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Video Relay Service Rules Amended by FCC

Text in original regulation ‘may prove to be confusing’

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a correction to a section of its video relay service (VRS) program rule that was issued May 2, 2011 because “the final regulations inadvertently referenced inaccurate regulatory text which may prove to be confusing.”

On Oct. 4, 2012, the FCC posted the correction to the Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program on the Federal Register. The VRS program enables deaf, hard-of-hearing and speech-impaired individual to communicate over video telephones and similar technologies with hearing people in real-time using a sign language interpreter.

The original rule includes details on “reporting and record keeping requirements” to “address fraud, waste, and abuse in the” VRS industry. The FCC “recognizes the valuable ways in which VRS fulfills the communication needs of persons who are deaf and hard of hearing,” the notice says. However, the program’s structure has made it vulnerable to fraud and abuse, “which have plagued the current program and threatened its long-term sustainability.”

The amendments to the original rule “are necessary to properly detect anomalies in submitted minutes, which can alert the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS) Fund administrator and the Commission on the need to inquire further about, and if necessary, conduct an investigation into the legitimacy of such minutes,” the latest federal register notice says.

VRS providers seeking compensation from the TRS Fund shall submit specific data associated with each call for which compensation is sought, according to the amendment. That information that has to be filed is:

  • The call record identification (ID) sequence
  • The session’s start and end times noted at a minimum to the nearest second
  • The conversation’s start and end times noted at a minimum to the nearest second
  • The incoming telephone number and Internet protocol (IP) address (if the call originates with an IP-based device) at the time of the call
  • The outbound telephone number (if the call terminates to a telephone) and IP address (if the call terminates to an IP-based device) at the time of call
  • The total conversation minutes
  • The total session minutes
  • The call center (by assigned center ID number) that handled the call
  • The URL address through which the call is initiated

Click here to access the latest Federal Register notice.