from
registered users and to provision and maintain such information in the TRS numbering directory), (d) (prohibiting
(continued...)
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service and gathering and delivering such information from its users to the neutral video communication
service provider as is necessary to ensure the obligations set forth in 64.611 are fulfilled. We will not,
however, hold a standalone VRS CA service provider responsible--with respect to registration
requirements--for any action, or failure to act, by the neutral video communication service provider
involving the non-CA service functions for which the neutral video communication service provider is
responsible.251 For the sake of clarity, standalone VRS CA service providers also must comply with
sections 64.611(f) and (g).252
113.
Speed of Answer. Standalone VRS CA service providers shall be responsible for meeting
our speed of answer requirements as measured from the time a VRS call reaches the signaling servers or
user agents operated by the standalone VRS CA service provider.
114.
TRS Facilities. Standalone VRS CA service providers shall fulfill their obligations
regarding TRS facilities, except that they are not required to provide a copy of a lease or licensing
agreement for an ACD unless it is used in the provision of CA service.253
4.

Delineating Responsibility Between the Neutral Video Communication
Service Provider and Standalone VRS CA Service Providers

115.
In the absence of evidence to the contrary, we will generally delineate responsibility
based on ownership or control of the network elements responsible for a failure. For example, a
standalone VRS CA service provider will not be responsible for a service interruption pursuant to section
64.606(h) of our rules if that interruption results from an outage of the neutral video communication
service provider's network.254 Violations attributable to the neutral video communication service
provider will be addressed through contract enforcement provisions. Violations attributable to the
provision of CA service, e.g., violations of the speed of answer rules, will be addressed through existing
Commission procedures. As discussed above in paragraphs 110 and 112, however, a VRS CA service
provider is also responsible for ensuring that the neutral video communication service provider has the
information it needs to fulfill non-VRS CA service functions.

F.

Implementation of Structural Reforms

1.

Neutrality Requirements

116.
As with the TRS numbering directory, building, maintaining, and/or operating the TRS-
URD, the VRS access technology reference platform, and the neutral video communication service
platform will best be done by one or more neutral third parties under contract to the Commission and
compensated through the Fund.255 The record reflects consistent support for this approach with respect to
the TRS-URD and the VRS access technology reference platform,256 and the need for a video
(Continued from previous page)
use of proxies or aliases for telephone numbers), (e) (generally prohibiting the assignment of toll free numbers). See
Appendix A, 64.611(h).
251 See infra section II.E.4.
252 47 C.F.R. 64.611(f) (governing routing information maintained in access technology), (g) (requiring providers
to provide user advisories regarding registration-related issues).
253 See Appendix A, 64.604(b)(4)(iv).
254 See 47 C.F.R. 64.606(h).
255 First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 11618-20, 73-78.
256 See, e.g., Convo PN Comments at 18; Convo PN Reply Comments at 13, n. 44 (Noting "strong record support"
for assigning TRS-URD functions to the TRS numbering directory administrator and suggesting that "[i]n the
(continued...)
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communication service provider that is providing service to multiple standalone VRS CA service
providers who are competing with other vertically integrated VRS providers to be free of conflicts of
interest is readily apparent.257
117.
Thus, consistent with the TRS numbering directory contract, we believe that the neutral
administrator of the TRS-URD, the neutral video communication service provider, and the neutral
administrator of the VRS access technology reference platform each should be a non-governmental entity
that is not aligned with any particular telecommunications industry segment.258 The neutral administrator
must be fair and impartial. It must also meet neutrality criteria similar to those established for the TRS
numbering directory,259 the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA),260 and the Pooling
Administrator (PA),261 but adjusted as appropriate to reflect the purposes described in this Order.
118.
We therefore conclude that the neutral administrator of the TRS-URD, the neutral video
communication service provider, and the neutral administrator of the VRS access technology reference
platform each: (1) must be a non-governmental entity that is impartial and is not an affiliate of any
Internet-based TRS provider;262 (2) may not themselves, or any affiliate, issue a majority of its debt to,
(Continued from previous page)
alternative, these tasks also could be assigned by the Commission to some other neutral third party that could
operate a user registration and verification database independently of" the TRS numbering directory). See also
Consumer Groups PN Comments at 19 ("Another advantage of a centralized database would be that the database
administrator, rather than the VRS provider, can be the entity that maintains the user profile."); Purple PN
Comments at 9-11 (supporting "the use of a third-party vendor, such as Experian, for the express purposes of user
identification and verification as part of a third-party managed registration process for VRS"); RERC PN Comments
at 9-10.
257 See, e.g., CSDVRS Mar. 13, 2013 Ex Parte ("VRS providers are best situated to provide video communications
services or video interpreting, but the Commission should issue an RFP, similar to the RFP for the iTRS database
that excluded VRS providers from bidding, for an entity to oversee an interoperable network").
258 See Numbering Resource Optimization, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, CC
Docket No. 99-200, 15 FCC Rcd 7574, 7642, 153 (2000) (NRO First Report and Order); First Internet-Based TRS
Numbering Order,
23 FCC Rcd at 11619, 76.
259 See 47 C.F.R. 64.613(b)(1).
260 See id. 52.12(a)(1) (listing neutrality criteria for the NANPA).
261 See id. 52.20(d)(1) (applying NANPA neutrality criteria to the PA).
262 We base our definition of "affiliate" on the statutory definition in section 3 of the Act. See 47 U.S.C. 153(1)
(defining "affiliate"). We elaborate on that definition as follows: "Affiliate" is a person who controls, is controlled
by, or is under the direct or indirect common control of another person. A person shall be deemed to control another
if such person possesses, directly or indirectly, (1) an equity interest by stock, partnership (general or limited)
interest, joint venture participation, or member interest in the other person ten percent (10%) or more of the total
outstanding equity interests in the other person; or (2) the power to vote ten percent (10%) or more of the securities
(by stock, partnership (general or limited) interest, joint venture participation, or member interest) having ordinary
voting power for the election of directors, general partner, or management of such other person; or (3) the power to
direct or cause the direction of the management and policies of such other person, whether through the ownership of
or right to vote voting rights attributable to the stock, partnership (general or limited) interest, joint venture
participation, or member interest of such other person, by contract (including but not limited to stockholder
agreement partnership (general or limited) agreement, joint venture agreement, or operating agreement, or
otherwise. See 47 C.F.R. 52.12(a)(1)(i); see also NRO First Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 7642, 154 n. 354
(2000); Administration of the North American Numbering Plan Toll Free Service Access Codes, Third Report and
Order, CC Docket Nos. 92-237, 95-155, 12 FCC Rcd 23040, 23076, 69 (1997) (NANP Administration Third
Report and Order
).
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nor derive a majority of its revenues from, any Internet-based TRS provider;263 and (3) notwithstanding
the neutrality criteria set forth in (1) and (2) above, may be determined by the Commission to be or not to
be subject to undue influence by parties with a vested interest in the outcome of TRS-related activities.264
Any subcontractor that performs functions of the neutral administrator of the TRS-URD, the neutral video
communication service provider, and/or the neutral administrator of the VRS access technology reference
platform each must also meet these neutrality criteria.
2.

Cost Recovery

119.
Section 225 creates a cost recovery regime whereby TRS providers are compensated for
their reasonable costs of providing service in compliance with the TRS regulations.265 The Commission
has explained that "for purposes of determining the `reasonable' costs that may be recovered . . . , the
costs must relate to the provision of service in compliance with the applicable non-waived [TRS]
mandatory minimum standards."266
120.
Commenters have expressed concerns regarding the cost of implementing the reforms we
adopt in this Order.267 The Commission does not routinely grant extraordinary cost recovery for new
regulations. We do not believe that the providers' additional costs necessary to implement the
requirements adopted herein will be substantial, and thus do not find it appropriate to grant additional
extraordinary cost recovery in connection with this Order, particularly given that providers currently are
compensated well above their actual costs.268 We recognize, however, that the Commission in the First
Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order
provided a mechanism whereby providers could seek to recover
their actual reasonable costs of complying with certain of the new requirements adopted in that Order,
some of which are comparable to requirements being adopted in this order.269 We therefore seek
comment on whether to adopt such a mechanism in the Further Notice.270

III.

ADDITIONAL REFORMS

121.
In this section, we adopt targeted, incremental measures to improve the efficiency of the
program, help protect against waste, fraud, and abuse, improve our administration of the program, and to
generally ensure that VRS users' experiences reflect the policies and goals of section 225.

263 "Majority" means greater than 50%, and "debt" means stock, bonds, securities, notes, loans, or any other
instrument of indebtedness. See 47 C.F.R. 52.12(a)(1)(ii); NRO First Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 7643,
154 n. 356; NANP Administration Third Report and Order, 12 FCC Rcd at 23076, 69.
264 See 47 C.F.R. 52.12(a)(1)(iii); NRO First Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 7643, 154 & n.357; NANP
Administration Third Report and Order
, 12 FCC Rcd at 23076, 69. Neither these neutrality criteria nor the
neutrality criteria applicable to the TRS numbering directory administrator should be construed to prevent a single
entity from providing some or all of the functions which this Order directs be procured by contract.
265 See 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(3); 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5). TRS users cannot be required to pay rates "greater than the
rates paid for functionally equivalent voice communication services with respect to such factors as duration of the
call, the time of day, and the distance from point origination to point of termination." 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(1)(D).
266 2004 TRS Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 1255152, 199; Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech
Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CG Docket No. 03-123, Order on Reconsideration,
21 FCC Rcd 8050, 8057, 1516 (2006) (2006 TRS Reconsideration Order).
267 See, e.g., ASL Services Holdings PN Comments at 11-12; Consumer Groups, Ex Parte Letter (filed Apr. 8,
2013); Convo, CSDVRS, and CAAG, Ex Parte Letter at 5-7 (filed Apr. 19, 2013).
268 See infra section IV.A.
269 See First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 11626-27, 96-101.
270 See infra section V.B.
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A.

Improving the Commission's Operations

122.
The Commission has delegated authority for disability access policy to CGB, stating that
CGB "[a]dvises and makes recommendations to the Commission, or acts for the Commission under
delegated authority, in matters pertaining to persons with disabilities."271
123.
However, in this Order, the Commission delegates financial oversight of the TRS Fund to
the Managing Director. These duties reasonably fall within OMD's current delegated authority to
"[a]ssist the Chairman in carrying out the administrative and executive responsibilities..."; and "[a]dvise
the Chairman and Commission on management, administrative, and related matters; review and evaluate
the programs and procedures of the Commission; initiate action or make recommendations as may be
necessary to administer the Communications Act most effectively in the public interest."272 In addition,
this duty is consistent with OMD's current responsibility to, "[p]lan and manage the administrative affairs
of the Commission with respect to the functions of... budget and financial management."273 Nonetheless,
such financial oversight must be consistent with the TRS Orders, rules, and policies, and OMD should
consult with CGB on issues that potentially could impact the availability, provision, and continuity of
services to consumers. Enforcement regarding TRS will continue to be carried out under the existing
authority delegated to CGB, OMD, and the Enforcement Bureau, as appropriate.
124.
CGB will retain authority over TRS policy matters. OMD will be responsible for
management of all TRS related contracts and contractors, including the TRS Fund administration
contract/TRS Fund administrator, and the TRS-URD contract adopted pursuant to this Order. In addition,
OMD will be responsible for overseeing TRS Fund audits performed by the TRS Fund administrator,
responding (jointly with CGB, if appropriate) to OIG audits of the TRS Fund, advising the TRS Fund
administrator on payment withholding and other financial decisions, and reviewing TRS Fund
contribution factor calculations.
125.
A similar delineation of duties was applied to oversight of the Universal Service Fund
(USF) in 2008.274 This action has led to more effective oversight of USF by the Commission and better
coordination within the Commission on USF matters. It has also provided clarity to USF stakeholders on
the appropriate points of contact within the Commission on various USF issues. Our intention is to
support similar improvements in oversight of the TRS Fund.
126.
To meet this clarified responsibility, we note that the Managing Director has recently
designated a FCC employee to serve as a TRS Fund Program Coordinator, which we believe will help
OMD to carry out its responsibilities with regard to the TRS Fund. We direct that the Contracting
Officer's Representatives (CORs) for all TRS related contracts shall provide support to the TRS Fund
Program Coordinator. In addition, the TRS Fund Program Coordinator will coordinate with CGB, the
Managing Director, and all other relevant Bureaus and Offices as needed to appropriately oversee the
TRS Fund, and will establish and oversee appropriate processes for coordination of Commission staff
with the CORs who oversee TRS contracted entities in accordance with their prescribed contractual
duties. Issues that could expand the scope of the contract work, extend the length of the contract, or raise
the price of performance must be coordinated with the Contracting Officer.

271 47 C.F.R. 0.141(f).
272 Id. 0.11(a)(3), (4).
273 Id. 0.11(a)(8).
274 See FCC, FCC Encyclopedia, available at http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/universal-service-fund-
telecommunications-relay-services-and-numbering-administration-a (last visited Apr. 10, 2013); Memorandum of
Understanding Between the Federal Communications Commission and the Universal Service Administrative
Company, available at http://www.fcc.gov/omd/usac-mou.pdf.
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B.

General Prohibitions on Practices Causing Unreasonable Discrimination and Waste,
Fraud, and Abuse

127.
As the Commission explained in the 2011 Further Notice, a piecemeal approach to
detecting and outlawing discriminatory and fraudulent practices has not always worked.275 In many
cases, for example, "when directed not to engage in certain calling activities, some providers have merely
shifted to other arrangements that are not specifically prohibited" or are more difficult to detect.276 Such
practices not only drain the Fund by extracting payments for ineligible calls, but also create inefficiencies
in the VRS call processing system. For example, when a VRS provider encourages or causes VRS calls
to be made that would not otherwise be made, or enrolls VRS users who would not otherwise be enrolled,
such practices artificially tie up CAs and limit the ability of legitimate callers to use VRS, contrary to
section 225 of the Act.277 The Commission therefore proposed to adopt regulations that generally prohibit
VRS provider practices that discriminate against particular users or classes of users or that otherwise
result in waste, fraud, or abuse of the TRS Fund.278
128.
Regarding discrimination, we conclude that the most appropriate course is to adopt a
regulation that mirrors the prohibitions in Section 202(a) of the Act.279 Such a requirement that furthers
the "functional equivalence" purpose of section 225 by providing safeguards against discrimination in the
provision of relay services equivalent to those generally applicable to carriers in their provision of voice
communication services.280 Accordingly, we amend section 64.604 to provide that:
(c)(12) A VRS provider shall not (1) directly or indirectly, by any means
or device, engage in any unjust or unreasonable discrimination related to
practices, facilities, or services for or in connection with like relay
service, (2) engage in or give any undue or unreasonable preference or
advantage to any particular person, class of persons, or locality, or (3)

275 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17408, 102.
276 Id. at 17384, 26 n. 88.
277 Id. at 17408, 102. Further, such practices allow the providers who engage in them to obtain an unwarranted
competitive advantage over more scrupulous providers who seek reimbursement only for relay service that falls
within the contours of the Act. Id.
278 Id. at 17409, 104.
279 Section 202(a) generally prohibits common carriers from engaging in unjust or unreasonable discrimination in
charges, practices, classifications, etc., or giving undue or unreasonable advantages or disadvantages to any
customer or class of customers, in connection with communications service. 42 U.S.C. 202(a).
280 See 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3). The Commission previously has observed that "[i]n adopting the final version of
Section 225(d)(1)(E), the Conference Committee indicated that the provision `specifies that a relay operator is
subject to the same standards of conduct that operators are subject to under the Communications Act of 1934.'" TRS
I
, 6 FCC Rcd at 4660, 15 n.15 (quoting H.R. Rep. No. 558, 101st Cong., 2d Sess. at 78 (1990)). The Commission
went on to observe that "[a]s indicated in the Conference Report, the Senate acceded to the House amendment,"
which "added the words `failing to fulfill the obligations of common carriers by' to the Senate version of Section
225(d)(1)(E)." TRS I at 4660, 15 n.15. See also TRS II, 8 FCC Rcd at 1804, 14 ("Finally, with respect to service
and liability issues, we stated [in TRS I] that Congress intended relay operators to have the same service obligations
as common carriers generally."). The Commission also has linked the fulfillment of "the obligations of common
carriers" in section 225(d)(1)(E) to the "functional equivalency standard mandated by the ADA." TRS I at 4661,
19 ("In order to maintain the functional equivalency standard mandated by the ADA, we modify the proposed rules
to require that CAs are prohibited from failing to fulfill the obligations of common carriers by refusing single or
sequential calls or limiting the length of calls utilizing relay services.").
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subject any particular person, class of persons, or locality to any undue or
unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage.281
129.
We intend that this rule be interpreted and applied in the same manner that section 202(a)
is applied to common carriers, i.e., that this rule will prohibit VRS providers from discriminating in
connection with "like" relay service to the same extent that section 202(a) prohibits common carriers
from discriminating in connection with "like" communication service.282
130.
Regarding waste, fraud, and abuse, recent experience confirms that, in adopting rules
aimed at curbing existing abuses, the Commission cannot foresee the specific forms that waste, fraud, or
abuse may take in the future.283 Such practices 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."284 Moreover, such practices unlawfully shift improper costs to consumers of other
telecommunications services, including local and long distance voice, interconnected VoIP, and other
subscribers.285 If unchecked, waste, fraud, and abuse can drain the TRS Fund and thereby "threaten the
availability of . . . relay services that are supported by the Fund for the benefit of legitimate users."286
131.
Accordingly, in furtherance of our mandate under section 225(b)(1) to ensure that TRS is
available "in the most efficient manner" and the goals underlying the provision and regulation of TRS, we
adopt a general prohibition on VRS providers engaging in fraudulent, abusive, and wasteful practices, i.e.,
practices that threaten to drain the TRS Fund by causing or encouraging (1) false TRS Fund compensation
claims, (2) unauthorized use of VRS,287 (3) the making of VRS calls that would not otherwise be made,288

281 See Appendix A, 64.604(c)(12).
282 See, e.g., Cellular Interconnection, Declaratory Ruling, 2 FCC Rcd 2910 (1987).
283 See, e.g., IP CTS Interim Rules Order (adopting interim rules to supplement existing TRS rules, in order to
address emerging practices likely to cause unnecessary and/or unauthorized use of relay service). See also Structure
and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program; Internet-based TRS Certification Application of Healinc
Telecom, LLC
, CG Docket No. 10-51, Order, 28 FCC Rcd 1381, 1384-86, 10-11, 1387, 14 & n. 37 (CGB
2013) (Healinc Certification Denial Order) (VRS provider previously found in violation of a Commission rule
prohibiting routing of calls through multiple URLs continued to violate the rule while altering its practices to mask
subsequent violations).
284 VRS Call Practices R&O, 26 FCC Rcd at 5551, 5.
285 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17408-09, 103. The Commission noted that VRS users are not
charged for use of the service. Id. at 17409, 103 n. 209. Rather, these costs are passed on to all consumers of
telecommunications service by intrastate and interstate common carriers, either as a surcharge on their monthly
service bills or as part of the rates for the state's intrastate telephone services. 2005 Financial Incentives
Declaratory Ruling
, 20 FCC Rcd at 1468, 6. When a VRS provider engages in fraudulent practices, the costs are
unlawfully passed on to the public. 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17409, 103 n. 209.
286 IP CTS Interim Rules Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 708, 8.
287 See, e.g., 2005 Financial Incentives Declaratory Ruling, 20 FCC Rcd at 1469-70, 9.
288 See, e.g., id. at 1469, 8 (prohibiting a provider's "Brown Bag" program, which allowed customers to receive
five points for every minute of VRS placed through the company, with the customer being able to cash in the points
for high speed Internet service); 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, 12505-06, 6 (2005)
(Long Distance Discounts Declaratory Ruling) (concluding that offering free or discount long distance service to
TRS consumers constitutes an impermissible financial incentive, and that programs "directed at giving the consumer
an incentive to make a TRS call in the first place . . . are prohibited").
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or (4) the use of VRS by consumers who do not need the service in order to communicate in a
functionally equivalent manner.289
132.
To prevent practices that cause or encourage unauthorized or unnecessary use of relay
services, we amend section 64.604 to provide that:
(c)(13) A VRS provider shall not engage in any practice that causes or
encourages, or that the provider knows or has reason to know will cause
or encourage (1) false or unverified claims for TRS Fund compensation,
(2) unauthorized use of VRS, (3) the making of VRS calls that would not
otherwise be made, or (4) the use of VRS by persons who do not need
the service in order to communicate in a functionally equivalent manner.
A VRS provider shall not seek payment from the TRS Fund for any
minutes of service it knows or has reason to know are resulting from
such practices. Any VRS provider that becomes aware of such practices
being or having been committed by any person shall as soon as
practicable report such practices to the Commission or the TRS Fund
administrator.290
133.
We intend that this rule encompass, but not be limited by, the Commission's numerous
prior declaratory rulings describing wasteful, fraudulent, and abusive practices that violate section 225.291
For purposes of the amended rule, a practice is prohibited where, for example, it artificially stimulates
TRS usage, enables or encourages participation by unauthorized users, or uses financial incentives to
attract new TRS users or to increase usage. This list is provided by way of example only and is not
intended to be exhaustive. Providers are in the best position to identify anomalies and trends based on
analysis of their call traffic and abuses detected by CAs. The Commission expects each provider to be
diligent in ensuring its practices do not result in waste, fraud, or abuse. All monies paid from the Fund to
providers who are in violation of this rule shall be recoverable by the TRS Fund administrator.

C.

Provider Compliance Plans

134.
In the 2011 Further Notice, the Commission asked, in general, whether there are any
additional safeguards that it should adopt as rules to help ensure that providers comply with the

289 See, e.g., IP CTS Interim Rules Order, 28 FCC Rcd at 711-13, 14 (adopting interim rules prohibiting financial
incentive programs that may result in registration for and usage of relay services by consumers "who do not need
these services to communicate in a manner that is functionally equivalent to communication by conventional voice
telephone users," i.e., that "may have the effect of enlisting customers who might not otherwise have a reason to use
the service"); id. at 714, 15 (financial rewards that incent hearing professionals "to encourage consumers to order
and use IP CTS--whether or not such consumers would actually benefit from IP CTS--. . . may be promoting the
use of IP CTS by individuals who do not need this service, or who could benefit more from other assistive devices
or hearing technologies").
290 See Appendix A, 64.604(c)(13).
291 See, e.g., FCC Clarifies that Certain TRS Marketing and Call Handling Practices are Improper, CC Docket No.
98-67, CG Docket No. 03-123, Public Notice, 20 FCC Rcd 1471, 1473 (2005) (2005 TRS Marketing Practices PN)
(prohibiting direct and indirect financial or other tangible incentives to make relay calls and prohibiting financial
incentives or rewards to register with the provider, and emphasizing that financial incentives are prohibited, even
when the benefit goes to a third party rather than the consumer); 2005 Financial Incentives Declaratory Ruling;
Long Distance Discounts Declaratory Ruling; 2007 TRS Rate Methodology Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 2017375, 89
94; Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech
Disabilities, CG Docket No. 03-123, Declaratory Ruling,
23 FCC Rcd 8993, 8999, 13 (2008 Declaratory Ruling),
rev'd in part, Sorenson Communications, Inc. v. FCC, 567 F.3d 1215 (10th Cir. 2009) (Sorenson I).
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Commission's TRS rules and policies.292 Purple proposes that providers be required to adopt regulatory
compliance plans designed to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse, and to submit them for Commission
review.293 As Purple points out, carriers participating in the Lifeline program as Lifeline-only eligible
telecommunications carriers are required to establish such compliance plans.294 Although the
Commission's rules currently require VRS providers who have received Commission certification to
submit annual reports providing evidence of ongoing compliance with our minimum standards, our rules
do not specifically require the development of or submission to the Commission of an annual compliance
plan addressing waste, fraud, and abuse, comparable to what is required of Lifeline-only carriers.295 To
provide an improved mechanism for ensuring that providers have taken adequate steps and adopted
sufficient measures to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse, we amend section 64.606(g) of our rules to add the
following requirements:
(g)(3) Each VRS provider shall include within its annual report a
compliance plan describing the provider's policies, procedures, and
practices for complying with the requirements of section 64.604(c)(13)
of this subpart. Such compliance plan shall include, at a minimum: (i)
identification of any officer(s) or managerial employee(s) responsible for
ensuring compliance with section 64.604(c)(13) of this subpart, (ii) a
description of any compliance training provided to the provider's
officers, employees, and contractors, (iii) identification of any telephone
numbers, website addresses, or other mechanisms available to employees
for reporting abuses, (iv) a description of any internal audit processes
used to ensure the accuracy and completeness of minutes submitted to
the TRS Fund administrator, and (v) a description of all policies and
practices that the provider is following to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse
of the TRS Fund. A provider that fails to file a compliance plan as
directed shall not be entitled to compensation for the provision of VRS
during the period of noncompliance.
(4) If, at any time, the Commission determines that a VRS provider's
compliance plan currently on file is inadequate to prevent waste, fraud,
and abuse of the TRS Fund, the Commission shall so notify the provider,
shall explain the reasons the plan is inadequate, and shall direct the
provider to correct the identified defects and submit an amended
compliance plan reflecting such correction within a specified time period
not to exceed 60 days. A provider that fails to comply with such
directive shall not be entitled to compensation for the provision of VRS
during the period of noncompliance. A submitted compliance plan shall
not be prima facie evidence of the plan's adequacy; nor shall it be
evidence that the provider has fulfilled its obligations under section
64.604(c)(13) of this subpart.296

292 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17422, 155.
293 Purple FNPRM Comments at 21-22.
294 Id. at 22; Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 6813-17, 368-381.
295 47 C.F.R. 64.606(g).
296 See Appendix A, 64.606(g)(3), (4).
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D.

Speed of Answer

135.
The Commission sought comment in the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM on whether to update
its VRS "speed of answer" rules, which require VRS providers to answer 80 percent of all VRS calls
within 120 seconds, measured on a monthly basis.297 The record demonstrates that it is appropriate to
take steps to more closely align the VRS speed of answer rules with those applicable to other forms of
TRS by reducing the permissible wait time for a VRS call to be answered to 30 seconds, 85 percent of the
time, and to measure compliance on a daily basis.298
136.
The Commission previously has found that the "ability of a TRS user to reach a CA
prepared to place his or her call, without experiencing delays that a voice telephone user would not
experience in placing a telephone call, is fundamental to the concept of `functional equivalence.'"299
Implementing the functional equivalency requirement, the Commission adopted speed of answer rules.
The speed of answer requirements for VRS providers differed from those for other forms of TRS,
however. We now conclude that it is feasible for VRS providers to meet a speed of answer requirement
closer to that of other forms of TRS, and that adopting such a requirement is consistent with the
functional equivalency mandate.300 Although the new 30 second requirement still deviates from the 10
second speed of answer standard required for other forms of TRS, we also find that this new mandate is in
keeping with the guiding principle of section 225 of the Act that TRS be made available "in the most
efficient manner"301 because it takes into account the limitations and capabilities of VRS.
137.
Wait time. The record indicates that VRS providers already achieve a speed of answer of
30 seconds for the majority of VRS calls.302 We therefore find it reasonable to reduce the permissible
wait time for VRS calls to 30 seconds.303 We note that this 30 second requirement deviates from the 10
second speed of answer standard required for other forms of TRS.304 Given, however, that the record
shows that VRS providers already are largely achieving this standard at current CA staffing levels, this
action will set a new standard for VRS provider performance without additional cost to providers or the
TRS Fund.305 In the accompanying FNPRM we seek comment on whether to further reduce the

297 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17405, 87. See also id. at 17401, 77, 17403, 83, 17405, 86; 47
C.F.R. 64.604(b)(2)(iii).
298 Of the few commenters who address this issue, all generally support reducing the speed of answer time limit. See
Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 11-12; Purple FNPRM Comments at 17-18 (suggesting the Commission
make the VRS speed of answer rules "more in alignment with other forms of TRS"); Consumer Groups FNPRM
Reply Comments at 3-4; Sorenson FNPRM Reply Comments at 48-49; VRSCA FNPRM Reply Comments at 3.
299 2000 TRS Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 5166, 60. See also id. ("For a TRS user, reaching a CA to place a relay call is
the equivalent of picking up a phone and getting a dial tone. Any interpretation of our rule that delays a customer's
ability to place a call through the relay center clearly compromises the functional equivalence of relay service."); id.
at 5167, 63 ("Just like voice calls, TRS calls should be answered within a reasonable time period, regardless of the
traffic load.").
300 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3). See Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 12 ("Without prompt answer speed, there
cannot be functional equivalence"). See also Sorenson FNPRM Reply Comments at 48.
301 47 U.S.C. 225 (b)(1).
302 See Consumer Groups FNPRM Reply Comments at 4.
303 See Appendix A, 64.604(b)(2)(iii)(A).
304 47 C.F.R. 64.604(b)(2)(ii).
305 See Sorenson FNPRM Reply Comments at 48-49 (noting that "if the Commission adopts a lower speed-of-
answer minimum standard, it must maintain a compensation level that enables VRS providers to meet that
requirement").
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permissible wait time for VRS calls by requiring calls to be answered 85 percent of the time within 10
seconds so as to fully harmonize the permissible wait time for VRS with the permissible wait time for
other forms of TRS.306
138.
Compliance threshold. Consistent with our rules for other forms of TRS, we increase
from 80 to 85 percent the number of calls that a provider must answer within the allowable wait time.307
The Commission previously has found that an 85 percent speed of answer compliance threshold allows
providers sufficient leeway to compensate for abandoned calls and fluctuations in call traffic.308 Further,
the Commission's 2005 decision to adopt an 80 percent compliance threshold in 2005 rested primarily on
concerns expressed by commenters on the availability of qualified VRS interpreters.309 No commenter on
the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, however, raised the availability of qualified VRS interpreters as an issue
with respect to our speed of answer requirements.
139.
Measurement window. Consistent with our rules for other forms of TRS, we require a
daily (rather than monthly) measurement of compliance with our VRS speed of answer standard.310 The
Commission's justification for adopting a larger measurement window for VRS in 2005, when VRS was
still a nascent service, was premised on VRS provider's lack of experience determining CA staffing levels
necessary to meet call demand.311 Given that providers now have more than a decade of experience
managing CA staffing levels and already are largely meeting the 30 second wait time requirement we
adopt today, deviating from the measurement window we apply to other forms of TRS is no longer
necessary.312
140.
Calculating speed of answer. In the 2005 VRS Speed of Answer Order, the Commission
concluded that "the speed of answer measurement begins when the VRS provider's equipment accepts the
call from the Internet."313 The Commission added that "the call is `answered' when either a CA or an
automated system responds to the incoming call and begins taking instructions from the calling party

306 Infra section V.I.
307 47 C.F.R. 64.604(b)(2)(ii).
308 See, e.g., 2000 TRS Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 5167, 64.
309 See Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech
Disabilities
, Report and Order, Docket Nos. CG 03-123, CC 98-67, 20 FCC Rcd 13165, 13175, 19 n. 69 (2005)
(2005 VRS Speed of Answer Order). In 2005, the Commission explained that it would re-examine this VRS rule "to
determine if, and when, it might be appropriate to further tighten the speed of answer requirement." Id., 20.
310 47 C.F.R. 64.604(b)(2)(ii)(C). We note that the Consumer Groups and two providers advocated retaining a
monthly measurement window. See Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 11-12; Purple FNPRM Comments at
18; Sorenson FNPRM Reply Comments at 48.
311 See 2005 VRS Speed of Answer Order, 20 FCC Rcd at 13175-76, 19; Purple FNPRM Comments at 17-18 ("The
current VRS speed of answer standard requiring 80 percent of calls to be answered within 120 seconds was
established at a time of rapid growth in the VRS market, and when VRS was in a more experimental phase of
development.").
312 Since VRS speed of answer compliance will be measured on a daily basis, penalties for violating this rule may
include full-day reimbursement withholdings on those days when VRS speed of answer requirements are not met.
See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(L).
313 2005 VRS Speed of Answer Order, 20 FCC Rcd at 13176, 21, citing Provision of Improved Telecommunications
Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities; Petition for
Clarification of WorldCom, Inc.
, CC Docket No. 98-67, Declaratory Ruling and Second Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, 17 FCC Rcd 7779,7788-7789, 29 (2002) (IP Relay Declaratory Ruling). See also 47 C.F.R.
64.604(b)(2)(ii).
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about the outbound call the calling party wishes to make."314 The adoption of the 2005 VRS Speed of
Answer Order
preceded the adoption of a uniform ten-digit telephone numbering system linked to the
North American Numbering Plan (NANP) for Internet-based TRS.315 Because VRS users can now dial
the number they wish to call, and the connection of the call to the called party no longer requires the VRS
provider to obtain telephone numbers and other information from VRS users, we now clarify that the
speed of answer will be measured based on the elapsed time between the time at which the call (whether
initiated by a hearing or ASL user) is first delivered to the provider's system (handoff time) until the call
is either abandoned (call termination time) or answered by any method which results in the caller's call
immediately being placed, not put in a queue or on hold (session start time).316 This clarification mirrors
section 64.604(b)(2)(ii) of the rules governing speed of answer for other forms of TRS, which requires
that 85 percent of all calls "be answered within 10 seconds by any method which results in the caller's
call immediately being placed, not put in a queue or on hold."317 Calls that are not completed because the
user's eligibility cannot be validated shall not be included in speed of answer calculations.318
141.
Phase In. To allow providers to adjust their operations, as necessary, to meet the new
speed of answer requirement, we establish a phase-in period. Specifically, as measured on a daily basis:
(1) by January 1, 2014, VRS providers must answer 85 percent of all VRS calls within 60 seconds; and
(2) by July 1, 2014, VRS providers must answer 85 percent of all VRS calls within 30 seconds.319 We
will monitor VRS providers' compliance with these new standards, and re-visit this issue in the future if
necessary.

E.

Preventing Slamming

142.
In the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM , the Commission sought comment on the need for rules
to protect relay consumers against unauthorized default provider changes,320 also known as "slamming,"

314 2005 VRS Speed of Answer Order, 20 FCC Rcd at 13176, 21.
315 First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order; Second Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order.
316 The handoff time for a standalone VRS CA service provider will be the time the call is delivered to the
standalone VRS CA service provider's network by the neutral video communication service provider. See supra
section II.E.4; Appendix A, 64.604(b)(2)(iii)(B) . The Commission will ensure that the neutral video
communication service provider contract contains service quality metrics and incentives sufficient to ensure that the
neutral video communication service provider's performance does not result in unacceptable levels of delay. See
supra
94.
317 47 C.F.R. 64.604(b)(2)(ii). Because we are not adopting a per-user compensation mechanism at this time, we
need not address Sorenson's request for the Commission to adopt rules prohibiting VRS providers from altering
speed of answer based on a subscriber's volume. See Sorenson FNPRM Comments at 47, 82-83. Similarly, because
we are neither requiring nor allowing skills-based routing, an operation that would allow VRS users to request
interpreters based on their particular skills or expertise, we also need not address at this time proposals to exempt
from the speed of answer requirements those calls where the consumer proactively requests such skills-based
routing. See Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 11; Purple FNPRM Comments at 18-19; Sorenson FNPRM
Reply Comments at 50.
318 See supra section II.D.1.
319 The VRS speed of answer rule adopted by the Commission in 2005 embodied a three-step phase-in with more
stringent requirements every six months. See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(b)(2)(iii); 2005 VRS Speed of Answer Order, 20
FCC Rcd at 13175-76, 19. Given that VRS providers already achieve a speed of answer of 30 seconds for the
majority of VRS calls, a two-step phase-in is sufficient. See supra 137.
320 A default provider is the Internet-based TRS provider with which an Internet-based TRS user has registered for
the purpose of (1) obtaining a telephone number for the routing and completion of calls, (2) facilitating the provision
of 911 service, and (3) facilitating the implementation of appropriate network security measures. See First Internet-
Based TRS Numbering Order
, 23 FCC Rcd at 11609, 42-43.
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by VRS providers.321 In the context of VRS and IP Relay, slamming occurs when a provider changes a
user's default provider selection without that user's knowledge or explicit consent.322 The Commission
previously sought comment on the adoption of slamming rules for both VRS and IP Relay in 2008.323
Commenters responding to both the 2008 and 2011 notices generally urged the Commission to adopt
slamming rules,324 and to model such rules after part 64, subpart K, the telecommunications carrier
slamming rules,325 which require that certain procedures be followed to effect changes in a consumer's
preferred telecommunications service provider. In addition to these comments, the Commission has
received direct requests from providers to prohibit the unauthorized transfer of a consumer's VRS
business,326 and complaints from consumers about unauthorized changes of their default provider.327

321 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17410, 106.
322 This is essentially the same definition used in the context of telecommunications services, where slamming is
said to occur when a carrier changes a subscriber's carrier selection without that subscriber's knowledge or explicit
authorization. See First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 11634, 120, citing Implementation
of the Subscriber Carrier Selection Changes Provisions of the Telecommunications Act of 1996; Policies and Rules
Concerning Unauthorized Changes of Consumers' Long Distance Carriers
, CC Docket No. 94-129, Second Report
and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 14 FCC Rcd 1508, 1510, 1 (1998).
323 See First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 11634-39, 119-130; 2011 VRS Reform
FNPRM,
26 FCC Rcd at 17410, 106, n. 216.
324 Regarding the 2011 notice, see ASL Services Holdings FNPRM Comments at 18, n. 28; Consumer Groups
FNPRM Comments at 16 (slamming rules for TRS are needed "to be consistent with the Commission's protections
for users of voice services"); CSDVRS FNPRM Comments at 50 (a failure to implement letter of agency (LOA)
procedures "could result in providers acquiring LOAs by deceitful measures without full consumer awareness of the
porting process"); Sorenson FNPRM Comments at 85 (agreeing with Commission that slamming "nullifies the
ability of consumers to select the . . . providers of their choice," quoting First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order,
23 FCC Rcd at 11633, 20); VRSCA FNPRM Reply Comments at 3. Regarding the 2008 notice, see Consumer
Groups August 8, 2008 Comments at 19-24; Go America August 8, 2008 Comments at 21-25; Sorenson August 8,
2008 Comments at 12-17. But see AT&T August 25, 2008 Reply Comments at 7-8 (denying the existence of a TRS
slamming problem, and suggesting that only minimal slamming regulations may be needed).
325 47 C.F.R. 64.1100 et seq. See Sorenson, Ex Parte Letter, CG Docket No. 03-123, Attachment 1 (filed May 15,
2008) (Sorenson May 15, 2008 Ex Parte); Sorenson, Ex Parte Letter, CG Docket No. 03-123, Attachment (filed
May 19, 2008) (Sorenson May 19, 2008 Ex Parte); Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 16-17; Sorenson
FNPRM Comments at 86; VRSCA FNPRM Reply Comments at 3.
326 See, e.g., Purple Ex Parte Letter (filed Mar. 11, 2013) (Purple March 11, 2013 Ex Parte) (urging the FCC to
aggressively investigate claims that the dominant provider behaved anticompetitively, e.g., by porting to another
provider without permission and reconfiguring routers in customer homes so that they will not connect with a
competitor's equipment); CSDVRS, Ex Parte Letter, CG Docket No. 10-51 (filed April 24, 2013) (CSDVRS April
24, 2013 Ex Parte) (urging the FCC to adopt regulations to prohibit slamming and to prohibit "defeaturing" of
equipment during the number porting process). Other providers have raised concerns about questionable provider
behaviors that do not rise to the level of slamming. See, e.g., CSDVRS Petition for Rulemaking on Regulation on
Provider Representation, CG Docket No. 03-123(filed Aug. 21, 2009) (recommending penalties for intentional
misrepresentations associated with equipment installation and maintenance committed by a provider's employees);
Letter from Charles Breckinridge, Counsel to Sorenson Communications, Inc., to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary,
FCC, CG Docket No. 03-123 (filed Nov. 4, 2011) (urging the Commission to prohibit the practice whereby,
following the port of a telephone number to a new provider, the new provider requires customers to relinquish their
videophones obtained from their current provider to the new provider).
327 In the past year, the Commission has received approximately 25-30 such complaints. Given the small size of the
VRS subscriber population of approximately 120,000 individuals, we consider this to be a significant level of
complaints. Further, we consider it likely that a substantial number of consumers were subjected to unauthorized
provider changes but did not file complaints.
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These submissions to the Commission indicate that unauthorized transfers are still taking place, and can
take multiple forms, including the porting of a VRS user's telephone number from the user's default
provider to another provider without the user's consent and the reconfiguring of routers in a user's home
so that it no longer connects with a competitor's equipment.328
143.
In order to protect VRS and IP Relay users from unwanted changes in their default
provider, we adopt rules governing how these changes may take place.329 These rules, which are
incorporated into part 64, subpart F of our rules (TRS regulations)330 and are modeled after part 64,
subpart K of our rules,331 prescribe: the type(s) of user authorization that providers must obtain prior to
switching a subscriber's default provider; how verification of any such authorization must be obtained
and maintained by the receiving provider; whether and how providers may use information obtained when
receiving notification of a user's service change to another provider, whether for marketing, win-back, or
other purposes; and complaint procedures and remedies for violation of these rules. The rules we adopt
today are not identical to the slamming rules adopted for telecommunications carriers and found in
subpart K. Modifications have been made to reflect the differences between iTRS providers and
telecommunications carriers, eliminate redundant provisions, and otherwise make the rules more explicit
so as to improve enforcement and administration of the requirements that apply to iTRS providers.
Although we do not address herein every variance between the subpart K rules that apply to
telecommunications carriers and the subpart F rules as they apply to iTRS providers, we describe the
main differences below.
144.
The rules we adopt today specifically require a provider to obtain individual user consent
before a default provider change may occur.332 Such consent must be obtained in compliance with
prescribed verification procedures, which require that a provider, prior to effecting a default provider
change, either: (1) obtain the user's written or electronically signed authorization to change his or her
default provider; or (2) utilize an independent third party to verify the subscriber's request.333 Although
the Consumer Groups oppose third party verification, because they fear it may cause consumer confusion
and create a barrier to effective competition,334 we believe that when the default provider change is not
written or electronically signed, third party verification measures are necessary to ensure that the user has
been provided with full information regarding the change order. This will help prevent unauthorized
default provider changes, thereby reducing the number of consumer complaints. Moreover, the rules we
adopt require that third-party verification be conducted in the same language as the underlying
transaction. The third-party verifier must elicit: the date of the verification; identification of the user;
confirmation that the person on the call is authorized to make the default provider change; confirmation
that the person on the call wants to make the default provider change and understands what the change in

328 Purple, Ex Parte Letter (filed March 11, 2013).
329As discussed above, see supra Section I.C., this advances our functional equivalency mandate and carries out the
Commission's authority to adopt "functional requirements, guidelines, and operations procedures" and "minimum
standards" for TRS. 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3), (d)(1)(A). We will address in a separate order the applicability of the
slamming rules that we adopt today to IP captioned telephone service.
330 See Appendix A, 64.630-636.
331 47 C.F.R. 64.1100 et seq.
332 As with the slamming rules applicable to telecommunications carriers, this requirement will be interpreted and
applied consistently with AT&T Corp. v. FCC, 323 F.3d 1081 (D.C. Cir. 2003).
333 The use of third party verification is supported by a number of commenters. See Sorenson May 19, 2008 Ex
Parte,
Attachment at 2-3; GoAmerica August 8, 2008 Comments at 22-23.
334 See Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 17. See also AT&T August 25, 2008 Reply Comments at 8.
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default provider means, including that the customer may need to return any leased video equipment
belonging to the default provider; confirmation that the person on the call understands that a default
provider change, not an upgrade to existing service, or any other misleading description of the transaction
is being authorized; the name of the new default provider; the telephone number of record to be
transferred to the new default provider; and the type of relay service used with the telephone number
being transferred.335 The rules also require that the third-party verification process be recorded, which in
the case of a third-party verification conducted in ASL, means video-recorded.336
145.
In the First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, the Commission found that iTRS
providers and their numbering partners are subject to the same porting obligations as interconnected VoIP
providers, with the sole exception of contributing to meet shared numbering administration costs and
local number portability (LNP) costs.337 The Commission added:
This means the Internet-based TRS provider has an affirmative legal
obligation to take all steps necessary to initiate or allow a port-in or port-
out itself or through its numbering partner on behalf of the Internet-based
TRS user, subject to a valid port request, without unreasonable delay or
unreasonable procedures that have the effect of delaying or denying
porting of the number. Moreover Internet-based TRS providers and their
numbering partners may not enter into agreements that would prohibit or
unreasonably delay an Internet-based TRS user from porting between
Internet-based TRS providers and will be subject to Commission
enforcement action for any such violation of the Act and the
Commission's LNP rules.338
146.
Because the Commission addressed the number portability obligations of iTRS providers
in the First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, except as discussed herein, we will not revisit the
number portability obligations of iTRS providers at this time, and we do not include in the iTRS
slamming rules the provisions found in subpart K of part 64 that already apply to the numbering partners
of the iTRS providers.339 However, in response to reports alleging that there have been instances where
VRS providers have, upon receiving a number porting request for one of their registered users, failed to
process that user's calls pending completion of the port or have disabled or reduced the functionality of
that user's VRS access technology during the pendency of the porting process,340 we remind iTRS
providers and their numbering partners on both ends of the number porting process that they are
responsible for coordinating the timing of the number porting to ensure that there is no interruption of
service to the user. To prevent improper degradation or interruption of service, we adopt a rule

335 See Appendix A, 64.631(c)(2)(iii). See also 47 C.F.R. 64.1120, after which these requirements are patterned.
336 See Appendix A, 64.631(c)(2)(iv). To prevent porting without informed consumer consent, CSDVRS requests
that we require "clear documentation of consumer consent to effectuate a port of an iTRS number." See CSDVRS
April 24, 2013 Ex Parte at 1-2. We believe that when consent is expressed in ASL, a video-recording of the third
party consent process, which serves the same function as a written authorization, will address the concerns
expressed by CSDVRS.
337 First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 11606-07, 34.
338 Id. at 11607, 35.
339 See, e.g., 47 C.F.R. 64.1100(a) (defining "submitting carrier"); id. 64.1100(b) (defining "executing carrier");
id. 64.1120(a)(2) (requiring the executing (or original) carrier to promptly execute carrier changes that have been
verified by the submitting (or new) carrier).
340 See, e.g., CSDVRS, Ex Parte Letter (filed April 24, 2013).
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prohibiting default providers from reducing the level or quality of service provided to their users, or the
functionality of their users' iTRS access technology, during the porting process.341
147.
We adopt recordkeeping requirements applicable to iTRS providers that are five years in
duration,342 as opposed to two years in the case of telecommunications carriers.343 This is consistent with
other recordkeeping requirements applicable to iTRS providers344 and will ensure that the underlying
records supporting verification of a default provider change are maintained and are available to the
Commission for review. For example, in the event that a claim is made that an iTRS user never
authorized a default provider change, and the iTRS user, in fact, had authorized the change several years
earlier, the five-year record retention requirement will assist the Commission in any investigation it may
undertake by ensuring that relevant verification documents are not destroyed in the ordinary course before
the Commission has had an opportunity to fully investigate.
148.
In the telecommunications carrier context, subpart K of part 64 of our rules requires that
preferred carrier change orders be submitted within 60 days of obtaining a letter of agency.345 In the iTRS
provider slamming rules adopted today, we likewise require that all default provider change orders be
implemented within 60 days, whether verified by a letter of authorization or by a third party
verification.346 The Commission finds that placing a limit on the amount of time between when the
default provider change order is received and verified and when the change is implemented avoids
situations where, for example, an iTRS provider may implement a stale default provider change order that
the iTRS user may no longer desire.
149.
Consistent with the comments received,347 we permit a provider to acquire by sale or
transfer either part or all of another provider's user base, provided that the acquiring provider complies
with the user notification procedures set forth in the new rule. Any such sale or transfer must be to a
provider that is certified by the Commission pursuant to section 64.606(a)(2) of the rules348 to receive
compensation from the Fund to provide the specific relay service for which the sale or transfer is
occurring.349 We believe that this approach will permit legitimate transactions, and at the same time, by
requiring user notification, permit users to change default providers if they are dissatisfied with the
default provider to whom they have been transferred.
150.
Under the telecommunications slamming rules, a "preferred carrier freeze" prevents a
change in a subscriber's preferred carrier selection by placing a "freeze" on that subscriber's selection,
unless the subscriber gives the carrier from whom the freeze was requested his or her express consent to
change carriers.350 Sorenson proposes that the Commission adopt rules permitting similar freezes for

341 See Appendix A, 64.631(e).
342 Id., 64.631(a)(2).
343 See 47 C.F.R. 64.1120(a)(1)(ii), (c)(3)(iv).
344 See, e.g., id. 64.604(c)(5)(D)(7) (requiring that call data supporting claims for payment from the TRS Fund be
maintained for five years).
345 Id. 64.1130(j).
346 See Appendix A, 64.631(d).
347 See, e.g., Sorenson May 19, 2008 Ex Parte, Attachment at 4-5; GoAmerica August 8, 2008 Comments at 25;
Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 18.
348 47 C.F.R. 64.606(a)(2).
349 See Appendix A, 64.631(f).
350 47 C.F.R. 64.1190(a).
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VRS.351 Consumer Groups oppose this, however, claiming that such freezes in the relay context could
present an additional barrier to legitimate provider change requests, thereby hindering competition in the
market.352 We agree with the Consumer Groups and will prohibit default provider freezes. Although the
record in this proceeding provides evidence of the existence of slamming in support of some Commission
action, we are hopeful that the smaller size of the iTRS market, compared to the telecommunications
services market, will make it relatively easier to enforce the other provisions of the slamming rules,353 and
we are concerned that allowing such freezes, especially in a market where anti-slamming procedures have
not previously applied, would be detrimental for an industry where competition continues to evolve, and
where consumers should be able to change their default providers with ease.354 We expect that in the case
of VRS and IP Relay, the user authorization and third-party verification procedures adopted today will be
sufficient to protect consumers from unauthorized changes of default providers,355 and find that the need
to foster competition by prohibiting default provider freezes outweighs the incremental benefit that might
be achieved by the imposition of such freezes.
151.
We extend to VRS and IP Relay the common carrier prohibition against using carrier
proprietary information gained from a number porting request to initiate retention marketing while a
number port is in progress.356 Just as a carrier providing telecommunications services subject to Title II
of the Act cannot market based on porting information without violating Section 222(b) of the Act (which
prohibits the use of carrier proprietary information obtained from another carrier for marketing
purposes),357 we find that a VRS or IP Relay provider may not use the proprietary information obtained
from a provider submitting a number porting request to try to retain its customer during the porting
process. Once the port is complete, the carrier change information is no longer proprietary information
protected from use by the former default provider, and therefore the former default provider may use such
information to market to its former customer, consistent with TRS requirements.358 We do not accept
CSDVRS's proposal to prohibit a provider from marketing to its former customer for a period of 45
days359 because we believe that such action could impede legitimate competition.
152.
Enforcement. The telecommunications carrier slamming rules provide that any
submitting provider that fails to comply with the slamming rules for a particular subscriber shall pay
150% of the payments from that subscriber to the authorized carrier, who in turn pays a refund to the

351 Sorenson May 19, 2008 Ex Parte, Attachment at 8-10. See also GoAmerica August 25, 2008 Reply Comments
at 10-11 (arguing that optional preferred carrier freezes would be functionally equivalent to telecommunications
preferred carrier freezes).
352 Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 17.
353 See id.
354 See id.
355 Some of the questionable practices that have been associated with carrier changes in the telecommunications
service market, such as the mailing of checks and other financial rewards to prospective customers, are less likely to
occur in the VRS market due to the strict limits placed on offering or providing financial incentives. See infra
167.
356 See Bright House Networks, LLC v. Verizon California, Inc., Memorandum Opinion and Order, 23 FCC Rcd
10704 (2008) (Bright House), pet. for rev. denied sub nom. Verizon California, Inc. v. FCC, 555 F.3d 270 (D.C.
Cir. 2009). See also Sorenson FNPRM Comments at 87; GoAmerica August 25, 2008 Reply Comments at 10.
357 47 U.S.C. 222(b). See Bright House, 23 FCC Rcd at 10721.
358 Id. at 10713 ("The existing carrier must remain `neutral,' and not act as a competitor, until the carrier change is
completed and the new carrier has begun providing telecommunications service.").
359 See CSDVRS FNPRM Comments at 50.
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subscriber of 50% of all such payments.360 Sorenson proposes a similar approach, i.e., that the submitting
provider pay 100% of the revenues to the authorized VRS or IP Relay provider and a refund to the Fund
of 50% of all such payments.361 However, since the authorized VRS or IP Relay provider is not providing
any CA services associated with the minutes paid to the submitting provider, any payment to the
authorized provider would be a windfall at the expense of the contributors to the Fund.362 Therefore, we
believe that the appropriate remedy is for the submitting provider to pay to the Fund 100% of the amount
that was paid by the Fund to the submitting provider. In other words, since the minutes submitted to the
Fund for reimbursement by the submitting provider were not authorized, the provider will have to return
its compensation for such minutes to the Fund. We will not require the submitting provider to pay to the
Fund an additional 50% as proposed by the Consumer Groups,363 because such additional payment would
amount to a collection of funds in excess of the costs caused by TRS. However, we remind VRS and IP
Relay providers that, in addition to the repayment remedy discussed herein, violations could result in
enforcement or other remedies available by law to address noncompliance, including but not limited to
the Commission's forfeiture procedures.364
153.
We adopt complaint procedures for unauthorized changes of a default provider that are
similar to the complaint procedures used for unauthorized changes of telecommunications carriers.365 In
response to the request of the Consumer Groups that the Commission implement a convenient process for
users to file a complaint regarding slamming practices or actions,366 the rules we adopt today provide for
consumers to file informal complaints with the Commission in writing, including via the Commission's
web-based complaint filing system via the option "Disability Access to Communications Services and
Equipment."367
154.
Legal Authority. The Commission's statutory authority to apply anti-slamming
safeguards to VRS and IP Relay derives from section 225 of the Act, which directs the Commission to
prescribe regulations to ensure that telecommunications relay services are available in the most efficient
manner to enable communication in a manner functionally equivalent to voice telephone services.368
Because voice telephone users enjoy the protections of the Commission's anti-slamming regulations, we
find that applying these same protections to VRS and IP Relay users advances the Act's mandate of
functional equivalency. We also find that applying such protections will improve the efficiency of VRS
and IP Relay by reducing wasteful "churning" of the customer base for those services. We establish
slamming prohibitions for VRS and IP Relay pursuant to the specific mandate of section 225(d)(1)(A) to
establish "functional requirements, guidelines, and operations procedures" for TRS.369

360 47 C.F.R. 64.1140, 1170.
361 See Sorenson May 19, 2008 Ex Parte, Attachment at 8.
362 See GoAmerica August 8, 2008 Comments at 25.
363 See Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 19.
364 See 47 C.F.R. 1.80.
365 See id. 64.1150; Appendix A, 64.633.
366 See Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 17. See also Sorenson May 19, 2008 Ex Parte, Attachment at 6-7.
367 See http://www.fcc.gov/complaints. See also 47 C.F.R. 1.716. A consumer having difficulty filing an informal
complaint may call the Commission's toll free number, 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-
FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY, for assistance. Upon request, call-takers will reduce the complaint to writing for the
consumer.
368 See id. 225(a)(3), (b)(1).
369 Id. 225(d)(1)(A).
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F.

Consumer Privacy

155.
In this section, we adopt rules to protect the privacy of customer information relating to
all relay services authorized under section 225 of the Act and to point-to-point video services offered by
VRS providers. The Commission sought comment on the adoption of such privacy rules for TRS in
general in 2008 in the TRS Numbering FNPRM,370 and more recently for VRS with respect to certain
issues in the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM.371
156.
Background. Section 222(h)(1) of the Act defines Customer Proprietary Network
Information (CPNI) as "information that relates to the quantity, technical configuration, type, destination,
location, and amount of use of a telecommunications service" that is available to a carrier "solely by
virtue of the carrier-customer relationship."372 As a practical matter, CPNI may include information such
as: the phone numbers called by a consumer; the frequency, duration, and timing of such calls; and any
services obtained by the consumer. Section 222(c)(1) provides that a carrier may only use, disclose, or
permit access to customers' CPNI in limited circumstances: (1) as required by law; (2) with the
customer's approval; (3) in its provision of the "telecommunications service from which such information
is derived," or (4) in its provision of "services necessary to, or used in, the provision of such
telecommunications service."373
157.
In 1998, the Commission adopted rules to ensure that telecommunications carriers
establish effective safeguards to protect against unauthorized use or disclosure of CPNI.374 Among other
things, the rules require carriers to: (1) implement a system for establishing the status of customer
approval prior to the use of CPNI;375 (2) train their personnel in authorized use of CPNI;376 (3) maintain a
record of instances where CPNI has been disclosed or provided to third parties, or where third parties
have been allowed access to CPNI;377 (4) establish a supervisory review process for "outbound"
marketing campaigns;378 and (5) annually certify their compliance with the Commission's CPNI
requirements.379
158.
In 2007, the Commission adopted additional safeguards to protect customers' CPNI from
unauthorized disclosure resulting from the practice of "pretexting," defined as "the practice of pretending
to be a particular customer or other authorized person in order to obtain access to that customer's call

370 Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech
Disabilities; E911 Requirements for IP-Enabled Service Providers,
CG Docket No. 03-123, WC Docket No. 05-
196, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 23 FCC Rcd 11591, 11639-46, 131-146
(2008) (TRS Numbering FNPRM).
371 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17422, 152.
372 47 U.S.C. 222(h)(1).
373 Id. 222(c)(1).
374 See Telecommunications Carriers' Use of Customer Proprietary Network Information and Other Customer
Information; Implementation of the Non-Accounting Safeguards of Sections 271 and 272 of the Communications Act
of 1934, as Amended
, Second Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, CC Docket Nos. 96-
115, 96-149, 13 FCC Rcd 8061, 8195-8200, 193-202 (1998) (1998 CPNI Order).
375 47 C.F.R. 64.2009(a); 1998 CPNI Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 8198, 198.
376 47 C.F.R. 64.2009(b); 1998 CPNI Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 8198, 198.
377 47 C.F.R. 64.2009(c); 1998 CPNI Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 819899, 199.
378 47 C.F.R. 64.2009(d); 1998 CPNI Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 8199, 200.
379 47 C.F.R. 64.2009(e); 1998 CPNI Order, 13 FCC Rcd at 8199, 201.
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detail or other private communications records."380 In particular, the 2007 CPNI Order: (1) restricted
disclosure of CPNI over the telephone and required passwords to be used in customer-initiated calls
seeking CPNI;381 (2) required passwords for on-line access to customer account information;382 and
(3) adopted a number of notification requirements for changes in account status and unauthorized
disclosures of CPNI.383 The Commission also changed its rules to require an opt-in approach for carrier
disclosure to any third party other than "agents" and "affiliates that provide communications-related
services."384
159.
In the context of privacy for TRS users, the Commission has long held that certain kinds
of customer information, known as customer profile information,385 "may not be used for any purpose
other than the provision of TRS."386 The privacy status of other kinds of customer information initially
was not as explicitly addressed in the Commission's orders. In 2007, however, the Commission
interpreted its TRS privacy rule387 as prohibiting TRS providers from using any "consumer or call data to
contact TRS users or to in any way attempt to affect or influence, directly or indirectly, their use of relay
service."388
160.
In the TRS Numbering FNPRM, the Commission sought comment on what, if any,
specific actions the Commission should take to ensure the privacy and security of TRS consumers' call
records or other personally identifiable account or usage information.389 The Commission asked whether
any new rules should apply to all TRS providers, including traditional TTY-based providers, or only to
VRS and IP Relay providers or some other subset of TRS providers.390 The Commission also sought
comment on whether to modify the present CPNI rules in the TRS context and, if so, how. The
Commission specifically sought comment on proposed revisions to the CPNI rules submitted by

380 Implementation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996: Telecommunications Carriers' Use of Customer
Proprietary Network Information and Other Customer Information
, Report and Order and Further Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking, CC Docket No. 96-115, 22 FCC Rcd 6927, 6928, 1, n. 1 (2007) (2007 CPNI Order), pet.
for rev. denied sub nom., National Cable & Telecommunications Association v. FCC
, 555 F.3d 996 (D.C. Cir. 2009)
(NCTA). "Call detail" includes "any information that pertains to the transmission of specific telephone calls
including, for outbound calls, the number called, and the time, location, or duration of any call and, for inbound
calls, the number from which the call was placed, and the time, location, or duration of any call." Id. at 6936, 13
n. 45.
381 2007 CPNI Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 693739, 1517.
382 Id. at 694041, 2022.
383 Id. at 6942, 24, 694345, 2632.
384 47 C.F.R. 64.2007(b); 2007 CPNI Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 694753, 3749.
385 Customer profile information is information maintained by TRS providers on relay customers' preferences, such
as the customer's interexchange carrier of choice, use of voice or hearing carry-over features, blocking preferences,
speed dial numbers, and specific instructions for the handling of relay calls, 2000 TRS Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 5173,
77 & n. 157.
386 Id. at 5175, 83.
387 Currently codified at 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(7).
388 2007 TRS Rate Methodology Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 20176, 96; See also 2008 Declaratory Ruling, 23 FCC Rcd
at 8999, 13 (clarifying that providers may use consumer or call data to contact consumers for purposes related to
the handling of relay calls).
389 TRS Numbering FNPRM, 23 FCC Rcd at 11639, 131, 11644, 141.
390 Id. at 11644-45, 142.
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Sorenson,391 and in particular, on the authority of the Commission under section 225 of the Act392 to
extend the CPNI protections to customers receiving point-to-point services from VRS providers.393
161.
In the TRS Numbering FNPRM, the Commission also asked whether it may rely on the
Commission's ancillary authority under Title I as the jurisdictional basis for extending the CPNI
protections to TRS.394 Previously, in the 2007 CPNI Order, the Commission had exercised ancillary
jurisdiction to extend the CPNI requirements of Title II to interconnected VoIP providers,
notwithstanding that the Commission had not formally classified interconnected VoIP as a Title I
"information service" or as a Title II "telecommunications service" within the meaning of the Act.395
162.
The TRS Numbering FNPRM also sought comment on how best to reconcile the CPNI
rules with the existing TRS restrictions on TRS providers' use of consumer database information.396 The
Commission has been consistent in its determination that TRS user data may not be used for any purpose
other than the provision of TRS.397 In contrast, section 64.2005(a) of the Commission's CPNI rules
permits a carrier to "use, disclose, or permit access to CPNI for the purpose of providing or marketing
service offerings" among the categories of service to which the customer already subscribes from the
carrier,398 and section 64.2005(c)(3) permits the use or disclosure of CPNI "to market services formerly
known as adjunct-to-basic services."399 In light of these and other differences between TRS (where there
traditionally has been no subscription agreement and consumers do not pay for the service) and market-
based communications services (for which consumers do pay), the Commission sought comment on
whether, in the TRS context, the Commission should apply CPNI requirements that permit the use or
disclosure of personally identifiable consumer information for marketing purposes and, if so, whether this
action is consistent with the Commission's existing TRS requirements.400 The Commission also sought
comment on the comparative advantages and disadvantages of applying the CPNI rules to TRS providers,

391 Sorenson May 15, 2008 Ex Parte, Attachment 1.
392 47 U.S.C. 225.
393 TRS Numbering FNPRM, 23 FCC Rcd at 11645, 143.
394 Id., 144.
395 2007 CPNI Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 695457, 5459. In using ancillary jurisdiction to extend the
Commission's CPNI rules to interconnected VoIP providers, the Commission found that: (1) interconnected VoIP
service "is increasingly used to replace analog voice service," and that it is therefore reasonable for American
consumers to expect that their calls will be private irrespective of whether they are using traditional telephone
services or interconnected VoIP services; (2) because the CPNI of interconnected VoIP customers includes call
histories to or from traditional phone service users, extending section 222's protection to interconnected VoIP
service customers is necessary to protect the privacy of those traditional phone service users; and (3) applying the
CPNI protections to interconnected VoIP providers may encourage customer migration to VoIP services and
therefore spur technological development in the digital telephone realm. Id. at 695657, 5559.
396 TRS Numbering FNPRM, 23 FCC Rcd at 11645-46, 145.
397 See, e.g., 2000 TRS Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 5175, 83 (stating that customer profile information "shall not be used
for any purpose other than to connect the TRS user, for whom the profile exists, with the called parties [identified]
by that TRS user").
398 47 C.F.R. 64.2005(a).
399 Id. 64.2005(c)(3). Such "adjunct-to-basic services" may include, among others, "speed dialing, computer-
provided directory assistance, call monitoring, call tracing, call blocking, call return, repeat dialing, call tracking,
call waiting, caller I.D., call forwarding, and certain centrex features." Id.
400 TRS Numbering FNPRM, 23 FCC Rcd at 11646, 145.
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as opposed to expanding the existing TRS requirements governing permissible uses of database
information.401
163.
After the issuance of the TRS Numbering FNPRM, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Tenth Circuit decided Sorenson I. In that 2009 decision, the court addressed challenges to the
Commission's rulings, in the 2007 Rate Methodology Order and the 2008 Declaratory Ruling, that TRS
providers are prohibited from using customer information to contact TRS users "for lobbying or any other
purpose except the handling of TRS calls."402 The court ruled that the Commission's rulings were, at
least in part, restricting commercial speech, and the Commission had failed to pass First Amendment
scrutiny under the Central Hudson test,403 namely the Commission had failed to articulate a substantial
governmental interest to be served by the restriction on the use of TRS customer data to contact
customers "for lobbying or any other purpose" primarily because it did not attempt to defend the decision
under a Central Hudson analysis.404 The court therefore ruled that, upon remand, the Commission must
vacate the restriction on the use of TRS customer data to contact customers "for lobbying or any other
purpose."405 As a result of this ruling, the status of privacy protection accorded to data about TRS
customers must be addressed in order to ensure that TRS consumers' privacy is protected.
164.
Discussion. Commenters generally agree that the Commission should apply CPNI
protections to all forms of TRS, as well as to point-to-point video services provided over the VRS
network, with minor modifications to account for the unique nature of TRS.406 We now adopt rules that
are modeled after part 64, subpart U of our rules407 for the purpose of applying the protections of the
CPNI rules to TRS and point-to-point video calls handled over the VRS network.408 We agree with the
Consumer Groups that for TRS to be functionally equivalent to voice telephone services, consumers with
disabilities who use TRS are entitled to have the same assurances of privacy as do consumers without
disabilities for voice telephone services.409 Further, because upwards of 80-90 percent of all calls made
by ASL users on the VRS network are point-to-point, we also find that it is just as important, if not more

401 Id., 146.
402 Sorenson I, 567 F.3d at 1218; 2007 Rate Methodology Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 20176; 2008 Declaratory Ruling,
23 FCC Rcd at 8996-97.
403 Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission of New York, 447 U.S. 557, 566 (1980).
404 Sorenson I, 567 F.3d at 1226-27. In Sorenson I, the Commission attempted to defend the adoption of customer
privacy requirements as a permissible condition placed on a government subsidy under Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U.S.
173, 19394 (1991), rather than under a Central Hudson analysis that required a substantial government interest.
Sorenson I, 567 F.3d at 1225-26.
405 Id. at 1227.
406 Consumer Groups August 8, 2008 Comments at 2529; GoAmerica August 8, 2008 Comments, at 38-39;
Sorenson August 8, 2008 Comments, at 1516. See also Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 22-27
(expressing support for applying the CPNI rules to TRS and point-to-point video calls); Sorenson FNPRM
Comments at 86 (referring to proposal in Sorenson May 15, 2008 Ex Parte); VRSCA PN Reply Comments at 4.
407 47 C.F.R. 64.2001 et seq.
408 See Sorenson May 15, 2008 Ex Parte. See also Consumer Groups August 8, 2008 Comments at 25; GoAmerica
August 8, 2008 Comments at 38. Both parties generally support the proposal in the Sorenson May 15, 2008 Ex
Parte
.
409 See Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 22-24. See also 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3) (including the functional
equivalency requirement within the statutory definition of TRS).
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important, to apply the CPNI protections to point-to-point video calls handled over the VRS network as it
is to apply these safeguards to calls that are relayed.410
165.
The rules we adopt today are not identical to the CPNI rules adopted for
telecommunications carriers and found in subpart U of part 64 of the Commission`s rules.411
Modifications have been made to reflect the differences between TRS providers and telecommunications
carriers. For example, the use of sign language is contemplated by the rules.412 Other modifications have
been made to make the rules more explicit so as to improve enforcement and administration of the rules.
Although we do not address herein every variance between the subpart U rules that apply to
telecommunications carriers and the subpart EE rules that apply to TRS, we describe the main differences
below.
166.
As with telecommunications services, a TRS provider may access CPNI for the purpose
of marketing services to its registered users within the same category of service (meaning same type of
TRS) that its registered users already receive from that provider.413 However, just as a wireless carrier
may not access CPNI for the purpose of marketing to a roaming service user (because the roaming
service user is not a subscriber of the serving carrier), a TRS provider may not use CPNI for the purpose
of marketing to a dial-around user.414 Similarly, just as a telecommunications carrier may not use CPNI
to market services to a party on the other end of its subscriber's voice call because such party may not be
a subscriber of that carrier, we do not permit a TRS provider to use CPNI for the purpose of marketing
services to a party on the other end of its registered user's point-to-point call.415
167.
We agree with the Consumer Groups that due to certain inherent differences between
voice telephone services and TRS, certain additional protections should apply to TRS.416 As the
Commission has repeatedly emphasized, because the TRS Fund, and not the consumers, pay for TRS
calls, TRS providers may not, with or without using CPNI, engage in marketing communications that
offer improper financial incentives to existing or potential customers or that suggest, urge, or tell a TRS
user to make more or longer TRS calls.417 To make clear that, in adopting CPNI rules to cover TRS
providers, we are not relieving TRS providers of their obligations under our prior rulings regarding
prohibited marketing communications, the rules adopted today explicitly provide that when CPNI is used
for marketing purposes, it may only be used for lawful marketing activities.418 To the extent that the
Consumer Groups advocate restrictions on political speech by TRS providers,419 we believe that a more

410 See Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 26; Sorenson May 15, 2008 Ex Parte, Attachment at 2.
411 See 47 C.F.R. 64.2001 et seq.
412 See, e.g., Appendix A, 64.5103(o), 64.5107.
413 See 47 C.F.R. 64.2005(a).
414 See Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 23.
415 See Consumer Groups August 8, 2008 Comments at 30-31.
416 See Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 23.
417 See 2005 TRS Marketing Practices PN, 20 FCC Rcd at 1473 ; 2007 TRS Rate Methodology Order, 22 FCC Rcd
at 2017375, 8994; 2008 Declaratory Ruling, 23 FCC Rcd at 8999, 13.
418 See Appendix A, 64.5105(a). See also 2005 TRS Marketing Practices PN, 20 FCC Rcd at 1473 ; 2007 TRS
Rate Methodology Order
, 22 FCC Rcd at 2017375, 8994; 2008 Declaratory Ruling, 23 FCC Rcd at 8999, 13.
419 See, e.g., Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 23-24.
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developed record is necessary to evaluate the potential merits of adopting new requirements in that
regard, and consequently we seek comment on those issues in the Further Notice.420
168.
Because the administrator of the TRS Fund requires call data information and other CPNI
to administer the Fund and to investigate and prevent waste, fraud, and abuse of TRS, we are adding
provisions to the rules requiring TRS providers to use, disclose, or permit access to CPNI upon request by
the administrator of the Fund.421 We further note that, because consumers generally are not billed for
TRS, the concerns about access to customer financial information that underlie the subpart U provisions
requiring password protection of CPNI to obtain access to call data information over the telephone are
less applicable here,422 and this provision has been replaced with a simpler customer authentication
provision in subpart EE.423
169.
The rules adopted today for TRS CPNI require records to be maintained for three years,
compared with one year in subpart U,424 to ensure that the underlying records supporting a TRS
provider's annual compliance certification are maintained and available to the Commission for review.425
For example, paragraph (e) of this section requires an officer of a TRS provider to file with the
Commission an annual CPNI compliance certification.426 A TRS provider must provide a statement
explaining, among other things, how its operating procedures ensure compliance with the CPNI rules and
include an explanation of any actions taken against data brokers, a summary of all consumer complaints
over the reporting period that assert a breach of the consumer's CPNI rights, and report all instances of
non-compliance.427 The three-year record retention will assist the Commission in any investigation it may
undertake based on the annual compliance filing or in response to consumer complaints by ensuring that
relevant documents are not destroyed in the ordinary course before the Commission has an opportunity to
secure their retention through issuance of a letter of inquiry or subpoena.
170.
Legal Authority. The Commission's statutory authority to apply customer privacy
requirements to TRS derives from section 225 of the Act, which directs the Commission to prescribe
regulations to ensure that telecommunications relay services are available to enable communication in a
manner that is functionally equivalent to voice telephone services.428 Because voice telephone users
enjoy the privacy protections of the Commission's CPNI regulations, we find that applying these same
protections to TRS users advances the Act's mandate of functional equivalency.429 We establish customer
privacy requirements for TRS pursuant to the specific mandate of section 225(d)(1)(A) to establish

420 See infra section V.L.
421 See Appendix A, 64.5105(c)(5).
422 See 47 C.F.R. 64.2010(b).
423 See Appendix A, 64.5110(b).
424 47 C.F.R. 64.2009
425 See Appendix A, 64.5109.
426 Id., 64.5109(e).
427 Id.
428 See 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3), 225(b)(1). In the 2000 TRS Order, the Commission concluded that the CPNI
requirements of section 222 of the Act do not directly apply to TRS. 2000 TRS Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 5175, 81.
As discussed herein, based on the record in this proceeding, we conclude that, even if section 222, by its own terms,
may not directly cover TRS, we can and should apply the protections of our CPNI rules to TRS as part of our
implementation of section 225.
429 See Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 25.
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"functional requirements, guidelines, and operations procedures" for TRS.430 In addition, extending our
CPNI regulations to TRS users also is ancillary to our responsibilities under section 222 of the Act to
telecommunications service subscribers that place calls to or receive calls from TRS users,431 because
TRS call records include call detail information concerning all calling and called parties.432
171.
The Commission also has ancillary authority to apply the CPNI requirements to point-to-
point video services provided by VRS providers over the VRS network. With respect to the first prong
of the ALA ancillary jurisdiction test, the provision of point-to-point video services is "communication
by wire or radio" within the general jurisdictional grant of section 2 of the Act.433 As for the second
prong, the application of CPNI protection to point-to-point video services is ancillary to our
responsibilities under sections 222 and 225. As discussed above, we have direct authority under section
225 to adopt privacy requirements for VRS service. Point-to-point services are provided by VRS
providers to their VRS customers by virtue of the Commission's requirement that VRS providers
facilitate such functionality. Consequently, VRS providers have access to CPNI regarding point-to-point
services by virtue of their section 225-regulated role as the VRS provider for the caller and/or recipient
of a point-to-point call. In addition, we conclude that there is a risk that consumers will not readily
recognize or anticipate regulatory distinctions between VRS services and the point-to-point services at
issue here, which rely on the same access technology and are routed and transmitted over the same
network as the VRS services provided by that same provider. Consequently, to the extent that users'
privacy is not adequately protected with respect to point-to-point calls, this risks undermining their
expectation of privacy as to VRS services, as well. Such an outcome would be at odds with our intent
that VRS users should be entitled to have, with respect to their VRS service, the same expectations of
privacy as traditional voice service customers, reflected in the TRS privacy rules adopted pursuant to our
direct authority under section 225 as discussed above. Thus, we find that adopting privacy protections
for point-to-point services is reasonably ancillary to our oversight of the VRS provider-user relationship
in general, and the privacy protections adopted in that context in particular, regulated under our section
225 authority. Further, for a VRS user whose primary means of communication is ASL, a point-to-point
video call is akin to a telephone call. Specifically, for such an individual, a point-to-point video call
transmitted over the Internet is the primary means by which that person can communicate with another
person whose primary means of communication is also ASL. In essence, then, from a privacy
perspective, point-to-point video calls between ASL users are "virtually indistinguishable" from VoIP
calls between hearing persons, and thus users must have the same expectation of privacy.434 Thus,
analogous to the Commission's exercise of ancillary authority to extend CPNI requirements to

430 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(1)(A).
431 Ancillary authority may be employed when "(1) the Commission's general jurisdictional grant under Title 1
covers the regulated subject and (2) the regulations are reasonably ancillary to the Commission's effective
performance of its statutorily mandated responsibilities." American Library Ass'n v. FCC, 406 F.3d 689, 691-92
(D.C. Cir. 2005) (ALA). See also, e.g., United States v. Southwestern Cable Co., 392 U.S. 157, 17778 (1968)
(upholding certain regulations applied to cable television systems at a time before the Commission had an express
congressional grant of regulatory authority over that medium). As noted infra 171, the first prong of this test is
satisfied because the provision of TRS clearly is "communication by wire or radio" within the general jurisdictional
grant of section 2 of the Act. 47 U.S.C. 152.
432 Cf. 2007 CPNI Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 6956, 57 (finding that extending section's 222's protections to
interconnected VoIP service customers is necessary to protect the privacy of telecommunications service subscribers
that place calls to or receive calls from interconnected VoIP service customers, because TRS call records include
call detail information concerning all calling and called parties).
433 47 U.S.C. 152.
434 See Consumer Groups August 8, 2008 Comments at 27.
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interconnected VoIP, we conclude it is reasonably ancillary to our section 222 authority to extend
privacy requirements to point-to-point services.435
172.
Extending CPNI requirements to VRS providers does not violate the First Amendment.
Undoubtedly, as the Tenth Circuit in Sorenson I noted, such requirements restrict commercial speech.436
Here, however, the Commission is merely extending to VRS providers requirements that previously have
passed constitutional muster for telecommunications carriers and interconnected VoIP providers.437
Congress has clearly stated that the privacy of customer communications is an important governmental
interest,438 and as discussed above, the governmental interest in protecting the privacy of its citizens in the
VRS context is at least equal to that of protecting the interest of customers served by telecommunications
carriers or interconnected VoIP providers.439 The Commission has compiled a record indicating that this
privacy interest will be directly advanced by the regulations adopted in this Order,440 and has determined
that the extension of these CPNI requirements is proportionate to the privacy interests it seeks to protect
by adopting the CPNI rules.441

G.

Certification Under Penalty of Perjury for Certification Application and Annual
Reports

173.
In the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, the Commission proposed to adopt permanently the
interim rules adopted in the 2011 iTRS Certification Order,442 requiring that providers certify, under
penalty of perjury, that their certification applications and annual compliance filings required under
section 64.606(g) of the Commission's rules443 are truthful, accurate, and complete.444 The Commission

435 See 2007 CPNI Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 6956, 56.
436 Sorenson I, 567 F.3d at 1225-26.
437 See 2007 CPNI Order (adopting more stringent CPNI requirements and extending CPNI requirements to
interconnected VoIP providers); NCTA, 555 F.3d at 1001 (finding that the 2007 CPNI Order met the Central
Hudson
test by articulating a substantial government interest that was directly advanced by the CPNI rules in a
manner not more extensive than necessary to serve that interest).
438 See Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act of 2006, Pub. L. No. 109-476, 120 Stat. 3568 (codified at 18
U.S.C. 1039) (stating that that unauthorized disclosure of customer information "not only assaults individual
privacy but, in some instances, may further acts of domestic violence or stalking, compromise the personal safety of
law enforcement officers, their families, victims of crime, witnesses, or confidential informants, and undermine the
integrity of law enforcement investigations"). Sorenson I is distinguishable here because, in defending the TRS
privacy rules at issue there, the Commission did not attempt to defend the rules under a Central Hudson analysis, but
instead relied on its funding authority to enable it to impose conditions on Sorenson and other TRS providers.
Sorenson I, 567 F.3d at 1225-27.
439 The application of US West, Inc. v. FCC, 182 F.3d 1224 (10th Cir.1999) is inapposite here, since the decision
was related to an earlier CPNI Order. The subsequent 2007 CPNI Order, which is the basis of the rules adopted
today, was affirmed by the D.C. Circuit in NCTA.
440 See supra 164-169.
441 See Bd. of Trs. of State Univ. of N.Y. v. Fox, 492 U.S. 469, 480 (1989). We find that, like telecommunications
carriers and interconnected VoIP providers, VRS providers have similar incentives to monetize customer
information or otherwise use customer information for their own gain and that extending CPNI protections to VRS
customers is an appropriate response to counteract these incentives.
442 2011 iTRS Certification Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 10923-25, 62-67.
443 47 C.F.R. 64.606(g).
444 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17422, 152.
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also sought comment on whether there are any additional elements that should be covered by these
proposed certifications, and, in general, whether there are any additional safeguards that we should adopt
as rules to ensure the veracity and completeness of provider submissions, and to help ensure that
providers comply with the Commission's TRS rules and policies.445
174.
In the 2011 iTRS Certification Order, the Commission found the interim certification to
be "a necessary and critical component of our efforts to curtail fraud and abuse."446 We affirm this
finding and conclude that this attestation is essential to our efforts to ensure that only qualified providers
become and remain eligible for compensation from the Fund. We find our actions today to be consistent
with Commission rules, already in place, mandating similar attestations as to the accuracy and
truthfulness of requests for compensation from the Fund and data submissions to the TRS Fund
administrator. Having received no comment opposing the interim certification, and because of its
continued necessity, the Commission therefore permanently adopts the following requirements:
The chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), or other
senior executive of an applicant for Internet-based TRS certification
under this section447 with first hand knowledge of the accuracy and
completeness of the information provided, when submitting an
application for certification under paragraph (a)(2) of this section,448
must certify as follows: I swear under penalty of perjury that I am __
(name and title), __ an officer of the above-named applicant, and that I
have examined the foregoing submissions, and that all information
required under the Commission's rules and orders has been provided and
all statements of fact, as well as all documentation contained in this
submission, are true, accurate, and complete.449
The chief executive officer (CEO), chief financial officer (CFO), or other
senior executive of an Internet-based TRS provider under this section450
with first hand knowledge of the accuracy and completeness of the
information provided, when submitting an annual report under paragraph
(g) of this section,451 must, with each such submission, certify as follows:
I swear under penalty of perjury that I am ___ (name and title), ___ an
officer of the above-named reporting entity, and that I have examined the
foregoing submissions, and that all information required under the
Commission's rules and orders has been provided and all statements of
fact, as well as all documentation contained in this submission, are true,
accurate, and complete.452

445 Id.
446 Id.
447 47 C.F.R. 64.606.
448 Id.
449 Id. 64.606(a)(2)(v).
450 Id. 64.606.
451 Id.
452 Id. 64.606(g)(2).
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175.
The Commission believes that this attestation requirement will provide an added
deterrent against fraud and abuse of the Fund by making senior officers of providers more accountable for
the information provided. Although we do not adopt any additional rule changes to ensure the veracity
and completeness of provider submissions at this time, we note that additional safeguards may be
necessary at a later time.

H.

Other Issues

1.

CA Qualifications

176.
The Commission's rules direct that VRS CAs must be qualified interpreters, i.e., capable
of interpreting "effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively and expressively, using any
necessary specialized vocabulary."453 The Commission sought comment in the 2011 VRS Reform
FNPRM
on whether specific training requirements or qualifications for VRS CAs were needed beyond
the general requirements set forth in section 64.604(a)(1) of our rules, as well as the effect that imposing
such requirements would have on the current pool of CAs and on the ability of VRS providers to comply
with the speed of answer requirement.454
177.
Two commenters call for a national VRS CA certification standard, specifically
recommending the RID-NAD National Interpreter Certification.455 The record does not, however, support
the imposition of additional or modified VRS CA qualification rules. First, there is no record in this
proceeding to indicate a lack of high VRS CA quality, and Commission records indicate that few
consumers have complaints regarding VRS CA quality in the last 12 months. Further, VRS providers
compete for users primarily on the basis of quality of service, including the quality of their VRS CAs; a
user dissatisfied with the quality of a given provider's VRS CAs can switch to another provider on a per
call or permanent basis.456 VRS providers thus have developed their own internal methods designed to
ensure compliance with our "qualified interpreter" requirement.457 For these reasons, we see no need to
modify that requirement at this time.
178.
We note that commenters expressed a number of other concerns with a national VRS CA
certification requirement, including arguments that: (a) certification alone does not guarantee that a VRS

453 The Commission adopted this requirement when it first recognized VRS as a form of TRS compensable from the
Fund. 2000 TRS Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 5161-62, 48. See also 47 C.F.R. 64.601(a)(17) (2012). This standard is
patterned after the definition of "qualified interpreter" that the U.S. Department of Justice utilizes in its regulations
implementing Titles II and III of the ADA. See 28 C.F.R. 35.104, 36.104.
454 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17404-05, 86.
455 Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 11; RID FNPRM Comments at 3; Consumer Groups FNPRM Reply
Comments at 2. These commenters claim that requiring national certification will establish a minimum standard not
unlike certifications required to practice in other professions.
456 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17378, 14.
457 For example, CSDVRS reports that it has a training and recruitment program, as well as ongoing monitoring and
feedback systems for its VRS CAs, many of whom have some level of state or national certification. CSDVRS
FNPRM Comments at 35-37. Similarly, Sorenson reports that its own in-house training program provides in-depth
instruction to its VRS CAs on meeting the needs of deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-disabled consumers and
complying with the regulatory standards applicable to CAs. Sorenson FNPRM Reply Comments at 80-81.
Likewise, Convo states that it evaluates all of its CA applicants using a process that addresses its customers' needs
and preferences, and provides CAs with significant training before the CAs take their first VRS call. Convo adds
that some applicants holding RID certification have not passed its in-house evaluation. Convo FNPRM Reply
Comments at 15-16.
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CA will be a "qualified interpreter;"458 (b) national certification does not exist for Spanish-ASL
interpreters and English-ASL national certification exams cannot effectively assess the VRS skills of
Spanish-ASL VRS CAs;459 and (c) the Commission should be cautious about reliance on a single national
certifying body given that interpreters may be qualified under various state quality assurance programs.460
Further, we note that, in 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice considered, and rejected, a similar proposal
to add a certification requirement to its definition of "qualified interpreter."461 In rejecting this proposal,
DOJ found its existing definition to be sufficient to ensure effective communication without the need for
certification.462
179.
There is no doubt that high quality VRS CAs are critical to the provision of effective
VRS, and we will revisit this issue if it becomes apparent that our current rules are insufficient to ensure
the availability of qualified VRS CAs. We will continue to carefully monitor consumer complaints
related to the quality of VRS CAs and will look for patterns of complaints regarding individual CAs or
providers. We encourage callers who encounter a VRS CA that they believe is unable to interpret
effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively and expressively, using any necessary
specialized vocabulary, to make note of the CA's identification number, notify the VRS provider handling
the call, and file a complaint with the Commission.463 Finally, we remind VRS providers that their annual
complaint log summaries (submitted to the Commission) must include, among other things, a listing of
complaints alleging a violation of any of the TRS mandatory minimum standards, including violations of
the requirement for CAs to be qualified, as well as the manner in which such complaints were resolved.

458A majority of more than 250 individual sign language interpreters--many of whom are certified--maintain that
holding certification alone does not necessarily reflect their skills as effective VRS CAs. See, e.g., J. Day (late-filed
comment filed May 15, 2012); C. Errigo (late-filed comment filed May 18, 2012) ("I know some highly qualified
interpreters who are stellar VIs who have not passed the NIC exam and conversely those of questionable ability who
have passed. Getting NIC certification is by no means the only valid read of an interpreter's ability to provide
skilled VRS interpreting services."); P. Meyer (late-filed comment filed June 4, 2012). See also Convo FNPRM
Reply Comments at 15; Sorenson FNPRM Comments at 80-81; Sorenson FNPRM Reply Comments at 63 ("While
NAD-RID certification (or other specific certifications) can often help in identifying qualified interpreters, it is not a
foolproof shortcut for ensuring that providers employ only high quality VRS interpreters.").
459 See ASL Services Holdings FNPRM Comments at 27 (although non-certified Spanish-speaking CAs often find
passing English-ASL certification to be challenging, "these individuals provide perhaps the best possible ASL-
Spanish interpretation possible," and should not be deemed incapable of serving the lack of a certification process);
L. Fragoso (late-filed comment filed May 18, 2012); A. Lozada (late-filed comment filed May 21, 2012). Non-
shared language Spanish translation VRS is a non-mandated, but compensable form of VRS in which the CA
translates what is signed in ASL into spoken Spanish, and vice versa. Telecommunications Relay Services and
Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CC Docket No. 98-67 & CG
Docket No. 03-123, Order on Reconsideration, 20 FCC Rcd. 13140 (2005) (Non-Shared ASL-Spanish
Reconsideration Order
).
460 See, e.g., S. Moore (late-filed comment filed May 25, 2012); see also, e.g., L. Barrett (late-filed comment filed
May 30, 2012) ("Several states and other organizations offer certification that is arguably better than RID's."); E.
Sewell (late-filed comment filed May 9, 2012); L.K. Doyle (late-filed comment filed May 9, 2012); A. Jeralds (late-
filed comment filed May 10, 2012).
461 See 28 C.F.R. Part 36, Appendix A Guidance to Revisions to ADA Regulation on Nondiscrimination on the
Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities (2010).
462 Id. See also id. Part 35, Appendix A Guidance to Revisions to ADA Regulation on Nondiscrimination on the
Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services (2010).
463 Information on how to file a TRS-related complaint electronically (Form 2000C), over the phone, or via postal
mail, e-mail, or fax can be found at http://www.fcc.gov/complaints.
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2.

Skill-Based Routing

180.
Commenters have asked that VRS providers be allowed, or required, to offer "skill-based
routing," which would allow a VRS caller to select preferred VRS CAs according to the CAs' skill sets--
in particular their interpreting, transliteration, and signing styles, and/or areas of knowledge (e.g.,
medicine, law, or technology).464 We are concerned that allowing skill-based routing would increase the
incentive of VRS users to substitute VRS for in-person sign language interpreting services, including
video remote interpreting (VRI)--a practice that is not permitted.465 Even if that critical issue were
resolvable, skill-based routing poses a number of implementation issues, including (a) how to reconcile a
skill-based routing function with our requirement that VRS calls be answered in the order received,466 (b)
our availability and speed of answer requirements,467 (c) determining what types of skills are appropriate
for specialized routing,468 and (d) whether skill-based routing should be a mandatory or a voluntary
feature of VRS.469 We therefore decline to require or allow skill-based CA routing or any type of
routing to a particular interpreter or interpreter pool at this time.470

464 Consumer Groups PN Comments at 9-11; see also ASL Services Holdings PN Comments at 18 ("A CA should
have the professional latitude, based on their knowledge and expertise, to immediately route the caller to the most
qualified CA to meet the caller's needs."); Sorenson PN Reply Comments at 75-77 (supporting rules that would
allow skill based routing subject to a number of conditions, including that it be provided as a "voluntary adjunct" to
VRS available less than 24 hours a day).
465 VRI is used when an interpreter cannot be physically present to interpret for two or more persons who are in the
same location, and it may also be used when persons are in different locations. 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, e.g., 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 2005 TRS Marketing Practices PN,
20 FCC Rcd 1471; Non-Shared ASL-Spanish Reconsideration Order , 20 FCC Rcd at 13154, n.109; 2006 IP Relay
Misuse FNPRM
, 21 FCC Rcd at 5482-83, 10.
466 ASL Services Holdings PN Comments at 18.
467 Purple FNPRM Comments at 18-19 (requesting that the speed of answer requirement be lifted for calls sent to
specific interpreters pursuant to skill-based routing); Sorenson FNPRM Reply Comments at 49-54 (supporting
permissive, not required, skill-based call routing, if certain measures are taken, including waiving the speed of
answer requirement for such calls); Sorenson PN Reply Comments at 76-77.
468 Id. at 77.
469 See id. at 75.
470 We remind providers that they must handle incoming calls in the order that they are received, with the exception
of 911 calls. 2005 TRS Marketing Practices PN, 20 FCC Rcd at 1472, 1474 (2005); 47 CFR 64.605(a)(2)(ii).
These rules are intended to ensure that VRS providers do not discriminate against, or in favor of, particular VRS
users. The practice of granting a caller's request for a CA of specific gender or skilled in handling ASL-Spanish
calls remains permissible. See id. 64.604(a)(1)(vi) (TRS providers must make best efforts to accommodate a TRS
user's requested CA gender when a call is initiated and, if a transfer occurs, at the time the call is transferred to
another CA); Non-Shared ASL-Spanish Reconsideration Order.
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IV.

VRS COMPENSATION RATE STRUCTURE AND RATES

A.

Background

181.
In order to implement the statutory requirement that TRS users "pay rates no greater than
the rates paid for functionally equivalent voice communication services," 471 the Commission established
the TRS Fund, which is intended to allow TRS providers, including VRS providers, to recover the
reasonable costs of providing TRS.472 As a result, the costs associated with providing TRS are not
charged to the consumers using these services; rather, interstate TRS and iTRS, including VRS, are
funded through mandatory contributions made to the TRS Fund.473 Under the current rules, providers
submit to the TRS Fund administrator on a monthly basis the number of minutes of service provided, and
the TRS Fund administrator compensates them based on per-minute compensation rates, which are set
annually by the Commission.474
182.
The current compensation methodology for VRS was adopted in 2007475 and modified in
2010.476 Under the current approach, the Fund compensates VRS providers on a per-minute basis,
employing a three-tier rate structure that allows smaller providers to receive a higher average per-minute
rate than larger providers.477
183.
Prior to June 2010, VRS compensation rates were calculated based on projections of cost
and demand submitted by providers.478 In setting TRS Fund compensation rates for the 2010-11 Fund
year, the Commission found that for the prior four years, for which rates had been set based on providers'
projected costs, providers had been overcompensated by more than $2.00 per minute, due to reliance on
projected costs and inaccurate demand forecasts submitted by providers.479

471 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(1)(D).
472 TRS II, 8 FCC Rcd at 1806, 24.
473 See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5). The TRS Fund is supported by contributions collected from common carriers
providing interstate telecommunications services and from voice over Internet Protocol providers. See id.
64.604(c)(5)(iii)(A). The costs of PSTN-based intrastate TRS are the responsibility of the states, and they may
select their funding mechanisms, so long as their programs are in compliance with the Commission's mandatory
minimum TRS standards. See 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(3), (f).
474 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5); see also, e.g., 2012 TRS Rate Order.
475 See 2007 TRS Rate Methodology Order.
476 See 2010 TRS Rate Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 8692, 6, 8694, 9.
477 See 2007 TRS Rate Methodology Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 20164-70, 47-56, 20173-75, 67-72; 2010 TRS Rate
Order
, 25 FCC Rcd at 8697-98, 16-17. Tier I rates apply to a provider's first 50,000 monthly VRS minutes; Tier
II rates apply to volumes between 50,001 and 500,000 minutes per month; and Tier III rates apply to volumes above
500,000 minutes per month. Id. at 8697, 16.
478 In the 2007 TRS Rate Methodology Order, the Commission introduced price cap-style regulation, permitting
VRS compensation rates to remain in effect subject to adjustment for a three-year period. 2007 TRS Rate
Methodology Order
, 22 FCC Rcd at 20169-70, 56. The initial rates set in that order to kick off the price cap
regime were based on providers' projected costs. Id. at 20167, 52.
479 2010 TRS Rate Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 8694, 9. Based on the data received from providers, the administrator
found that VRS providers' weighted average actual per-minute costs were $4.4603 in 2006, $3.9604 in 2007,
$4.1180 in 2008, and $4.1596 in 2009. By contrast, the VRS compensation rates (which were split into rate tiers
beginning in 2007) were in the following ranges for each of those years: $6.644 in 2006, $6.444 to $6.77 in 2007,
$6.30 to $6.7632 in 2008, and $6.2373 to $6.7362 in 2009.
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184.
To bring the rates closer to actual costs, the Commission in June 2010 cut the
compensation rate for the bulk of VRS traffic by more than $1.00 per minute, the first substantial VRS
rate reduction in six years.480 The TRS Fund administrator had proposed a sharper reduction based on its
analysis of actual, historical costs.481 The Commission found that while the TRS Fund administrator's
proposed rates were "reasonable and supported by record evidence,"482 a less severe rate reduction was
appropriate to avoid "a significant and sudden cut to providers' compensation"483 and to ensure that VRS
providers were able to continue providing quality service while the Commission considered reform of the
practices and structure of VRS.484 The Commission therefore adopted interim rates calculated for each
rate tier as the mid-point between the TRS Fund administrator's proposed rate and the existing rate.485
The Commission's adoption of those rates was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in
Sorenson II.486
185.
The Commission allowed the interim VRS compensation rates, which were set
significantly higher than actual VRS costs, to continue in effect for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 Fund years
while continuing its consideration of structural reforms.487 Nevertheless, the Commission remained
committed to bringing VRS compensation rates in line with costs. Along these lines, in the 2011 VRS
Reform FNPRM
, the Commission proposed to develop a cost-based initial per-user rate,488 and
alternatively, if a per-minute rate methodology was retained, "to move to a [per-minute] rate based
entirely on providers' actual costs."489

B.

Per-User Compensation Mechanism

186.
The 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM sought comment on a proposal to transition VRS from the
existing per-minute compensation mechanism to a per-user compensation mechanism in order to better
align the compensation methodology with the providers' cost structure, increase efficiency and
transparency in the rate setting process, and reduce incentives to conduct common and difficult-to-detect
forms of fraud.490 The record reflects broad opposition to a per-user compensation mechanism.491 Even
those that offer qualified support for a per-user mechanism note that transition would require a "carefully

480 Id., 8, Table 1 (reducing the Tier III rate from $6.24 per minute to $5.07 per minute).
481 The Tier III rate for the 2009-10 Fund year was $6.24 per minute. The administrator's proposed Tier III rate,
based on actual, historical costs for the 2010-2011 Fund year, was $3.8963. Id.
482 Id. at 8696, 13.
483 Id.
484 Id. at 8690, 2.
485 Id. at 8692, 6.
486 659 F.3d 1035.
487 See 2011 TRS Rate Order; 2012 TRS Rate Order.
488 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17458-60, Appendix C 13-18.
489 Id. at 17418, 140.
490 Id. at 17396, 59.
491 See, e.g., ASL Services Holdings FNPRM Comments at 5-13, 29; CAAG FNPRM Comments at 1-3; Consumer
Groups FNPRM Comments at 38 (expressing a "strong preference that the Commission not change the
reimbursement methodology" absent additional outreach and education, and an evaluation of the impact of prior
actions (and the potential for future actions) to limit waste, fraud, and abuse under the current mechanism);
CSDVRS FNPRM Comments at 5 (per-user rate proposal "suffers from a variety of infirmities"); Purple FNPRM
Comments at 27 ("a modified per minute model is the optimal solution").
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calibrated phase-in process" and is subject to "complexities and challenges," particularly during the initial
implementation phases.492
187.
The Commission itself noted that the per-user mechanism, if adopted, "would need to be
phased in according to a well-developed and transparent plan"493 and would require that a number of
other significant reforms be completed prior to transition, including that a database of VRS users be
established and operational and that iTRS access technology standards be adopted and implemented.494 It
is difficult to assess, on the basis of the record before us, the validity of commenters' objections to a per-
user compensation mechanism or the ultimate impact a per-user mechanism would have on VRS
providers and consumers; the reforms that are a predicate to implementation of a per-user mechanism
would both alter the nature of the VRS program and provide data that will help determine the need for
additional reforms. We therefore decline to adopt a per-user compensation mechanism at this time.495

C.

Short-term Rate Methodology Pending Implementation of Structural Reforms

188.
As discussed in the accompanying FNPRM, we are proposing that once structural
reforms are implemented, the Commission will set VRS compensation rates based largely if not entirely
on competitively established pricing, i.e., prices set through a competitive bidding process. During the
transition to structural reforms, however, in order to satisfy our "obligation to protect the integrity of the
Fund and to deter and detect waste,"496 we conclude that we should continue to move rates closer to actual
cost using currently available ratemaking tools. While the interim rates set in 2010 began to close the gap
between rates and costs, those rates have remained in effect for almost three years, during which average
provider costs have declined significantly.497 Therefore, we will reduce rates further to bring them closer
to average provider costs, as calculated by the Fund administrator, beginning with the 2013-14 Fund year.
189.
As in the 2010 TRS Rate Order, we find that the use of providers' actual, historical costs
continues to provide a valuable point of reference for setting VRS compensation rates, pending
implementation of our structural reforms. Historical costs are an especially useful reference point where,

492 See Sorenson FNPRM Comments at 28; see also Purple FNPRM Comments at 27-28 (noting a per user model
could be implemented, but is "complex and will require significant interaction with all stakeholders and additional
time to fully develop").
493 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17410, 108.
494 Id. at 17411-12, 112.
495 We likewise decline to adopt proposals that were predicated, in whole or in part, on the adoption of a per-user
compensation mechanism, including the elimination of "dial around" service (id. at 17400-01, 74-78), one free
provider per VRS user (id. at 17401-03, 79-82), providing compensation for "enterprise users" (id. at 17400,
71-73), and service contracts (id. at 17403, 83-84).
496 See 2010 TRS Rate Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 8695, 12 (footnote omitted).
497 In 2010, the Fund administrator calculated that weighted average actual costs for prior years were $4.4603 in
2006, $3.9604 in 2007, $4.1180 in 2008, and $4.1596 in 2009, Id. at 8694, 9. In the 2012 VRS Rate Filing, the
administrator found that weighted average actual costs were $3.5740 in 2010 and $3.1900 in 2011. 2012 VRS Rate
Filing
at 4. The Fund administrator's 2013 filing indicates a further continuation of this trend, with weighted
average historical costs for 2011 recalculated as $3.2477 and weighted average historical costs for 2012 calculated
as $3.0929. RLSA, Interstate Telecommunications Relay Services Fund Payment Formula and Fund Size Estimate,
CG Docket Nos. 03-123, 10-51, at 19-20 (filed May 1, 2013) (2013 TRS Rate Filing). The administrator explains
that the recalculated average historical cost for 2011 shown in the 2013 TRS Rate Filing differs from that submitted
in the 2012 VRS Rate Filing due to the changed composition of the providers filing cost data. Id. at 19 n. 35.
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as here, prior submissions of projected costs have proven to be higher than actual costs subsequently
determined for the Fund year.498
190.
Sorenson, however, urges the Commission to abandon any further effort to bring rates
closer to costs, whether actual or projected, and instead to accept the current interim rates as the starting
point for a new multi-year rate plan.499 As discussed further below, we agree that a multi-year plan, with
built-in rate level adjustments, is an appropriate means to provide stability and predictability for the
transition period pending implementation of structural reforms.500 However, we decline to use the interim
rates currently in effect as the starting point for a new multi-year rate plan. When the current interim rates
were adopted, the Commission specifically determined that those rates were substantially in excess of
actual costs. Balancing the need for cost-based rates with concerns about carrier stability in the short
term, the Commission decided to allow providers to continue to collect VRS compensation from the TRS
Fund at above-cost rates for a limited period, in order to spare providers from a precipitous rate drop and
to allow them to continue providing high quality service pending the Commission's consideration of an
appropriate rate methodology and other reforms.501 As a consequence, providers have benefitted for
several additional years, at the expense of the TRS Fund and the general body of ratepayers who
contribute to the Fund, from VRS compensation rates substantially in excess of costs. Moreover, given
that, as noted above, provider costs are declining, the disparity between the existing interim rates and
actual provider costs is even greater today than it was when the rates were initially set. In effect, in the
interests of preserving industry stability pending the adoption of structural reforms, VRS providers have
already had the opportunity to provide VRS under a multi-year rate plan, lasting from July 2010 to the
present, with above-cost interim rates as both the starting point and the end point. We can no longer
justify maintaining VRS rates at these interim levels.502
191.
Sorenson also argues that a historical cost methodology is inappropriate because it does
not incorporate economic incentives promoting efficiencies.503 While we recognize that efficiency
disincentives can be generated when rates are annually recalculated based on historical costs, in this
instance we utilize RLSA's historical cost analysis for a different purpose, namely, as the reference point
for establishing a multi-year rate plan. We agree with those commenters who urge that multi-year rate
plans can offer salutary, efficiency-promoting and rate-predictability benefits, and we adopt such a plan
below. Multi-year rate plans, however, must have a defensible cost-based reference point from which to
proceed.504 We find that RLSA's cost analysis, which actually uses a combination of providers' projected

498 See supra section IV.A. There is currently no "true-up" mechanism for reconciling, after the Fund year, the rates
at which providers are reimbursed from the Fund and their actual costs for the Fund year.
499 See Sorenson PN Comments at 32, 37-45, Katz Dec. 2, 56-82; Sorenson PN Reply Comments at 40.
500 Cf. 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17416-17, 132-136.
501 2010 TRS Rate Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 8695, 12.
502 Further, as 2010 TRS Rate Order explains, the history of fraud associated with the provision of VRS makes it
imperative that the Commission consider the impact of inflated reimbursement rates for the service on the incentive
to commit fraud. Id. at 8693, 10 n. 32.
503 Sorenson PN Comments, Katz Dec. 68-70.
504 When permitting local exchange carriers to transition from rate-of-return to price-cap regulation, for example, the
Commission generally requires the use of rate-of- return regulated rates or historical cost data as a reference point
for initializing price-cap rates. See, e.g., Joint Petition of Price Cap Holding Companies for Conversion of Average
Schedule Affiliates to Price Cap Regulation and for Limited Waiver Relief
, WC Docket No. 12-63, Order, 27 FCC
Rcd 15753 (2012) (finding that "using historical cost and demand data is the best way to prevent carriers from
gaming the transition process by skewing cost and demand projections in their favor, and provides a more accurate
(continued...)
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costs and actual historical costs,505 provides an appropriate reference point in this instance for establishing
a multi-year rate plan that enables the VRS industry to transition towards cost-based rates, which we
propose to determine in the future using competitively established pricing. Thus, we find that the cost
basis calculated by RLSA, based on a combination of historical and projected costs, is an appropriate
reference point for the rates we adopt today, which are described in section IV.D below. In the remainder
of this section, we address several questions raised in the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM regarding allowable
categories of costs and the handling of rate tiers both during and after the transition to structural reforms.
1.

Outreach

192.
As explained in section II.B above, the Commission has decided to establish a
coordinated nationwide outreach program for VRS and IP Relay, handled by an independent entity. This
change removes the need for VRS and IP Relay providers to incur expenses to conduct their own outreach
activities. Therefore, in the future we will preclude such providers from including outreach expenses in
their annual cost submissions to the TRS Fund administrator.506 The elimination of this obligation for IP
Relay providers will be taken into account in determining future IP Relay per minute rates. We therefore
direct the Fund Administrator to submit a revised rate recommendation that treats outreach as a non-
compensable cost for IP Relay providers and direct the Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs
Bureau, to adopt or revise IP Relay rates for Fund year 2013-2014 as appropriate after consideration of
that recommendation.507 To be clear, however, providers remain free to conduct outreach; we decide here
only that we will not consider the expense of such activities in setting rates for these services.
2.

User Equipment

193.
As we explained in the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, the Commission has consistently held
that costs attributable to the user's relay hardware and software, including installation, maintenance, and
testing, are not compensable from the Fund.508 The Commission has explained that expenses for which
providers are compensated "must be the providers' expenses in making the service available and not the
customer's costs of receiving the equipment. Compensable expenses, therefore, do not include expenses
for customer premises equipment--whether for the equipment itself, equipment distribution, or
installation of the equipment or necessary software."509
(Continued from previous page)
estimate of a converting average schedule carrier's costs and demand for purposes of establishing price cap
indexes").
505 2012 VRS Rate Filing at 4. Reliance on projected costs in this instance, however, does not reflect a global
finding that provider projections should invariably be used in setting TRS compensation rates. In the 2013 TRS Rate
Filing
, the administrator notes that the cost projections for 2013 and 2014 "should be scrutinized closely for
reasonableness, particularly in light of the low correlation between projected CA related increases and subsequent
historical performance." 2013 TRS Rate Filing at 20.
506 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(D)(1). See Sorenson II, 659 F.3d at 1044 (rejecting argument that rate order is infirm
because it would allegedly compel providers to sacrifice "outreach and training").
507 We believe the revised VRS rates adopted herein, which are formulated to approach actual costs, adequately take
into account the elimination of VRS providers' outreach costs.
508 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17393, 49. See 2006 MO&O, 21 FCC Rcd at 8071, 17; 2007 TRS
Rate Methodology Order
, 22 FCC Rcd at 20170-71, 82.
509 2006 MO&O, 21 FCC Rcd at 8071, 17.
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194.
Notwithstanding some providers' continued urging that we should include user
equipment as allowable costs,510 we decline to alter our policy against the use of monies from the TRS
Fund to support VRS providers' distribution of user equipment or access technology, whether as part of
generally applicable rates or through direct payments to VRS providers. In seeking comment on whether
to provide explicit compensation to support iTRS access technology, the Commission made clear that it
did not seek to "alter our prior decision that equipment costs are not `costs caused by interstate
telecommunications relay service.'"511 Rather, it sought comment on whether providing explicit
compensation for the provision of iTRS access technology to some or all users, subject to conditions to
reduce "user lock in" and to address other issues, would help further the goal of ensuring that TRS is
"available, to the extent possible and in the most efficient manner."512 In this Order, we conclude that a
better approach to furthering that goal at this time is to fund the development of open source VRS access
technology, as discussed in section II.A above, and to contract for the development and deployment of a
VRS access technology reference platform, as discussed in section II.C above. After implementation of a
VRS access technology reference platform and the other reforms adopted herein, there will be another
opportunity to assess the extent to which additional measures are necessary and appropriate to promote
the availability of iTRS access technology.513
3.

Capital Costs and Income Taxes

195.
In the 2010 VRS NOI and the VRS Structure and Rates PN, the Commission sought
comment on the current process for allowing providers a rate-of-return on capital investment. Some
parties have argued that, owing to differences between the types of investment undertaken by
telecommunications carriers and VRS providers, the 11.25% rate of return prescribed for carriers on the
value of assets defined as investment under our rules does not adequately compensate VRS providers for
their capital costs.514 No party, however, suggests a quantified, concrete alternative to the current
approach used for calculating an allowable rate of return, other than to simply reimburse providers for
their actual expenditures on interest and other capital costs. With respect to the types of capital costs that
are recoverable, we find it would be irresponsible and contrary to our mandate to ensure the efficient
provision of TRS and to preserve the integrity of the TRS Fund, to simply reimburse VRS providers for
all capital costs they have chosen to incur--such as high levels of debt--where there is no reason to
believe that those costs are necessary to the provision of reimbursable services.515

510 Sorenson FNPRM Comments at 34, 73, n. 155 (arguing for compensation for imputed technology licensing fees);
Sorenson FNPRM Reply Comments at 40.
511 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17393, 51. See also Sorenson II, 659 F.3d at 1044 ("The statute
only requires that VRS be made `available' and that users pay no higher rates for calls than others pay for traditional
phone services. It does not also require that VRS users receive free equipment and training.") (citation omitted).
See also id. at 1044-45 (exclusion of equipment costs does not undermine section 225 goal of not discouraging or
impairing development of improved technology).
512 See 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1).
513 Most VRS software currently available is proprietary. As explained supra section II.A, the Commission is
committing funds to develop a generally available, non-proprietary VRS access technology reference platform.
Based on our experience with that program, we may reevaluate at a later time, if necessary, the need for and
propriety of Fund support for the distribution and maintenance of non-proprietary VRS access technology.
514 See, e.g., Sorenson FNPRM Comments at 35-45, Katz Dec. 2, 56-63, 72, 78; Purple PN Comments, Turner
Dec. 55-58.
515 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1).
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196.
Our application of the 11.25% rate of return to TRS compensation rates is a longstanding
practice that was affirmed by a federal court of appeals.516 In the absence of immediately implementable
alternative proposals, and because we expect that a capital cost methodology will become unnecessary as
we transition away from using a cost-calculation methodology to set VRS rates,517 we decline to alter our
current approach to Fund support for VRS providers' recovery of capital costs, except that we accept
RLSA's recommended adjustment to account for corporate income taxes.518
4.

Rate Tiers

197.
The Commission noted in the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM that the existing structure of the
VRS industry contained numerous small providers, who incurred higher per-minute costs than larger
providers and thus required higher "tiered" compensation rates in order to recover such higher costs.519
Pointing out that inefficient VRS operations requiring higher compensation rates are inconsistent with the
sound management of the TRS Fund, the Commission suggested that such small-provider inefficiencies
may not be due to a "learning curve" but rather may reflect inherent economies of scale that prevent
smaller providers from ever operating efficiently. Noting that the current scheme provides no limit on the
duration of support for subscale providers, the Commission sought comment on whether to transition
from the current tiered per-minute rates to a single at-scale per-user rate. Alternatively, if a per-minute
rate methodology is retained, the Commission proposed to eliminate the current tier structure and utilize a
single rate based on the weighted average of providers' actual costs.520
198.
We note that some commenters oppose the elimination of tiers.521 These commenters
generally argue that tiers are necessary to maintain a sufficient number of providers so that consumers can
choose from a reasonable range of service offerings.522 No party, however, has presented a valid reason
why the TRS Fund should support indefinitely VRS operations that are substantially less efficient.523
Therefore, to encourage the provision of VRS in the most efficient manner,524 the gap between the highest
and lowest tiered rates will be reduced over time, in accordance with the schedule set forth in Table 2
below.
199.
We also believe that our structural reforms, once implemented, will eliminate any
residual need for tiered rates. The initiatives we adopt in this order will address many of the issues that
have made it difficult for small providers to operate efficiently. By ensuring the interoperability of access
technologies, for example, we anticipate a substantial alleviation of the "lock-in" problem that has limited

516 Sorenson II, 659 F.3d at 1045, 1046-48.
517 See FNPRM, infra section V.A.
518 That factor was calculated using the following equation: 15.21 =11.25 * (1+ (EP * Tax/(1-Tax))), where the EP,
equity percentage, 63.8, is based on the factors used to determine the 11.25% return, and a 35% tax rate. See 2012
VRS Rate Filing
at 4, citing Represcribing the Authorized Rate of Return for Interstate Services of Local Exchange
Carriers
, CC Docket No.89-624, Order, 5 FCC Rcd 7507 (1990).
519 See 2007 TRS Rate Methodology Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 20162-63, 52-53.
520 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17418, 141.
521 See Convo FNPRM Comments at 29-31; CSDVRS FNPRM Comments at 23-27.
522 See Convo FNPRM Comments at 29-31; CSDVRS FNPRM Comments at 23-27; Purple April 19, 2012 Ex
Parte
.
523 See Sorenson FNPRM Comments at 25-26, Katz Dec. 14-18 (tiered rate structure rewards inefficient VRS
operations).
524 See 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1).
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the ability of smaller rivals to compete effectively with the largest provider. Further, by transferring to a
neutral entity many of the fixed cost components of VRS, we anticipate that restructuring will make it
more feasible for smaller entities to compete efficiently in the provision of CA service without artificial
supports such as rate tiers. Therefore, we anticipate that the complete elimination of rate tiers for CA
service will be able to coincide with the implementation of VRS structural reforms.
200.
Prior to implementation of restructuring, however, there are good reasons to retain rate
tiers and no compelling reasons to eliminate them. With only six providers currently providing VRS,
eliminating the rate tiers immediately could force out some of the smallest remaining providers,
unnecessarily constricting the service choices available to VRS consumers during the period prior to
implementation of structural reforms. Some of these small providers may be able to operate more
efficiently and compete more effectively under the structural reform conditions than under current
conditions, in which technical barriers to interoperability and portability, as well as other limitations,
continue to inhibit the full development of competition. Experienced providers, and the consumers who
prefer to use their services, should have an opportunity to find out whether such providers are able to
grow sufficiently to reach a more efficient scale under more hospitable conditions. We conclude that it is
worth tolerating some degree of additional inefficiency in the short term, in order to maximize the
opportunity for successful participation of multiple efficient providers in the future, in the more
competition-friendly environment that we expect to result from our structural reforms. Therefore, we will
allow tiered rates to remain in effect during the transition to structural reforms, but with a gradually
reduced gap between highest and lowest tiers, in order to allow smaller providers an opportunity to
increase the efficiency of their operations so as to maximize their chances of success after structural
reforms are implemented.525
201.
We also conclude that the tier boundaries should be adjusted during the transition, so as
to ensure that smaller providers have a full opportunity to achieve efficient operations.526 As noted above,
VRS rates are currently structured in three tiers: Tier I rates apply to a provider's first 50,000 VRS
minutes each month; Tier II rates apply to a provider's monthly minutes between 50,001 and 500,000;
and Tier III rates apply to a provider's monthly minutes in excess of 500,000. As adjusted in this order,
Tier I rates will apply to a provider's first 500,000 monthly VRS minutes; Tier II rates will apply to a
provider's monthly minutes between 500,001 and 1 million; and Tier III rates will apply to a provider's
monthly minutes in excess of 1 million.
202.
Regarding the configuration of tiers, the critical question concerns whether and how to
adjust the boundary between Tier II, for which the rate is currently $6.23 per minute, and Tier III, for
which the rate is currently $5.07 per minute.527 Parties have offered divergent theories as to the traffic
levels necessary to achieve minimum efficient scale and the tier configurations that should be adopted to
reflect such economies of scale. For example, Sorenson, which favors resetting the Tier II/III boundary at
250,000 monthly minutes,528 argues that all significant scale efficiencies are already achieved at this level,

525 In theory, if smaller VRS providers were driven out of the market by the immediate elimination of tiers, those
providers could return, or be replaced by new entrants, after the existing barriers to full competition are fully
eliminated. But that could leave a gap in the availability of service choices to VRS consumers, which we seek to
avoid. Preventing "market disruption pending broader reforms is, of course, a standard and accepted justification for
a temporary rule." Rural Cellular Ass'n v. FCC, 588 F.3d 1095, 1106 (D.C. Cir. 2009) (quoting Competitive
Telecomm's Ass'n v. FCC,
309 F.3d 8, 14 (D.C. Cir. 2002)).
526 See, e.g., Purple April 19, 2012 Ex Parte; Purple PN Comments at 14-16; CSDVRS PN Comments at 16-18.
527 By contrast, the Tier I rate is currently $6.24 per minute, only one cent higher than the Tier II rate.
528 Sorenson Comments at 27 (proposing that boundary be set at 250,000 minutes per month).
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while Purple, which supports resetting the Tier II/Tier III boundary at 2 million monthly minutes,529
argues that economies of scale are substantial even at the 2 million minute level. Among other
differences, Sorenson argues that there are only limited economies of scale involved in general and
administrative costs,530 while Purple contends that such economies of scale are substantial.531 Similarly,
while Sorenson contends that there are no significant economies of scale involved in call center facilities
and CA staffing,532 Purple argues that there are important economies of scale involved in those cost
categories.533
203.
We find that, regardless of whether the existing cost differences between the largest
provider and its smaller competitors--including providers currently handling call volume levels greater
than 500,000 minutes per month534--are due to economies of scale or to other efficiency differences
among the existing providers, their actual existence is undisputed535 and is supported by historical data.536
204.
Further, given our decision to reduce the gap between the highest and lowest tiered rates
and our expectation that tier classifications ultimately will be eliminated upon the implementation of
structural reforms, the main question before us is not whether we can pinpoint the exact level where the
greatest economies of scale are achieved, but rather how we can best balance, during the transition to
structural reforms, the competing concerns of (1) maintaining sufficient incentives for smaller providers
to improve the efficiency of their operations, and (2) ensuring that smaller providers have a reasonable
opportunity to compete effectively during the transition and to achieve or maintain the necessary scale to
compete effectively after structural reforms are implemented. In other words, there is no single "right
answer" to the question; rather, the matter is inherently a question of administrative line-drawing.537 In

529 Purple PN Comments at 14-16 (proposing that Tier II/Tier III boundary be set at 2,000,000 minutes per month).
530 Sorenson Comments, Katz Dec. 41-44. But see id. 35 (theorizing that a provider operating at 250,000
minutes per month achieves 95.4 percent of "maximal feasible efficiency"). See also 2010 TRS Rate Order, 25 FCC
Rcd at 8694, Table 1 (showing proposed rates reflecting the Fund administrator's determination that costs incurred
by providers operating in the 50,000 to 500,000 minute range are not lower (and in fact, are somewhat higher) than
those incurred by providers operating in the under 50,000 minute range).
531 Purple PN Comments, Turner Dec. 22-24.
532 Sorenson Comments, Katz Dec. 27-38.
533 Purple PN Comments, Turner Dec. 25-41.
534 See id. 17 (Purple and CSDVRS, as well as Sorenson, each have minute volume exceeding 500,000 minutes per
month).
535 See, e.g., Sorenson PN Reply Comments at 36 ("Sorenson is unquestionably the most efficient provider"); Purple
PN Comments at 12 ("VRS costs are volume-sensitive and . . . the VRS industry is characterized by significant
economies of scale").
536 In 2010, for example, the Fund administrator calculated that the average cost per minute for Tier III providers
(more than 500,000 monthly minutes) was substantially lower than the average cost per minute for either of the
lower tiers, resulting in a proposed rate for Tier III that was roughly two dollars lower than the proposed Tier I and
II rates. See 2010 TRS Rate Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 8694, Table 1. In the 2012 VRS Rate Filing, the administrator
did not present cost calculations for each tier; however, it did propose setting the rates for the two lower tiers to be
equal to each other, a proposal that is consistent with there continuing to be no significant cost differences between
the two lower tiers. 2012 VRS Rate Filing at 6.
537 See, e.g., AT&T Corp. v. FCC, 220 F.3d 607, 627 (D.C. Cir. 2000) (the Commission "has wide discretion to
determine where to draw administrative lines," and can be reversed only for abuse of discretion); Cassell v. FCC,
154 F.3d 478, 485 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (to demonstrate abuse of discretion, a petitioner must show that "lines drawn . . .
are patently unreasonable, having no relationship to the underlying regulatory problem.") (internal quotations
omitted); Hercules Inc. v. EPA, 598 F.2d 91, 107-108 (D.C. Cir. 1978) (in evaluating agency line drawing, the court
(continued...)
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this regard, we find that significant potential harm to competition could result if we set rate tier
boundaries at levels that are too low to allow smaller competitors to remain in the market pending
implementation of structural reforms. If, for example, we maintain or reduce the level of the Tier II/III
boundary, currently set at 500,000 monthly minutes, and there are in fact significant economies of scale
that can be achieved by providers whose call volumes substantially exceed 1million minutes per month,
but not by providers whose call volumes fall between 500,000 and 1million minutes per month, the rate
reductions we mandate today could lead to a one-firm industry prior to the implementation of structural
reforms, frustrating our policy objective of maintaining effective competition in the provision of VRS.538
On the other hand, if we reset the Tier II/III boundary at a level higher than the current level of 500,000
monthly minutes, and there are in fact no economies of scale to be achieved by increasing call volumes to
higher levels, the only consequence will be that smaller, less efficient competitors will remain in the VRS
market longer than would otherwise be the case, resulting in somewhat higher expenditures from the
Fund.
205.
Moreover, as explained above, it is the Commission's present intent to eliminate tiers
after the transition to structural reforms is completed; therefore, smaller providers will have a strong
incentive to improve the efficiency of their operations, regardless of the tier configuration that is in place
for the short term. We conclude that the harm to the public interest will be greater if we set the rate tier
boundary for the transition period lower than the optimum level, than if we set it higher than the optimum
level. Therefore, in setting the boundary between the highest and next-highest tiers, we conclude that we
should err on the side of setting the boundary too high.
206.
As noted above, the current Tier II/III boundary is at 500,000 monthly minutes.
Sorenson has proposed adjusting the boundary downward, to 250,000 monthly minutes, while Purple has
proposed adjusting the boundary upward, to 2 million monthly minutes. Adjusting the Tier II/III
boundary downward appears to be a risky course for the reasons stated above, particularly in light of the
fact that in 2010, the Fund administrator found no significant cost differences between providers
operating in the 50,000-500,000 minutes range and those operating in the below 50,000 range.539 Further,
maintaining the existing Tier II/III boundary while progressively lowering the rates for all tiers, raises
concerns that those providers who are arguably best positioned to offer effective competition to the
largest provider may be prevented from continuing to grow, and thus to achieve efficient scale, prior to
the implementation of structural reforms. CSDVRS, a relatively small provider, has proposed that the
Tier II/III boundary be set at 1 million monthly minutes, presumably reflecting its view that providers the
size of CSDVRS (and Purple, which has a comparable market share) can effectively compete if the rate
tier boundary is adjusted to 1 million monthly minutes.540 In order to ensure that VRS competition is
preserved pending the implementation of structural reforms, therefore, we will redraw the Tier II/III
(Continued from previous page)
asks "whether the agency's numbers are within a `zone of reasonableness,' not whether its numbers are precisely
right"). See also Sorenson II, 659 F.3d at 1046 (court is "particularly deferential when reviewing ratemaking orders
because `agency ratemaking is far from an exact science and involves policy determinations in which the agency is
acknowledged to have expertise'" (quoting Qwest Corp. v. FCC, 258 F.3d 1191, 1206 (10th Cir. 2001) and Sw. Bell
Tel. Co. v. FCC
, 168 F.3d 1344, 1352 (D.C. Cir. 1999)) and "the FCC is entitled to substantial deference when
adopting interim rates").
538 See supra section II.E.
539 In fact, the Fund administrator calculated that providers' average cost per minute for minutes in Tier I (up to
50,000 monthly minutes) was actually somewhat lower than the average cost per minute for minutes in Tier II
(between 50,001 and 500,000 monthly minutes), leading the administrator to propose that the Tier I rate be set 25
cents lower than the Tier II rate. See 2010 TRS Rate Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 8694, Table 1.
540 CSDVRS PN Comments at 16-18.
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boundary at 1 million monthly minutes. We believe that setting the Tier II/III boundary at the 1 million
minute level will serve to offset the potential competitive impact of lowering per minute reimbursement
rates and thus will allow relatively well established but currently less efficient providers to operate within
compensation rate categories that reflect their currently higher costs.541
207.
In addition, we adjust the boundary between Tiers I and II, currently at 50,000 monthly
minutes, up to 500,000 monthly minutes. We agree with the Fund administrator that the rates for all
monthly minutes up to 500,000 should be merged, inasmuch as the rates applicable to these minutes are
already virtually equal and the historical record does not reflect significant cost differences between
smaller and larger companies operating within these ranges.542
208.
In summary, for purposes of setting rates applicable to the transition period prior to
implementation of structural reforms, we will merge existing Tiers I and II into a new Tier I, and carve
out a new Tier II, applicable to the range of 500,001 1 million monthly minutes, from the lower portion
of existing Tier III. The existing and new tiers are shown in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Reconfigured Rate Tiers for VRS Compensation

Existing Tier Definition
New Tier Definition
(The range of a provider's
(The range of a provider's a
Tier
monthly VRS minutes to which
monthly VRS minutes to which
Numbers
the Tier is applicable)
the Tier is applicable)
I
0-50,000
0-500,000
II
50,001-500,000
500,001-1 million
III
Over 500,000
Over 1 million
To minimize any unintended consequences from the adjustment of the Tier II/III boundary, we will phase
in the divergence of the rates applicable to Tier II and Tier III over time, as VRS compensation rates in
general are being moved closer to actual costs. This is shown below in Table 2.

D.

Determination of a Cost-Based Rate and a Transitional Rate Plan

209.
In the 2012 VRS Rate Filing, RLSA stated that VRS providers' weighted average actual
per-minute costs were $3.5740 for 2010 and $3.1900 for 2011, and that VRS providers' weighted average
projected per-minute costs were $3.4313 for 2012.543 RLSA proposed that rates be based on the average
of these three numbers, or $3.396 per minute, with appropriate adjustments to reflect rate tiers.544
Implementing the proposed cost-based rate, however, would require per minute rate reductions of $2.844
($6.24 - $3.396) in the Tier I rate, $2.834 ($6.23 - $3.396) in the Tier II rate, and $1.674 ($5.07 - $3.396)
in the Tier III rate. To avoid such dramatic immediate reductions, RLSA proposed that the $3.396 cost
based rate be phased in over a multi-year time period,545 with the rates restructured in two tiers instead of

541 See Purple PN Comments, Turner Dec. 17 (Purple and CSDVRS, as well as Sorenson, each have call volumes
exceeding 500,000 minutes per month).
542 See 2010 TRS Rate Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 8694, Table 1.
543 2012 VRS Rate Filing at 4, Table 4.
544 Id. at 5.
545 Id.
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the current three tiers.546 Based on equal yearly rate reductions over a three-year phase-in period, RLSA
proposed that rates be set initially by reducing each tier by about one-third of the foregoing amounts,
resulting in initial rates of $5.2877 per minute for Tiers I and II (applicable to a provider's first 500,000
minutes each month) and $4.5099 per minute for Tier III (applicable to a provider's monthly minutes in
excess of 500,000).547
210.
In its May 1, 2013 TRS compensation rate filing, RLSA updated the VRS cost
information presented in the 2012 VRS Rate Filing.548 The administrator reported that the weighted
averages of the actual per-minute costs reported by providers are $3.2477 for 2011 and $3.0929 for 2012,
and that weighted averages of providers' per-minute projected costs are $3.3894 for 2013 and $3.7102 for
2014.549
211.
As noted above, we find that RLSA's use, in this instance, of a combination of provider's
projected costs and actual, historical costs is appropriate for the purpose of setting rates for the transition
period.550 Although we remain concerned about the accuracy of provider projections in general,551 in this
instance the inclusion of projected costs does not appear to inject a significant bias. Indeed, had the Fund
administrator excluded 2012 projected costs from the calculation, and simply taken an average of the two
historical cost figures (from 2010 and 2011), the result would have been virtually the same.552 We also
approve RLSA's use of weighted averages in calculating actual and projected costs.553 To the extent that
one provider commands a substantial share of the VRS market, we find that RLSA's use of weighted
averages is appropriate, and properly balances, on one side, the greater relative costs incurred by smaller
providers with, on the other, not penalizing providers operating at lower costs for their greater efficiency.
We conclude that RLSA's methodology and its use of projected and actual cost information submitted by
the providers (certified under penalty of perjury to be true and correct) were reasonable. Based on the
foregoing, we find reasonable RLSA's determination that a rate based on providers' reasonable costs, if
adopted today, would be $3.396 per minute, the average of three figures representing providers' historical
costs for 2010, historical costs for 2011, and projected costs for 2012. RLSA's estimate is also within the
range of provider cost figures presented in RLSA's most recent TRS rate filing.554
212.
Although the cost data would justify immediate adoption of RLSA's proposed cost-based
rate of $3.396 per minute, we concur with RLSA that taking a step-by-step transition from existing, tiered
rates toward a unitary cost-based rate is appropriate. Immediate imposition of a unitary cost-based rate

546 Id. at 5-6.
547 Id. at 5.
548 2013 TRS Rate Filing at 19-20.
549 Id. The 2013 TRS Rate Filing notes that, while the cost projections for 2013 and 2014 suggest an upward trend
in VRS costs, "the leading factor affecting the 2013 and beyond increase is the substantial projected increase in
communications assistants' cost. . . . These increases appear to be on the very high end of labor compensation
increases and should be scrutinized closely for reasonableness, particularly in light of the low correlation between
projected CA related increases and subsequent historical performance." Id. at 20.
550 See supra section IV.C.
551 See supra section IV.A.
552 Whereas the average of the three figures utilized by RLSA, including 2012 projected costs, is $3.396, the average
of 2010 and 2011 historical costs, excluding 2012 projected costs, is $3.382. See 2012 VRS Rate Filing at 4, Table
4.
553 See id. at 5-7.
554 2013 TRS Rate Filing at 19-20.
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would represent a significant and sudden cut to providers' compensation with potentially negative
consequences for consumers. Rather than RLSA's proposed three-year transition, however, we conclude
that a somewhat longer "glide path" towards a unitary cost-based rate strikes the correct balance. As
discussed in the accompanying FNPRM, as we implement structural reforms, we propose to transition to
a new ratemaking approach that uses competitive bidding to establish market-based rates. Our structural
reform plan will take a period of years to implement fully. Accordingly, until then, we adopt a multi-year
"glide path" towards cost-based rates. In addition, rather than RLSA's proposed yearly rate adjustments,
we find that smaller six-month rate adjustments will provide a less disruptive "glide path" for providers.
To improve the predictability of reimbursements and assist providers in planning efficiently for this
transition, we now determine the rates that will be in effect for the next four years, subject to exogenous
cost adjustments, unless implementation of structural reforms and/or related changes in methodology
support revision of the rates prior to that time.555
213.
In designing a "glide path" toward cost-based rates, there is, as with the design of rate
tiers,556 no single "right answer" to the question; rather, the matter is inherently a question of
administrative judgment.557 However, given the widening gap between existing rates and actual costs,558
and given that providers have operated under the current interim rates for three years, we find it
appropriate to "jump-start" the transition to cost-based rates by setting a uniform $0.25 rate reduction for
the initial rate period. The effective date of the initial rates set herein will be the later of July 1, 2013, or
30 days after publication of this Order in the Federal Register. Those initial rates, which will remain in
effect through December 31, 2013, will be $5.98 per minute for new Tier I (applicable to a provider's first
500,000 minutes each month), and $4.82 per minute for new Tier II (applicable to a provider's minutes
between 500,001 and 1 million each month) and new Tier III (applicable to a provider's monthly minutes
in excess of 1 million). These rates are each about $0.25 lower than the existing rates applicable to the
corresponding ranges of minutes.
214.
Subsequently, the Tier III rate will be reduced in $0.19 increments every six months, so
that at the end of four years (unless the rate has been adjusted by then to take account of implementation
of structural reforms) it will reach $3.49, a level approaching RLSA's estimate of the weighted average of
actual per-minute VRS costs. The rates for the other tiers will be reduced at a slower pace relative to
current levels, in order to ensure that smaller VRS providers have a reasonable opportunity to improve the
efficiency of their operations and to reach the optimum scale to compete effectively after the
implementation of structural reforms. Thus, after the initial $0.25 drop, the Tier I rate will be reduced by
$0.23 (a larger absolute reduction, but a smaller percentage reduction than for Tier III) every six months
until January 1, 2016, when (unless the rate has been adjusted by then to take account of implementation
of structural reforms) the reductions will begin to accelerate. As to Tier II, while we have determined in
section IV.C above that it is appropriate to carve out a new Tier II in order to allow smaller competitors a
full opportunity to improve efficiencies and achieve scale, we will not initially differentiate the rates for

555 We set the rates for a period of four years based on the assumption that implementation of the structural reforms
will not take longer than four years. In the event that it takes a shorter or longer period, we will reassess the rates at
the appropriate time.
556 See supra section IV.C.4.
557 See Sorenson II, 659 F.3d at 1046 (court is "particularly deferential when reviewing ratemaking orders because
`agency ratemaking is far from an exact science and involves policy determinations in which the agency is
acknowledged to have expertise'" (quoting Qwest Corp. v. FCC, 258 F.3d 1191, 1206 (10th Cir. 2001) and Sw. Bell
Tel. Co. v. FCC
, 168 F.3d 1344, 1352 (D.C. Cir. 1999)) and "the FCC is entitled to substantial deference when
adopting interim rates").
558 See supra section IV.C.
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new Tiers II and III. Rather, the rates for new Tiers II and III are initially set equal to each other, at $4.82
per minute, to avoid any sudden, unintended consequences from the reconfiguration of tiers. In
subsequent periods, as the rates for Tiers I and III are reduced further, the Tier II rate will remain stable
for several periods at $4.82, so that it becomes differentiated from the Tier III rate and so that the gap
between the rates for Tiers I and II will progressively diminish until the rates for those two tiers are equal.
The Tier I and Tier II rates will then remain equal to each other while incrementally declining until the
end of the transition. Despite these individual variations in the rate of change for the rates in each tier, all
rates are progressively reduced over the four-year plan, and all rates reach levels approaching, but higher
than, actual costs at the end of the four-year period.
215.
The progressive adjustment of rates for each tier is illustrated in Table 2 below, which
shows: (1) the current interim compensation rates, (2) average provider costs as calculated by RLSA, (3)
RLSA's proposed first-year rates, and (4) the rates we adopt today for Fund years 2013-14, 2014-15,
2015-16, and 2016-17.

Table 2: Average VRS Provider Costs, Current VRS Compensation Rates, RLSA's
Proposed Rates, and the Rates Adopted for Fund Years 2013-14 through 2016-17

Tiers
RLSA's
(as recon- Weighted
Proposed
figured
Average
First-
FY
FY
FY
FY
by this
Provider FY 2012- Year
2013-14 2014-15
2015-16 2016-17
order)
Costs559
13 Rates Rates
Rates
Rates560
Rates561
Rates562
Tier I
$3.396
$6.24 /
$5.2877
$5.98
$5.52
$5.06
$4.44
(0-
$6.23
(Jul.
(Jul.Dec. (Jul.
(Jul.
500,000
Dec.
2014)
Dec.
Dec.
minutes/
2013)
2015)
2016)
month)
$5.29
$5.75
(Jan.-June $4.82
$4.06
(Jan.-
2015)
(Jan.-
(Jan.-
June
June
June
2014)
2016)
2017)
Tier II
$3.396
$5.07
$4.5099
$4.82
$4.82
$4.82
$4.44
(500,001
(Jul.
(Jul.
(Jul.
(Jul.

Dec.
Dec.
Dec.
Dec.
1 million
2013)
2014)
2015)
2016)
minutes/
month)
$4.82
$4.82
$4.82
$4.06
(Jan.-
(Jan.-June (Jan.-
(Jan.-
June
2015)
June
June
2014)
2016)
2017)

559 2012 VRS Rate Filing at 5. Weighted average provider costs are shown for the VRS industry as a whole; they
were not computed separately for each rate tier.
560 Pending implementation of market-based rates.
561 Pending implementation of market-based rates.
562 Pending implementation of market-based rates.
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Tier III
$3.396
$5.07
$4.5099
$4.82
$4.44
$4.06
$3.68
(over
(Jul.
(Jul.Dec. (Jul.
(Jul.
1 million
Dec.
2014)
Dec.
Dec.
minutes/
2013)
2015)
2016)
month)
$4.25
$4.63
(Jan.-June $3.87
$3.49
(Jan.-
2015)
(Jan.-
(Jan.-
June
June
June
2014)
2016)
2017)
216.
The rates established in this Report and Order will apply as scheduled to all VRS
providers absent further action by the Commission. During the "glide path" period, however, the
Commission may adjust the compensation rate to reflect exogenous cost changes, including the shedding
of service responsibilities by VRS providers as VRS components begin to be provided by neutral entities.
Pending the implementation of structural reforms, we expect that the rate reduction plan adopted in this
order will permit service providers to continue offering VRS in accordance with our mandatory minimum
standards for high quality services, as we transition to structural reforms and a disaggregated, market-
based compensation methodology. We reserve the right to revisit the rates adopted in this Order if
provider data shows that, notwithstanding our actions today, the rates remain substantially in excess of
actual provider costs.

V.

FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

A.

Transition to a Market-Based Compensation Methodology

217.
In today's Order, we take further action to achieve VRS compensation rates that "better
approximate the actual cost of providing VRS while ensuring that VRS is provided in accordance with the
[Act]."563 Ratemaking based on calculations of allowable costs is inherently a contentious, complicated,
and imprecise process. This is particularly true in the VRS context.564 First, unlike most regulated
telecommunications services, VRS is generally provided at no charge to users.565 There is no pressure
from users on VRS suppliers to restrain the amount they charge because the users share none of the
costs.566 Second, a number of questions have arisen over the past several years concerning the
methodology used for determining VRS costs as well as the appropriateness of certain costs.567 Third, the

563 2010 TRS Rate Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 8692, 6.
564 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17382, 23.
565 Id.
566 Id. Moreover, the TRS Fund, which provides the payment for relay service, cannot "choose" how much service
to purchase, and so has no control over total expenditures once rates are set. Id.
567 See id. at 17382, 23, 17394, 53 & n. 144; see generally 2000 TRS Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 5152-56, 22, 26-
27, 32-33 (directing the TRS Advisory Council to develop cost recovery guidelines for VRS; the Council
recommended using the same methodology for VRS as used for traditional TRS); 2001 TRS Cost Recovery MO&O,
16 FCC Rcd at 22958-60, 30-36 (declining to adopt a permanent cost recovery methodology for VRS and seeking
additional comment on this issue); Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for
Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CC Docket No. 98-67, Order, 18 FCC Rcd 12823 (CGB 2003);
2004 TRS Report & Order
, 19 FCC Rcd at 12487-90, 17-24 (declining to adopt a permanent cost recovery
methodology for VRS), 12565-67, 234-40 (seeking additional comments and noting that although the
Commission had previously sought comment on this issue, the relative infancy and unique characteristics of VRS
made it difficult to determine what the appropriate cost recovery methodology should be); 2006 TRS Cost Recovery
FNPRM
, 21 FCC Rcd at 8389-90, 24.
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VRS compensation rate has fluctuated significantly over time, with frequent recalculation of rates as cost
or demand levels change or as new evidence about cost and demand levels come to light.568 Finally, the
absence of retail prices has encouraged perverse provider behavior and contributed to fraud and abuse--
e.g., by resulting in providers artificially generating minutes of use in order to collect more TRS Fund
revenues.569 Although the Commission has been able to take significant steps to address these issues, we
believe that these reasons also support the need to replace cost-of-service ratemaking with more market-
based approaches, to the extent that this can be accomplished without adversely affecting the public
interest and the goals of Section 225. Therefore, as we implement structural reforms, we propose to
transition to a new ratemaking approach that makes use of competitively established pricing, i.e., contract
prices set through a competitive bidding process, where feasible.
218.
There are several elements in this new approach. First, as explained in sections II.AII.B
and II.D above, the outreach and registration verification components of VRS will not be handled by VRS
providers. Rather, they will be handled by neutral entities pursuant to contracts. Therefore, as these
transfers to neutral entities are implemented, the costs associated with these components of VRS will be
removed from compensation rates for all VRS providers.
219.
Second, as explained in section II.E above, the Commission will also contract with a
neutral entity to offer the video communication service components of VRS, disaggregated from VRS CA
service, without charge, to those VRS providers that choose to make use of such a common video
communication service platform. For such providers, the costs associated with the disaggregated
components of VRS will also be removed from the cost basis for the compensation rates applicable to
such standalone VRS CA service providers.
220.
Third, we propose in this FNPRM that the contract price that the Commission pays to the
neutral video communication service provider for the disaggregated video communication service
component of VRS will serve as a benchmark for setting appropriate compensation applicable to any
VRS provider that chooses to continue offering a fully integrated service.
221.
Fourth, we propose in this FNPRM to establish a compensation rate for the provision of
VRS CA service by auctioning a portion of VRS traffic.
1.

Using the Cost of the Neutral Video Communication Service Provider
Contract as a Benchmark

222.
We tentatively conclude that the contract price that the Commission pays to the neutral
video communication service provider for the disaggregated video communication service component of
VRS will serve as a benchmark for setting appropriate compensation applicable to any VRS provider that
chooses to continue offering a fully integrated service. Such result is appropriate, given that the neutral
video communication service provider will be serving many of the same functions as an integrated
provider--i.e., user registration and validation, authentication, authorization, ACD platform functions,
routing (including emergency call routing), call setup, mapping, call features (such as call forwarding and
video mail), and such other features and functions not directly related to the provision of VRS CA
services. This would also be consistent with our rules requiring providers only to be compensated for the
reasonable costs of providing service.570 We seek comment on this proposal. Would such an approach
ensure an appropriate level of compensation for integrated providers? Specifically, how should the
contract price be used to determine the appropriate additional compensation for fully integrated service?
Are there overhead or other costs that an integrated VRS provider might incur that a neutral video

568 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17381, 22.
569 Id. at 17384, 26.
570 See 47 CFR 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(E).
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communication service provider would not, or vice versa? Are there other factors the Commission should
consider when setting compensation for the video communication service component of an integrated
VRS provider's service offering? The winning neutral video communication service provider may be
compensated on a usage insensitive basis (e.g., $x per year regardless of the number of users or minutes
of use serviced) or a usage sensitive basis (e.g., $x per user per month). Does the compensation structure
for the neutral video communication service provider affect this analysis?
2.

Using Auctions to Establish a Per Minute Rate for CA Service

223.
Data from the TRS numbering directory indicates that a sizeable percentage of
compensable VRS calls are placed to a relatively small number of telephone numbers that terminate to an
even smaller number of companies and government agencies. For example, the top 100 telephone
numbers called by VRS users for the period from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012 accounted for a total of
13.1 million minutes--over 12% of the total compensable VRS minutes of use for that year. Of these top
100 numbers, 48 numbers, representing approximately 7.4 million minutes of use, terminated to entities
subject to the Commission's jurisdiction, including AT&T, Verizon, Qwest, T-Mobile, Comcast, Time
Warner Cable, and Dish Network. Another 3 million minutes terminated to government agencies,
including the Social Security Administration (responsible for more than 1.5 million minutes alone),
Medicare, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and state agencies such as the Florida Department of
Children and Families. The remaining minutes terminate primarily to large banks (e.g., Bank of America,
Wells Fargo), technology companies (e.g., Apple, Dell) and service providers (e.g., eBay, GEICO, UPS,
SouthWest Airlines).
224.
Given this pattern of calling, we propose that an auction of the right to provide VRS CA
service for all calls terminated to an appropriately selected set of telephone numbers representing a
sufficient number of minutes of use could be used to establish a market rate for all minutes of use of VRS
CA service--including VRS CA service delivered by integrated VRS providers. We seek comment on
this proposal. Is it appropriate to use an auction determined price as a benchmark for regulating other
prices?
225.
What Is to Be Auctioned? If the Commission were to auction the right to provide VRS
CA service to a set of telephone numbers, how should those telephone numbers be selected? The top 100
numbers called? All calls to government agencies, entities regulated by the Commission, and/or general
business call centers? Some other selection criteria? How can the Commission ensure that the telephone
numbers selected account for sufficient minutes of use to ensure that the winning bid represents a market
rate for VRS CA service?
226.
VRS minutes of use arguably could be categorized, by, for example, time of day or the
nature of the called party (e.g., a government agency as opposed to a corporate technical support line).
For the purposes of an auction, should the Commission establish and auction more than one category of
minutes, where minutes within each category can be considered homogenous and minutes across
categories are sufficiently different? If so, what would be appropriate categories? If more than one
category is established should the different categories be auctioned simultaneously, as in spectrum
auctions with different categories of interrelated licenses, or auctioned sequentially? A simultaneous
dynamic (e.g., descending clock) auction has the advantage that it allows bidders to easily switch bids
among categories of licenses as relative prices change. For example, suppose the categories were minutes
between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and minutes at all other times. If during the auction the price of minutes
between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. fell relative to other minutes, some bidders might wish to supply fewer
minutes to that category and more to other times.
227.
Number of Winners. Should there be one or multiple auction winners? One approach for
a single winner auction would be to select the bidder with the lowest price per minute willing to serve all
demand for VRS CA service to the specified telephone numbers. One option is a single-round sealed bid
auction in which bidders submit their price offer. Alternatively, we could use a descending clock auction
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in which bid prices are reduced until only a single bidder remains.571 A descending clock auction may be
simpler for bidders because optimal bidding does not require strategic calculations about what others may
bid as in a single-round auction and bidders need not determine an exact bid at the beginning of the
auction. How can we ensure before the auction that there are multiple qualified bidders capable of
providing quality VRS CA service for all auctioned minutes of use? Are there other ways a single winner
auction could be structured to accomplish the Commission's goals?
228.
Another option would be to design an auction that allows for multiple winners. One
possibility is a descending clock auction, in which the auctioneer calls out a price and winners indicate the
percentage of total demand to the eligible numbers they are willing to serve at that price. The auctioneer
would continue to reduce the price until the sum of provider bids equals 100%.572 Given that we have
historical data on calling patterns, would such a structure provide flexibility to accommodate the actual
number of minutes without creating a high degree of uncertainty as to the number of minutes each auction
winner would be expected to service? Are there other ways a multiple winner auction could be structured
to accomplish the Commission's goals?
229.
In the case of a multiple winner auction, how should specific minutes be assigned to
winners? If minutes are truly homogenous, should they be randomly assigned? If minutes, while
sufficiently alike to be classified in a single category, are nonetheless somewhat differentiated should the
Commission use another procedure? For example, bidders could be randomly assigned priorities and then
pick preferences for types of minutes within a given category (e.g., minutes to be terminated to a
particular entity). An alternative approach would allow winners of minutes within a given category to bid
for the order in which they pick preferences.
230.
Form of Bids. What form should bids take? We contemplate that bids would take the
form of an offer to provide VRS CA service at a price per minute for all demand or a percentage of the
demand to certain telephone numbers. Is that the appropriate bid structure? Should bidders be required to
specify a fixed quantity of minutes of use they are willing to provide? If bids are for a fixed number of
minutes, what should the Commission do if the total minutes of use for which bids are received are
insufficient to cover demand? Would additional demand be routed through a user's default provider?
231.
Bidder Qualifications. What qualifications should the Commission set for bidders?
Should we allow entities to bid only after they have been certified by the Commission, or would it be
sufficient to condition final auction reward on a bidder's ability to achieve certification?573 Are there
additional criteria that should be established for entities that wish to bid in an auction?
232.
Frequency of Auctions. How often should auctions be conducted (i.e., for what period of
time would bidders win the right to provide exclusive VRS CA service)?
233.
Reserve Price. Should the Commission set a reserve price and, if so, how? Is the cost
data submitted by providers sufficient to allow the Commission to set a reserve price based on historical
provider costs? What other mechanism might be used to establish a reserve price?

571 "Intra-round" bidding can be used to mitigate the problem of going from multiple bidders at one price to no
bidders at the next price reduction. See Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum
Through Incentive Auctions
, Docket No. 12-268, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 27 FCC Rcd 12357, 12576-77,
Appendix C at 15-16 (2012).
572 "Intra-round" bidding could be used in this auction design as well to mitigate the problem of "overshooting"--
total supply going from more than 100% to less than 100% when the price increments down. If there is no price at
which bidders are willing to supply exactly 100% of demand the auction could select a price at which supply is less
than 100% but as close as possible.
573 See 47 C.F.R. 64.606.
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234.
Ensuring Quality of Service. How can the Commission ensure that auction winners
provide an appropriate level of quality of service? Should we require that auction winners be bonded
(i.e., obtain a financial guarantee of performance)? Are the Commission's existing rules on quality of
service sufficient to guarantee an appropriate level of performance? Should additional performance
metrics with penalties for failure to achieve those metrics be implemented by contract? In the event of a
failure to perform, should the party lose all the rights it won in the auction, or should it lose a portion of
its rights commensurate with its degree of performance failure until performance improves? For example,
if the winner fails to meet its obligations, should the Commission reduce the minutes of use it is entitled
to terminate by some percentage? If all rights are terminated should it be immediate or phased out over a
period of time and, if so, over what period?
235.
Other Issues. How can the Commission ensure that there are sufficient bidders for a
competitive auction? If we are willing to select only one winner, are any of the suppliers other than the
largest incumbent able to serve all the demand? How is competitive behavior affected by the fact that the
winning bids will be used as a benchmark for setting prices for non-participants? Would any large
incumbent be willing to participate since driving down the price in the auction would reduce its prices on
the rest of its business? Would any such disincentive for large incumbents to participate tend to encourage
participation by small incumbents and new entrants?
3.

Other Issues

236.
Compensation for Integrated Providers. The neutral video communication service
provider and any winners of an auction of VRS CA service minutes will account for overhead and other
costs they incur in setting their bid prices. Is it therefore reasonable to assume that the sum of a
benchmark rate for video communication service and a market rate for VRS CA service established by
auction would be sufficient to compensate integrated VRS providers for the services they deliver? If not,
what other factors should be considered when setting market based compensation rates?
237.
Providers of Multiple Forms of iTRS. A number of VRS providers also provide other
forms of iTRS and VRI.574 How do such providers allocate costs that may be shared across services? For
example, how are costs for facilities and indirect costs such as financial/accounting, legal/regulatory, and
human resources allocated between services when submitting cost data for multiple services? How can
the Commission and the TRS Fund administrator ensure that entities that provide more than one iTRS
service and/or VRI are not being overcompensated for shared resources?
238.
Using Auctions for Other Forms of iTRS. Would it be appropriate to establish the
compensation rate for other forms of iTRS by conducting similar types of auctions? What changes, if
any, would the Commission need to consider if setting rates by auction for IP Relay and/or IP CTS?

B.

Cost Recovery

239.
Section 225 creates a cost recovery regime whereby TRS providers are compensated for
their reasonable costs of providing service in compliance with the TRS regulations.575 The Commission
has explained that "for purposes of determining the `reasonable' costs that may be recovered . . . , the

574 VRI allows a provider to pre-schedule, for a fee, remote interpreting sessions between ASL users and other
individuals who are located in the same room, and may also be used when persons are in different locations. Several
VRS providers also provide VRI.
575 See 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(3); 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5). TRS users cannot be required to pay rates "greater than the
rates paid for functionally equivalent voice communication services with respect to such factors as duration of the
call, the time of day, and the distance from point origination to point of termination." 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(1)(D).
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costs must relate to the provision of service in compliance with the applicable non-waived [TRS]
mandatory minimum standards."576
240.
As noted in the Order, we do not believe that the providers' additional costs necessary to
implement the requirements adopted today will be substantial, but we recognize that the Commission in
the First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order provided a mechanism whereby providers could seek to
recover their actual reasonable costs of complying with certain of the new requirements adopted in that
Order.577 We seek comment on whether the Commission should adopt such a mechanism in connection
with any comparable requirements adopted today. What costs, if any, would it be appropriate to consider
for additional recovery? How long would providers be entitled to seek recovery of such costs? By what
standard should the Commission and the Fund administrator review any submitted costs to ensure that the
costs are both allowable and reasonable?

C.

Research and Development

241.
We seek comment on the appropriate budget and funding mechanism for research
conducted pursuant to the arrangement with the NSF we direct be entered into in today's Report and
Order.578 We propose to set the initial budget for research under this arrangement at $3 million dollars,
which is approximately 40 percent of the expenditures reported by VRS providers for Fund year 2012 on
compensable R&D.579 We seek comment on this proposal. We further seek comment on the mechanism
by which research and development should be funded under this arrangement. For example, what review
criteria should be applied to identify appropriate research? What types of awards would be
appropriate?580

D.

TRS Fund Contribution Calculations and Reporting

242.
We propose to amend sections 64.604(c)(iii)(B) and (H) to match the periodicity of filing
requirements from the TRS Fund administrator proposing contribution factors to the Commission for the
TRS Fund to those of the Universal Service Fund (currently quarterly). Under this revision and the
clarification above of OMD's duties in relation to the TRS Fund, the Fund administrator would request
TRS providers to revise their projected minutes of use, and OMD would put the contribution factor
proposals on public notice, and adopt a new contribution factor each quarter based on the TRS Fund
administrator's proposal under OMD's delegated authority. This would allow for greater flexibility in
addressing increases or decreases in requests for reimbursement and projections of service requirements
from TRS providers. We seek comment on this proposal and ask commenters to address the costs and
benefits of the proposal.

576 2004 TRS Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 1255152, 199; 2006 TRS Reconsideration Order, 21 FCC Rcd at 8057,
1516.
577 See supra section II.F.2; First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 11626-27, 96-101. In
particular, the Commission allowed providers to seek recovery for costs that directly related to implementation of
the numbering database, including: "(1) ensuring that database information is properly and timely updated and
maintained; (2) processing and transmitting calls made to ten-digit numbers assigned pursuant to this Order; (3)
routing emergency calls to an appropriate PSAP; (4) other implementation related tasks directly related to
facilitating ten-digit numbering and emergency call handling; and (5) consumer outreach and education related to
the requirements and services adopted in this Order." Id., 100.
578 See supra section II.A.
579 See Letter from David Rolka, President, RLSA, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, CG Docket Nos. 10-51,
03-123, at 3 (filed Apr. 23, 2013).
580 See NSF Grant Policy Manual, NSF 05-131 at II-1-II-3 (July 2005) available at
http://www.nsf.gov/pubs/manuals/gpm05_131/gpm2.jsp.
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E.

Allowing Hearing Individuals to Purchase Access to the Neutral Video
Communication Service Provider for Point-to-Point Calls

243.
The Consumer Groups have urged the Commission to adopt "rules that would permit
hearing individuals to obtain ten-digit numbers that would allow them to make point-to-point calls with
VRS users," and note that "[i]f all registration is done through a central database, it presumably would be
easier to flag a hearing person's ten-digit number in the system so that it is not eligible for VRS
reimbursement while still allowing them to use the system to make direct calls to their deaf or hard of
hearing contacts."581 We seek comment on this proposal. Should the neutral video communication
service provider and/or integrated VRS providers be permitted to sell point-to-point service to hearing
individuals? Should hearing individuals that purchase such service be registered in the TRS-URD but
flagged as "hearing" or "non-compensable?" How can the Commission ensure that TRS Funds are not
used to subsidize such a service? Is it sufficient to require that the charge for such a service be sufficient
to cover the costs of providing that service? What other factors must be considered if such a service is
implemented?

F.

TRS Fund Advisory Council

244.
As part of the transition to a disaggregation of certain VRS functions, we propose to
revise the nature, composition, and functions of the advisory body that focuses on TRS issues. We
propose to replace the existing Interstate TRS Fund Advisory Council (TRS Fund Council), which
advises the TRS Fund administrator on TRS cost recovery matters, with a new advisory council that will
provide advice and recommendations in four areas: (1) technology; (2) efficiency; (3) outreach; and (4)
user experience. Stakeholders and experts on the new Council will provide advice on ways that iTRS can
adapt to the evolving and advancing nature of technology in communication technologies that affect the
iTRS service, and ensure that iTRS users obtain a functionally equivalent service. The unique insight,
institutional knowledge, and expertise that consumer and industry representatives can offer would help
ensure that iTRS technologies and services are developed and deployed in a timely manner in response to
the evolving needs of iTRS users.
1.

Background

245.
The Commission directed the TRS Fund administrator to establish the TRS Fund Council
to monitor TRS cost recovery issues and provide advice to the administrator, which was then the National
Exchange Carrier Association (NECA).582 During its early years, the TRS Fund Council assisted the TRS
Fund administrator in the development of cost recovery guidelines for various forms of TRS and in
reviewing and approving proposed compensation rates before submission to the Commission on May 1st
of each year.583 Subsequently, however, with the growth of Internet-based TRS services for which rates
are set exclusively at the federal level, the Commission itself began to focus more intensively on
developing an appropriate ratemaking methodology. In 2004, expressing concern about rising iTRS

581 Consumer Groups PN Reply Comments at 17.
582 TRS III, 8 FCC Rcd at 5301, 8; 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(H). The Commission directed the Fund
administrator to "establish a non-paid, voluntary advisory committee of persons from the hearing and speech
disability community, TRS users (voice and text telephone), interstate service providers, state representatives, and
TRS providers." Id. The Commission further directed that each of the foregoing groups select its own
representative to the committee, and that the committee "meet at reasonable intervals (at least semi-annually) in
order to monitor TRS cost recovery matters." Id.
583 See, e.g., 2000 TRS Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 5155-5156, 32-33; TRS Cost Recovery Recommendations (filed
November 9, 2000); IP Relay Cost Recovery Recommendations (filed October 9, 2002). See generally 47 C.F.R.
64.604(c)(5)(iii)(H).
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compensation rates and emphasizing the Commission's own fiduciary responsibility to ensure the
integrity of the TRS Fund, the Commission began an examination into whether a TRS Fund Council was
still necessary, and if so, whether the Council's composition and role should change.584 For example, the
Commission sought comment on whether the Council's composition should be expanded to include
representatives of the consumers of interstate telecommunications services from whom the costs of
interstate TRS and iTRS are recovered.585 Further, noting that its rules do not elaborate the role of the
Council other than to "monitor TRS cost recovery matters,"586 the Commission asked whether the
Council's role should be expanded to include advising the TRS Fund administrator and the Commission
on other TRS issues.587 Although the Commission renewed its focus on the Council's role in the 2007
TRS Rate Methodology Order
, the questions raised in the 2004 TRS Report and Order remained
unresolved.
2.

Discussion

246.
We believe that the role and structure of the TRS Fund Council should be redefined to
reflect the changing needs of the TRS program.588 We note that at various times, the existing TRS Fund
Council itself has asked for additional responsibilities, including matters concerning TRS quality.589 We
propose to dissolve the existing TRS Fund Council. Given that rate methodology decisions currently are
made by the Commission, not the TRS Fund administrator, and that we are moving to a regime in which
compensation rates for most VRS functions will be set by a contractual competitive bidding process, there
will be less need for the Council under its current mission.
247.
In place of the existing TRS Fund Council, we propose to direct the TRS Fund
administrator to establish a new advisory committee to provide advice on specified matters related to the
TRS program. With respect to VRS, we intend that the advisory committee provide input to TRS
program administrators, including the TRS Fund administrator, the iTRS Outreach Coordinator(s), the
VRS access technology reference platform administrator, the TRS-URD administrator, and/or the neutral
video communication service provider in the implementation of their responsibilities under this
restructuring. We seek comment on which of the following areas should be included within the new
advisory committee's focus: (1) technology;590 (2) efficiency; 591 (3) outreach;592 (4) user experience
(reference functional equivalency requirement);593 (5) eligibility, registration, and verification;594 and (6)

584 2004 TRS Report and Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 12570-71, 251-54.
585 Id. at 12571, 253; 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(3)(B)).
586 2004 TRS Report and Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 12571, 254; 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(H).
587 2004 TRS Report and Order, 19 FCC Rcd at 12571, 254; see generally 2000 TRS Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 5192,
123-124 (noting discussion of quality issues).
588 A number of commenting parties generally support changing the Council's role. See Consumers FNPRM
Comments at 48; Convo FNPRM Comments at 4, 17-18; CSDVRS FNPRM Comments at 30-31; Consumers
FNPRM Reply Comments at 7; Sorenson FNPRM Reply Comments at 64-65; Joint Providers Ex Parte at 2.
589 See, e.g., Interstate Telecommunications Relay Services Advisory Council Comments, CG Docket No. 03-123
(filed Sep. 6, 2007).
590 See, e.g., supra sections II.A, II.C; see also Convo FNPRM Comments at 19; CSDVRS FNPRM Comments at
30-31, 34-35; Consumer Groups PN Comments at 11-12, 14; CSDVRS PN Comments at 28 (supporting advisory
committee role in designing and implementing access standards); Consumer Groups PN Reply Comments at 4.
591 See 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1); see also Consumer Groups, Ex Parte Letter at 1 (October 17, 2012); Consumer
Groups PN Reply Comments at 4 (supporting advisory committee role in addressing service quality).
592 See, e.g., supra section II.B.
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porting and slamming.595 In addition, we seek comment on which specific matters within these general
areas require input from an advisory committee.
248.
Composition of Proposed Committee's Membership. We invite input on the appropriate
composition of the new advisory committee to ensure that all interested parties are fairly represented. We
believe the committee should be comprised of consumers who stand to benefit from VRS, researchers,
and entities paying into the fund--rather than providers that receive compensation for services. State
administrators should also be included if this includes PSTN-based TRS. While we expect that providers
will have an opportunity to make their views known to the committee through open sessions held by the
advisory committee, we are concerned that with the change in the council's focus, provider membership
in the committee would create a potential conflict of interest when the committee is making decisions
regarding recommended technologies, outreach initiatives, quality of service improvements and the
like.596 In addition, provider membership may lead to distracting discussions regarding the relative merits
of competing provider services and technologies.
249.
We propose that CGB release a PN seeking nominations for the new committee. We
seek comment on ways in which the proposed advisory committee may play a productive role in
connection with the four proposed areas.

G.

Consistent Regulation of All Forms of iTRS

250.
With certain exceptions such as our treatment of iTRS access technology, this proceeding
has focused on the structure and practices of the VRS program. We note, however, that there are
significant commonalities among VRS, IP Relay, and other forms of iTRS. Indeed, VRS and IP Relay
already are subject to the same user registration requirements, both utilize the TRS numbering
directory,597 and VRS and IP CTS now have comparable requirements for certification of eligibility.598
Indeed, many of the actions we take in today's Order to improve the efficiency and availability of the
VRS program could be equally beneficial if applied to other forms of iTRS, and such application would
further simplify the administration of the TRS program. We therefore seek comment on extending the
structural reforms adopted in today's Order to all forms of Internet-based TRS.
251.
Registration and the TRS-URD. The Commission has taken significant steps to reduce
waste, fraud, and abuse in the IP Relay and IP CTS programs in the last year.599 As is the case with VRS,
however, the Commission lacks a definitive count of the number of unique, active users of each service,
hindering the ability of the Commission and the TRS Fund administrator to conduct audits and determine
compliance with the Commission's rules. We therefore propose to require each iTRS provider to provide
users with the capability to register with that iTRS provider as a "default provider,"600 to populate the
TRS-URD with the necessary information for each registered user, and to query the database to ensure
(Continued from previous page)
593 See 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3).
594 See, e.g., supra section II.D; see also Convo FNPRM Comments at 19; CSDVRS FNPRM Comments at 30-32
(supporting advisory committee role in designing and implementing the TRS-URD).
595 See, e.g., supra section III.E.
596 See, e.g., Sorenson FNPRM Reply Comments at 65 (contending that Sorenson has been blocked by other
providers from having a representative on the existing Interstate TRS Fund Advisory Council).
597 See 47 C.F.R. 64.611, 64.613.
598 See supra section II.D.2.
599 See 2012 IP Relay Misuse Order; IP CTS Interim Rules Order.
600 See 47 C.F.R. 64.611(a).
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each user's eligibility for each call. Given that deaf and hard of hearing Americans may use multiple
forms of iTRS, what modifications to the TRS-URD, if any, are necessary to accommodate IP Relay and
IP CTS data in the TRS-URD? Should the Commission modify or waive its registration requirements as
they pertain to NANP numbers in light of the distinct technical and regulatory issues posed by IP CTS?601
252.
Certification and Verification Requirements. The Commission has adopted detailed
eligibility certification and verification requirements for IP CTS and VRS to ensure that the use of those
services is limited to those who have a hearing or speech disability.602 We seek comment on extending
these certification and verification requirements to IP Relay. What criteria should be established when
determining a user's eligibility for IP Relay? We note that the Commission previously has required IP
Relay providers to take reasonable measures to verify the registration information of new IP Relay
registrants.603 Is the information we currently require for IP CTS or VRS eligibility certification
sufficient for IP Relay, given the history of fraud in this program, or should additional information be
required?
253.
Neutral Platform. We seek comment on extending the capabilities of the neutral video
communication service provider to other forms of iTRS. Would IP Relay and IP CTS benefit from the
introduction of "standalone" providers of the CA service components of those services? To what extent
might new providers of those services be induced to enter the market given the potential reduction of
barriers to entry? Would it be appropriate to require provider certification consistent with our VRS rules?
Would the availability of single communication service provider allow for or encourage the development
of iTRS access technologies capable of delivering multiple forms of iTRS?604
254.
Outreach. Today's Order initiates a national pilot program to conduct TRS outreach, and
no longer allows IP Relay and VRS providers to include the cost of outreach in their yearly cost
submissions. We seek comment on whether similar action is appropriate with regard to IP CTS. To what
extent do IP CTS providers currently engage in outreach? Would it be more effective, as is the case with
IP Relay and VRS, to conduct IP CTS outreach through a national outreach coordinator?
255.
Other Rules and Obligations. To what extent should the Commission make applicable to
all iTRS providers other VRS-specific rules and obligations adopted herein? Specifically, the general
prohibitions on VRS provider practices causing discrimination, waste, fraud, and abuse, discussed in
section III.B above, would appear to be appropriate for application to IP Relay and IP CTS providers.
Similarly, the rule on VRS provider compliance plans (section III.C) appears to be appropriate for
application to IP Relay and IP CTS providers, and the rules on prevention of slamming (section III.E)
appear to be appropriate for application to IP CTS providers. We seek comment on whether to make
these provisions of our rules applicable to all iTRS providers.

H.

Disaggregation of Emergency Calls to 911

256.
In the 2011 VRS Reform Further Notice, the Commission sought comment on whether
the proposed changes to a per-user rate methodology and the elimination of the dial-around feature
necessitate modifications to VRS emergency calling requirements.605 These requirements direct VRS

601 First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 11631-32, 116.
602 See supra section II.D.2; IP CTS Interim Rules Order.
603 2012 IP Relay Misuse Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 7866, 1.
604 See, e.g., Letter from Peter Hayes, CEO, Spranto, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, CG Docket Nos. 03-
123, 10-51 (filed Mar. 4, 2013) (noting that Spranto's software client is capable of providing both VRS and real-
time text utilizing the T.140 protocol).
605 See 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17407, 99.
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providers to transmit all calls to 911, along with the automatic number identification, the caller's
registered location, the VRS provider's name, and the CA identification number for each call, to the
appropriate PSAP, designated statewide default answering point, or appropriate local emergency authority
serving the caller's registered location.606 Because the accompanying Order does not adopt the proposed
per-user compensation model, the Commission no longer needs to consider the impact that a change in
rate methodology would have on our mandates for emergency calling. Nevertheless, in an effort to
improve the efficiency and effectiveness of emergency call handling for VRS users, in this FNPRM we
invite comment on other ways to ensure that VRS users have access to 911 services that is functionally
equivalent to 911 access available to the general population.607
257.
In particular, in line with our decision to disaggregate and contract for the provision of
the video communication service components of VRS,608 as well as our proposal to partially include
certain CA service components in a competitive bidding process, we seek feedback on whether we should
similarly transfer the VRS emergency call handling obligation to a single VRS contractor through a
competitive bidding process. Given the urgent and specialized nature of such calls, we ask for feedback
on the benefits to be gained by routing VRS 911 calls to pre-identified CAs who, under contract, would
be specially trained to handle the safety and medical issues that typically characterize emergency calls.
For example, could support services, such as for managing stress, be provided more efficiently and
effectively to a limited pool of CAs than to all VRS CAs? To what extent should CAs who handle
emergency calls be integrated into general purpose VRS centers or separated out into centralized or
regional call centers? In the event of a widespread emergency, should the Commission prescribe a means
for addressing call handling if these specialized centers reach capacity--for example, should overflow
calls be routed to all certified providers on a rotating basis?
258.
In deciding these issues, it would also help the Commission to receive public comment
on the average number of 911 calls that are made through VRS each month. Similarly, we ask
commenters--both providers and consumers--to indicate the average length of time that it takes to
connect a 911 call made through VRS to the appropriate PSAP or emergency authority, as well as how
this compares with making calls directly via voice or TTY. Should the Commission require that VRS
calls to 911 be connected within a certain time frame, and, if so, what should that time frame be?
259.
Under the Commission's rules, all CAs must be qualified interpreters, i.e., capable of
interpreting "effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively and expressively, using any
necessary specialized vocabulary."609 Should CAs who handle emergency calls be required to take
additional training to better equip them to address the specialized needs of consumers who make these
calls? If so, what should the nature of this training be? We ask commenters to describe the extent to
which such training already is provided for the purpose of handling emergency VRS calls.
260.
Finally, we note that in March 2013, the Commission's Emergency Access Advisory
Committee (EAAC), established under the CVAA, released a report containing recommendations to
facilitate effective communication for relay users who need to access 911.610 According to the EAAC,

606 47 C.F.R. 64.605(b)(2)(ii).
607 See generally 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3).
608 See supra section II.E.
609 47 C.F.R. 604(a)(1)(iv).
610 See Emergency Access Advisory Committee Working Group 3 Recommendations on Current 9-1-1 and Next
Generation 9-1-1: Media Communication Line Services Used to Ensure Effective Communication with Callers with
Disabilities
(March 1, 2013) (EAAC 911 Recommendations), available at
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-319394A1.pdf (EAAC 911 Report). This report, originally
prepared by the EAAC's Media Communication Line Services Subcommittee, follows earlier reports by the EAAC
(continued...)
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because current VRS providers "have frequently improperly delivered or handled emergency calls to
Public Safety Answering Points via the existing 9-1-1 networks,"611 it would be best to create nationally
certified "Media Communications Line Service," (MCLS) centers, defined as centers that would provide
"translation service for people with disabilities and telecommunicators using video, voice, text and data
during NG [next generation] 911 calls."612 We seek further information about the nature of these
proposed centers and in particular, how their services would interface with VRS and other forms of TRS,
whether their services should be provided by a single national entity or through regional centers, and
whether funding for such centers would be expected to come from the Fund or another source, such as
local and state governmental programs supporting emergency 911 services. The EAAC Report also
proposed regulatory changes for national and uniform standards for relay service providers in processing
911 calls,613 training protocols and performance criteria to achieve and maintain highly skilled CAs
capable of handling crisis calls,614 the provision of stress management services for CAs,615 the availability
of caller profiles,616 and compatibility between emergency call handling procedures by VRS providers
and specifications established by the National Emergency Number Association (NENA).617 We invite
(Continued from previous page)
that describe common problems that relay users confront when trying to access 911,"such as waiting in line for an
available communications assistant, delays in getting connected to the appropriate PSAP, and communications
assistants not trained for emergency situations." See Emergency Access Advisory Committee Report and
Recommendations
at 25 (December 6, 2011) (EAAC Report and Recommendations), available at
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-312161A1.pdf; EAAC Report on Emergency Calling for
Persons with Disabilities Survey Review and Analysis 2011
(July 21, 2011) (EAAC Survey Report), available at
http://transition.fcc.gov/cgb/dro/EAAC/EAAC-REPORT.pdf (providing the results of the EAAC's national survey
to determine the most effective and efficient technologies and methods by which to enable access to emergency
services by individuals with disabilities). Under the CVAA, the Commission may promulgate regulations to
implement the recommendations proposed by the EAAC, as well as any other regulations, technical standards,
protocols, and procedures as are necessary to achieve reliable, interoperable communication that ensures access by
individuals with disabilities to an Internet protocol-enabled emergency network, where achievable and technically
feasible. CVAA, 106(g).
611 EAAC 911 Report at 14. The report leaves open whether such centers should be provided by a national entity or
regional centers.
612 Id. at 4. The EAAC recommends that certification requirements for the MCLS centers be developed by the
Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Department of Transportation.
613 Id. at 9. Specifically, the report calls for all centers to have "established credentials and certifications for . . . CAs
to adequately meet the needs of emergency callers using varying communication methods." Id. at 12.
614 Id. at 11, noting the absence of VRS CA training standards for this purpose, which, in turn, has resulted in a lack
of consistency in the content, depth and length of training from one VRS provider to another; and recommending
specialized training for VRS CAs to handle emergency-related calls, "for effective communications to occur
between the caller and 9-1-1." Id. at 9. See also id. at 14-20 (setting out areas in which CAs should demonstrate
levels of competency, recommending that certifications be developed for CAs handling 911 calls, and defining
necessary training and evaluation criteria for CAs to achieve effective emergency response and communication with
emergency responder personnel).
615 Id. at 22.
616 Id. at 23. The report proposes that such profiles be used to allow persons with disabilities to store information
about their type of disability, preferred language, medical conditions and communication modes.
617 Id. at 14. Specifically, the report recommends that VRS and IP Relay providers make their services compatible
with recommended guidelines as set forth in NENA, "Specification for i3 Solution," available at
http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.nena.org/resource/collection/2851C951-69FF-40F0-A6B8-
36A714CB085D/NENA_08-751-v1_i3_Requirements_LTD.pdf.
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comment on each of these recommendations and in particular seek input the appropriateness of
integrating any or all of the EAAC's proposals into the Commission's VRS program. In addition, we
seek information on the costs and benefits of adopting each of the EAAC's proposals.

I.

Speed of Answer

261.
In the accompanying Order, we establish new benchmarks for the VRS speed of answer
requirements. Specifically, as measured on a daily basis: (1) by January 1, 2014, VRS providers must
answer 85 percent of all VRS calls within 60 seconds; and (2) by July 1, 2014, VRS providers must
answer 85 percent of all VRS calls within 30 seconds.618 In this FNPRM, we seek comment on how we
should measure compliance with the new threshold. Specifically, we propose and seek comment on the
following formula to measure VRS speed-of-answer compliance:
(Calls unanswered in 30 seconds or less + calls answered in 30 seconds
or less) / (all calls (unanswered and answered))
262.
Alternatively we propose and seek comment on the following formula, which removes
unanswered calls for which the caller ended the call prior to the threshold time. Under this formula, the
provider's measured speed-of-answer performance would be unaffected by callers that do not give the CA
enough time to answer the call within the threshold time period:
(Calls answered in 30 seconds or less) / (All calls answered by a CA +
Calls abandoned after more than 30 seconds)
263.
As noted in the Order, compliance will be determined on a daily basis. Calls will be
considered as part of the measurement for the date when the call was handed off to the provider's system
for purposes of establishing compliance with the VRS speed-of-answer requirements.
264.
To enable the TRS Fund administrator to confirm the correct calculation of speed-of-
answer performance, we propose that providers be required to submit to the TRS Fund administrator
certain call detail record information. First, providers would submit an identifier for each inbound call
that is unique and used only once and not reused in subsequent periods. Second, submissions would
include, for each call, the date and time that each call arrives at the provider's network. Third, for each
answered call, the submission would include the time when the first assigned CA answered the incoming
call, to the nearest second. Fourth, for each call (including abandoned calls), the provider would submit
the time, to the nearest second, that the incoming call ends. We seek comment on this proposed
methodology for calculating and verifying speed-of-answer compliance for video relay service.
265.
We also seek comment on whether to further reduce the permissible wait time for VRS
calls by requiring calls to be answered 85 percent of the time within 10 seconds. Making this change
would fully harmonize the permissible wait time for VRS with the permissible wait time for other forms
of TRS.619 We further propose that, if adopted, compliance with this measurement continue to be
determined on a daily basis. We request feedback on the benefits and the costs of adopting these
proposals. Specifically, we ask commenters to address whether the proposed further reduction in the
speed of answer would require VRS providers to hire additional CAs, and if so, what effect, if any, there
would be on the per minute costs incurred by providers. Finally, we ask commenters to address whether
adopting a phase-in period to implement this further reduction would facilitate any necessary hiring of

618 Supra section III.D.
619 See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(b)(2)(ii) (requiring 85 percent of all other forms of TRS calls to be answered within 10
seconds).
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additional interpreters and whether such a phase-in would help mitigate the effects of any additional costs
that may be incurred to implement the change.

J.

Administrative, Oversight, and Certification Rules

266.
In the 2011 Further Notice, the Commission sought comment on whether, if it should
choose to adopt any of the options set forth therein, there should be changes in its rules relating to the
TRS Fund, including (1) modifying the rules on data that must submitted to or that may be collected by
the TRS Fund administrator,620 (2) modifying the rules governing payments to TRS providers, eligibility
for payments from the TRS Fund, and notice of participation in the TRS Fund,621 (3) modifying the rules
governing the obligations of the TRS Fund administrator, Commission review of the TRS Fund
administrator's performance, and treatment of TRS customer information,622 (4) modifications to TRS
rules to ensure that they are enforceable,623 and (5) modifying or enhancing the TRS Fund administrator's
authority to conduct audits.624 We have adopted some changes to these rules, as described above. We
seek additional comment on whether further changes to these rules are necessary and appropriate to
effectively implement those reforms.
267.
In addition to seeking comments generally on changes to these rules, we invite comment
on the following specific issues. Is the existing general grant of authority to the TRS Fund administrator
to request information reasonably "necessary to determine TRS Fund revenue requirements and
payments" sufficient?625 Should we explicitly require providers to submit additional detailed information,
such as information regarding their financial status (e.g., a cash flow to debt ratio)?626
268.
We also seek comment on whether there should be changes in our rules relating to the
certification of VRS providers and/or other iTRS providers, in order to effectively implement the reforms
adopted in today's order. For example, Section V.E of the order creates a new category of VRS
providers--standalone VRS CA service providers, which will not be required to own their own platforms
for automatic call distribution and routing. Because the Commission's existing VRS rules do require the
ownership or lease of such technology, they consequently require applicants for certification to provide
both a description of the equipment used for this purpose, as well as the proofs of purchase, leases or
license agreements of technology and equipment used to support their 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.627 We propose to modify our VRS certification rules
to eliminate such requirements and seek comment on this proposal. In addition, we seek comment on
whether and how to modify our VRS certification rules to ensure that standalone VRS CA service
providers meet high standards of service and to eliminate incentives and opportunities for waste, fraud,

620 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17406, 93. See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(D), (I).
621 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17406, 94. See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(E)-(G).
622 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17406-07, 95. See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(H), (J), (7).
623 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17407, 96. See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(K).
624 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17410, 107. See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(C). The Commission
did not propose to modify the rules that govern jurisdictional separation of costs or cost recovery (see id.
64.604(c)(5)(i), (ii)) but nonetheless sought comment on whether modifications to such rules are necessary. 2011
VRS Reform FNPRM,
26 FCC Rcd at 17406, 91. No commenting party has requested such modifications.
625 See 47 U.S.C. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(D).
626 Such information might, for example, inform the Commission's understanding of a VRS provider's ability to
comply with the obligation to provide VRS every day, 24 hours a day. See id. 64.604(b)(4).
627 64 C.F.R. 64.606(a)(2)(ii)(A)(4).
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and abuse by such providers. For example, should such providers be required to have certain levels of
expertise or experience in the provision of interpreting services, and if so what should these levels be--
for example, should such applicants be required to have provided interpreter services for a certain number
of years, and if so, for how long? Should such providers be required to have prior experience in the
provision of TRS or VRS? Should the Commission adopt specific requirements to ensure the financial
stability of such applicants? To what extent should the Commission consider the impact that certifying a
standalone provider may have on the availability of community interpreting services in the areas served
by that provider? To what extent should the Commission consider the existence of non-competitive
measures, such as non-compete contractual clauses for CAs who provide sign language functions, in
determining certification for either standalone VRS CA service providers or integrated VRS providers?
We welcome other comments on considerations that the Commission should take into consideration when
certifying such standalone entities or integrated providers.

K.

Restructuring Section 64.604

269.
In the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, observing that section 64.604 of the Commission's
rules has become somewhat unwieldy since it was adopted in 2000, the Commission sought comment on
whether, the provisions in that section should be reorganized.628 The Commission also sought comment
on whether it should separate section 64.604 into service-specific rules (e.g., VRS, speech-to-speech,
captioned telephone relay service), transmission-specific rules (i.e., PSTN-based TRS vs. iTRS), or adopt
some other structure.629 We now propose to revise the structure of our rules so that they are service-
specific and transmission-specific, where appropriate, and seek additional comment on this proposed
structural approach and related issues. For example, would it be preferable, from the perspective of
clarity and convenience of access, for all rules applicable to each service to be placed in a single section
dedicated to that service? Alternatively, would it be more desirable for the rules to be segregated by
category e.g., operational standards, emergency calling, registration, etc. with each service addressed
in a subsection of the rule for a particular category?

L.

Use of Customer Information

270.
As discussed above, the Commission is adopting a number of privacy protections for
users of TRS services. In addition to those adopted above, we note that the Consumer Groups proposed
that Commission "rules should prohibit a relay provider from using CPNI for the purpose of contacting a
relay user for political and regulatory advocacy purposes, unless the user affirmatively agrees to such
contacts" through a proposed opt-in procedure.630 In this regard, the Consumer Groups argue that "just as
voice telephone users do not receive political and regulatory advocacy messages when picking up a
telephone to make a call, the Commission should emphasize that although TRS providers are permitted to
advocate political and regulatory issues on their websites, they may not advocate such issues (or for that
matter promote or advertise anything) on those web pages that must be navigated to make a relay call."631
We seek comment on the Consumer Groups' proposal in this regard. Would the proposed restrictions
advance section 225's functional equivalency mandate as the Consumer Groups appear to suggest?
Would they otherwise be consistent with the Act and with the First Amendment? What are the relative
costs and benefits of such requirements? Are there other rules governing TRS providers' use of customer
information that the Commission should consider?

628 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17399-400, 70.
629 Id.
630 Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 23-24.
631 Id. at 24.
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M.

Unjust and Unreasonable Practices

271.
In the accompanying Order, the Commission adopts a rule modeled on section 202(a)
designed to address impermissible discrimination by VRS providers, as well as a rule intended to prevent
practices that cause or encourage unauthorized or unnecessary use of relay services. Building on those
steps, we seek comment on whether to adopt a rule implementing section 225 of the Act that would
prohibit unjust and unreasonable practices for or in connection with TRS services. Like the rule modeled
on section 202(a) of the Act, this rule would be modeled on section 201(b) of the Act, and the
interpretation of that rule could be informed by the Commission's common carrier precedent under
section 201(b). We seek comment on the need for such a rule, as well as the Commission's authority to
adopt such a requirement. Would such a requirement advance the statutory mandate for functional
equivalency, consistent with the Commission's section 225(d)(1)(A) authority to "prescribe regulations
to implement this section, including regulations that--(A) establish functional requirements, guidelines,
and operations procedures for telecommunications relay services..."?632 Would such a rule be consistent
with prior Commission decisions interpreting section 225(d)(1)(E) and its legislative history?633 Is there
other authority that would provide a basis for the Commission to adopt such a rule? Are there alternative
rules that the Commission should consider in this regard, and if so, how should they operate?

N.

Temporary Registration

272.
When the Commission directed VRS and IP Relay providers in the Second Internet-
Based TRS Numbering Order to implement a reasonable means of verifying registration and eligibility
information, the Commission added that, "to the extent technically feasible, Internet-based TRS providers
must allow newly registered users to place calls immediately," even before completing the verification of
such individuals.634 In permitting such temporary use of VRS and IP Relay by new registrants, the
Commission responded to comments by a coalition of consumer groups, who were concerned that
legitimate VRS and IP Relay users would be cut off from service during the transition to the new ten-digit
numbering and registration system.635 In order to enable users to make calls under this "guest user"
procedure, some providers have been giving users temporary ten-digit numbers and provisioning these
numbers to the iTRS Directory. These numbers were allowed to remain valid for the purpose of making
VRS and IP Relay calls until such time that the users' identifying information was authenticated or
rejected.
273.
In 2012, in an effort to address concerns of rampant use of IP Relay by people who did
not have hearing or speech disabilities, the Commission prohibited IP Relay providers from handling non-
emergency calls made by new IP Relay registrants prior to taking reasonable measures to verify their
registration information.636 The Commission found that although there may have been some value in
allowing unverified users to make calls for a short period of time during the Commission's transition to
the IP Relay registration system, the Commission was concerned that reliance on the guest user procedure
had resulted in abuse of the IP Relay program by unauthorized IP Relay users. In addition, the
Commission was concerned that unverified users had remained in the iTRS numbering directory--and
made repeated IP Relay calls--for extended periods of time, despite the obligation of IP Relay providers
to institute procedures to verify the accuracy of registration information.637 The Commission added:

632 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(1)(A).
633 See supra n. 282.
634 Second Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, 24 FCC Rcd at 803, 25.
635 Id.
636 2012 IP Relay Misuse Order, 27 FCC Rcd 7866.
637 Id. at 7871, 11.
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"any rationale for initially permitting temporary user authorization--i.e., to prevent the exclusion of users
who were already using IP Relay service and were either unfamiliar with the Commission's new
registration process or had not yet registered--is greatly diminished because considerable time has passed
since the transition period for registering ended on November 12, 2009."638
274.
In view of the fact that it is now approximately three and a half years since the transition
period to ten-digit numbering has ended, we question whether there is still any reason to continue the
guest user procedure for VRS. We therefore propose to prohibit VRS providers from handling non-
emergency calls made by new VRS registrants prior to verification of their registration information and
seek comment on our proposal. We ask commenters to weigh the costs and benefits of continuing the
guest user procedure for VRS against the costs and benefits of eliminating the procedure.

O.

Access to Video Mail

275.
We propose to amend our rules to explicitly require that, if a VRS provider offers a video
mail feature to its customers, the provider must ensure that video mail messages can be left by point-to-
point callers who are customers of other VRS providers and are using access technology provided by such
other providers.639 As the Commission has previously stated, "[w]hile point-to-point calls between VRS
users are not relay calls, and thus are not compensable from the Fund, they do constitute an important
form of communication for many VRS users, and any loss of such basic functionality is simply not
acceptable."640 Therefore, the Commission has ruled that all default providers must support the ability of
VRS users to make point-to-point calls without the intervention of an interpreter.641 Such interoperability
is intended to "ensure that VRS users can make point-to-point calls to all other VRS users, irrespective of
the default provider of the calling and called party."642
276.
We believe that a VRS provider's failure to allow other providers' customers to leave
video mail messages causes significant degradation in the value of point-to-point video communication
capabilities for all VRS users. We seek comment on this point, on the percentage of VRS customers who
currently have video mail boxes, and on the extent to which customers currently encounter difficulties in
attempting to leave messages in video mail boxes of customers registered with other providers.643 In
addition, we seek comment on the extent to which the failure of a provider to allow such messages to be
left could endanger a consumer's safety or health.644 Further, we seek comment on whether such failure
may unfairly discourage a consumer from switching from one default VRS provider to another.

638 Id., 12 (footnotes omitted).
639 As noted in the accompanying order, the Commission has authority to make rules regarding point-to-point calls,
e.g., to protect the privacy of information about a consumer's point-to-point calling. See supra 171. We seek
comment on whether such authority extends to the type of rule proposed here.
640 Second Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, 24 FCC Rcd at 820, 65.
641 Id.
642 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 17378, 16 (citing 47 C.F.R. 64.611(e)).
643 See generally Purple Communications, Inc., Request for Immediate Public Notice: VRS Providers May Not
Discriminate Against Consumers Using Competing Service Providers In Their Ability to Leave a Video Mail
Message, CG Docket No. 03-123 (filed April 11, 2013). Purple seeks a ruling that a VRS provider's blocking of
video mail messages by customers of other providers violates Section 225 and the Commission's existing VRS rules
and orders. That question will be addressed separately from the question raised in this FNPRM as to whether the
Commission should adopt a new rule explicitly prohibiting such practices.
644 See id. (full interoperability, including the ability to make point to point calls, "ensures greater protection for
TRS users' safety, life, health, and property").
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277.
Finally, we seek comment on the extent to which any new or changed technical standards
are necessary to ensure that video mail messages can be left in another provider's mail box, beyond the
standards necessary to ensure interoperability of point-to-point calling generally. To the extent that any
new or changed standards are needed, we seek comment on the appropriate forum for developing such
standards and on the content of such standards.

P.

Non-Competition Agreements in VRS CA Employment Contracts

278.
In 2007, a coalition of five VRS providers petitioned the Commission for a declaratory
ruling to prohibit VRS providers from using non-competition agreements in VRS CA employment
contracts that limit the ability of VRS CAs to work for competing VRS providers after the VRS CAs
terminate their employment with their current employer.645 Petitioners argued that non-competition
agreements are overly broad, harm the VRS market, and are contrary to the public interest.646 The
Commission placed the petition on public notice,647 and received five comments648 and two reply
comments from organizations and providers.649 In addition, 109 individual consumers and interpreters
submitted comments. Since then, several additional ex parte communications on this issue have been
filed with the Commission.650 All commenters except Sorenson and one individual have supported the
Coalition Petition. In a recent ex parte communication, Purple maintains that such non-competition
agreements are contrary to the public interest because they artificially remove VRS CAs from the labor
pool, resulting in higher interpreter costs and limiting the ability of VRS companies to compete in the
market place, thereby depriving consumers of the full benefits of competition.651 However, Sorenson,
which makes use of such agreements, maintains that they increase the pool of available VRS CAs because
they encourage Sorenson to invest in training new VRS CAs, knowing that competitors will not hire away
Sorenson's newly-trained CAs.652
279.
We seek comment on the extent to which these non-competition agreements have an
adverse effect on the provision of VRS, and to the extent that they do, whether we should prohibit these

645 See Hands On VRS (HOVRS), CSDVRS, Snap, GoAmerica and CAC, Petition for Declaratory Ruling and
Complaint Concerning the Provision of Video Relay Services by Sorenson Communications, Inc., CG Docket No.
03-123, May 18, 2007 (Coalition Petition).
646 Id.
647 Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau Seeks Comment on Petition for Declaratory Ruling Regarding Video
Relay Service (VRS) Provider Employment Contracts with VRS Communications Assistants (CAs),
Public Notice,
CG Docket 03-12, 22 FCC Rcd 14048 (CGB 2007).
648 AT&T Comments (Sept. 4, 2007); NAD Comments (Sept. 4, 2007); Sign Language Associates Comments (Sept.
4, 2007); Sorenson Comments (Sept. 4, 2007); Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc.,
Association of Late-Deafened Adults, National Association of the Deaf (NAD), Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Consumer Advocacy Network, and California Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Comments (Sept. 4, 2007).
649 HOVRS Reply Comments (Sept. 19, 2007); Sorenson Reply Comments (Sept. 19, 2007).
650 Ex parte communications were filed by HOVRS (June 5, 2007; Sept. 24, 2007; Jan. 22, 2008; May 23, 2008);
American Association of People with Disabilities (late-filed comments) (Sept. 21, 2007); CSDVRS and HOVRS
(Mar. 17, 2008); GoAmerica (merged with HOVRS) (Mar. 26, 2008); Sorenson (Apr. 25, 2008; May 2, 2008;May
14, 2008; June 26, 2008; July 10, 2008).
651 See Purple, Ex Parte Letter (March 1, 2013) (Purple March 1, 2013 Ex Parte).
652 See Sorenson, Ex Parte Letter (April 17, 2013) (maintaining that its employment contracts are limited in duration
to six months following the employee's termination of employment with Sorenson, limited to the state where the
employee works for Sorenson, and are limited to employment with a competing VRS provider).
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agreements in VRS CA employment contracts. What are the benefits or disadvantages of allowing or
prohibiting these agreements? We are especially interested in understanding any harm that these
agreements may cause for VRS providers or consumers. Do non-competition agreements limit the pool
of VRS CAs that are available to VRS providers? If so, does any such limitation affect the ability of VRS
providers to effectively compete in the marketplace? To what extent do these agreements have an impact
on the level of compensation paid to VRS CAs, and consequently, the cost of providing VRS? Do the
agreements affect speed of answer, accuracy or other quality of service metrics for VRS users? As an
alternative to an outright prohibition on non-competition agreements, should the Commission limit the
scope of such agreements? If so, how? We ask commenters to address the costs and benefits of
prohibiting or limiting such agreements and how such costs and benefits would affect the TRS Fund.
Commenters should support their positions with data to the extent possible. We also ask commenters to
address possible sources of authority for the Commission to regulate or prohibit VRS Relay CA non-
competition agreements. For example, does section 225(d)(1)(A) of the Act, which directs the
Commission to "establish functional requirements, guidelines, and operations procedures for
telecommunications relay services"653 afford the Commission sufficient authority to address these
agreements? Are there other provisions of section 225 that provide the Commission with such authority?
If the Commission were to prohibit non-competition agreements, could the Commission abrogate such
provisions in existing agreements, and if so, would it be appropriate to do so as a policy matter? We seek
feedback on any other matter that might assist the Commission in determining whether and how to
regulate these agreements.

Q.

CAs Working from Home Environments During Overnight Hours

280.
In the VRS Call Practices R&O the Commission found that allowing VRS CAs to work
from home poses more risks than benefits,654 and consequently adopted a rule prohibiting VRS CAs from
handling relay calls from a location used primarily as their home.655 The Commission was particularly
concerned that the unsupervised home environment is more conducive to fraud than a supervised call
center with on-site management.656 The Commission also concluded that compliance with its mandatory
minimum requirements, including the expectation of user privacy,657 and its technical standards, including
requirements for redundancy features, uninterruptible power for emergency use, and the ability to handle
9-1-1 calls, might be compromised in the home environment.658 Lastly, the Commission was concerned
that CAs working in the home environment might not be able to meet service quality standards.659
Notwithstanding these concerns, the Commission explained that it remained open to revisiting the issue of
at-home VRS call handling if, in the future, the Commission determines 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."660

653 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(1)(A).
654 VRS Call Practices R&O, 26 FCC Rcd at 5556, 16.
655 Id. at 5559, 20.
656 Id.
657 Id. at 5556-57, 17. See also 47 C.F.R. 64.604(a)(2) (setting forth CA confidentiality requirements).
658 VRS Call Practices R&O, 26 FCC Rcd at 5557, 18. See also 47 C.F.R. 64.604(b)(4)(ii) (setting forth
redundancy requirements), 64.605 (setting forth emergency calling requirements).
659 VRS Call Practices R&O, 26 FCC Rcd at 5557-58, 19.
660 Id. at 5559, 20.
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281.
In August 2011, CSDVRS filed a petition for partial waiver of the above prohibition for a
maximum of 10 percent of its active VRS CAs on duty and a maximum of 10 percent of CSDVRS's VRS
call volume to address its concern for the safety of CAs who work during overnight hours.661 According
to CSDVRS, its "remote interpreting program ensures the safety of VRS interpreters, strictly adheres to
mandatory minimum TRS standards, utilizes failsafe monitoring to prevent fraud, and ensures that
CSDVRS' service to consumers is not interrupted or otherwise degraded by an inability to provide
adequate support."662 CSDVRS further alleges that its at-home interpreting service provides sufficient
safeguards against fraud;663 security for CAs working at home during off-hours because the CAs do not
need to report to an office building;664 and more opportunities to recruit CAs.665 Finally, CSDVRS argues
that it has taken steps to ensure confidentiality,666 redundancy,667 the handling of emergency calls,668 and
service quality.669
282.
We seek comment on whether we should permit VRS CAs to work from home during the
overnight hours when the safety and security of CAs may be endangered from travelling to or from VRS
call centers. We ask commenters to address these safety concerns and to propose specific hours when
CAs may be permitted to work from home. We also ask commenters to identify rules needed to ensure
appropriate safeguards against fraud and to ensure that all of the Commission's mandatory minimum
standards and technical standards are met. In particular, we ask commenters to address the concerns
expressed by the Commission in the VRS Call Practices R&O with regard to privacy, redundancy,
uninterruptable power, emergency calling, and service quality, and what measures need to be taken to
ensure that functional equivalency is achieved if CAs were to be permitted to work from home during
overnight hours. We also ask commenters to address the costs and benefits of permitting CAs to work
from home on this limited basis.

VI.

PROCEDURAL MATTERS

A.

Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis

283.
This document contains a new information collection requirement 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 of the PRA, 44 U.S.C. 3507. Prior to
submission to OMB, the Commission will publish a notice in the Federal Register seeking public
comment on the information collection requirement. In addition, that notice will also seek comment on
how the Commission might "further reduce the information collection burden for small business concerns
with fewer than 25 employees" pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law
107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4). The information collection contained in this Report and Order will

661 CSDVRS, LLC Petition for Temporary Waiver at 1 (filed August 12, 2011) (CSDVRS At-Home Interpreting
Petition).
662 Id.
663 Id. at 2, 4, 6-7.
664 Id. at 2-4.
665 Id. at 5-6.
666 Id. at 4.
667 Id. at 5-6.
668 Id. at 4.
669 Id. at 2.
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not go into effect until OMB approves the collection and the Commission has published a notice in the
Federal Register announcing the effective date of the information collection.

B.

Congressional Review Act

284.
The Commission will send a copy of this Report and Order and Further Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking to Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the
Congressional Review Act.670

C.

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

285.
The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)671 requires that an agency prepare a regulatory
flexibility analysis for notice and comment rulemakings, unless the agency certifies that "the rule will not,
if promulgated, have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities."672
Accordingly, we have prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis concerning the possible impact of
the Report and Order on small entities. The Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis is set forth in
Appendix C.

D.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

286.
As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, the Commission has prepared an
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on small
entities of the policies and rules addressed in this document.673 The IRFA is set forth in Appendix D.
Written public comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the
IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comments on the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
provided on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this Report and Order and FNPRM. The
Commission will send a copy of the Further Notice, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for
Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.674 In addition, the Report and Order and FNPRM and
IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal Register.675

E.

Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

287.
Comments and Reply Comments. Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the
Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply comments
on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this document. Comments may be filed using the
Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents in
Rulemaking Proceedings
, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the
ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.
Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each
filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding,
filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number.
Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-

670 See 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).
671 See id. 60112. The RFA 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).
672 5 U.S.C. 605(b).
673 See id. 603.
674 See id. 603(a).
675 Id.
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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. The filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries
must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes 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.
288.
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 & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (tty).
289.
Ex Parte Rules. The proceeding this Further Notice initiates shall be treated as a "permit-
but-disclose" proceeding in accordance with the Commission's ex parte rules.676 Persons making ex parte
presentations must file a copy of any written presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral
presentation within two business days after the presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the
Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda
summarizing the presentation must (1) list all persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting
at which the ex parte presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data presented and arguments made
during the presentation. If the presentation consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data or
arguments already reflected in the presenter's written comments, memoranda or other filings in the
proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to such data or arguments in his or her prior comments,
memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page and/or paragraph numbers where such data or
arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the memorandum. Documents shown or given
to Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must
be filed consistent with rule 1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by rule 1.49(f) or for which the
Commission has made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and
memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto, must be filed through
the electronic comment filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed in their native
format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding should familiarize
themselves with the Commission's ex parte rules.

VII.

ORDERING CLAUSES

290.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to sections 1, 2, 4(i), 4(j), 225, 251, 254
and 303(r) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i), 154(j), 225,
251, 254, 303(r), this Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking IS ADOPTED,
effective thirty (30) days after publication of the text or summary thereof in the Federal Register, except
for those rules and requirements involving Paperwork Reduction Act burdens, which shall become
effective upon announcement in the Federal Register of OMB approval and an effective date of the rules.
291.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to sections 1, 2, 4(i), 4(j), 225, 251, 254 and
303(r) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i), 154(j), 225, 251,
254, 303(r), Part 64 of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. Part 64, IS AMENDED, as set forth in
Appendix A, and such rule amendments shall be effective 30 days after the date of publication of the rule

676 47 C.F.R. 1.1200 et seq.
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amendments in the Federal Register, except to the extent they contain information collections subject to
PRA review. The rules that contain information collections subject to PRA review WILL BECOME
EFFECTIVE upon announcement in the Federal Register of OMB approval and an effective date of the
rules.
292.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Commission SHALL SEND a copy of this Report
and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Congress and the Government Accountability
Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act, see 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).
293.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Commission's Consumer & Governmental Affairs
Bureau, Reference Information Center, SHALL SEND a copy of this Report and Order, including the
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, including the Initial
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business
Administration.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Marlene H. Dortch
Secretary
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APPENDIX A

Final Rules

The Commission amends 47 C.F.R. part 64 as follows:
PART 64 MISCELLANEOUS RULES RELATING TO COMMON CARRIERS
1. The authority citation to part 64 continues to read as follows:
Authority: 47 U.S.C. 154, 254(k); 403(b)(2)(B), (c), Pub. L. 104-104, 110 Stat. 56. Interpret or apply 47
U.S.C. 201, 218, 222, 225, 226, 227, 228, 254(k), 616, 620, and the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job
Creation Act of 2012, Pub. L. 112-96, unless otherwise noted.
2. Amend section 64.601 by revising paragraph (a) to read as follows:
64.601 Definitions and provisions of general applicability.
(a) * * *
(1) 711. The abbreviated dialing code for accessing relay services anywhere in the United States.
(2) ACD platform. The hardware and/or software that comprise the essential call center function of call
distribution, and that are a necessary core component of Internet-based TRS.
(3) American Sign Language (ASL). A visual language based on hand shape, position, movement, and
orientation of the hands in relation to each other and the body.
(4) ANI. For 911 systems, the Automatic Number Identification (ANI) identifies the calling party and
may be used as the callback number.
(5) ASCII. An acronym for American Standard Code for Information Interexchange which employs an
eight bit code and can operate at any standard transmission baud rate including 300, 1200, 2400, and
higher.
(6) Authorized provider. An iTRS provider that becomes the iTRS user's new default provider, having
obtained the user's authorization verified in accordance with the procedures specified in this part.
(7) Baudot. A seven bit code, only five of which are information bits. Baudot is used by some text
telephones to communicate with each other at a 45.5 baud rate.
(8) Call release. A TRS feature that allows the CA to sign-off or be "released" from the telephone line
after the CA has set up a telephone call between the originating TTY caller and a called TTY party, such
as when a TTY user must go through a TRS facility to contact another TTY user because the called TTY
party can only be reached through a voice-only interface, such as a switchboard.
(9) Common carrier or carrier. Any common carrier engaged in interstate Communication by wire or
radio as defined in section 3(h) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the Act), and any
common carrier engaged in intrastate communication by wire or radio, notwithstanding sections 2(b) and
221(b) of the Act.
(10) Communications assistant (CA). A person who transliterates or interprets conversation between two
or more end users of TRS. CA supersedes the term "TDD operator."
(11) Default provider. The iTRS provider that registers and assigns a ten-digit telephone number to an
iTRS user pursuant to section 64.611 of this part.
(12) Default provider change order. A request by an iTRS user to an iTRS provider to change the user's
default provider.
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(13) Hearing carry over (HCO). A form of TRS where the person with the speech disability is able to
listen to the other end user and, in reply, the CA speaks the text as typed by the person with the speech
disability. The CA does not type any conversation. Two-line HCO is an HCO service that allows TRS
users to use one telephone line for hearing and the other for sending TTY messages. HCO-to-TTY allows
a relay conversation to take place between an HCO user and a TTY user. HCO-to-HCO allows a relay
conversation to take place between two HCO users.
(14) Interconnected VoIP service. The term "interconnected VoIP service" has the meaning given such
term under 9.3 of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations, as such section may be amended from time to
time.
(15) Internet-based TRS (iTRS). A telecommunications relay service (TRS) in which an individual with
a hearing or a speech disability connects to a TRS communications assistant using an Internet Protocol-
enabled device via the Internet, rather than the public switched telephone network. Internet-based TRS
does not include the use of a text telephone (TTY) over an interconnected voice over Internet Protocol
service.
(16) Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS). A telecommunications relay service that
permits an individual who can speak but who has difficulty hearing over the telephone to use a telephone
and an Internet Protocol-enabled device via the Internet to simultaneously listen to the other party and
read captions of what the other party is saying. With IP CTS, the connection carrying the captions
between the relay service provider and the relay service user is via the Internet, rather than the public
switched telephone network.
(17) Internet Protocol Relay Service (IP Relay). A telecommunications relay service that permits an
individual with a hearing or a speech disability to communicate in text using an Internet Protocol-enabled
device via the Internet, rather than using a text telephone (TTY) and the public switched telephone
network.
(18) IP Relay access technology. Any equipment, software, or other technology issued, leased, or
provided by an Internet-based TRS provider that can be used to make and receive an IP Relay call.
(19) iTRS access technology. Any equipment, software, or other technology issued, leased, or provided
by an Internet-based TRS provider that can be used to make and receive an Internet-based TRS call.
(20) Neutral Video Communication Service Platform. The service platform that allows a registered
Internet-based VRS user to use VRS access technology to make and receive VRS and point-to-point calls
through a VRS CA service provider. The functions provided by the Neutral Video Communication
Service Platform include the provision of a video link, user registration and validation, authentication,
authorization, ACD platform functions, routing (including emergency call routing), call setup, mapping,
call features (such as call forwarding and video mail), and such other features and functions not provided
by the VRS CA service provider.
(21) New default provider. An iTRS provider that, either directly or through its numbering partner,
initiates or implements the process to become the iTRS user's default provider by replacing the iTRS
user's original default provider.
(22) Non-English language relay service. A telecommunications relay service that allows persons with
hearing or speech disabilities who use languages other than English to communicate with voice telephone
users in a shared language other than English, through a CA who is fluent in that language.
(23) Non-interconnected VoIP service. The term "non-interconnected VoIP service"--
(i) Means a service that--
(A) Enables real-time voice communications that originate from or terminate to the user's location using
Internet protocol or any successor protocol; and
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(B) Requires Internet protocol compatible customer premises equipment; and
(ii) Does not include any service that is an interconnected VoIP service.
(24) Numbering partner. Any entity with which an Internet-based TRS provider has entered into a
commercial arrangement to obtain North American Numbering Plan telephone numbers.
(25) Original default provider. An iTRS provider that is the iTRS user's default provider immediately
before that iTRS user's default provider is changed.
(26) Qualified interpreter. An interpreter who is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially,
both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary.
(27) Registered Internet-based TRS user. An individual that has registered with a VRS or IP Relay
provider as described in 64.611 of this chapter.
(28) Registered Location. The most recent information obtained by a VRS or IP Relay provider that
identifies the physical location of an end user.
(29) Sign language. A language which uses manual communication and body language to convey
meaning, including but not limited to American Sign Language.
(30) Speech-to-speech relay service (STS). A telecommunications relay service that allows individuals
with speech disabilities to communicate with voice telephone users through the use of specially trained
CAs who understand the speech patterns of persons with speech disabilities and can repeat the words
spoken by that person.
(31) Speed dialing. A TRS feature that allows a TRS user to place a call using a stored number
maintained by the TRS facility. In the context of TRS, speed dialing allows a TRS user to give the CA a
short-hand" name or number for the user's most frequently called telephone numbers.
(32) Telecommunications relay services (TRS). Telephone transmission services that provide the ability
for an individual who has a hearing or speech disability to engage in communication by wire or radio with
a hearing individual in a manner that is functionally equivalent to the ability of an individual who does
not have a hearing or speech disability to communicate using voice communication services by wire or
radio. Such term includes services that enable two-way communication between an individual who uses a
text telephone or other nonvoice terminal device and an individual who does not use such a device,
speech-to-speech services, video relay services and non-English relay services. TRS supersedes the terms
"dual party relay system," "message relay services," and "TDD Relay."
(33) Text telephone (TTY). A machine that employs graphic communication in the transmission of
coded signals through a wire or radio communication system. TTY supersedes the term "TDD" or
"telecommunications device for the deaf," and TT.
(34) Three-way calling feature. A TRS feature that allows more than two parties to be on the telephone
line at the same time with the CA.
(35) TRS Numbering Administrator. The neutral administrator of the TRS Numbering Directory
selected based on a competitive bidding process.
(36) TRS Numbering Directory. The database administered by the TRS Numbering Administrator, the
purpose of which is to map each registered Internet-based TRS user's NANP telephone number to his or
her end device.
(37) TRS User Registration Database. A system of records containing TRS user identification data
capable of (a) receiving and processing subscriber information sufficient to identify unique TRS users and
to ensure that each has a single default provider; (b) assigning each VRS user a unique identifier; (c)
allowing VRS providers and other authorized entities to query the TRS User Registration Database to
determine if a prospective user already has a default provider; (d) allowing VRS providers to indicate that
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a VRS user has used the service; and (e) maintaining the confidentiality of proprietary data housed in the
database by protecting it from theft, loss or disclosure to unauthorized persons. The purpose of this
database is to ensure accurate registration and verification of VRS users and improve the efficiency of the
TRS program.
(38) Unauthorized provider. An iTRS provider that becomes the iTRS user's new default provider
without having obtained the user's authorization verified in accordance with the procedures specified in
this part.
(39) Unauthorized change. A change in an iTRS user's selection of a default provider that was made
without authorization verified in accordance with the verification procedures specified in this part.
(40) Video relay service (VRS). A telecommunications relay service that allows people with hearing or
speech disabilities who use sign language to communicate with voice telephone users through video
equipment. The video link allows the CA to view and interpret the party's signed conversation and relay
the conversation back and forth with a voice caller.
(41) 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.
(42) Voice carry over (VCO). A form of TRS where the person with the hearing disability is able to
speak directly to the other end user. The CA types the response back to the person with the hearing
disability. The CA does not voice the conversation. Two-line VCO is a VCO service that allows TRS
users to use one telephone line for voicing and the other for receiving TTY messages. A VCO-to-TTY
TRS call allows a relay conversation to take place between a VCO user and a TTY user. VCO-to-VCO
allows a relay conversation to take place between two VCO users.
(43) VRS access technology. Any equipment, software, or other technology issued, leased, or provided
by an Internet-based TRS provider that can be used to make and receive a VRS call.
(44) VRS Access Technology Reference Platform. A software product procured by or on behalf of the
Commission that provides VRS functionality, including the ability to make and receive VRS and point-to-
point calls, dial-around functionality, and the ability to update user registration location, and against
which providers may test their own VRS access technology and platforms for compliance with the
Commission's interoperability and portability rules.
(45) VRS CA service provider. A VRS provider that uses the Neutral Video Communication Service
Platform for the video communication service components of VRS.
* * * * *
3. Amend section 64.604 by revising paragraphs (b)(2)(iii), (b)(4)(iv) and (c)(5)(iii)(N)(1)(iii), reserving
paragraphs (c)(10) and (c)(11), and adding paragraphs (c)(12), (c)(13), and (d) to read as follows:
64.604 Mandatory minimum standards.
* * * * *
(b) * * *
* * * * *
(2) * * *
* * * * *
(iii) Speed of answer requirements for VRS providers. (A) Speed of answer requirements for VRS
providers are phased-in as follows: by January 1, 2007, VRS providers must answer 80% of all VRS
calls within 120 seconds, measured on a monthly basis; by January 1, 2014, VRS providers must answer
85% of all VRS calls within 60 seconds, measured on a daily basis; and by July 1, 2014, VRS providers
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must answer 85% of all VRS calls within 30 seconds, measured on a daily basis. Abandoned calls shall
be included in the VRS speed of answer calculation.
(B) VRS CA service providers must meet the speed of answer requirements for VRS providers as
measured from the time a VRS call reaches facilities operated by the VRS CA service provider.
* * * * *
(4) * * *
* * * * *
(iv) A VRS provider leasing or licensing an automatic call distribution (ACD) platform must have a
written lease or license agreement. Such lease or license agreement may not include any revenue sharing
agreement or compensation based upon minutes of use. In addition, if any such lease is between two
eligible VRS providers, the lessee or licensee must locate the ACD platform on its own premises and
must utilize its own employees to manage the ACD platform. VRS CA service providers are not required
to have a written lease or licensing agreement for an ACD if they obtain that function from the Neutral
Video Communication Service Platform.
* * * * *
(c) * * *
* * * * *
(5) * * *
* * * * *
(iii) * * *
* * * * *
(N) * * *
(1) * * *
* * * * *
(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:
(a) That authorized third party also is an eligible provider; or
(b) The eligible VRS provider is a VRS CA service provider and the authorized third party is the
provider of the Neutral Video Communication Service Platform, except that a VRS CA service provider
may not contract with or otherwise authorize the provider of the Neutral Video Communication Service
Platform to perform billing on its behalf.
* * * * *
(10) [Reserved]
(11) [Reserved]
(12) Discrimination and preferences. A VRS provider shall not (1) directly or indirectly, by any means
or device, engage in any unjust or unreasonable discrimination related to practices, facilities, or services
for or in connection with like relay service, (2) engage in or give any undue or unreasonable preference or
advantage to any particular person, class of persons, or locality, or (3) subject any particular person, class
of persons, or locality to any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage.
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(13) Unauthorized and unnecessary use of VRS. A VRS provider shall not engage in any practice that
causes or encourages, or that the provider knows or has reason to know will cause or encourage (1) false
or unverified claims for TRS Fund compensation, (2) unauthorized use of VRS, (3) the making of VRS
calls that would not otherwise be made, or (4) the use of VRS by persons who do not need the service in
order to communicate in a functionally equivalent manner. A VRS provider shall not seek payment from
the TRS Fund for any minutes of service it knows or has reason to know are resulting from such
practices. Any VRS provider that becomes aware of such practices being or having been committed by
any person shall as soon as practicable report such practices to the Commission or the TRS Fund
administrator.
(d) Other standards--The applicable requirements of sections 64.605, 64.611, 64.615, 64.617, 64.621,
64.631, 64.632, 64.5105, 64.5107, 64.5108, 64.5109 and 64.5110 of this part are to be considered
mandatory minimum standards.
4. Amend section 64.605 by revising paragraph (b)(4)(ii) to read as follows:
64.605 Emergency calling requirements.
* * * * *
(b) * * *
* * * * *
(4) * * *
* * * * *
(ii) If the VRS or IP Relay is capable of being used from more than one location, provide their registered
Internet-based TRS users one or more methods of updating their Registered Location, including at least
one option that requires use only of the iTRS access technology necessary to access the VRS or IP Relay.
Any method utilized must allow a registered Internet-based TRS user to update the Registered Location at
will and in a timely manner.
5. Amend section 64.606 by adding paragraphs (a)(4), (g)(3) and (g)(4) to read as follows:
64.606 Internet-based TRS provider and TRS program certification.
(a) * * *
* * * * *
(4) For the purposes of paragraphs (a)(2)(ii)(A)(4) and (a)(2)(ii)(A)(6) of this section, VRS CA Service
Providers shall, in their description of the technology and equipment used to support their call center
functions, describe:
(i) How they provide connectivity to the Neutral Video Communication Service Platform; and
(ii) How they internally route calls to CAs and then back to the Neutral Video Communication Service
Platform. VRS CA service providers need not describe ACD platform functionality if it is not used for
these purposes.
* * * * *
(g) * * *
* * * * *
(3) Each VRS provider shall include within its annual report a compliance plan describing the provider's
policies, procedures, and practices for complying with the requirements of section 64.604(c)(13) of this
subpart. Such compliance plan shall include, at a minimum: (i) identification of any officer(s) or
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managerial employee(s) responsible for ensuring compliance with section 64.604(c)(13) of this subpart;
(ii) a description of any compliance training provided to the provider's officers, employees, and
contractors; (iii) identification of any telephone numbers, website addresses, or other mechanisms
available to employees for reporting abuses; (iv) a description of any internal audit processes used to
ensure the accuracy and completeness of minutes submitted to the TRS Fund administrator; and (v) a
description of all policies and practices that the provider is following to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse of
the TRS Fund. A provider that fails to file a compliance plan shall not be entitled to compensation for the
provision of VRS during the period of noncompliance.
(4) If, at any time, the Commission determines that a VRS provider's compliance plan currently on file is
inadequate to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse of the TRS Fund, the Commission shall so notify the
provider, shall explain the reasons the plan is inadequate, and shall direct the provider to correct the
identified defects and submit an amended compliance plan reflecting such correction within a specified
time period not to exceed 60 days. A provider that fails to comply with such directive shall not be
entitled to compensation for the provision of VRS during the period of noncompliance. A submitted
compliance plan shall not be prima facie evidence of the plan's adequacy; nor shall it be evidence that the
provider has fulfilled its obligations under section 64.604(c)(13) of this subpart.
* * * * *
6. Amend section 64.611 by adding paragraphs (a)(3) and (a)(4), revising paragraph (f), and adding
paragraph (h) to read as follows:
64.611 Internet-based TRS registration.
(a) * * *
* * * * *
(3) Certification of eligibility of VRS users. (i) A VRS provider seeking compensation from the TRS
Fund for providing VRS to a particular user registered with that provider must first obtain a written
certification from the user, attesting that the user is eligible to use VRS.
(ii) The certification required by paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section must include the user's attestation
that:
(A) The user has a hearing or speech disability; and
(B) The user understands that the cost of VRS calls is paid for by contributions from other
telecommunications users to the TRS Fund.
(iii) The certification required by paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section must be made on a form separate
from any other agreement or form, and must include a separate user signature specific to the certification.
For the purposes of this rule, an electronic signature, defined by the Electronic Signatures in Global and
National Commerce Act, as an electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated
with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record, has
the same legal effect as a written signature. For the purposes of this rule, an electronic record, defined by
the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act as a contract or other record created,
generated, sent, communicated, received, or stored by electronic means, constitutes a record.
(iv) Each VRS provider shall maintain the confidentiality of any registration and certification information
obtained by the provider, and may not disclose such registration and certification information or the
content of such registration and certification information except as required by law or regulation.
(v) VRS providers must, for existing registered Internet-based TRS users, submit the certification
required by paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section to the TRS User Registration Database within 60 days of
notice from the Managing Director that the TRS User Registration Database is ready to accept such
information.
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(vi) When registering a user that is transferring service from another VRS provider, VRS providers shall
obtain and submit a properly executed certification if a query of the TRS User Registration Database
shows a properly executed certification has not been filed.
(vii) VRS providers shall require their CAs to terminate any call which does not involve an individual
eligible to use VRS due to a hearing or speech disability or, pursuant to the provider's policies, the call
does not appear to be a legitimate VRS call, and VRS providers may not seek compensation for such calls
from the TRS Fund.
(4) TRS User Registration Database information. Each VRS provider shall collect and transmit to the
TRS User Registration Database, in a format prescribed by the administrator of the TRS User Registration
Database, the following information for each of its new and existing registered Internet-based TRS users:
full name; full residential address; ten-digit telephone number assigned in the TRS numbering directory;
last four digits of the social security number or Tribal Identification number, if the registered Internet-
based TRS user is a member of a Tribal nation and does not have a social security number; date of birth;
Registered Location; VRS provider name and dates of service initiation and termination; a digital copy of
the user's self-certification of eligibility for VRS and the date obtained by the provider; the date on which
the user's identification was verified; and (for existing users only) the date on which the registered
Internet-based TRS user last placed a point-to-point or relay call.
(i) Each VRS provider must obtain, from each new and existing registered Internet-based TRS user,
consent to transmit the registered Internet-based TRS user's information to the TRS User Registration
Database. Prior to obtaining consent, the VRS provider must describe to the registered Internet-based
TRS user, using clear, easily understood language, the specific information being transmitted, that the
information is being transmitted to the TRS User Registration Database to ensure proper administration of
the TRS program, and that failure to provide consent will result in the registered Internet-based TRS user
being denied service. VRS providers must obtain and keep a record of affirmative acknowledgment by
every registered Internet-based TRS user of such consent.
(ii) VRS providers must, for existing registered Internet-based TRS users, submit the information in
paragraph (a)(3) of this section to the TRS User Registration Database within 60 days of notice from the
Commission that the TRS User Registration Database is ready to accept such information. Calls from or
to existing registered Internet-based TRS users that have not had their information populated in the TRS
User Registration Database within 60 days of notice from the Commission that the TRS User Registration
Database is ready to accept such information shall not be compensable.
(iii) VRS providers must submit the information in paragraph (a)(4) of this section upon initiation of
service for users registered after 60 days of notice from the Commission that the TRS User Registration
Database is ready to accept such information.
* * * * *
(f) iTRS access technology. (1) Every VRS or IP Relay provider must ensure that all iTRS access
technology they have issued, leased, or otherwise provided to VRS or IP Relay users delivers routing
information or other information only to the user's default provider, except as is necessary to complete or
receive "dial around" calls on a case-by-case basis.
(2) All iTRS access technology issued, leased, or otherwise provided to VRS or IP Relay users by
Internet-based TRS providers must be capable of facilitating the requirements of this section.
* * * * *
(h) A VRS CA service provider shall fulfill its obligations under paragraphs (a), (c), (d), and (e) of this
section using the Neutral Video Communication Service Platform.
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7. Add sections 64.615, 64,617, 64.619, 64.621, 64.623, 64.630, 64.631, 64.632, 64.633, 64.634, 64.635,
and 64.636 to subpart F to read as follows:
64.615 TRS User Registration Database and administrator.
(a) TRS User Registration Database. (1) VRS providers shall validate the eligibility of the party on the
video side of each call by querying the TRS User Registration Database on a per-call basis. Emergency
911 calls are excepted from this requirement.
(i) Validation shall occur during the call setup process, prior to the placement of the call.
(ii) If the eligibility of at least one party to the call is not validated using the TRS User Registration
Database, the call shall not be completed, and the VRS provider shall either terminate the call or, if
appropriate, offer to register the user if they are able to demonstrate eligibility.
(iii) Calls that VRS providers are prohibited from completing because the user's eligibility cannot be
validated shall not be included in speed of answer calculations and shall not be eligible for compensation
from the TRS Fund.
(2) The administrator of the TRS User Registration Database shall assign a unique identifier to each user
in the TRS User Registration Database.
(3) Data integrity. (i) Each VRS provider shall request that the administrator of the TRS User
Registration Database remove from the TRS User Registration Database user information for any
registered user:
(A) Who informs its default provider that it no longer wants use of a ten-digit number for TRS services;
or
(B) For whom the provider obtains information that the user is not eligible to use the service.
(ii) The administrator of the TRS User Registration Database shall remove the data of:
(A) Any user that has neither placed nor received a VRS or point to point call in a one year period; and
(B) Any user for which a VRS provider makes a request under paragraph (a)(3)(i) of this section.
(4) VRS providers may query the TRS User Registration Database only for the purposes provided in this
subpart, and to determine whether information with respect to its registered users already in the database
is correct and complete.
(5) User verification. (i) The TRS User Registration Database shall have the capability of performing an
identification verification check when a VRS provider or other party submits a query to the database
about an existing or potential user.
(ii) VRS providers shall not register individuals that do not pass the identification verification check
conducted through the TRS User Registration Database.
(iii) VRS providers shall not seek compensation for calls placed by individuals that do not pass the
identification verification check conducted through the TRS User Registration Database.
(b) Administration. (1) Terms of administration. The administrator of the TRS User Registration
Database shall administer the TRS User Registration Database pursuant to the terms of its contract.
(2) Compensation. The TRS Fund, as defined by section 64.604(a)(5)(iii) of this subpart, may be used to
compensate the administrator of the TRS User Registration Database for the reasonable costs of
administration pursuant to the terms of its contract.
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64.617 Neutral Video Communication Service Platform.
(a) VRS CA service providers certified by the Commission are required to utilize the Neutral Video
Communication Service Platform to process VRS calls. Each VRS CA service provider shall be
responsible for providing sign language interpretation services and for ensuring that the Neutral Video
Communication Service Platform has the information it needs to provide video communication service on
the VRS CA service provider's behalf.
(b) Administration. (1) Terms of administration. The provider of the Neutral Video Communication
Service Platform shall administer the Neutral Video Communication Service Platform pursuant to the
terms of its contract.
(2) Compensation. The TRS Fund, as defined by section CFR 64.604(a)(5)(iii) of this subpart, may be
used to compensate the provider of the Neutral Video Communication Service Platform for the reasonable
costs of administration pursuant to the terms of its contract.
64.619 VRS Access Technology Reference Platform and administrator.
(a) VRS Access Technology Reference Platform. (1) The VRS Access Technology Reference Platform
shall be a software product that performs consistently with the rules in this subpart, including any
standards adopted in section 64.621 of this subpart.
(2) The VRS Access Technology Reference Platform shall be available for use by the public and by
developers.
(b) Administration. (1) Terms of administration. The administrator of the VRS Access Technology
Reference Platform shall administer the VRS Access Technology Reference Platform pursuant to the
terms of its contract.
(2) Compensation. The TRS Fund, as defined by section 64.604(a)(5)(iii) of this subpart, may be used to
compensate the administrator of the VRS Access Technology Reference Platform for the reasonable costs
of administration pursuant to the terms of its contract.
64.621 Interoperability and portability.
(a) General obligations of VRS providers. (1) All VRS users must be able to place a VRS call through
any of the VRS providers' services, and all VRS providers must be able to receive calls from, and make
calls to, any VRS user.
(2) A VRS provider may not take steps that restrict a user's unfettered access to another provider's
service, such as providing degraded service quality to VRS users using VRS equipment or service with
another provider's service.
(3) All VRS providers must ensure that their VRS access technologies and their video communication
service platforms are interoperable with the VRS Access Technology Reference Platform, including for
point-to-point calls. No VRS provider shall be compensated for minutes of use involving their VRS
access technologies or video communication service platforms that are not interoperable with the VRS
Access Technology Reference Platform.
(4) All VRS providers must ensure that their VRS access technologies and their video communication
service platforms are interoperable with the Neutral Video Communication Service Platform, including
for point-to-point calls. No VRS provider shall be compensated for minutes of use involving their VRS
access technologies or video communication service platforms that are not interoperable with the Neutral
Video Communication Service Platform.
(b) Standards. [Reserved]
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64.623 Administrator requirements.
(a) For the purposes of this section, the term "Administrator" shall refer to each of the TRS Numbering
administrator, the administrator of the TRS User Registration Database, the administrator of the VRS
Access Technology Reference Platform, and the provider of the Neutral Video Communication Service
Platform. A single entity may serve in one or more of these capacities.
(b) Neutrality. (1) The Administrator shall be a non-governmental entity that is impartial and not an
affiliate of any Internet-based TRS provider.
(2) Neither the Administrator nor any affiliate thereof shall issue a majority of its debt to, nor derive a
majority of its revenues from, any Internet-based TRS provider.
(3) Neither the TRS Numbering administrator nor any affiliate thereof shall be unduly influenced, as
determined by the North American Numbering Council, by parties with a vested interest in the outcome
of TRS-related numbering administration and activities.
(4) None of the administrator of the TRS User Registration Database, the administrator of the VRS
Access Technology Reference Platform, or the provider of the Neutral Video Communication Service
Platform, nor any affiliates thereof, shall be unduly influenced, as determined by the Commission, by
parties with a vested interest in the outcome of TRS-related activities.
(5) Any subcontractor that performs any function of any Administrator shall also meet the neutrality
criteria applicable to such Administrator.
(c) Terms of administration. The Administrator shall administer pursuant to the terms of its contract.
(d) Compensation. The TRS Fund, as defined by section 64.604(a)(5)(iii) of this subpart, may be used to
compensate the Administrator for the reasonable costs of administration pursuant to the terms of its
contract.
64.630 Applicability of change of default TRS provider rules.
Sections 64.630 through 64.636 of this part governing changes in default TRS providers shall apply to
any provider of IP Relay or VRS eligible to receive payments from the TRS Fund.
64.631 Verification of orders for change of default TRS providers.
(a) No iTRS provider, either directly or through its numbering partner, shall initiate or implement the
process to change an iTRS user's selection of a default provider prior to obtaining:
(1) Authorization from the iTRS user, and
(2) Verification of that authorization in accordance with the procedures prescribed in this section. The
new default provider shall maintain and preserve without alteration or modification all records of
verification of the iTRS user's authorization for a minimum period of five years after obtaining such
verification and shall make such records available to the Commission upon request. In any case where
the iTRS provider is unable, unwilling or otherwise fails to make such records available to the
Commission upon request, it shall be presumed that the iTRS provider has failed to comply with its
verification obligations under the rules.
(b) Where an iTRS provider is offering more than one type of TRS, that provider must obtain separate
authorization from the iTRS user for each service, although the authorizations may be obtained within the
same transaction. Each authorization must be verified separately from any other authorizations obtained
in the same transaction. Each authorization must be verified in accordance with the verification
procedures prescribed in this part.
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(c) A new iTRS provider shall not, either directly or through its numbering partner, initiate or implement
the process to change a default provider unless and until the order has been verified in accordance with
one of the following procedures:
(1) The iTRS provider has obtained the iTRS user's written or electronically signed authorization in a
form that meets the requirements of section 64.632 of this part; or
(2) An independent third party meeting the qualifications in this subsection has obtained, in accordance
with the procedures set forth in paragraphs (c)(2)(i) through (c)(2)(iv) of this section, the iTRS user's
authorization to implement the default provider change order that confirms and includes appropriate
verification of registration data with the TRS User Registration Database as defined in section 64.601(a)
of this part. The independent third party must not be owned, managed, controlled, or directed by the
iTRS provider or the iTRS provider's marketing agent; must not have any financial incentive to confirm
default provider change orders for the iTRS provider or the iTRS provider's marketing agent; and must
operate in a location physically separate from the iTRS provider or the iTRS provider's marketing agent.
(i) Methods of third party verification. Third party verification systems and three-way conference calls
may be used for verification purposes so long as the requirements of paragraphs (c)(3)(ii) through
(c)(3)(iv) of this section are satisfied. It shall be a per se violation of these rules if at any time the iTRS
provider, an iTRS provider's marketing representative, or any other person misleads the iTRS user with
respect to the authorization that the iTRS user is giving, the purpose of that authorization, the purpose of
the verification, the verification process, or the identity of the person who is placing the call as well as on
whose behalf the call is being placed, if applicable.
(ii) Provider initiation of third party verification. An iTRS provider or an iTRS provider's marketing
representative initiating a three-way conference call must drop off the call once the three-way connection
has been established.
(iii) Requirements for content and format of third party verification. Any description of the default
provider change transaction by a third party verifier must not be misleading. At the start of the third party
verification process, the third party verifier shall identify the new default provider to the iTRS user and
shall confirm that the iTRS user understands that the iTRS user is changing default providers and will no
longer receive service from the iTRS user's current iTRS provider. In addition, all third party verification
methods shall elicit, at a minimum: The date of the verification; the identity of the iTRS user;
confirmation that the person on the call is the iTRS user; confirmation that the iTRS user wants to make
the default provider change; confirmation that the iTRS user understands that a default provider change,
not an upgrade to existing service, or any other misleading description of the transaction, is being
authorized; confirmation that the iTRS user understands what the change in default provider means,
including that the iTRS user may need to return any video equipment belonging to the original default
provider; the name of the new default provider affected by the change; the telephone number of record to
be transferred to the new default provider; and the type of TRS used with the telephone number being
transferred. If the iTRS user has additional questions for the iTRS provider's marketing representative
during the verification process, the verifier shall instruct the iTRS user that they are terminating the
verification process, that the iTRS user may contact the marketing representative with additional
questions, and that the iTRS user's default provider will not be changed. The marketing representative
may again initiate the verification process following the procedures set out in this section after the iTRS
user contacts the marketing representative with any additional questions. Third party verifiers may not
market the iTRS provider's services by providing additional information.
(iv) Other requirements for third party verification. All third party verifications shall be conducted in the
same language and format that were used in the underlying marketing transaction and shall be recorded in
their entirety. In the case of VRS, this means that if the marketing process was conducted in American
Sign Language (ASL), then the third party verification shall be conducted in ASL. In the event that the
underlying marketing transaction was conducted via text over IP Relay, such text format shall be used for
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the third party verification. The third party verifier shall inform both the iTRS user and, where
applicable, the communications assistant relaying the call, that the call is being recorded. The third party
verifier shall provide the new default provider an audio, video, or IP Relay transcript of the verification of
the iTRS user authorization. New default providers shall maintain and preserve audio and video records
of verification of iTRS user authorization in accordance with the procedures set forth in paragraph (a)(2)
of this section.
(d) A new default provider shall implement an iTRS user's default provider change order within 60 days
of obtaining either (i) a written or electronically signed letter of agency in accordance with section 64.632
of this part or (ii) third party verification of the iTRS user's default provider change order in accordance
with paragraph (c)(2) of this section. If not implemented within 60 days as required herein, such default
provider change order shall be deemed void.
(e) At any time during the process of changing an iTRS user's default provider, and until such process is
completed, which is when the new default provider assumes the role of default provider, the original
default provider shall not (i) reduce the level or quality of iTRS service provided to such iTRS user, or (ii)
reduce the functionality of any VRS access technology provided by the iTRS provider to such iTRS user.
(f) An iTRS provider that is certified pursuant to section 64.606(a)(2) of this part may acquire, through a
sale or transfer, either part or all of another iTRS provider's iTRS user base without obtaining each iTRS
user's authorization and verification in accordance with paragraph (c) of this section, provided that the
acquiring iTRS provider complies with the following streamlined procedures. An iTRS provider shall not
use these streamlined procedures for any fraudulent purpose, including any attempt to avoid liability for
violations under part 64 of the Commission rules.
(1) Not later than 30 days before the transfer of the affected iTRS users from the selling or transferring
iTRS provider to the acquiring iTRS provider, the acquiring iTRS provider shall provide notice to each
affected iTRS user of the information specified herein. The acquiring iTRS provider is required to fulfill
the obligations set forth in the advance iTRS user notice. In the case of VRS, the notice shall be provided
as a pre-recorded video message in American Sign Language sent to all affected iTRS users. In the case
of IP Relay, the notice shall be provided as a pre-recorded text message sent to all affected iTRS users.
The advance iTRS user notice shall be provided in a manner consistent with 47 U.S.C. 255, 617, 619
and the Commission's rules regarding accessibility to blind and visually-impaired consumers, sections
6.3, 6.5, 14.20, 14.21 of this chapter. The following information must be included in the advance iTRS
user notice:
(i) The date on which the acquiring iTRS provider will become the iTRS user's new default provider;
(ii) The iTRS user's right to select a different default provider for the iTRS at issue, if an alternative
iTRS provider is available;
(iii) Whether the acquiring iTRS provider will be responsible for handling any complaints filed, or
otherwise raised, prior to or during the transfer against the selling or transferring iTRS provider, and
(iv) The toll-free customer service telephone number of the acquiring iTRS provider.
(2) All iTRS users receiving the notice will be transferred to the acquiring iTRS provider, unless they
have selected a different default provider before the transfer date.
64.632 Letter of authorization form and content.
(a) An iTRS provider may use a written or electronically signed letter of authorization to obtain
authorization of an iTRS user's request to change his or her default provider. A letter of authorization that
does not conform with this section is invalid for purposes of this subpart.
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(b) The letter of authorization shall be a separate document or located on a separate screen or webpage.
The letter of authorization shall contain the following title "

Letter of Authorization to Change my
Default Provider

" at the top of the page, screen, or webpage, as applicable, in clear and legible type.
(c) The letter of authorization shall contain only the authorizing language described in paragraph (d) of
this section and be strictly limited to authorizing the new default provider to implement a default provider
change order. The letter of authorization shall be signed and dated by the iTRS user requesting the default
provider change.
(d) At a minimum, the letter of authorization must be printed with a type of sufficient size and readable
type to be clearly legible and must contain clear and unambiguous language that confirms:
(1) The iTRS user's registered name and address and each telephone number to be covered by the default
provider change order;
(2) The decision to change the default provider from the original default provider to the new default
provider;
(3) That the iTRS user designates [insert the name of the new default provider] to act as the iTRS user's
agent and authorizing the new default provider to implement the default provider change; and
(4) That the iTRS user understands that only one iTRS provider may be designated as the TRS user's
default provider for any one telephone number.
(e) If any portion of a letter of authorization is translated into another language then all portions of the
letter of authorization must be translated into that language. Every letter of authorization must be
translated into the same language as any promotional materials, descriptions or instructions provided with
the letter of authorization.
(f) Letters of authorization submitted with an electronically signed authorization must include the
consumer disclosures required by Section 101(c) of the Electronic Signatures in Global and National
Commerce Act.
64.633 Procedures for resolution of unauthorized changes in default provider.
(a) Notification of alleged unauthorized provider change. Original default providers who are informed of
an unauthorized default provider change by an iTRS user shall immediately notify the allegedly
unauthorized provider and the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau of the
incident.
(b) Referral of complaint. Any iTRS provider that is informed by an iTRS user or original default
provider of an unauthorized default provider change shall (i) notify the Commission's Consumer and
Governmental Affairs Bureau and (ii) shall inform that iTRS user of the iTRS user's right to file a
complaint with the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau. iTRS providers shall
also inform the iTRS user that the iTRS user may contact and file a complaint with the alleged
unauthorized default provider. An original default provider shall have the right to file a complaint with
the Commission in the event that one of its respective iTRS users is the subject of an alleged unauthorized
default provider change.
(c) Notification of receipt of complaint. Upon receipt of an unauthorized default provider change
complaint or notification filed pursuant to this section, the Commission will notify the allegedly
unauthorized provider and the Fund administrator of the complaint or notification and order that the
unauthorized provider identify to the Fund administrator all minutes attributable to the iTRS user after the
alleged unauthorized change of default provider is alleged to have occurred. The Fund administrator shall
withhold reimbursement for such minutes pending Commission determination of whether an unauthorized
change, as defined by section 64.601(a) of this part, has occurred, if it has not already done so.
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(d) Proof of verification. Not more than 30 days after notification of the complaint or other notification,
the alleged unauthorized default provider shall provide to the Commission's Consumer and Governmental
Affairs Bureau a copy of any valid proof of verification of the default provider change. This proof of
verification must clearly demonstrate a valid authorized default provider change, as that term is defined in
sections 64.631 through 64.632 of this part. The Commission will determine whether an unauthorized
change, as defined by section 64.601(a) of this part, has occurred using such proof and any evidence
supplied by the iTRS user or other iTRS providers. Failure by the allegedly unauthorized provider to
respond or provide proof of verification will be presumed to be sufficient evidence of a violation.
64.634 Procedures where the Fund has not yet reimbursed the provider.
(a) This section shall only apply after an iTRS user or iTRS provider has complained to or notified the
Commission that an allegedly unauthorized change, as defined by section 64.601(a) of this part, has
occurred, and the TRS Fund (Fund), as defined in section 64.604(c)(5)(iii) of this part, has not reimbursed
the allegedly unauthorized default provider for service attributable to the iTRS user after the allegedly
unauthorized change occurred.
(b) An allegedly unauthorized provider shall identify to the Fund administrator all minutes submitted by
the allegedly unauthorized provider to the Fund for reimbursement that are attributable to the iTRS user
after the allegedly unauthorized change of default provider, as defined by section 64. 601(a) of this part, is
alleged to have occurred.
(c) If the Commission determines that an unauthorized change, as defined by section 64.601(a) of this
part, has occurred, the Commission shall direct the Fund administrator to not reimburse for any minutes
attributable to the iTRS user after the unauthorized change occurred, and neither the authorized nor the
unauthorized default provider may seek reimbursement from the fund for those charges. The remedies
provided in this section are in addition to any other remedies available by law.
(d) If the Commission determines that the default provider change was authorized, the default provider
may seek reimbursement from the Fund for minutes of service provided to the iTRS user.
64.635 Procedures where the Fund has already reimbursed the provider.
(a) The procedures in this section shall only apply after an iTRS user or iTRS provider has complained to
or notified the Commission that an unauthorized change, as defined by section 64.601(a) of this part, has
occurred, and the Fund has reimbursed the allegedly unauthorized default provider for minutes of service
provided to the iTRS user.
(b) If the Commission determines that an unauthorized change, as defined by section 64.601(a) of this
part, has occurred, it shall direct the unauthorized default provider to remit to the Fund an amount equal to
100% of all payments the unauthorized default provider received from the Fund for minutes attributable
to the iTRS user after the unauthorized change occurred. The remedies provided in this section are in
addition to any other remedies available by law.
64.636 Prohibition of default provider freezes.
(a) A default provider freeze prevents a change in an iTRS user's default provider selection unless the
iTRS user gives the provider from whom the freeze was requested his or her express consent.
(b) Default provider freezes shall be prohibited.
8. Add subpart EE, sections 64.5100 through 64.5111, to read as follows:
Part 64, Subpart EE TRS Customer Proprietary Network Information
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64.5101 Basis and purpose.
(a) Basis. The rules in this subpart are issued pursuant to the Communications Act of 1934, as amended.
(b) Purpose. The purpose of the rules in this subpart is to implement customer proprietary network
information protections for users of telecommunications relay services pursuant to sections 4, 222, and
225 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 4, 222, and 225.
64.5103 Definitions.
(a) Address of record. An "address of record," whether postal or electronic, is an address that the TRS
provider has associated with the customer for at least 30 days.
(b) Affiliate. The term "affiliate" shall have the same meaning given such term in section 3 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 153.
(c) Call data information. The term "call data information" means any information that pertains to the
handling of specific TRS calls, including the call record identification sequence, the communications
assistant identification number, the session start and end times, the conversation start and end times,
incoming and outbound telephone numbers, incoming and outbound internet protocol (IP) addresses, total
conversation minutes, total session minutes, and the electronic serial number of the consumer device.
(d) Communications assistant (CA). The term "communications assistant" or "CA" shall have the same
meaning given to the term in section 64.601(a) of this part.
(e) Customer. The term "customer" means a person (i) to whom the TRS provider provides TRS or
point-to-point service, or (ii) who is registered with the TRS provider as a default provider.
(f) Customer proprietary network information (CPNI). The term "customer proprietary network
information" or "CPNI" means information that relates to the quantity, technical configuration, type,
destination, location, and amount of use of a telecommunications service used by any customer of a TRS
provider; and information regarding a customer's use of TRS contained in the documentation submitted
by a TRS provider to the TRS Fund administrator in connection with a request for compensation for the
provision of TRS.
(g) Customer premises equipment (CPE). The term "customer premises equipment" or "CPE" shall have
the same meaning given to such term in section 3 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47
U.S.C. 153.
(h) Default provider. The term "default provider" shall have the same meaning given such term in
section 64.601(a) of this part.
(i) Internet-based TRS (iTRS). The term "Internet-based TRS" or "iTRS shall have the same meaning
given to the term in section 64.601(a) of this part.
(j) iTRS access technology. The term "iTRS access technology" shall have the same meaning given to
the term in section 64.601(a) of this part.
(k) Opt-in approval. The term "opt-in approval" shall have the same meaning given such term in section
64.5107(b)(1) of this subpart.
(l) Opt-out approval. The term "opt-out approval" shall have the same meaning given such term in
section 64.5107(b)(2) of this subpart.
(m) Point-to-point service. The term "point-to-point service" means a service that enables a VRS
customer to place and receive non-relay calls without the assistance of a CA over the VRS provider
facilities using VRS access technology. Such calls are made by means of ten-digit NANP numbers
assigned to customers by VRS providers. The term "point-to-point call" shall refer to a call placed via a
point-to-point service.
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(n) Readily available biographical information. The term "readily available biographical information"
means information drawn from the customer's life history and includes such things as the customer's
social security number, or the last four digits of that number; mother's maiden name; home address; or
date of birth.
(o) Sign language. The term "sign language" shall have the same meaning given to the term in section
64.601(a) of this part.
(p) Telecommunications relay services (TRS). The term "telecommunications relay services" or "TRS"
shall have the same meaning given to such term in section 64.601(a) of this part.
(q) Telephone number of record. The term "telephone number of record" means the telephone number
associated with the provision of TRS, which may or may not be the telephone number supplied as part of
a customer's "contact information."
(r) TRS Fund. The term "TRS Fund" shall have the same meaning given to the term in section
64.604(c)(5)(iii) of this part.
(s) TRS provider. The term "TRS provider" means an entity that provides TRS and shall include an
entity that provides point-to-point service.
(t) TRS-related services. The term "TRS-related services" means, in the case of traditional TRS, services
related to the provision or maintenance of customer premises equipment, and in the case of iTRS, services
related to the provision or maintenance of iTRS access technology, including features and functions
typically provided by TRS providers in association with iTRS access technology.
(u) Valid photo ID. The term "valid photo ID" means a government-issued means of personal
identification with a photograph such as a driver's license, passport, or comparable ID that has not
expired.
(v) Video relay service. The term "video relay service" or VRS shall have the same meaning given to the
term in section 64.601(a) of this part.
(w) VRS access technology. The term "VRS access technology" shall have the same meaning given to
the term in section 64.601(a) of this part.
64.5105 Use of customer proprietary network information without customer approval.
(a) A TRS provider may use, disclose, or permit access to CPNI for the purpose of providing or lawfully
marketing service offerings among the categories of service (i.e., type of TRS) for which the TRS
provider is currently the default provider for that customer, without customer approval.
(1) If a TRS provider provides different categories of TRS, and the TRS provider is currently the default
provider for that customer for more than one category of TRS offered by the TRS provider, the TRS
provider may share CPNI among the TRS provider's affiliated entities that provide a TRS offering to the
customer.
(2) If a TRS provider provides different categories of TRS, but the TRS provider is currently not the
default provider for that customer for more than one offering by the TRS provider, the TRS provider shall
not share CPNI with its affiliates, except as provided in section 64.5107(b) of this subpart.
(b) A TRS provider shall not use, disclose, or permit access to CPNI as described in this paragraph (b).
(1) A TRS provider shall not use, disclose, or permit access to CPNI to market to a customer TRS
offerings that are within a category of TRS for which the TRS provider is not currently the default
provider for that customer, unless that TRS provider has customer approval to do so.
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(2) A TRS provider shall not identify or track CPNI of customers that call competing TRS providers and,
notwithstanding any other provision of this subpart, a TRS provider shall not use, disclose or permit
access to CPNI related to a customer call to a competing TRS provider.
(c) A TRS provider may use, disclose, or permit access to CPNI, without customer approval, as described
in this paragraph (c).
(1) A TRS provider may use, disclose or permit access to CPNI derived from its provision of TRS
without customer approval, for the provision of CPE or iTRS access technology, and call answering,
voice or video mail or messaging, voice or video storage and retrieval services.
(2) A TRS provider may use, disclose, or permit access to CPNI, without customer approval, in its
provision of inside wiring installation, maintenance, and repair services.
(3) A TRS provider may use CPNI, without customer approval, to market services formerly known as
adjunct-to-basic services, such as, but not limited to, speed dialing, call waiting, caller I.D., and call
forwarding, only to those customers that are currently registered with that TRS provider as their default
provider.
(4) A TRS provider shall use, disclose, or permit access to CPNI to the extent necessary to (i) accept and
handle 911/E911 calls; (ii) access, either directly or via a third party, a commercially available database
that will allow the TRS provider to determine an appropriate Public Safety Answering Point, designated
statewide default answering point, or appropriate local emergency authority that corresponds to the
caller's location; (iii) relay the 911/E911 call to that entity; and (iv) facilitate the dispatch and response of
emergency service or law enforcement personnel to the caller's location, in the event that the 911/E911
call is disconnected or the caller becomes incapacitated.
(5) A TRS provider shall use, disclose, or permit access to CPNI upon request by the administrator of the
TRS Fund, as that term is defined in section 64.604(c)(5)(iii) of this part, or by the Commission for the
purpose of administration and oversight of the TRS Fund, including the investigation and prevention of
fraud, abuse, and misuse of TRS and seeking repayment to the TRS Fund for non-compensable minutes.
(6) A TRS provider may use, disclose, or permit access to CPNI to protect the rights or property of the
TRS provider, or to protect users of those services, other TRS providers, and the TRS Fund from
fraudulent, abusive, or unlawful use of such services.
64.5107 Approval required for use of customer proprietary network information.
(a) A TRS provider may obtain approval through written, oral, electronic, or sign language methods.
(1) A TRS provider relying on oral or sign language approval shall bear the burden of demonstrating that
such approval has been given in compliance with the Commission's rules in this part.
(2) Approval or disapproval to use, disclose, or permit access to a customer's CPNI obtained by a TRS
provider must remain in effect until the customer revokes or limits such approval or disapproval. A TRS
provider shall accept any such customer revocation, whether in written, oral, electronic, or sign language
methods.
(3) A TRS provider must maintain records of approval, whether oral, written, electronic, or sign
language, during the time period that the approval or disapproval is in effect and for at least one year
thereafter.
(b) Use of opt-in and opt-out approval processes. (1) Opt-in approval requires that the TRS provider
obtain from the customer affirmative, express consent allowing the requested CPNI usage, disclosure, or
access after the customer is provided appropriate notification of the TRS provider's request consistent
with the requirements set forth in this subpart.
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(2) With opt-out approval, a customer is deemed to have consented to the use, disclosure, or access to the
customer's CPNI if the customer has failed to object thereto within the waiting period described in
section 64.5108(d)(1) of this subpart after the TRS provider has provided to the customer appropriate
notification of the TRS provider's request for consent consistent with the rules in this subpart.
(3) A TRS provider may only use, disclose, or permit access to the customer's individually identifiable
CPNI with the customer's opt-in approval, except as follows:
(i) Where a TRS provider is permitted to use, disclose, or permit access to CPNI without customer
approval under section 64.5105 of this subpart.
(ii) Where a TRS provider is permitted to use, disclose, or permit access to CPNI by making use of
customer opt-in or opt-out approval under paragraph (4) of this section.
(4) A TRS provider may make use of customer opt-in or opt-out approval to take the following actions
with respect to CPNI:
(i) Use its customer's individually identifiable CPNI for the purpose of lawfully marketing TRS-related
services to that customer.
(ii) Disclose its customer's individually identifiable CPNI to its agents and its affiliates that provide
TRS-related services for the purpose of lawfully marketing TRS-related services to that customer. A TRS
provider may also permit such persons or entities to obtain access to such CPNI for such purposes.
64.5108 Notice required for use of customer proprietary network information.
(a) Notification, generally. (1) Prior to any solicitation for customer approval to use, disclose, or permit
access to CPNI, a TRS provider shall provide notification to the customer of the customer's right to deny
or restrict use of, disclosure of, and access to that customer's CPNI.
(2) A TRS provider shall maintain records of notification, whether oral, written, electronic, or sign
language, during the time period that the approval is in effect and for at least one year thereafter.
(b) A TRS provider shall provide individual notice to customers when soliciting approval to use,
disclose, or permit access to customers' CPNI.
(c) Content of notice. Customer notification shall provide sufficient information in clear and
unambiguous language to enable the customer to make an informed decision as to whether to permit a
TRS provider to use, disclose, or permit access to, the customer's CPNI.
(1) The notification shall state that the customer has a right to deny any TRS provider the right to use,
disclose or permit access to the customer's CPNI, and the TRS provider has a duty, under federal law, to
honor the customer's right and to protect the confidentiality of CPNI.
(2) The notification shall specify the types of information that constitute CPNI and the specific entities
that will use, receive or have access to the CPNI, describe the purposes for which CPNI will be used, and
inform the customer of his or her right to disapprove those uses, and deny or withdraw the customer's
consent to use, disclose, or permit access to access to CPNI at any time.
(3) The notification shall advise the customer of the precise steps the customer must take in order to grant
or deny use, disclosure, or access to CPNI, and must clearly state that customer denial of approval will
not affect the TRS provider's provision of any services to the customer. However, TRS providers may
provide a brief statement, in clear and neutral language, describing consequences directly resulting from
the lack of access to CPNI.
(4) TRS providers shall provide the notification in a manner that is accessible to the customer,
comprehensible, and not misleading.
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(5) If the TRS provider provides written notification to the customer, the notice shall be clearly legible,
use sufficiently large type, and be placed in an area so as to be readily apparent to a customer.
(6) If any portion of a notification is translated into another language, then all portions of the notification
must be translated into that language.
(7) A TRS provider may state in the notification that the customer's approval to use CPNI may enhance
the TRS provider's ability to offer products and services tailored to the customer's needs. A TRS
provider also may state in the notification that it may be compelled to disclose CPNI to any person upon
affirmative written request by the customer.
(8) The notification shall state that any approval or denial of approval for the use of CPNI outside of the
service for which the TRS provider is the default provider for the customer is valid until the customer
affirmatively revokes or limits such approval or denial.
(9) A TRS provider's solicitation for approval to use, disclose, or have access to the customer's CPNI
must be proximate to the notification of a customer's CPNI rights to non-disclosure.
(d) Notice requirements specific to opt-out. A TRS provider shall provide notification to obtain opt-out
approval through electronic or written methods, but not by oral or sign language communication (except
as provided in paragraph (f) of this section). The contents of any such notification shall comply with the
requirements of paragraph (c) of this section.
(1) TRS providers shall wait a 30-day minimum period of time after giving customers notice and an
opportunity to opt-out before assuming customer approval to use, disclose, or permit access to CPNI. A
TRS provider may, in its discretion, provide for a longer period. TRS providers shall notify customers as
to the applicable waiting period for a response before approval is assumed.
(i) In the case of an electronic form of notification, the waiting period shall begin to run from the date on
which the notification was sent; and
(ii) In the case of notification by mail, the waiting period shall begin to run on the third day following the
date that the notification was mailed.
(2) TRS providers using the opt-out mechanism shall provide notices to their customers every two years.
(3) TRS providers that use e-mail to provide opt-out notices shall comply with the following
requirements in addition to the requirements generally applicable to notification:
(i) TRS providers shall obtain express, verifiable, prior approval from consumers to send notices via e-
mail regarding their service in general, or CPNI in particular;
(ii) TRS providers shall either (a) allow customers to reply directly to the e-mail containing the CPNI
notice in order to opt-out; or (b) include within the e-mail containing the CPNI notice a conspicuous link
to a web page that provides to the customer a readily usable opt-out mechanism;
(iii) Opt-out e-mail notices that are returned to the TRS provider as undeliverable shall be sent to the
customer in another form before the TRS provider may consider the customer to have received notice;
(iv) TRS providers that use e-mail to send CPNI notices shall ensure that the subject line of the message
clearly and accurately identifies the subject matter of the e-mail; and
(v) TRS providers shall make available to every customer a method to opt-out that is of no additional
cost to the customer and that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. TRS providers may satisfy
this requirement through a combination of methods, so long as all customers have the ability to opt-out at
no cost and are able to effectuate that choice whenever they choose.
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(e) Notice requirements specific to opt-in. A TRS provider may provide notification to obtain opt-in
approval through oral, sign language, written, or electronic methods. The contents of any such notification
shall comply with the requirements of paragraph (c) of this section.
(f) Notice requirements specific to one-time use of CPNI. (1) TRS providers may use oral, text, or sign
language notice to obtain limited, one-time use of CPNI for inbound and outbound customer telephone,
TRS, or point-to-point contacts for the duration of the call, regardless of whether TRS providers use opt-
out or opt-in approval based on the nature of the contact.
(2) The contents of any such notification shall comply with the requirements of paragraph (c) of this
section, except that TRS providers may omit any of the following notice provisions if not relevant to the
limited use for which the TRS provider seeks CPNI:
(i) TRS providers need not advise customers that if they have opted-out previously, no action is needed
to maintain the opt-out election;
(ii) TRS providers need not advise customers that the TRS provider may share CPNI with the TRS
provider's affiliates or third parties and need not name those entities, if the limited CPNI usage will not
result in use by, or disclosure to, an affiliate or third party;
(iii) TRS providers need not disclose the means by which a customer can deny or withdraw future access
to CPNI, so long as the TRS provider explains to customers that the scope of the approval the TRS
provider seeks is limited to one-time use; and
(iv) TRS providers may omit disclosure of the precise steps a customer must take in order to grant or
deny access to CPNI, as long as the TRS provider clearly communicates that the customer can deny
access to his or her CPNI for the call.
64.5109 Safeguards required for use of customer proprietary network information.
(a) TRS providers shall implement a system by which the status of a customer's CPNI approval can be
clearly established prior to the use of CPNI. Except as provided for in sections 64.5105 and 64.5108(f) of
this subpart, TRS providers shall provide access to and shall require all personnel, including any agents,
contractors, and subcontractors, who have contact with customers to verify the status of a customer's
CPNI approval before using, disclosing, or permitting access to the customer's CPNI .
(b) TRS providers shall train their personnel, including any agents, contractors, and subcontractors, as to
when they are and are not authorized to use CPNI, including procedures for verification of the status of a
customer's CPNI approval. TRS providers shall have an express disciplinary process in place, including
in the case of agents, contractors, and subcontractors, a right to cancel the applicable contract(s) or
otherwise take disciplinary action.
(c) TRS providers shall maintain a record, electronically or in some other manner, of their own and their
affiliates' sales and marketing campaigns that use their customers' CPNI. All TRS providers shall
maintain a record of all instances where CPNI was disclosed or provided to third parties, or where third
parties were allowed access to CPNI. The record shall include a description of each campaign, the
specific CPNI that was used in the campaign, including the customer's name, and what products and
services were offered as a part of the campaign. TRS providers shall retain the record for a minimum of
three years.
(d) TRS providers shall establish a supervisory review process regarding TRS provider compliance with
the rules in this subpart for outbound marketing situations and maintain records of TRS provider
compliance for a minimum period of three years. Sales personnel must obtain supervisory approval of
any proposed outbound marketing request for customer approval.
(e) A TRS provider shall have an officer, as an agent of the TRS provider, sign and file with the
Commission a compliance certification on an annual basis. The officer shall state in the certification that
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he or she has personal knowledge that the company has established operating procedures that are
adequate to ensure compliance with the rules in this subpart. The TRS provider must provide a statement
accompanying the certification explaining how its operating procedures ensure that it is or is not in
compliance with the rules in this subpart. In addition, the TRS provider must include an explanation of
any actions taken against data brokers, a summary of all customer complaints received in the past year
concerning the unauthorized release of CPNI, and a report detailing all instances where the TRS provider,
or its agents, contractors, or subcontractors, used, disclosed, or permitted access to CPNI without
complying with the procedures specified in this subpart. In the case of iTRS providers, this filing shall be
included in the annual report filed with the Commission pursuant to section 64.606(g) of this part for data
pertaining to the previous year. In the case of all other TRS providers, this filing shall be made annually
with the Disability Rights Office of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau on or before March
1 in CG Docket No. 03-123 for data pertaining to the previous calendar year.
(f) TRS providers shall provide written notice within five business days to the Disability Rights Office of
the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau of the Commission of any instance where the opt-out
mechanisms do not work properly, to such a degree that consumers' inability to opt-out is more than an
anomaly.
(1) The notice shall be in the form of a letter, and shall include the TRS provider's name, a description of
the opt-out mechanism(s) used, the problem(s) experienced, the remedy proposed and when it will be/was
implemented, whether the relevant state commission(s) has been notified, if applicable, and whether the
state commission(s) has taken any action, a copy of the notice provided to customers, and contact
information.
(2) Such notice shall be submitted even if the TRS provider offers other methods by which consumers
may opt-out.
64.5110 Safeguards on the disclosure of customer proprietary network information.
(a) Safeguarding CPNI. TRS providers shall take all reasonable measures to discover and protect against
attempts to gain unauthorized access to CPNI. TRS providers shall authenticate a customer prior to
disclosing CPNI based on a customer-initiated telephone contact, TRS call, point-to-point call, online
account access, or an in-store visit.
(b) Telephone, TRS, and point-to-point access to CPNI. A TRS provider shall authenticate a customer
without the use of readily available biographical information, or account information, prior to allowing
the customer telephonic, TRS, or point-to-point access to CPNI related to his or her TRS account.
Alternatively, the customer may obtain telephonic, TRS, or point-to-point access to CPNI related to his or
her TRS account through a password, as described in paragraph (e) of this section.
(c) Online access to CPNI. A TRS provider shall authenticate a customer without the use of readily
available biographical information, or account information, prior to allowing the customer online access
to CPNI related to his or her TRS account. Once authenticated, the customer may only obtain online
access to CPNI related to his or her TRS account through a password, as described in paragraph (e) of this
section.
(d) In-store access to CPNI. A TRS provider may disclose CPNI to a customer who, at a TRS provider's
retail location, first presents to the TRS provider or its agent a valid photo ID matching the customer's
account information.
(e) Establishment of a password and back-up authentication methods for lost or forgotten passwords. To
establish a password, a TRS provider shall authenticate the customer without the use of readily available
biographical information, or account information. TRS providers may create a back-up customer
authentication method in the event of a lost or forgotten password, but such back-up customer
authentication method may not prompt the customer for readily available biographical information, or
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account information. If a customer cannot provide the correct password or the correct response for the
back-up customer authentication method, the customer shall establish a new password as described in this
paragraph.
(f) Notification of account changes. TRS providers shall notify customers immediately whenever a
password, customer response to a back-up means of authentication for lost or forgotten passwords, online
account, or address of record is created or changed. This notification is not required when the customer
initiates service, including the selection of a password at service initiation. This notification may be
through a TRS provider-originated voicemail, text message, or video mail to the telephone number of
record, by mail to the physical address of record, or by e-mail to the e-mail address of record, and shall
not reveal the changed information or be sent to the new account information.
64.5111 Notification of customer proprietary network information security breaches.
(a) A TRS provider shall notify law enforcement of a breach of its customers' CPNI as provided in this
section. The TRS provider shall not notify its customers or disclose the breach publicly, whether
voluntarily or under state or local law or these rules, until it has completed the process of notifying law
enforcement pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section. The TRS provider shall file a copy of the
notification with the Disability Rights Office of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at the
same time as when the TRS provider notifies the customers.
(b) As soon as practicable, and in no event later than seven (7) business days, after reasonable
determination of the breach, the TRS provider shall electronically notify the United States Secret Service
(USSS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) through a central reporting facility. The
Commission will maintain a link to the reporting facility at http://www.fcc.gov/eb/cpni.
(1) Notwithstanding any state law to the contrary, the TRS provider shall not notify customers or disclose
the breach to the public until 7 full business days have passed after notification to the USSS and the FBI
except as provided in paragraphs (b)(2) and (b)(3) of this section.
(2) If the TRS provider believes that there is an extraordinarily urgent need to notify any class of affected
customers sooner than otherwise allowed under paragraph (b)(1) of this section, in order to avoid
immediate and irreparable harm, it shall so indicate in its notification and may proceed to immediately
notify its affected customers only after consultation with the relevant investigating agency. The TRS
provider shall cooperate with the relevant investigating agency's request to minimize any adverse effects
of such customer notification.
(3) If the relevant investigating agency determines that public disclosure or notice to customers would
impede or compromise an ongoing or potential criminal investigation or national security, such agency
may direct the TRS provider not to so disclose or notify for an initial period of up to 30 days. Such
period may be extended by the agency as reasonably necessary in the judgment of the agency. If such
direction is given, the agency shall notify the TRS provider when it appears that public disclosure or
notice to affected customers will no longer impede or compromise a criminal investigation or national
security. The agency shall provide in writing its initial direction to the TRS provider, any subsequent
extension, and any notification that notice will no longer impede or compromise a criminal investigation
or national security and such writings shall be contemporaneously logged on the same reporting facility
that contains records of notifications filed by TRS providers.
(c) Customer notification. After a TRS provider has completed the process of notifying law enforcement
pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section, and consistent with the waiting requirements specified in
paragraph (b) of this section, the TRS provider shall notify its customers of a breach of those customers'
CPNI.
(d) Recordkeeping. All TRS providers shall maintain a record, electronically or in some other manner, of
any breaches discovered, notifications made to the USSS and the FBI pursuant to paragraph (b) of this
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section, and notifications made to customers. The record must include, if available, dates of discovery
and notification, a detailed description of the CPNI that was the subject of the breach, and the
circumstances of the breach. TRS providers shall retain the record for a minimum of 2 years.
(e) Definition. As used in this section, a "breach" has occurred when a person, without authorization or
exceeding authorization, has intentionally gained access to, used, or disclosed CPNI.
(f) This section does not supersede any statute, regulation, order, or interpretation in any State, except to
the extent that such statute, regulation, order, or interpretation is inconsistent with the provisions of this
section, and then only to the extent of the inconsistency.
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APPENDIX B

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

CG Docket No. 03-123

CG Docket No. 10-51

1.
As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA),1 an Initial Regulatory Flexibility
Analysis (IRFA) was incorporated in the 2011 Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in this
proceeding.2 The Commission sought comment on the possible significant economic impact on small
entities by the policies and rules proposed in the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, including comment on the
IRFA. No comments were received on the IRFA. This Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA)
conforms to the RFA.3 The Report and Order (or summaries thereof) will be published in the Federal
Register.4

A.

Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

2.
Under Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Commission must
ensure that telecommunications relay services (TRS) "are available, to the extent possible and in the most
efficient manner" to persons in the United States with hearing or speech disabilities.5 Section 225 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act) defines TRS as a service provided in a manner that is
"functionally equivalent" to voice telephone services6 and directs the Commission to establish functional
requirements, minimum standards, and other regulations to carry out the statutory mandate.7 In addition,
the Commission's regulations must encourage the use of existing technology and must not discourage the

1 See 5 U.S.C. 603. 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).
2 Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program; Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-
Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities
, CG Docket Nos. 10-51, 03-123, Further
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 17367 (2011) (2011 VRS Reform FNPRM).
3 See 5 U.S.C. 604. Some of the issues addressed in the Report and Order and addressed in this FRFA included issues
that were also raised in earlier requests for comment in CG Docket No. 03-123. See Telecommunications Relay Services
and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities; E911 Requirements for IP-
Enabled Service Providers
, CG Docket No. 03-123, WC Docket No. 05-196, Report and Order and Further Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking, 23 FCC Rcd 11591, 11634-46, 119-146 (2008) (First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order).
In the First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, the Commission certified in the Initial Regulatory Flexibility
Certification that because only four of the 14 providers that would be affected at that time by the Further Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking contained therein were deemed to be small entities under the Small Business Administration's
small business size standard, that the proposed rules, if adopted, would not have a significant economic impact on a
substantial number of small entities. First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 11664-65, Appendix
D.
4 See 5 U.S.C. 604.
5 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1).
6 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3) (defining TRS 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").
7 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(1).
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development of new technology.8 Finally, the Commission must ensure that TRS users "pay rates no
greater than the rates paid for functionally equivalent voice communication services."9 To this end, the
costs of providing TRS on a call are supported by shared funding mechanisms at the state and federal
levels. The federal fund supporting TRS is the Telecommunications Relay Services Fund (TRS Fund or
Fund),10 which is managed by the TRS Fund administrator, subject to the oversight of the Commission.
Video relay service (VRS) is a form of TRS that allows persons with hearing or speech disabilities to use
sign language to communicate in near real time through a communications assistant (CA), via video over
a broadband Internet connection.11
3.
In the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM and subsequent VRS Structure and Rates PN,12 the
Commission sought comment on a series of proposals to improve the structure and efficiency of the VRS
program, to ensure that it is available to all eligible users and offers functional equivalence--particularly
given advances in commercially-available technology--and is as immune as possible from the waste,
fraud, and abuse that threaten the long-term viability of the program as it currently operates.
4.
In the Report and Order, as an important first step in its reforms, the Commission has
identified certain discrete areas in which it can explore a new approach of relying on the efforts of one or
more non-VRS provider third parties, either in whole or in part, to carry out the Commission's VRS
policies. Specifically, the Commission:
Directs the Commission's Managing Director, in consultation with the Chief of the Office of
Engineering and Technology (OET) and the Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs
Bureau (CGB), to determine how best to structure, fund, and enter into an arrangement with the
National Science Foundation (NSF) (or cause the TRS Fund administrator to enter into such an
arrangement) to enable research designed to further the Commission's multiple goals of ensuring
that TRS is functionally equivalent to voice telephone services and improving the efficiency and
availability of TRS;
Directs the Managing Director in consultation with the Chief of CGB to establish a two-to three
year pilot Internet-based TRS (iTRS) National Outreach Program (iTRS-NOP) to select one or
more independent iTRS Outreach Coordinators to conduct and coordinate IP Relay and VRS
outreach nationwide under the Commission's (or the TRS Fund administrator's) supervision;
Promotes the development and adoption of voluntary, consensus interoperability and portability
standards, and facilitate compliance with those standards by directing the Managing Director to
contract for the development and deployment of a VRS access technology reference platform;
Directs the Managing Director to contract for a central TRS User Registration Database (TRS-
URD) which incorporates a centralized eligibility verification requirement to ensure accurate
registration and verification of users, to achieve more effective fraud and abuse prevention, and

8 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(2).
9 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(1)(D).
10 See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii).
11 See 47 C.F.R. 64.601(a)(27) (2012).
12 Additional Comment Sought on Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service (VRS) Program and on
Proposed VRS Compensation Rates
, Public Notice, CG Docket Nos. 03-123, 10-51, 27 FCC Rcd 12959 (2012)
(VRS Structure and Rates PN).
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to allow the Commission to know, for the first time, the number of individuals that actually use
VRS; and
Directs the Managing Director to contract for a neutral party to build, operate, and maintain a
neutral video communication service platform, which will allow eligible relay interpretation
service providers to compete as VRS providers using the neutral video communication service
platform without having to build their own video communication service platform.
5.
Because the Commission is not fully departing from its historical regulatory approach for
VRS, in the Report and Order, the Commission accompanies the actions describe above with targeted,
incremental measures to improve the efficiency of the program, help protect against waste, fraud, and
abuse, improve its administration of the program, and to generally ensure that VRS users' experiences
reflect the policies and goals of section 225 of the Act. Specifically, the Commission:
Adopts a general prohibition on practices resulting in waste, fraud, and abuse;
Requires providers to adopt regulatory compliance plans subject to Commission review;
More closely harmonizes the VRS speed of answer rules with those applicable to other forms of
TRS by reducing the permissible wait time for all VRS calls to be answered within 30 seconds,
85 percent of the time, to be measured on a daily basis;
Adopts rules to protect relay consumers against unauthorized default provider changes, also
known as "slamming," by VRS and Internet Protocol (IP) Relay providers;13
Adopts rules to protect the privacy of customer information relating to all relay services
authorized under section 225 of the Act and to point-to-point video services offered by VRS
providers; and
Adopts permanently the interim rules adopted in the 2011 iTRS Certification Order,14 requiring
that providers certify, under penalty of perjury, that their certification applications and annual
compliance filings required under section 64.606(g) of the Commission's rules15 are truthful,
accurate, and complete.
6.
Consistent with the Commission's incremental approach to reform of the structure of this
program, the Commission initiates in the Report and Order a step-by-step transition from the existing
tiered TRS Fund compensation rates for VRS providers toward a unitary, market-based compensation
rate. Specifically, the Report and Order (1) adjusts a volume-based three-tier rate structure by modifying
the tier boundaries and (2) calls for a series of incremental rate reductions, every six months, over a four-
year period.

B.

Summary of Significant Issues Raised by Public Comments in Response to the IRFA

7.
No party filing comments in this proceeding responded to the IRFA, and no party filing
comments in this proceeding otherwise argued that the policies and rules proposed in this proceeding
would have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. The Commission

13 IP Relay is a form of TRS that permits an individual with a hearing or speech disability to communicate in text
using an IP-enabled device via the Internet, rather than a text telephone (TTY) and the public switched telephone
network. 47 C.F.R. 64.601(a)(13) (2012).
14 Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, CG Docket No. 10-51, Second Report and Order
and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 10898, 10923-10925, 62-67 (2011) (2011 iTRS Certification Order).
15 47 C.F.R. 64.606(g).
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has, nonetheless, considered any potential significant economic impact that the rule changes may have on
the small entities which are impacted. On balance, the Commission believes that the economic impact on
small entities will be positive rather than negative, and that the rule changes are needed to combat waste,
fraud, and abuse in the TRS program.

C.

Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the Proposed
Rules May Apply

8.
The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and where feasible, an estimate of
the number of small entities that may be affected by the rules.16 The RFA generally defines the term
"small entity" as having the same meaning as the terms "small business," "small organization," and
"small governmental jurisdiction."17 In addition, the term "small business" has the same meaning as the
term "small business concern" under the Small Business Act.18 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 SBA.19
9.
We believe that the entities that may be affected by the proposed rules are VRS providers
and other TRS providers that are eligible to receive compensation from the TRS Fund. Neither the
Commission nor the SBA has developed a definition of "small entity" specifically directed toward TRS
providers. The closest applicable size standard under the SBA rules is for Wired Telecommunications
Carriers, for which the small business size standard is all such firms having 1,500 or fewer employees.20
Currently, there are ten TRS providers that are authorized by the Commission to receive compensation
from the Fund. Six of these entities may be small businesses under the SBA size standard.

D.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance
Requirements

10.
Certain rule changes adopted in the Report and Order modify rules or add requirements
governing reporting, recordkeeping and other compliance obligations.
11.
The development and deployment of a VRS access technology reference platform will
require providers to offer access technology that is compatible with the reference platform. By ensuring
interoperability of VRS and point-to-point video calling, these additional requirements will actually
benefit small entities by facilitating their ability to compete with the larger providers.
12.
Although the development of a central TRS-URD will include the requirement for VRS
providers to collect certain information from consumers and enter that information in the TRS-URD, the
TRS-URD will actually reduce the regulatory burden on VRS providers because (1) the providers will no
longer be required to verify user information, which will be accomplished centrally by a single entity
contracted by the Commission, and (2) the providers will have reduced burdens when collecting
information from users who switch providers, because the user information of those consumers is already
in the database.

16 5 U.S.C. 604(a)(3).
17 5 U.S.C. 601(6).
18 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."
19 15 U.S.C. 632.
20 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS Code 517110 (2007).
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13.
The Commission has decided to establish a neutral video communication service provider
to reduce barriers to entry, to promote efficient and effective VRS CA service competition, and to ensure
interoperability between VRS providers. VRS providers, including small entities, who elect to use the
platform of the neutral video communication service provider for network operations will be able to
operate more efficiently because they will be relieved of the obligation to provide their own video
communication service platform. Although providers, including small entities, who elect to continue to
operate their own video communication service platform will be required to ensure that such platform is
interoperable with the platform of the neutral video communication service provider, the interoperability
requirement will benefit small entities because the interoperability requirement will facilitate their ability
to compete with larger providers.
14.
The general prohibition on practices resulting in waste, fraud, and abuse adopted in the
Report and Order codifies and clarifies the already existing prohibition on such practices. However, VRS
providers will also be required to adopt regulatory compliance plans, submit such plans to the
Commission and certify that they are in compliance. Although these additional requirements will result in
new reporting, recordkeeping, and compliance requirements for VRS providers, including small entities,
given the history of waste, fraud, and abuse in the VRS industry, these requirements are therefore
necessary to ensure that the providers are not engaging in practices resulting in waste, fraud, and abuse.
The Commission finds it essential to enact such measures to ensure the efficiency of the TRS program as
required by Section 225(b)(1) of the Act21 and to control the expenditure of public funds. The costs
incurred by providers associated with regulatory compliance, which in the Report and Order the
Commission believes will not be substantial, will be far outweighed by the substantial savings to the Fund
that result from curbing waste, fraud, and abuse.
15.
The adoption of more stringent VRS speed of answer requirements--calls answered
within 30 seconds, 85 percent of the time, measured daily--will not cause an undue regulatory burden on
VRS providers, including small entities, because record evidence demonstrates that the actual speed of
answer currently practiced by providers would satisfy the new requirements, and all parties commenting
on the issue supported a reduced speed of answer time.22 The more stringent speed of answer
requirements are closer to the speed of answer requirements for other forms of TRS and are closer to
achieving functionally equivalent service for VRS users. In addition, the new requirements are being
phased in to help ease any regulatory burden that may exist.
16.
Although the adoption of rules to protect consumers against unauthorized default
provider changes, also known as "slamming," will result in additional regulatory compliance
requirements for VRS and IP Relay providers, including small entities, in addition to protecting
consumers, such requirements will also protect providers, including small entities, from unauthorized
provider changes, thereby enhancing the ability of such entities to compete.
17.
Although the adoption of rules to protect consumer information relating to all relay
services authorized under section 225 of the Act and to point-to-point video services offered by VRS
providers will impose additional regulatory compliance requirements on all TRS providers, including
small entities, such requirements are essential to ensure that users of TRS services enjoy the same privacy
protections as users of telecommunications services.
18.
Under interim rules established by the Commission, TRS providers, including small
entities, are already certifying under penalty of perjury that their certification applications and annual

21 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1).
22 See Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 11-12; Purple FNPRM Comments at 17-18; Consumer Groups
FNPRM Reply Comments at 3-4; Sorenson FNPRM Reply Comments at 48-49; VRSCA FNPRM Reply Comments
at 3.
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compliance filings are truthful, accurate and complete. Making the interim certification requirements
permanent is necessary to curb waste, fraud, and abuse in the TRS program and does not increase the
regulatory compliance obligations.
19.
The rate changes enacted in the Report and Order do not impose any new reporting or
recordkeeping requirements.

E.

Steps Taken to Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities and
Significant Alternatives Considered

20.
The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant alternatives, specific to small
entities, that it has considered in developing its approach, which may include the following four
alternatives (among others): "(1) the establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or
timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification,
consolidation, or simplification of compliance and reporting requirements under the rule for such small
entities; (3) the use of performance rather than design standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of
the rule, or any part thereof, for such small entities."23
21.
In general, alternatives to proposed rules are discussed only when those rules pose a
significant adverse economic impact on small entities. In this context, however, the proposed rules
generally confer benefits as explained below. Therefore, we limit our discussion of an alternative to
paragraphs 26-28 below.
22.
By ensuring interoperability of VRS and point-to-point video calling, the development
and deployment of a VRS access technology reference platform will benefit small entities by facilitating
their ability to compete with the larger providers.
23.
The development of a central TRS-URD will reduce the regulatory burden on small
entities because (1) VRS providers will no longer be required to verify user information, which will be
accomplished centrally by a single entity contracted by the Commission, and (2) the providers will have
reduced burdens when collecting information from users who switch providers, because the user
information of those consumers is already in the database.
24.
Small entities that elect to use the platform of the neutral video communication service
provider for network operations will be able to operate more efficiently because they will be relieved of
the obligation to provide their own video communication service platform. Although small entities that
elect to continue to operate their own video communication service platform will be required to ensure
that such platform is interoperable with the platform of the neutral video communication service provider,
the interoperability requirement will benefit these small entities because the interoperability requirement
will facilitate their ability to compete with larger providers.
25.
The adoption of rules to protect consumers against unauthorized default provider
changes, also known as "slamming," will benefit small entities by protecting them from unauthorized
provider changes, thereby enhancing their ability to compete.
26.
The general prohibition on practices resulting in waste, fraud, and abuse, the requirement
for providers to adopt regulatory compliance plans, submit such plans to the Commission and certify that
they are in compliance, and the requirement for providers to certify under penalty of perjury that their
certification applications and annual compliance filings are truthful, accurate and complete are all
necessary to combat waste, fraud, and abuse in the VRS industry. The Commission therefore finds it
essential to enact such measures to ensure the efficiency of the TRS program as required by Section

23 5 U.S.C. 603(c)(1)-(c)(4).
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225(b)(1) of the Act24 and to control the expenditure of public funds. Because large and small providers
alike have engaged in practices resulting in waste, fraud, and abuse in the VRS industry, exempting small
providers from these requirements was considered and rejected. Therefore, it would be contrary to the
public interest to in any way limit or exempt small entities from these requirements.
27.
The adoption of more stringent VRS speed of answer requirements is necessary to bring
the VRS speed of answer requirements closer to the speed of answer requirements for other forms of TRS
and to help achieve functionally equivalent service for TRS users as required by Section 225(a)(3) of the
Act.25 Slower speed of answer requirements for small providers were considered and rejected, because
they would not provide consumers with functionally equivalent service. The Commission finds that these
new requirements will not cause an undue regulatory burden on small providers, because record evidence
demonstrates that the actual speed of answer currently practiced by providers would satisfy the new
requirements, and all parties commenting on the issue supported a reduced speed of answer time.26 In
addition, the new requirements are being phased in to help ease any regulatory burden that may exist.
28.
The adoption of rules to protect consumer information relating to all relay services
authorized under section 225 of the Act and to point-to-point video services offered by VRS providers is
essential to ensure that users of TRS services enjoy the same privacy protections as users of
telecommunications services. Adopting regulations for small TRS providers that would not be as
comprehensive as the regulations already in place for wireline, wireless and Voice over Internet Protocol
(VoIP) providers to protect consumer information was considered and rejected because such lesser
regulations would not provide TRS users with full protection of their privacy rights and such users would
be denied functionally equivalent service as required by Section 225(a)(3) of the Act.27 It would therefore
be contrary to the public interest to enact any special exemptions for small providers.

F.

Federal Rules that May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict with Proposed Rules

29.
None.

24 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1).
25 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3).
26 See Consumer Groups FNPRM Comments at 11-12; Purple FNPRM Comments at 17-18; Consumer Groups
FNPRM Reply Comments at 3-4; Sorenson FNPRM Reply Comments at 48-49; VRSCA FNPRM Reply Comments
at 3. Purple is a small entity.
27 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3).
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APPENDIX C

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

CG Docket No. 03-123

CG Docket No. 10-51

1.
As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA),1 the Commission has prepared this
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on small
entities by the policies and rules proposed in this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Written public
comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must
be filed by the deadlines for comments in the Further Notice. The Commission will send a copy of this
Further Notice, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business
Administration (SBA).2 In addition, the Further Notice and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be
published in the Federal Register.3

A.

Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

2.
Under Title IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Commission must
ensure that relay services "are available, to the extent possible and in the most efficient manner" to
persons in the United States with hearing or speech disabilities.4 Section 225 of the Communications Act
of 1934, as amended (Act) defines TRS as a service provided in a manner that is "functionally equivalent"
to voice telephone services5 and directs the Commission to establish functional requirements, minimum
standards, and other regulations to carry out the statutory mandate.6 In addition, the Commission's
regulations must encourage the use of existing technology and must not discourage the development of
new technology.7 Finally, the Commission must ensure that TRS users "pay rates no greater than the
rates paid for functionally equivalent voice communication services."8 To this end, the costs of providing
TRS on a call are supported by shared funding mechanisms at the state and federal levels. The federal
fund supporting TRS is the interstate Telecommunications Relay Services Fund (TRS Fund or Fund),9
which is managed by the TRS Fund administrator, subject to the oversight of the Commission. Video
relay service (VRS) is a form of TRS that allows persons with hearing or speech disabilities to use sign

1 See 5 U.S.C. 603. 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).
2 See 5 U.S.C. 603(a).
3 See 5 U.S.C. 603(a).
4 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1).
5 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3) (defining TRS 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").
6 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(1).
7 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(2).
8 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(1)(D).
9 See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii).
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language to communicate in near real time through a communications assistant (CA), via video over a
broadband Internet connection.10
3.
In the Report and Order, as an important first step in its reforms, the Commission has
identified certain discrete areas in which it can explore a new approach of relying on the efforts of one or
more non-VRS provider third parties, either in whole or in part, to carry out the Commission's VRS
policies. Specifically, the Commission establishes mechanisms:
To enable research designed to further the Commission's multiple goals of ensuring that TRS is
functionally equivalent to voice telephone services and improving the efficiency and availability
of TRS;
For a two-to three year pilot Internet-based TRS (iTRS) National Outreach Program (iTRS-NOP)
and to select one or more independent iTRS Outreach Coordinators;
For the development and deployment of a VRS access technology reference platform;
To contract for a central TRS User Registration Database (TRS-URD) which incorporates a
centralized eligibility verification requirement to ensure accurate registration and verification of
users, to achieve more effective fraud and abuse prevention, and to allow the Commission to
know, for the first time, the number of individuals that actually use VRS; and
To contract for a neutral party to build, operate, and maintain a neutral video communication
service platform, which will allow eligible relay interpretation service providers to compete as
VRS providers.
4.
The Commission also includes in the Report and Order incremental measures to improve
the efficiency of the program, help protect against waste, fraud, and abuse, improve its administration of
the program, and to generally ensure that VRS users' experiences reflect the policies and goals of section
225 of the Act. Specifically, the Commission:
Adopts a general prohibition on practices resulting in waste, fraud, and abuse;
Requires providers to adopt regulatory compliance plans subject to Commission review;
Amends the VRS speed of answer rules by reducing the permissible wait time for a VRS call to
be answered within 30 seconds, 85 percent of the time, to be measured on a daily basis;
Adopts rules to protect relay consumers against unauthorized default provider changes, also
known as "slamming," by VRS and Internet Protocol (IP) Relay providers;11
Adopts rules to protect the privacy of customer information relating to all relay services
authorized under section 225 of the Act and to point-to-point video services offered by VRS
providers;
Adopts permanent rules requiring that providers certify, under penalty of perjury, that their
certification applications and annual compliance filings required under section 64.606(g) of the
Commission's rules12 are truthful, accurate, and complete; and

10 See 47 C.F.R. 64.601(a)(27) (2012).
11 IP Relay is a form of TRS that permits an individual with a hearing or speech disability to communicate in text
using an IP-enabled device via the Internet, rather than a text telephone (TTY) and the public switched telephone
network. 47 C.F.R. 64.601(a)(13) (2012).
12 47 C.F.R. 64.606(g).
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Adjusts a volume-based three-tier rate structure by modifying the tier boundaries and calling for
a series of incremental rate reductions, every six months, over a four-year period.
5.
In this Further Notice, the Commission seeks comment on a series of proposals to further
improve the structure and efficiency of the VRS program, to ensure that it is available to all eligible users
and offers functional equivalence--particularly given advances in commercially-available technology--
and is as immune as possible from the waste, fraud, and abuse that threaten the long-term viability of the
program as it currently operates.
6.
In the Further Notice, the Commission proposes to replace cost-of-service ratemaking
with a more market-based approach by establishing a compensation rate for the provision of VRS
communications assistant (CA) service through an auction process. Specifically, the Commission
proposes to auction contracts to VRS providers to provide service to those governmental agencies and
businesses that receive a substantial volume of VRS calls. The proposal, if adopted would provide for the
winners of these auctions to receive the contracts to provide VRS to those agencies and businesses, and
the rates for all other VRS traffic would be based on the rates of these competitively bid contracts.
7.
In the Further Notice, the Commission also seeks comment on whether there should be
changes to the Commission's rules relating to certification of VRS providers and/or other iTRS providers,
including whether to modify the rules to ensure that standalone VRS CA service providers meet high
standards of service and to eliminate incentives and opportunities for waste, fraud, and abuse. To this end
the Commission asks whether there should be requirements for certain levels of expertise or experience in
the provision of interpreting services; requirements of prior experience in the provision of TRS or VRS;
and requirements to ensure financial stability. The Further Notice asks whether the Commission should
consider the impact of certifying the standalone provider on the availability of community interpreting
services. In addition, the Further Notice asks whether the certification application should ask for
information regarding whether interpreter employment contracts for both standalone CA service providers
and integrated VRS providers include non-compete clauses.
8.
The Commission also seeks comment in the Further Notice on whether to extend the
structural reforms and other rules adopted in the Report and Order with regard to VRS to other forms of
Internet-based TRS (iTRS). These would include:
Extending use of the TRS-URD to IP Relay and Internet Protocol captioned telephone service
(IP CTS);13
Extending user certification and verification requirements to IP Relay;
Extending the capabilities of the neutral video communication service provider to IP Relay and
IP CTS;
Conducting IP CTS outreach through a national outreach coordinator;
Extending the general prohibitions on discrimination, waste, fraud, and abuse to IP Relay and IP
CTS;

13 IP CTS is a form of TRS that permits an individual who can speak but who has difficulty hearing over the
telephone to use a telephone and an Internet Protocol-enabled device via the Internet to simultaneously listen to the
other party and read captions of what the other party is saying. With IP CTS, the connection carrying the captions
between the relay service provider and the relay service user is via the Internet, rather than the public switched
telephone network. 47 C.F.R. 64.601(a)(12) (2012).
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Extending the rules on compliance plans to IP Relay and IP CTS;
Extending the prohibitions on slamming to IP CTS; and
The extent to which other VRS-specific rules should be extended to other forms of iTRS.
9.
In the Further Notice, the Commission also seeks comment on a number of other issues
as follows:
Whether to adopt a mechanism whereby providers could seek to recover the actual reasonable
costs of complying with certain of the new requirements adopted in the Report and Order;
The appropriate budget and funding mechanism for research contracting to improve the
efficiency and availability of TRS;
Whether to match the periodicity of filing requirements from the TRS Fund administrator
proposing contribution factors to the Commission for the TRS Fund to those of the Universal
Service Fund (currently quarterly) rather than annually;
Whether to permit hearing individuals to obtain ten-digit phone numbers that would allow them
to make point-to-point video calls to VRS users, so long as TRS Funds are not used to subsidize
such service;
Whether to replace the current TRS Fund Advisory Council, which advises the TRS Fund
administrator on TRS cost recovery matters, with a new advisory council that would provide
advice and recommendations to the iTRS database administrator on technology, efficiency,
outreach, and user experience;
Whether to transfer the VRS emergency call handling obligation to a single VRS contractor
through a competitive bidding process;
The methodology for measuring compliance with the new VRS speed of answer requirements
and whether to further reduce the permitted speed of answer time for VRS to 10 seconds for 85
percent of the calls;
Whether the existing grant of authority to the TRS Fund administrator to request information
reasonably "necessary to determine TRS Fund revenue requirements and payments"14 is
sufficient, or whether the Commission should explicitly require TRS providers to submit
additional detailed information, such as information regarding their financial status (e.g., cash
flow to debt ratio);
Whether to separate section 64.604 of the Commission's rules15 into service-specific rules or
transmission-specific rules or to adopt some other structure;

14 47 C.F.R. 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(D).
15 47 C.F.R. 64.604.
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Whether to prohibit TRS providers from using Customer Proprietary Network Information
(CPNI) for the purpose of contacting TRS users for political and advocacy purposes, unless the
user affirmatively agrees to such contacts through an opt-in procedure;
Whether to adopt a rule implementing section 225 of the Act16 that would prohibit unjust and
unreasonable practices on the part of TRS providers and would be modeled after section 201(b)
of the Act,17 which prohibits unjust and unreasonable practices on the part of common carriers;
Whether to terminate the "guest user" procedure for VRS, which requires VRS providers to
provide temporary service to users while verification of the user's eligibility is pending;
Whether to explicitly require that, if a VRS provider offers a video mail feature to its customers,
the provider must ensure that video mail messages can be left by point-to-point video callers who
are customers of other VRS providers and are using access technology provided by such other
providers;
Whether to prohibit non-competition agreements in VRS CA employment contracts;
Whether to permit VRS CAs to work from home during the overnight hours.

B.

Legal Basis

10.
The legal basis for any action that may be taken pursuant to the Further Notice is
contained in sections 1, 2, 4(i), 4(j), 225, 251, 254 and 303(r) of the Communications Act of 1934, as
amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i), 154(j), 225, 251, 254, 303(r).

C.

Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the Proposed
Rules May Apply

11.
The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and where feasible, an estimate of
the number of small entities that may be affected by the rules.18 The RFA generally defines the term
"small entity" as having the same meaning as the terms "small business," "small organization," and
"small governmental jurisdiction."19 In addition, the term "small business" has the same meaning as the
term "small business concern" under the Small Business Act.20 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 SBA.21
12.
We believe that the entities that may be affected by the proposed rules are VRS providers

16 See 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(1)(A) authorizing the Commission to prescribe regulations that establish functional
requirements, guidelines, and operations procedures for TRS.
17 47 U.S.C. 201(b).
18 5 U.S.C. 604(a)(3).
19 5 U.S.C. 601(6).
20 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."
21 15 U.S.C. 632.
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and other TRS providers that are eligible to receive compensation from the TRS Fund. Neither the
Commission nor the SBA has developed a definition of "small entity" specifically directed toward TRS
providers. The closest applicable size standard under the SBA rules is for Wired Telecommunications
Carriers, for which the small business size standard is all such firms having 1,500 or fewer employees.22
Currently, there are ten TRS providers that are authorized by the Commission to receive compensation
from the Fund. Six of these entities may be small businesses under the SBA size standard.

D.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance
Requirements

13.
Certain rule changes, if adopted by the Commission, would modify rules or add
requirements governing reporting, recordkeeping and other compliance obligations.
14.
If the Commission were to adopt a mechanism whereby providers could seek to recover
the actual reasonable costs of complying with certain of the new requirements adopted in the Report and
Order, providers, including small entities, would be subject to the recordkeeping and reporting
requirements associated with such cost recovery.
15.
If the Commission were to adopt an auction process to award contracts to provide service
to part of the VRS market, VRS providers, including small entities, may wish to participate. Such
participation would entail compliance with the various filing, reporting, recordkeeping and bidding
requirements associated with the action process.
16.
If the Commission were to adopt additional certification requirements for VRS providers
and/or other iTRS providers, small entities would be subject to the qualification, reporting, recordkeeping
and other compliance obligations. Additional qualification and/or reporting requirements might include
certain levels of expertise or experience in the provision of interpreting services, prior experience in the
provision of TRS or VRS, assurances of financial stability, including the provision of financial
information, the anticipated impact on the availability of community interpreting services, and whether
interpreter employment contracts include non-compete clauses.
17.
If the Commission were to extend the use of the TRS-URD to IP Relay and IP CTS,
providers of those services, including small entities would be required to collect certain information from
consumers and enter that information in the TRS-URD. However, the TRS-URD would actually reduce
the regulatory burden on IP Relay and IP CTS providers, including small entities, because (1) the
providers would no longer be required to verify user information, which would be accomplished centrally
by a single entity contracted by the Commission, and (2) the providers would have reduced burdens when
collecting information from users who switch providers, because the user information of those consumers
would already be in the database.
18.
If the Commission were to extend user certification and verification requirements to IP
Relay, there would be no additional compliance obligations imposed on IP Relay providers, including
small businesses, because the user certification and verification would be managed centrally by a
Commission-contracted entity.
19.
If the Commission were to extend to IP Relay and IP CTS providers, including small
entities, the option to use the platform of the neutral video communication service provider for network
operations, such providers would be able to operate more efficiently because they would be relieved of
the obligation to provide their own communication service platform. Although providers, including small
entities, who elect to continue to operate their own communication service platform, would be required to
ensure that such platform is interoperable with the platform of the neutral communication service

22 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS Code 517110 (2007).
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provider, the interoperability requirement would benefit small entities because the interoperability
requirement would facilitate their ability to compete with larger providers.
20.
If the Commission were to extend to IP Relay and IP CTS providers, including small
entities, the general prohibition on practices resulting in waste, fraud, and abuse, this would in effect be a
codification and clarification of the already existing prohibition on such practices. Therefore, no new
regulatory compliance obligations would be imposed.
21.
If the Commission were to extend to IP Relay and IP CTS providers, including small
entities, the requirement to adopt regulatory compliance plans, submit such plans to the Commission and
certify that they are in compliance, these additional requirements would result in new reporting,
recordkeeping, and compliance requirements for such providers.
22.
If the Commission were to extend to IP CTS providers, including small entities, the rules
to protect consumers against unauthorized default provider changes, also known as "slamming," such
requirements would result in additional regulatory compliance requirements for such providers.
23.
If the Commission were to require the TRS Fund administrator to propose changes to the
Fund contribution factor with the same periodicity as is done with the Universal Service Fund (currently
quarterly) rather than annually, such requirement may impose on TRS providers receiving compensation
form the Fund, including small entities, a requirement to submit to the Commission their usage
projections quarterly rather than annually.
24.
If the Commission were to permit hearing individuals to obtain ten-digit phone numbers
that would allow them to make point-to-point video calls to VRS users, VRS providers, including small
entities, would be obligated to register and provide service to hearing users. Since it would be prohibited
to use TRS Funds to subsidize such service, VRS providers, including small entities, either would absorb
the cost of providing such service or would collect payments for service from the hearing users. Thus,
such change in regulations would impose additional compliance obligations on VRS providers, including
small entities.
25.
If the Commission were to transfer the VRS emergency call handling obligation to a
single VRS contractor through a competitive bidding process, VRS providers, including small entities,
that desire to provide emergency call handling would have the additional regulatory obligation of
participating in a competitive bidding process. However, those VRS providers, including small entities,
that do not desire to provide emergency call handling, would be relieved of such obligations.
26.
If the Commission were to adopt new regulations regarding the methodology for
measuring compliance with the new VRS speed of answer requirements or if the Commission were to
further reduce the permitted speed of answer time for VRS to 10 seconds for 85 percent of the calls, VRS
providers, including small entities, would be obligated to comply with such regulations.
27.
If the Commission were to explicitly require TRS providers, including small entities, to
submit additional detailed information to the Commission, such as information regarding their financial
status (e.g., cash flow to debt ratio), the Commission would be imposing additional reporting
requirements on such providers.
28.
If the Commission were to restructure section 64.604 of its rules,23 such restructuring
would not impose additional regulatory obligations on TRS providers, including small entities.
29.
If the Commission were to prohibit TRS providers, including small entities, from using
CPNI for the purpose of contacting TRS users for political and advocacy purposes, unless the user

23 47 C.F.R. 64.604.
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affirmatively agrees to such contacts through an opt-in procedure, this would impose additional regulatory
compliance obligations on TRS providers, including small entities.
30.
If the Commission were to adopt a rule that would prohibit unjust and unreasonable
practices on the part of TRS providers, it would impose additional regulatory compliance obligations on
TRS providers, including small entities.
31.
If the Commission were to terminate the "guest user" procedure for VRS, which requires
VRS providers to provide temporary service to users while verification of the user's eligibility is pending,
the change in rules would not impose new compliance requirements on VRS providers, including small
entities, because VRS providers are already required to refuse service to unqualified individuals. The
new requirements would simply expand the circumstances under which individuals would be denied
service.
32.
If the Commission were to explicitly require that, if a VRS provider offers a video mail
feature to its customers, the provider must ensure that video mail messages can be left by point-to-point
video callers who are customers of other VRS providers and are using access technology provided by
such other providers, VRS providers, including small entities, would be obligated to comply with such
regulations.
33.
If the Commission were to prohibit non-competition agreements in VRS CA employment
contracts, VRS providers, including small entities, would be obligated to comply with such regulations
and would be subject to additional recordkeeping and reporting requirements if the Commission were to
require that such information be included with certification applications and/or annual reports.
34.
If the Commission were to permit VRS CAs to work from home during the overnight
hours, it would reduce the regulatory burdens on VRS providers, including small entities, because VRS
providers, including small entities, would be afforded more flexibility with VRS CA staffing.

E.

Steps Taken to Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities and
Significant Alternatives Considered

35.
The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant alternatives, specific to small
entities, that it has considered in developing its approach, which may include the following four
alternatives (among others): "(1) the establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or
timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification,
consolidation, or simplification of compliance and reporting requirements under the rule for such small
entities; (3) the use of performance rather than design standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of
the rule, or any part thereof, for such small entities."24
36.
In general, alternatives to proposed rules are discussed only when those rules pose a
significant adverse economic impact on small entities. In this context, however, the proposed rules
generally confer benefits as explained below.
37.
If the Commission were to adopt a mechanism whereby providers could seek to recover
the actual reasonable costs of complying with certain of the new requirements adopted in the Report and
Order, providers, including small entities, would be subject to the recordkeeping and reporting
requirements associated with such cost recovery. However, because compliance with such requirements
would result in cost recovery by providers, including small entities, small entities would benefit from
such recordkeeping and reporting requirements.
38.
If the Commission were to adopt an auction process to award contracts to provide service
to part of the VRS market, VRS providers, including small entities, may wish to participate. Such

24 5 U.S.C. 603(c)(1)-(c)(4).
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participation would entail compliance with the various filing, reporting, recordkeeping and bidding
requirements associated with the action process. However, those providers, including small entities, who
were not interested in serving the market segments subject to the auction process would not be
participating in the auction.
39.
If the Commission were to adopt additional certification requirements for VRS providers
and/or other iTRS providers, small entities would be subject to the qualification, reporting, recordkeeping
and other compliance obligations. Additional qualification and/or reporting requirements might include
certain levels of expertise or experience in the provision of interpreting services, prior experience in the
provision of TRS or VRS, assurances of financial stability, including the provision of financial
information, the anticipated impact on the availability of community interpreting services, and whether
interpreter employment contracts include non-compete clauses. If the Commission were to adopt any
such certification requirements, it would weigh the public interest benefits of the new requirements
against the impact on VRS and other iTRS providers, including small entities, and would consider how to
minimize the impact on small entities. For example, since the neutral video communication service
provider would relieve small providers who elect to utilize the common platform of the qualification,
reporting, recordkeeping and other compliance obligations associated with providing video
communication service, those small entities could potentially have fewer regulatory burdens than larger
entities utilizing their own video communication service platforms.
40.
If the Commission were to extend the use of the TRS-URD to IP Relay and IP CTS,
providers of those services, including small entities would be required to collect certain information from
consumers and enter that information in the TRS-URD. However, the TRS-URD would actually reduce
the regulatory burden on IP Relay and IP CTS providers, including small entities, because (1) the
providers would no longer be required to verify user information, which would be accomplished centrally
by a single entity contracted by the Commission, and (2) the providers would have reduced burdens when
collecting information from users who switch providers, because the user information of those consumers
would already be in the database.
41.
If the Commission were to extend user certification and verification requirements to IP
Relay, there would be no additional compliance obligations imposed on IP Relay providers, including
small businesses, because the user certification and verification would be managed centrally by a
Commission-contracted entity.
42.
If the Commission were to extend to IP Relay and IP CTS providers, including small
entities, the option to use the platform of the neutral video communication service provider for network
operations, such providers would be able to operate more efficiently because they would be relieved of
the obligation to provide their own communication service platform. Although providers, including small
entities, who elect to continue to operate their own communication service platform, would be required to
ensure that such platform is interoperable with the platform of the neutral communication service
provider, the interoperability requirement would benefit small entities because the interoperability
requirement would facilitate their ability to compete with larger providers.
43.
If the Commission were to extend to IP Relay and IP CTS providers, including small
entities, the general prohibition on practices resulting in waste, fraud, and abuse, this would in effect be a
codification and clarification of the already existing prohibition on such practices. Therefore, no new
regulatory compliance obligations would be imposed.
44.
If the Commission were to extend to IP Relay and IP CTS providers, including small
entities, the requirement to adopt regulatory compliance plans, submit such plans to the Commission and
certify that they are in compliance, these additional requirements would result in new reporting,
recordkeeping, and compliance requirements for such providers. In determining whether to enact any
such requirements, the Commission would weigh the public interest benefits of the new requirements in
curbing waste, fraud, and abuse and the need to control the expenditure of public funds against the impact
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on VRS and other iTRS providers, including small entities, and would consider how to minimize the
impact on small entities. For example, since the neutral video communication service provider would
relieve small providers who elect to utilize the common platform of the compliance plan obligations
associated with providing video communication service, those small entities could potentially have fewer
regulatory burdens than larger entities utilizing their own video communication service platforms.
45.
If the Commission were to extend to IP CTS providers, including small entities, the rules
to protect consumers against unauthorized default provider changes, also known as "slamming," such
requirements would result in additional regulatory compliance requirements for such providers.
However, in addition to protecting consumers, these requirements would also protect IP CTS providers,
including small entities, from unauthorized provider changes, thereby enhancing the ability of such
entities to compete.
46.
If the Commission were to require the TRS Fund administrator to propose changes to the
Fund contribution factor with the same periodicity as is done with the Universal Service Fund (currently
quarterly) rather than annually, such requirement may impose on TRS providers receiving compensation
form the Fund, including small entities, a requirement to revise their usage projections more often than
the current annual requirement. Although this change would impose an additional obligation on TRS
providers, including small entities, the change would also benefit such providers due to the fact that more
frequent revisions to the Fund contribution factor will help ensure that there are sufficient monies in the
Fund to compensate providers. In determining whether to require TRS providers to revise their usage
projections more often, the Commission will consider how to minimize the impact on small entities, such
as considering whether to exempt small providers from providing quarterly more often and requiring only
annual estimates from such small providers.
47.
If the Commission were to permit hearing individuals to obtain ten-digit phone numbers
that would allow them to make point-to-point video calls to VRS users, VRS providers, including small
entities, would be obligated to register and provide service to hearing users. Since it would be prohibited
to use TRS Funds to subsidize such service, VRS providers, including small entities, either would absorb
the cost of providing such service or would collect payments for service from the hearing users. In
determining whether to adopt these proposed regulatory changes, the Commission would weigh the
benefits of facilitating communication between individuals with hearing and speech disabilities and
individuals without such disabilities against the additional compliance obligations on VRS providers,
including small entities.
48.
If the Commission were to transfer the VRS emergency call handling obligation to a
single VRS contractor through a competitive bidding process, VRS providers, including small entities,
that desire to provide emergency call handling would have the additional regulatory obligation of
participating in a competitive bidding process. However, those VRS providers, including small entities,
that do not desire to provide emergency call handling, would be relieved of such obligations.
49.
If the Commission were to adopt new regulations regarding the methodology for
measuring compliance with the new VRS speed of answer requirements, VRS providers, including small
entities, would be obligated to comply with such regulations. Such regulations would be in the public
interest and would benefit VRS providers, including small entities, because they would provide additional
certainty to VRS providers, including small entities, on how to comply with and report compliance with
the VRS speed of answer requirements. If the Commission were to further reduce the permitted speed of
answer time to 10 seconds for 85 percent of the calls, VRS providers, including small entities, would be
required to comply with such regulations. Adopting such a requirement would be in the public interest
because it would result in service to VRS consumers that would be comparable to the permitted speed of
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answer wait time for other forms of TRS25 and would be more functionally equivalent than a permitted
wait time of 30 seconds for 85 percent of the calls.26 Nevertheless, in determining whether to further
reduce the permitted speed of answer time, the Commission will consider how to minimize the impact on
small entities, such as considering whether to phase-in a further reduction in permitted speed of answer
time.
50.
If the Commission were to explicitly require TRS providers, including small entities, to
submit additional detailed information to the Commission, such as information regarding their financial
status (e.g., cash flow to debt ratio), the Commission would be imposing additional reporting
requirements on such providers. In determining whether to enact such requirements, the Commission
would weigh the public interest benefits of how these requirements would help combat waste, fraud, and
abuse and help preserve the integrity of the TRS Fund against the impact of imposing such requirements
on TRS providers, including small entities. In determining whether to require TRS providers to provide
such information, the Commission will consider how to minimize the impact on small entities, such as
considering the level of detail that would be required of small providers.
51.
If the Commission were to restructure section 64.604 of its rules,27 such restructuring
would not impose additional regulatory obligations on TRS providers, including small entities.
52.
If the Commission were to prohibit TRS providers, including small entities, from using
CPNI for the purpose of contacting TRS users for political and advocacy purposes, unless the user
affirmatively agrees to such contacts through an opt-in procedure, this would impose additional regulatory
compliance obligations on TRS providers, including small entities. In deciding whether to enact such
requirements, the Commission would weigh the public interest benefits in protecting consumers from
misuse of CPNI against the impact on TRS providers, including small entities, and would examine
whether any such requirements would infringe on the First Amendment rights of TRS providers. For
example, the Commission would consider whether there would be a difference in terms of the First
Amendment between utilizing CPNI to help develop a contact list for political and advocacy purposes as
compared to developing a contact list for political and advocacy purposes without the use of CPNI.
53.
If the Commission were to adopt an explicit rule that would prohibit unjust and
unreasonable practices on the part of TRS providers, it would not likely impose additional regulatory
compliance obligations on TRS providers, including small entities, because a prohibition on unjust and
unreasonable practices is implicit in the current TRS requirements.
54.
If the Commission were to terminate the "guest user" procedure for VRS, which requires
VRS providers to provide temporary service to users while verification of the user's eligibility is pending,
the change in rules would not impose new compliance requirements on VRS providers, including small
entities, because VRS providers are already required to refuse service to unqualified individuals. The
new requirements would simply expand the circumstances under which individuals would be denied
service.
55.
If the Commission were to explicitly require that, if a VRS provider offers a video mail
feature to its customers, the provider must ensure that video mail messages can be left by video point-to-
point callers who are customers of other VRS providers and are using access technology provided by such
other providers, VRS providers, including small entities, would be obligated to comply with such
regulations. However, such regulations would benefit small entities because the regulations would
enhance the ability of small entities to compete by ensuring that point-to-point callers using the services

25 See 47 C.F.R. 64.604(b)(2)(ii) (permitted speed of answer is 10 seconds for other forms of TRS).
26 See Report and Order, section III.D.
27 47 C.F.R. 64.604.
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of all VRS providers, including small entities, would be able to leave video mail messages with
consumers using any VRS provider.
56.
If the Commission were to prohibit non-competition agreements in VRS CA employment
contracts, VRS providers, including small entities, would be obligated to comply with such regulations
and would be subject to additional recordkeeping and reporting requirements if the Commission were to
require that such information be included with certification applications and/or annual reports. However,
such regulations would benefit small entities because the regulations would enhance the ability of small
entities to compete by ensuring that all VRS providers, including small entities, would be able to hire
VRS CAs without the pool of available VRS CAs being limited by non-competition agreements.
57.
If the Commission were to permit VRS CAs to work from home during the overnight
hours, it would reduce the regulatory burdens on VRS providers, including small entities, because VRS
providers, including small entities, would be afforded more flexibility with VRS CA staffing.

F.

Federal Rules that May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict with Proposed Rules

58.
None.
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APPENDIX D

List of Commenters

Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (December 15, 2011)

Commenter/Date Filed

Abbreviation

ASL Services Holdings, LLC (Mar. 9, 2012)
ASL Services Holdings
Cerebral Palsy and Deaf Organization (Mar. 8, 2012)
CPADO
Communication Axess Ability Group (Mar. 9, 2012)
CAAG
Convo Communications, LLC (Mar. 9, 2012)
Convo
CSDVRS, LLC,d/b/a ZVRS (Mar. 9, 2012)
CSDVRS
Experian Government Services (Mar. 30, 2012)
Experian
Healinc Telecom, LLC (Mar. 9, 2012)
Healinc
myVRS Relay Central LLC (Jan. 4, 2012) myVRS
Neustar, Inc. (Mar. 9, 2012) Neustar
Over 200 VRS Employees and Users (Jan. 19, 2012) VRS Employees
Purple Communications, Inc. (Mar. 8, 2012)
Purple
Rehabilitation Engineering Research
RERC-TA
Center on Telecommunications Access (Mar. 9, 2012)
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (Mar. 9, 2012)
RID
Sorenson Communications, Inc. (Mar. 9, 2012)
Sorenson
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, et al.: Consumer Groups/Consumers
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network;
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing;
National Association of the Deaf;
Association of Late-Deafened Adults, Inc.;
California Coalition of Agencies Serving Deaf and
Hard of Hearing, Inc.;
American Speech-Language Hearing Association;
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf;
Deaf Seniors of America;
National Black Deaf Advocates, Inc.;
Alexander Graham Bell Association for the
Deaf and Hard of Hearing (Mar. 9, 2012)
Video Relay Services Consumer Association (Mar. 9, 2012) VRSCA
Short-form comments were also filed by a number of individual commenters
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Reply Commenter/Date Filed Abbreviation

Convo Communications, LLC (Mar. 30, 2012) Convo
Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc. (Mar. 30, 2012) CSD
CSDVRS, LLC (Mar. 30, 2012) CSDVRS
Healinc Telecom, LLC (Mar. 19, 2012)
Healinc
Purple Communications (Apr. 2, 2012) Purple
Rehabilitation Engineering Research
RERC-TA
Center on Telecommunications Access (Mar. 30, 2012)
Snap Telecommunications, Inc. (Mar. 30, 2012) Snap
Sorenson Communications, Inc. (Mar. 30, 2012)
Sorenson
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, et al.: Consumer Groups/Consumers
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network;
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing;
National Association of the Deaf;
Association of Late-Deafened Adults, Inc.;
California Coalition of Agencies Serving Deaf and
Hard of Hearing, Inc.;
American Speech-Language Hearing Association;
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf;
Deaf Seniors of America;
National Black Deaf Advocates, Inc.;
Alexander Graham Bell Association for the
Deaf and Hard of Hearing (Mar. 30, 2012)
Video Relay Services Consumer Association (Mar. 30, 2012) VRSCA
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Public Notice (October 29, 2012)

Commenter/Date Filed

Abbreviation

ASL Services Holdings, LLC (Nov. 14, 2012)
ASL Services Holdings
Communication Axess Ability Group (Nov. 14, 2012)
CAAG
Communication Workers of America (Nov. 14, 2012)
CWA
Convo Communications, LLC (Nov. 14, 2012) Convo
CSDVRS, LLC (Nov.14, 2012)
CSDVRS
National Alliance of Black Interpreters (Nov. 14, 2012)
NAOBI
Purple Communications (Nov. 14, 2012)
Purple
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (Nov. 14, 2012)
RID
Rehabilitation Engineering Research
RERC-TA/Telecom RERC
Center on Telecommunications Access (Nov. 14, 2012)
Sorenson Communications, Inc. (Nov. 14, 2012)
Sorenson
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, et al.:
Consumer Groups/Consumers
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network;
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing;
National Association of the Deaf;
Association of Late-Deafened Adults, Inc.;
California Coalition of Agencies Serving Deaf and
Hard of Hearing, Inc.;
American Speech-Language Hearing Association;
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf;
Deaf Seniors of America;
National Black Deaf Advocates, Inc.;
Alexander Graham Bell Association for the
Deaf and Hard of Hearing (Nov. 14, 2012)
Short-form comments were also filed by a number of individual commenters
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Reply Commenter/Date Filed

Abbreviation

ASL Services Holdings, LLC (Nov. 29, 2012)
ASL Services Holdings
Communication Axess Ability Group (Nov. 29, 2012)
CAAG
Convo Communications, LLC (Nov. 29, 2012) Convo
CSDVRS, LLC (Nov. 29, 2012)
CSDVRS
Dean DeRusso (Nov. 27, 2012)
Dean DeRusso
Mano a Mano, Inc. (Nov. 29, 2012)
Mano a Mano
Purple Communications (Nov. 29, 2012)
Purple
Rehabilitation Engineering Research
RERC-TA/Telecom RERC
Center on Telecommunications Access (Nov. 29, 2012)
Sorenson Communications, Inc. (Nov. 29, 2012)
Sorenson
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, et al.:
Consumer Groups/Consumers
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network;
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing;
National Association of the Deaf;
Association of Late-Deafened Adults, Inc.;
California Coalition of Agencies Serving Deaf and
Hard of Hearing, Inc.;
American Speech-Language Hearing Association;
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf;
Deaf Seniors of America;
National Black Deaf Advocates, Inc.;
Alexander Graham Bell Association for the
Deaf and Hard of Hearing (Nov. 29, 2012)
Video Relay Services Consumer Association (Nov.29, 2012)
VRSCA
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Notice of Inquiry (June 28, 2010)

Commenter/Date Filed

Abbreviation

Ad Hoc Group of Sorenson Communications
Sorenson Bondholders
Bondholders (Aug. 18, 2010)
AT&T, Inc. (Aug. 18, 2010)
AT&T
Convo Communications, LLC (Aug. 16, 2010)
Convo
CSDVRS, LLC (Aug. 18, 2010)
CSDVRS
Florida Coordinating Council for the Deaf
FCCDHH
and Hard of Hearing (Aug. 16, 2010)
Florida Public Service Commission (Aug. 18, 2010)
Florida PSC/FPSC
Government of Canada (Sept. 7, 2010) (Sept. 8, 2010)
Canada
Maryland Public Service Commission (Aug. 11, 2010)
Maryland
Pah! VRS and Interpretel LLC (Aug. 18, 2010)
Pah! VRS et al.
Purple Communications (Aug. 18, 2010)
Purple
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (Aug. 18, 2010)
RID
Sky VRS (Aug. 24, 2010)
Sky VRS
Sorenson Communications, Inc. (Aug. 18, 2010)
Sorenson
Sprint Nextel Corporation (Aug. 18, 2010)
Sprint
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc., et al.:
Consumer Groups
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
American Association of the Deaf-Blind (Aug. 18, 2010)
Short-form comments were also filed by a number of individual commenters

Reply Commenter/Date Filed

Abbreviation

Convo Communications, LLC (Sept. 2, 2010)
Convo
CSDVRS, LLC (Sept. 3, 2010)
CSDVRS
Pah! VRS and Interpretel LLC (Sept. 16, 2010)
Pah! VRS et al.
Purple Communications (Sept. 2, 2010)
Purple
Say-Hey, Inc. (Sept. 2, 2010)
Say-Hey
Snap Telecommunications, Inc. (Sept. 1, 2010)
Snap
Sorenson Communications, Inc. (Sept. 2, 2010)
Sorenson
Sorenson Communications, Inc. (Sept. 16, 2010)
Sorenson
Sprint Nextel Corporation (Aug. 18, 2010)
Sprint
Verizon and Verizon Wireless (Sept. 2, 2010)
Verizon
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STATEMENT OF

ACTING CHAIRWOMAN MIGNON L. CLYBURN

Today's action will enable millions of Americans with disabilities to access telephone service in ways
that are more simple, robust, and affordable. Americans who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or
have a speech disability rely on this critical service to communicate with family, friends, and emergency
personnel. This program is a necessity in their daily lives.
That's why the Commission has taken several actions in this Order to preserve the program's integrity and
long-term viability. For instance, by encouraging the development of interoperability and portability
standards for VRS devices and establishing a neutral video communication service provider, the
Commission is promoting competition in ways that will benefit consumers. The Commission is also
acting vigorously to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse while also initiating a transition from the existing,
inefficient rate structure to rates that will ensure that the program's fiscal house is in order. We also set a
goal of moving to a market-based approach for setting rates in the near future. I want to thank my
colleagues for joining me in this unanimous decision to better serve millions of Americans with
disabilities.
160

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