[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 247 (Wednesday, December 26, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 75894-75896]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-31098]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 64

[CG Docket No. 03-123; WC Docket No. 05-196; WC Docket No. 10-191; FCC 
12-139]


Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services 
for Individuals With Hearing and Speech Disabilities; E911 Requirements 
for IP-Enabled Service Providers

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission 
(Commission) reconsiders and clarifies certain aspects of the iTRS Toll 
Free Order in response to a petition for reconsideration and 
clarification filed by Sorenson Communications, Inc. (Sorenson). The 
Commission grants Sorenson's Petition and clarifies certain aspects of 
the user notification requirements and denies the remainder of the 
Petition relating to the database mapping requirements and establishing 
a one-year end date for the customer notification requirements.

DATES: Effective January 25, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Heather Hendrickson, Wireline 
Competition Bureau, (202) 418-7295.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Order 
on Reconsideration in CG Docket No. 03-123, WC Docket Nos. 05-196, 10-
191, FCC 12-139, released on November 16, 2012. The full text of this 
document is available for public inspection during regular business 
hours in the FCC Reference Center, Room CY-A257, 445 12th Street SW., 
Washington, DC 20554. It is also available on the Commission's Web site 
at http://www.fcc.gov.

I. Introduction

    1. In this Order, we grant in part a petition for reconsideration 
and clarification of the Commission's iTRS Toll Free Order, 76 FR 
59551, September 27, 2011 filed by Sorenson Communications, Inc. 
(Sorenson). In that Order, the Commission adopted rules to improve 
assignment of telephone numbers associated with Internet-based 
Telecommunications Relay Service (iTRS). For the reasons set forth 
below, the Commission grants Sorenson's Petition with respect to 
certain user notification requirements and denies the remainder of the 
Petition.

II. Background

    2. Prior to 2008, there was no uniform numbering system for iTRS 
services; some iTRS users were reached via an IP address, while others 
were reached via toll free numbers. Because iTRS providers did not 
share their databases, the lack of standardized numbering hindered 
calls between people using different iTRS services. The widespread use 
of toll free numbers created additional competitive concerns because 
the users could not take their telephone numbers with them if they 
switched providers.
    3. To address these concerns, beginning in 2008 the Commission 
adopted a series of orders that discouraged iTRS providers from issuing 
toll free numbers to their users. Ultimately, in the iTRS Toll Free 
Order, the Commission prohibited iTRS providers from issuing toll free 
numbers, requiring them instead to issue only geographically 
appropriate, ten-digit, North American Numbering Plan (NANP) telephone 
numbers. The Commission took this action because, in addition to the 
competitive concerns described above, the routine issuance of toll free 
numbers confused iTRS users, undermined the Commission's number 
conservation policy, increased costs to the TRS Fund, and potentially 
hindered responses to 911 calls.
    4. Historically, when an iTRS user had a toll free number, the iTRS 
provider was the subscriber of record for that number; the user did not 
have a direct relationship with the toll free service provider. Under 
the rules the Commission adopted in the iTRS Toll Free Order, however, 
the iTRS user must be the toll free service provider's subscriber of 
record and must pay for the toll free subscription. The Order requires 
iTRS providers to facilitate this transition in various ways, notably 
by ensuring that iTRS users' toll free numbers are properly mapped in 
the TRS Numbering Directory (the numbering database used for iTRS 
services) and by explaining to users how they may keep or acquire a 
toll free number. The Order established a one-year transition period 
for iTRS providers to implement the new rules; the transition period 
ends on November 21, 2012.
    5. In October 2011, Sorenson filed a petition seeking 
reconsideration and clarification of specific aspects of the iTRS Toll 
Free Order. Sorenson challenges aspects of the database mapping 
requirement and the customer notification requirement. No party opposed 
Sorenson's Petition, and one party--Hamilton Relay--filed in support.

III. Discussion

A. Database Mapping

    6. The iTRS Toll Free Order requires iTRS providers to ensure that 
when an iTRS subscriber obtains a toll free number, that toll free 
number is properly mapped to that subscriber's NANP geographic number 
in the TRS Numbering Directory. The user's toll free number must be 
associated with the same Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) as that 
user's geographically appropriate NANP number in the TRS Numbering 
Directory.
    7. Sorenson asks the Commission to reconsider this requirement, 
arguing that iTRS providers should not be required to map an iTRS 
user's toll free number to the user's URI in the TRS Numbering 
Directory. Sorenson claims that, because iTRS providers will no longer 
provision toll free numbers under the new rules, they will be unable to 
ensure that the information they receive about a number is accurate. 
Sorenson also claims that it will be unable to identify potential 
mistakes or changes when mapping a toll free number to the user's URI, 
such as if a user chooses to disconnect a toll free number and does not 
notify the iTRS provider. Sorenson further claims that mistakes in 
mapping will result in call failures due to database errors, and that 
the rules may enable fraud and spoofing by iTRS users. Sorenson argues 
that the Commission should consider alternative approaches. 
Specifically, Sorenson proposes that the Commission either (1) sever 
any connection between an iTRS user's toll free number and the TRS 
Numbering Directory, or (2) require another entity (not the iTRS 
provider) to verify that the toll free numbers and mappings are valid.
    8. We deny Sorenson's Petition in this respect and decline to 
reconsider the database mapping requirements in the iTRS Toll Free 
Order. We do not find that Sorenson's concerns about linking a toll 
free number to an iTRS user's URI in the TRS Numbering Directory 
warrant a change to the current rules; nor do we find that Sorenson's 
proposed alternatives constitute a better approach.
    9. As an initial matter, we note that the Commission addressed 
Sorenson's

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concerns about database accuracy in the iTRS Toll Free Order. Sorenson 
raised the issue in its comments on the iTRS Toll Free Notice, 75 FR 
67333, November 2, 2010, and the Commission responded in the Order, 
saying, ``If Sorenson expects such errors to occur, it--and all other 
iTRS providers--may notify the iTRS user of the potential mistake and 
make several verifications of the toll free number to ensure 
correctness.'' Sorenson argues in its Petition that, notwithstanding 
the language in the Order, Sorenson will have no way to verify whether 
the information it receives from its users about toll free numbers is 
accurate. We continue to believe, however, that iTRS providers do have 
ways to verify that toll free numbers have been mapped accurately, 
including by simply calling a toll free number to ensure that the call 
is delivered to the user. We do not believe that verifying database 
accuracy will be an overly burdensome task for providers because we 
expect that the number of iTRS users who choose to maintain or obtain 
toll free numbers under the new rules will be small. Most iTRS users 
will choose to relinquish their toll free numbers rather than pay for 
them. Thus, we expect that only a small number of iTRS users will 
require their iTRS provider to input a toll free number into the TRS 
Numbering Directory.
    10. Second, the mapping requirement is essential in order to ensure 
that deaf and hard-of-hearing users' access to and use of toll free 
numbers are functionally equivalent to hearing users' access to and use 
of toll free numbers. Sorenson's suggestion that the Commission 
eliminate the requirement entirely and keep toll free numbers out of 
the TRS Numbering Directory would undermine this goal. Information in 
the TRS Numbering Directory is used to route NANP-dialed calls both 
between deaf and hearing persons via a relay service and also directly 
between two deaf persons without the intervention of a relay service 
(point-to-point calls). As Sorenson acknowledges, its proposed approach 
would make point-to-point video calls to toll free numbers impossible, 
so that a deaf person could not call another deaf person's toll free 
number directly. The Commission has previously emphasized the 
importance of point-to-point video calling to iTRS users, and we 
decline to restrict that functionality in this manner.
    11. Third, the responsibility for ensuring accurate database 
mapping should lie with the iTRS provider because it serves as the 
registered service provider to its customers, and thus is already 
responsible for entering its customers' information into the TRS 
Numbering Directory. Shifting the responsibility to another party, as 
Sorenson proposes, is undesirable because under both the Commission's 
rules and the directory access parameters set up by the database 
administrator, only iTRS providers may enter and change directory 
records, and only an individual's default provider may enter and change 
information for that individual. Moreover, shifting responsibility to a 
third party with no access to the TRS Numbering Directory and no 
relationship with the user would likely increase, not decrease, the 
chance of database errors.
    12. Finally, we find that Sorenson's concerns about fraud and 
spoofing are overstated. As noted above, we expect the number of iTRS 
users who choose to retain, and pay for, toll free numbers to be small. 
Furthermore, the nature of iTRS services makes them poor vehicles for 
fraud and spoofing. Any iTRS user who tried to spoof a toll free number 
would necessarily have it linked to both his ten-digit number and his 
IP address, making it relatively traceable (unlike conventional PSTN 
spoofing scenarios), and thus an unlikely choice for perpetrating 
fraud. VRS is particularly well-protected: If a VRS user dialed a 
spoofed toll free number that had made its way into the TRS Numbering 
Directory, the VRS provider would identify the call as a point-to-point 
call between two deaf users, and the caller would end up face to face 
with the perpetrator. We therefore believe that the rules are unlikely 
to facilitate or lead to widespread fraud and spoofing schemes by iTRS 
users. Our decision here rests on two predictive judgments: That 
verifying the accuracy of the iTRS Directory with respect to toll free 
numbers will not be unduly burdensome on iTRS providers and that fraud 
and spoofing will not become major problems. We note that if either of 
our predictive judgments turn out incorrect, we remain free to consider 
alternative solutions to address these issues while ensuring the 
continuing integrity of point-to-point calls between iTRS users.
    13. For these reasons, the Commission denies Sorenson's request for 
reconsideration of the database mapping requirements. We also deny 
Sorenson's request for ``clarification that the Commission is aware of 
the problems that may result from the approach reflected in the Order 
and will not hold iTRS providers responsible for such problems over 
which they have no control.'' As we have explained, we disagree that 
providers have ``no control'' over the information about toll free 
numbers in the TRS Numbering Directory, and the Commission has rejected 
claims that iTRS providers lack the ability to verify the accuracy of 
toll free numbers. Thus, we reiterate that iTRS providers must take 
reasonable measures to ensure the completeness and accuracy of their 
users' records in the TRS Numbering Directory.

B. Customer Notification

    14. The iTRS Toll Free Order requires iTRS providers to include, in 
any promotional materials addressing numbering or E911 services, 
information about (1) the process by which an iTRS user may acquire a 
toll free number or transfer control of a toll free number from a VRS 
or IP Relay provider to the user; and (2) the process by which a user 
may request that the toll free number be linked to his or her ten-digit 
telephone number in the TRS Numbering Directory (by their iTRS 
provider). The information provided must include contact information 
for toll free service providers.
    15. Sorenson requests reconsideration or clarification of the 
customer notification requirements in three respects. First, Sorenson 
argues that the notification requirements are unnecessarily burdensome, 
and that the volume of information that they would have to provide 
under the rule would fill more than 100,000 additional pages of printed 
materials annually and would overwhelm users. Sorenson proposes instead 
that it provide detailed information on its Web site and simply provide 
a link to that information in any promotional materials. Second, 
Sorenson asks the Commission to clarify that iTRS providers may satisfy 
the toll free service provider contact information requirement by 
linking to the Commission's Web site. Finally, Sorenson asks the 
Commission to limit the customer notification requirements to the one-
year transition period. We clarify the iTRS Toll Free Order in response 
to Sorenson's first and second requests, and we deny Sorenson's third 
request.
    16. We find that a streamlined approach to the customer 
notification requirements is consistent both with the purposes of the 
iTRS Toll Free Order and with the Commission's general preference for 
minimizing the burdens of disclosure requirements where possible. We 
therefore clarify that an iTRS provider may comply with Sec.  
64.611(g)(1)(v) and (vi) of the Commission's rules by including on its 
Web site a clear description of how a user may acquire a toll free 
number or transfer control of a toll free number from a VRS or IP Relay 
provider to the

[[Page 75896]]

user and the process by which a user may request that the toll free 
number be linked to his or her ten-digit telephone number in the TRS 
Numbering Directory. In its promotional materials, the provider may 
simply provide a link to this information on the provider's Web site. 
This approach will ensure that deaf and hard-of-hearing users who want 
to acquire or retain a toll free number can easily find the information 
they need to do so, while at the same time alleviating Sorenson's 
concern about the burden on providers.
    17. We also clarify the iTRS Toll Free Order with respect to toll 
free service provider contact information. An iTRS provider may satisfy 
the requirement that it provide contact information by linking to the 
list of toll free service providers maintained on the 800 Service 
Management System (SMS/800) Web site. The Commission's Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau has produced an American Sign Language 
video explaining the iTRS Toll Free Order, and the accompanying text 
directs iTRS users to the SMS/800 Web site's list of toll free service 
providers, which provides the most up-to-date information. Given that 
the Commission itself directs deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers to the 
SMS/800 Web site for toll free service provider information, we find 
that it is reasonable to allow iTRS providers to do the same.
    18. Finally, we deny Sorenson's request to establish a one-year end 
date for the customer notification requirements. At the end of the one-
year transition period established in the Order, iTRS users will still 
be able to subscribe to toll free numbers and have them entered into 
the TRS Numbering Directory. Moreover, with the modified requirements 
set forth herein, we have significantly reduced the burden of providing 
such notice.

IV. Procedural Matters

A. Paperwork Reduction Act

    19. This Order on Reconsideration does not contain new or modified 
information collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction 
Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law 104-13. In addition, therefore, it does 
not contain any new or modified 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).

B. Congressional Review Act

    20. The rules previously adopted in the iTRS Toll Free Order were 
submitted to Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant 
to the Congressional Review Act and remain unchanged by this Order on 
Reconsideration.

V. Ordering Clauses

    21. Accordingly, it is ordered, pursuant to the authority contained 
in sections 1, 4(i), 225, 251(e), 255, and 405 of the Communications 
Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 225, 251(e), 255, 405, 
and Sec. Sec.  1.1 and 1.429 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.1, 
1.429, that this Order on Reconsideration IS adopted, effective thirty 
(30) days after publication of the text or summary thereof in the 
Federal Register.
    22. It is further ordered, pursuant to the authority contained in 
section 405 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 
405, and Sec.  1.429 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.429, that the 
Petition for Reconsideration and Clarification filed by Sorenson 
Communications, Inc. on October 27, 2011 is granted to the extent 
described herein and is otherwise denied.

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary.
[FR Doc. 2012-31098 Filed 12-21-12; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P