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Video Relay Service Certification Denial

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Released: November 15, 2011


Federal Communications Commission

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Washington, D.C. 20554

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DA 11-1893

Released: November 15, 2011





By the Chief, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau:
On September 28, 2011, BIS Relay, LLC (“BIS Relay”) filed an application to be certified1 as a
provider of video relay service (VRS) that is eligible for compensation from the Interstate TRS Fund
(Fund).2 For the reasons discussed below, we deny BIS Relay’s application for VRS certification.
In the iTRS Certification Order released on July 28, 2011, the Commission amended its
requirements and processes for certifying iTRS providers as eligible for compensation from the Fund, to
ensure that iTRS providers receiving certification are qualified to provide iTRS in compliance with the
Commission’s rules, and to eliminate waste, fraud and abuse through improved oversight of such
providers.3 These new rules require that all iTRS providers obtain certification from the Commission to

1 BIS Relay, LLC, Internet-Based TRS Certification Application, CG Docket No. 10-51 (Sept. 28, 2011). See 47
C.F.R. § 64.606; Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, CG Docket No. 10-51, Second
Report and Order and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 10898 (2011) (iTRS Certification Order).
2 The Communications Act of 1934, as amended, defines telecommunications relay services (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.
47 U.S.C. § 225(a)(3) (as amended by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of
2010, Pub. L. No. 111-260, § 103(b), 124 Stat. 2751, 2755 (2010); Pub. L. No. 111-265 (technical amendments to
CVAA)). VRS is a form of Internet-based TRS (iTRS) that uses a broadband Internet connection between the VRS
user and the communications assistant (CA) to enable a person using American Sign Language to communicate over
video with another party through a CA. During a VRS call, the CA relays the communications between the two
parties, signing what the other party says to the deaf or hard of hearing user and responding in voice to the other
party to the call. The Interstate TRS Fund compensates eligible providers of VRS and other forms of interstate TRS
for their reasonable costs of providing these services. See 47 C.F.R. § 64.604(c)(5)(iii).
3 iTRS Certification Order, 26 FCC Rcd at 10899, ¶ 1. The Commission noted that the measures adopted therein
were part of its transitional efforts to reform the structure and practices of the VRS program and that the new
certification process may be superseded or modified by future Commission actions on VRS reform.

be eligible to receive compensation from the Fund.4 They further require that all VRS applicants for
certification lease, license or own, as well as operate, essential facilities associated with iTRS call centers
and employ their own CAs to staff those centers on the date of their application for certification.5 Each
iTRS applicant for certification is also required to submit specific types of documentary evidence that
demonstrate its compliance with Commission rules, including those adopted in the VRS Practices R&O.6
On October 17, 2011, the Commission released the iTRS Certification Clarification Order,7 clarifying
certain aspects of the certification requirements adopted in the iTRS Certification Order, and modifying
section 64.606 of the Commission’s rules to lessen the burdens on applicants for certification and
providers associated with providing certain documentation to the Commission.8
Based on our review of the application submitted by BIS Relay, we conclude that the applicant
has failed to satisfy the requirements set forth in the Commission’s certification rules, including but not
limited to:
1. Section 64.611 – Requiring demonstration of compliance with iTRS registration and
numbering requirements;9
2. Section 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(N)(1)(iii) – Prohibiting an eligible provider from authorizing
a non-certified third party from providing interpretation services or call center
functions;10 and
3. Section 64.606(a)(2) – Requiring a detailed description of how applicant will meet
mandatory minimum operational standards.11
In addition, we conclude that BIS Relay has failed to demonstrate that it will meet section
64.604(b)(4)(i) of the Commission’s rules, a mandatory minimum technical standard requiring VRS
facilities to be operated every day, 24 hours a day.12 In the iTRS Certification Clarification Order, the
Commission reiterated its expectation that VRS providers would adequately staff their call centers 24/7,
and noted its obligation to ensure that all certified providers are capable of providing their own services
on a continuous basis, in a manner that meets the Commission’s rules.13 BIS Relay has not demonstrated

4 Id. at ¶ 2.
5 Id.
6 See, e.g., 47 C.F.R. § 64.606(a); see also Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, Report and
Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 5545 (2011) (VRS Practices R&O).
7 Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, Sprint Nextel Corporation Expedited Petition for
Clarification, Sorenson Communications, Inc. Petition for Clarification, AT&T Services, Inc. Petition for
Reconsideration of AT&T
, CG Docket No. 10-51, Memorandum Opinion and Order, Order, and Further Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 11-155 (2011) (iTRS Certification Clarification Order).
8 See id. at ¶¶ 16-20.
9 47 C.F.R. § 64.611.
10 47 C.F.R. § 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(N)(1)(iii).
11 47 C.F.R. § 64.606(a)(2).
12 47 C.F.R. § 64.604(b)(4)(i).
13 iTRS Certification Clarification Order at ¶¶ 10, 13.

that its staffing proposal will meet these requirements. On the basis of BIS Relay’s application, including
but not limited to the number of CAs it will employ, we are unable to determine that it is capable of
meeting this mandatory minimum standard codified in section 64.604(b)(4)(i) of the Commission’s
For all of these reasons, we conclude that BIS Relay has failed to demonstrate that it satisfies the
requirements set forth in the Commission’s rules for iTRS provider certification. We therefore deny BIS
Relay’s application for certification to be eligible for compensation from the Fund as a VRS provider.
Because we deny BIS Relay’s certification application, we find that its request for waiver of section
64.604(c)(5)(iii)(N)(1)(iii) of the Commission’s rules is rendered moot.15
A redacted copy of BIS Relay’s application is available for public inspection and copying during
regular business hours at the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street, SW, Suite
CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554, (202) 418-0270. The full text of this Public Notice is similarly
available for public inspection or copying. These documents may also be purchased from the
Commission’s duplicating contractor, Best Copy and Printing, Inc. (BCPI), Portals II, 445 12th Street, SW,
Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554. Customers may contact BCPI at its web site:, or by calling 1-800-378-3160. A redacted copy of BIS Relay’s application may also
be found by searching on the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) at (insert CG Docket No. 10-51 into the Proceeding block).
To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print,
electronic files, audio format), send an e-mail to or call the Consumer and Governmental
Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY). This Public Notice can also be
downloaded in Word or Portable Document Format (PDF) at:
For further information, please contact Gregory Hlibok, Consumer and Governmental Affairs
Bureau, Disability Rights Office, at (866) 954-4053 (voice/videophone), (202) 418-0431 (TTY), or e-mail

14 In order to be found qualified as a provider of VRS in compliance with the Commission’s rules, the applicant
must establish, among other things, that it is equipped to handle VRS calls placed from anywhere across the country,
24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, the number of CAs specified must be sufficient to allow the
provider to answer concurrent calls without compromising the speed-of-answer requirement. See 47 C.F.R. §
64.604(b)(2)(iii) (requiring that VRS providers answer 80 percent of all calls within 120 seconds). In adopting the
24/7 and speed-of-answer requirements for VRS, the Commission found that both requirements are vital towards
implementing the “fundamental policy considerations underlying the TRS regime,” including that TRS provide
access for individuals with disabilities to the telephone system 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. Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and
Speech Disabilities,
CG Docket No. 03-123, Report and Order, 20 FCC Rcd 13165, 13175, ¶ 19 (2005) (finding that
VRS speed-of-answer requirements promote functional equivalency because “reaching a CA ready to place the call
is the same as reaching a dial tone”); id. at 13179, ¶ 29 (“Congress expressly recognized that having TRS available
24/7 is central to the notion of functional equivalency”). See also note 2, supra (quoting statutory definition of TRS,
including functional equivalence standard).
15 BIS Relay, LLC, Section 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(N)(1)(iii) Waiver Request, CG Docket No. 10-51 (Sept. 30, 2011), at 2.
Section 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(N)(1)(iii) of the Commission’s rules generally prohibits the subcontracting of VRS CA
services or call center functions.

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