[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 205 (Wednesday, October 23, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 63152-63157]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-24262]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 64

[CG Docket No. 03-123; FCC 13-119]


Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services 
for Individuals With Hearing and Speech Disabilities--Waivers of iTRS 
Mandatory Minimum Standards

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: In this document, the Commission proposes to amend its rules 
setting minimum standards for telecommunications relay services (TRS) 
by eliminating standards for Internet-based relay services (iTRS) and 
public switched telephone network-based captioned telephone services 
(CTS) which are inapplicable to, or technologically infeasible for, 
these services. In the past and currently, these services had been 
exempted from these standards by the grant of waivers. This action is 
necessary to provide greater certainty for iTRS and CTS users and 
providers with respect to the TRS mandatory minimum standard and to 
obviate the need for further periodic waiver filings regarding the 
waived standards.

DATES: Comments are due December 23, 2013 and reply comments are due 
January 21, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by CG Docket No. 03-123, 
by any of the following methods:
    Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the 
Internet by accessing the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System 
(ECFS), through the Commission's Web site http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. Filers should follow the instructions provided on the Web site 
for submitting comments. For ECFS filers, in completing the transmittal 
screen, filers should include their full name, U.S. Postal Service 
mailing address, and CG Docket No. 03-123.
     Paper filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must 
file an original and one copy of each filing. Filings can be sent by 
hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by 
first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail (although the 
Commission continues to experience delays in receiving U.S. Postal 
Service mail). All filings must be addressed to the Commission's 
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
     All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings 
for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 
445 12th St. SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. All hand 
deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any 
envelopes must be disposed of before entering the building.
     Commercial Mail sent by 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 should be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.

In addition, parties must serve one copy of each pleading with the 
Commission's duplicating contractor, Best Copy and Printing, Inc., 445 
12th Street SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554, or via email to 
fcc@bcpiweb.com. For detailed instructions for submitting comments and 
additional information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Roger Holberg, Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, Disability Rights Office, at (202) 418-
2134 or email Roger.Holberg@fcc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's 
Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech 
Disabilities, Waivers of Mandatory Minimum Standards, Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), document FCC 13-119, adopted on September 
5, 2013, and released on September 6, 2013, in CG Docket No. 03-123. 
The full text of document FCC 13-119 will be available for public 
inspection and copying via ECFS, and during regular business hours at 
the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street SW., 
Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. It also may be purchased from the 
Commission's duplicating contractor, Best Copy and Printing, Inc., 
Portals II, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554, 
telephone: (800) 378-3160, fax: (202) 488-5563, or Internet: 
www.bcpiweb.com. Document FCC 13-119 can also be downloaded in Word or 
Portable Document Format (PDF) at http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/telecommunications-relay-services-trs. To request materials in 
accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, 
electronic files, audio format), send an email to fcc504@fcc.gov or 
call the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 
(voice), 202-418-0432 (TTY). The proceeding this NPRM initiates shall 
be treated as a ``permit-but-disclose'' proceeding in accordance with 
the Commission's ex parte rules. 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 sec. 1.1206(b). 
In proceedings governed by sec. 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

[[Page 63153]]

themselves with the Commission's ex parte rules.

Initial Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 Analysis

    Document FCC 13-119 does not contain proposed information 
collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 
Public Law 104-13. In addition, therefore, it does not contain any 
proposed 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).

Synopsis

    1. In the last decade, iTRS and CTS providers have petitioned for 
and been granted waivers of various TRS mandatory minimum standards 
deemed inapplicable to or technologically infeasible for iTRS and CTS. 
Several of these waivers have been limited in duration, necessitating 
periodic requests for extension by the affected providers.
    2. When section 225 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended 
(Act), was first enacted and implemented, there was only one type of 
TRS, which required the party with a speech or hearing disability to 
utilize a text telephone, or TTY, to transmit text over the PSTN to a 
communications assistant (CA). The CA then relayed the call between two 
parties by converting everything that the text caller typed into voice 
for the hearing party and typing everything that the voice user 
responded back to the person with a disability.
    3. With the development of new communication technologies, the 
Commission recognized new forms of TRS as eligible for compensation 
from the Interstate TRS Fund, including three forms of iTRS: Video 
Relay Service (VRS), Internet-Protocol (IP) Relay, and IP CTS. Today 
iTRS account for more than 90% of the total relay service minutes 
reimbursed from the Fund. For all forms of TRS, the Commission has 
adopted mandatory minimum standards to achieve functionally equivalent 
relay service.
    4. To ensure that TRS is provided in a manner that is functionally 
equivalent to voice telephone service, section 225 of the Act requires 
the Commission to prescribe functional requirements, guidelines, 
operations procedures, and minimum standards for these services. The 
Commission's mandatory minimum standards are intended to ensure that 
the user experience when making TRS calls is as close as possible to a 
voice user's experience when making conventional telephone calls. Over 
the years, however, the Commission has granted TRS providers waivers of 
certain TRS mandatory minimum standards that were deemed either 
technologically infeasible for or simply inapplicable to a particular 
form of TRS. The waivers granted for IP CTS and CTS have been issued 
for indefinite periods, while most waivers granted for VRS and IP Relay 
have been limited in duration. Generally, the limited-duration waivers 
have been renewed periodically--in recent years on an annual basis. The 
Commission has conditioned many of the waivers on the filing of annual 
reports in which providers are expected to detail their progress in 
achieving compliance with the underlying mandatory minimum standards. 
The reports are designed to help the Commission determine whether 
technological advances can enable providers to comply with the waived 
mandatory minimum standards.
    5. On November 19, 2009, Hamilton Relay, Inc., AT&T Inc., CSDVRS, 
LLC, Sorenson Communications, Inc., Sprint Nextel Corporation, and 
Purple Communications, Inc. (Petitioners) filed a ``Request for 
Extension and Clarification of Various iTRS Waivers'' (Hamilton 
Request), requesting the Commission to extend indefinitely all iTRS 
waivers of limited duration and to provide clarification on what 
Petitioners claim are discrepancies in some of the waivers. The 
Commission initiates this proceeding both in response to Petitioners' 
request and to fulfill our commitment to take a more in-depth look at 
the merits of making permanent or eliminating these waivers. Although 
the Hamilton Request did not address the waivers granted for CTS, the 
Commission includes those waivers as well in the scope of this overall 
review.
    6. In undertaking this review, the Commission notes that, 
historically, it has generally been reluctant to grant permanent 
exemptions from its mandatory minimum standards based on mere 
assertions of technological infeasibility. The Commission undertakes 
its current review of the pending waivers mindful of this Commission 
precedent.
    7. The iTRS waivers that the Commission addresses in this 
proceeding generally fall into two categories. One group consists of 
waivers for standards mandating that TRS include features and functions 
that are available with voice telephone service. In this first group, 
the Commission has waived the mandatory minimum standards for ``types-
of-calls,'' equal-access, pay-per-call, three-way calling rules, and 
speed dialing. The second group consists of waivers for standards 
mandating the provision of specific communication services needed by 
people with speech or hearing disabilities. In this second group, the 
Commission has waived mandatory minimum standards for voice carry over 
(VCO), hearing carry over (HCO), speech-to-speech (STS), ASCII/Baudot-
compatible services, Spanish-to-Spanish, and call-release. With respect 
to waivers that are presently limited in duration, the Commission seeks 
comment on whether to make the waivers permanent by amending its rules 
to explicitly state that the waived mandatory minimum standards are 
inapplicable to the specified iTRS providers. The Commission asks 
whether this approach will result in a clearer understanding of and 
better ongoing compliance with the Commission's rules. For waivers that 
are already of unlimited duration, the Commission seeks comment on 
whether amending its rules to codify these as permanent exemptions 
similarly would result in a clearer understanding of and better ongoing 
compliance with the Commission's rules.
    8. Types-of-Calls Requirement. Commission rules require TRS 
providers to ``be capable of handling any type of call normally 
provided by telecommunications carriers unless the Commission 
determines that it is not technologically feasible to do so.'' Until 
now, the Commission has waived the ``types of calls'' mandate in 
response to iTRS providers' showings that there is no effective per-
call billing mechanism to accurately identify and bill iTRS users for 
long distance and operator-assisted calls, and that the costs of 
developing such a mechanism would be prohibitive. Many providers have 
maintained an inability to devise such a mechanism because they claim 
that they do not have a billing relationship with their users, and that 
to set up a billing system would not be cost effective. The Commission 
seeks comment on whether the justifications that have supported this 
waiver in the past still exist such that it should continue to extend 
the limited-duration waiver has been done in the recent past or whether 
we should codify a rule that permanently exempts iTRS providers from 
having to offer these billing options. Finally, even though the 
Commission has never waived the types-of-calls requirement for IP CTS, 
Hamilton seeks an exemption for all forms of iTRS. To the extent 
Hamilton meant to include IP CTS in its request, the Commission seeks 
comment on the rationale for establishing a permanent

[[Page 63154]]

exemption under circumstances where no waiver has been granted 
previously.
    9. The Commission seeks comment on the continued need to require 
the provision of operator-assisted billing (i.e., collect, calling 
card, and third party billing) and sent-paid billing for long distance 
calls handled by iTRS providers, in light of the significant changes 
that have taken place in communication technologies--including the 
steep decline in traditional relay usage since the initial adoption of 
the ``types of calls'' requirement more than 20 years ago.
    10. Given these technological changes, including the greater 
reliance that relay users have on iTRS, consumers may no longer need or 
necessarily want the same billing options that were appropriate when 
relay services were primarily accessed via the PSTN. The Commission 
seeks feedback on this assumption, and whether amending its rules to 
eliminate the requirement for iTRS providers to offer billing 
arrangements for ``operator-assisted'' billing and sent-paid billing 
for long distance calls, provided that iTRS providers do not charge for 
such calls, is appropriate and consistent with the Act's intent to 
achieve functional equivalency. In this regard, the Commission asks 
commenters to address all three forms of iTRS-VRS, IP Relay and IP 
CTS--and to specifically address the rationale for eliminating the 
requirement for IP CTS under circumstances where no waiver has been 
granted previously.
    11. Equal Access to Interexchange Carriers. The Commission's rules 
require TRS providers to offer consumers access to their interexchange 
carrier of choice to the same extent that such access is provided to 
voice users. The Commission has waived this requirement indefinitely 
for IP Relay and IP CTS providers and on a limited-duration basis for 
VRS providers. The waivers are contingent on iTRS providers providing 
long distance service without charge. Should the Commission amend its 
rules to exempt iTRS providers permanently from the ``equal access to 
interexchange carriers'' requirement (based on its technical 
infeasibility and inapplicability to an iTRS environment), provided 
that iTRS providers do not charge for long distance service? The 
Commission seeks comment on the value to consumers of providing equal 
access to long distance carriers in an IP-based environment. Is there 
any reason to require iTRS providers to allow for equal access to 
interexchange carriers in order to satisfy the functional equivalency 
requirements of section 225(a)(3) of the Act?
    12. To the extent that commenters believe that this requirement 
remains applicable and necessary to an iTRS environment, the Commission 
asks (1) whether it is feasible for iTRS providers to implement 
networking and routing solutions to allow iTRS users to choose their 
carriers and (2) whether reliable mechanisms exist to allow carriers to 
distinguish between local and long distance calls for this purpose. 
Finally, the Commission invites comment on the costs of implementing 
solutions to fulfill this standard and on the appropriate interval for 
revisiting the technological feasibility issues in the future.
    13. Pay-per-Call (900) calls. The Commission's rules require TRS 
providers to be capable of handling pay-per-call (i.e., 900-number) 
calls. The Commission has waived this requirement--indefinitely for IP 
CTS providers, but on a limited-duration basis for IP Relay and VRS 
providers--because no billing mechanism has been available to handle 
the charges associated with pay-per-call calls. The pay-per-call 
standard presupposes a billing relationship that does not presently 
exist between iTRS providers and users. The Commission seeks comment on 
the technical feasibility of and benefits to requiring that such a 
relationship be established for the purpose of the pay-per-call 
requirement. In addition, the Commission seeks comment and information 
on whether the implementation of ten-digit numbering and registered 
location requirements has increased the feasibility of providing and 
verifying ANI for pay-per-call billing purposes. To the extent that 
parties maintain that this feature is not feasible now, but may be in 
the future, the Commission also seeks comment on the appropriate 
interval for revisiting the technological feasibility issue. In 
addition, the Commission seeks comment on whether to adopt a rule 
codifying a permanent exemption or to eliminate the indefinite waiver 
for IP CTS providers. Finally, the Commission invites comment on 
whether the value of pay-per-call services to iTRS consumers and 
possible CA exposure to abusive and/or obscene video images should 
affect our determination regarding a permanent exemption from the pay-
per-call requirement.
    14. Three-way calling. Three-way calling, also required by the 
Commission's rules, allows more than two parties to be on the telephone 
line at the same time with the CA. Waivers of the requirement for VRS 
and IP Relay providers were previously allowed to expire. The 
Commission proposes to terminate the three-way calling waiver for IP 
CTS providers and seeks comment on this proposal. The Commission asks 
commenters that disagree with this proposal to justify the need for a 
continued waiver. If the Commission were to eliminate the waiver of the 
three-way calling requirement for IP CTS, the Commission further seeks 
comment on an appropriate termination date.
    15. Speed dialing. Speed dialing allows a TRS user to give the CA a 
``short-hand'' name or number (e.g., ``call Mom'') for the user's most 
frequently called telephone numbers. This feature permits a person 
making a TRS call through a CA to place the call without having to 
remember or locate the number he or she desires to call. The Commission 
waived this requirement for VRS and IP Relay until January 1, 2008. The 
Commission subsequently found that all VRS providers--but not all IP 
Relay providers--were offering a speed dialing feature. As a result, 
the speed dialing waiver was allowed to expire for VRS but generally 
was extended for IP Relay for one year to allow the remaining IP Relay 
providers sufficient time to offer speed dialing.
    16. With regard to IP CTS, the Commission, in 2007, indefinitely 
waived speed dialing for IP CTS providers, contingent on such providers 
filing annual reports addressing the waiver. The Commission asks for 
comment on whether it would be in the public interest for the 
Commission to terminate the waiver for speed dialing for IP CTS 
providers. In particular, the Commission seeks comment on whether other 
IP CTS providers are currently offering speed dialing capability, and 
if not, whether there are any technical barriers preventing IP CTS 
providers from offering speed dialing. If the Commission was to 
terminate the speed dialing waiver for IP CTS, it seeks comment on when 
such termination should take effect. To the extent commenters argue for 
continued waiver, the Commission seeks comment on when it should 
revisit the need for this waiver.
    17. The second group of waived mandatory minimum standards relates 
to specific forms of TRS needed by people with disabilities, including 
voice carry over (VCO), hearing carry over (HCO), speech-to-speech, 
ASCII/Baudot-compatible services, Spanish-to-Spanish, and call release.
    18. VCO and HCO. The Commission's rules require TRS providers to 
offer VCO and HCO. With VCO, a person who has a hearing disability, but 
who is able to speak, communicates by voice directly to the other party 
to the call

[[Page 63155]]

without intervention by the CA, and the other party's voice response is 
relayed by the CA as text. With HCO, a person who has a speech 
disability, but who is able to hear, listens directly to the other 
party's voice without intervention by the CA, and in reply has the CA 
convert his or her typed responses into voice. There are multiple forms 
of VCO and HCO. The Commission has granted fixed-duration waivers for 
VRS and IP Relay of all the VCO and HCO mandatory minimum standards 
except two-line VCO and HCO, based on providers' representations that 
Internet connections are unable to deliver voice and data over a single 
line with the necessary quality. The Commission also has granted these 
waivers for IP CTS indefinitely, as well as granting an indefinite 
waiver of HCO for CTS. All such waivers have been conditioned on the 
filing of annual reports regarding the technological feasibility of 
compliance.
    19. The Commission seeks comment on whether, given advances in 
Internet technologies and the availability of one-line VCO, one-line 
HCO, VCO-to-VCO, HCO-to-HCO, VCO-to-TTY, and HCO-to-TTY by some 
providers for some IP-based relay services, waivers for these features 
continue to be necessary. Specifically, the Commission seeks feedback 
on the extent to which these services are technically feasible over a 
broadband connection and on whether any distinction should be drawn for 
service in low bandwidth environments. The Commission also seeks 
comment on the quality and convenience of the two-line VCO and HCO 
services that are currently available from iTRS providers. Are such 
services generally available and affordable, and are these adequate 
substitutes for one-line VCO and HCO? To the extent that we permit two-
line VCO and HCO as ``work-arounds'' to single-line VCO and HCO, the 
Commission seeks feedback on whether it should condition such waivers 
on providers' absorbing the additional cost of subscriptions for any 
additional telephone lines needed for the voice leg of the service. The 
Commission asks commenters to weigh the benefits of one-line VCO, one-
line HCO, VCO-to-VCO, HCO-to-HCO, VCO-to-TTY, and HCO-to-TTY against 
the cost of providing these services. If the Commission were to 
eliminate the waivers for one-line VCO, one-line HCO, VCO-to-VCO, HCO-
to-HCO, VCO-to-TTY, and HCO-to-TTY for VRS and IP Relay, it seeks 
comment on an appropriate termination date.
    20. The Commission seeks comment on amending our rules to 
permanently exempt CTS and IP CTS providers from providing any form of 
HCO. The Commission has previously determined that HCO involves 
``particular functionalities that do not apply to captioned telephone 
calls.'' Specifically, as the Commission explained, when using CTS, ``a 
person with some residual hearing can speak to the other party and in 
return both listen to what the other party is saying and read text of 
what that party is saying . . . [, t]his service . . . is simply not 
able to handle . . . HCO relay calls.'' The Commission has similarly 
exempted IP CTS providers.
    21. Speech-to-Speech. Speech-to-Speech (STS) service allows a 
person with a speech disability to communicate with voice telephone 
users through the use of CAs who are trained to understand the speech 
patterns of persons with disabilities and can repeat the words spoken 
by that person. The Commission has recognized STS as a form of TRS and 
required that it be offered as a mandatory service. In 2002, the 
Commission waived this requirement for IP Relay providers for a limited 
period of time. The Commission subsequently has extended this waiver on 
multiple occasions. The Commission also waived the STS requirement 
indefinitely for CTS, IP CTS, and VRS, finding this mandatory minimum 
standard to be inapplicable to these relay services. Specifically, STS 
is purely speech-based, while CTS and IP CTS require the CA to provide 
communication in text and, under our current rules, VRS requires the CA 
to provide communication in American Sign Language (ASL). Petitioners 
request that the Commission waive the STS requirement indefinitely for 
IP Relay ``because, as with VRS and IP CTS calls, one leg of an 
Internet Relay call is entirely text-based without any speech 
capabilities, thus rendering the service incapable of providing STS. 
The Commission seeks comment on amending our rules to exempt CTS, IP 
CTS and VRS providers from the STS requirement. The Commission also 
invites comment on whether to permanently exempt IP Relay providers 
from offering STS.
    22. ASCII/Baudot Communications. The Commission's rules contain 
technical mandatory minimum standards that are specific to the 
traditional TTY-based form of TRS. One of these rules requires TRS 
providers to be capable of handling communications using the ASCII and 
Baudot formats, at any speed generally in use. The Commission has 
granted CTS and IP CTS providers indefinite waivers of these mandatory 
minimum standards but has not addressed their applicability to VRS or 
IP Relay providers. The Commission proposes to amend its rules to 
explicitly exempt all forms of iTRS from the ASCII/Baudot call handling 
requirement. The Commission invites comment on this proposal, and on 
whether to codify as permanent exemptions the existing waivers for CTS 
and IP CTS.
    23. Spanish Language Service over CTS, IP CTS, and IP Relay. 
Section 64.603 of the Commission's rules requires the provision of 
interstate PSTN-based relay services in Spanish. The Commission has 
ruled that although VRS providers may offer and be compensated for 
Spanish language services, they are not required to do so. The 
Commission has not made any ruling regarding the applicability of the 
Spanish language requirement to CTS, IP CTS and IP Relay. Given that IP 
Relay, CTS and IP CTS are not mandatory, the Commission proposes to 
conclude that Spanish language versions of these services are non-
mandatory services. In this regard, the Commission seeks feedback on 
the extent to which Spanish-language IP Relay, CTS and IP CTS are 
currently available to and utilized by consumers, on the value of such 
services to Spanish-speaking consumers, and on whether mandating 
Spanish language IP Relay, CTS and IP CTS is necessary to ensure the 
availability of these forms of TRS for the Spanish-speaking population. 
Commenters are also asked to weigh the benefits of mandating Spanish 
language IP Relay, CTS and IP CTS against the burdens for providers to 
offer these services. The Commission also seeks comment on whether to 
amend its part 64 rules to codify its ruling that VRS providers are not 
required to offer Spanish language VRS.
    24. Call Release. The Commission's rules require TRS providers to 
offer ``call release,'' a feature that allows the CA to drop out--or be 
``released'' from the relay call after setting up a direct TTY-to-TTY 
connection between the caller and the called party. The Commission has 
waived this requirement indefinitely for CTS and IP CTS providers, but 
on a limited-duration basis for VRS and IP Relay providers. The 
Commission invites comment on the inapplicability and/or technical 
infeasibility of the call release feature in the IP environment and 
consequently whether we should amend our rules to permanently exempt 
all iTRS providers as well as CTS providers from compliance with this 
standard. If parties still consider this standard relevant to IP-based 
services, the Commission further invites comment and information on 
whether solutions to the present technological barriers to this

[[Page 63156]]

feature are available, and if so, the costs and benefits of 
implementing such solutions. To the extent that parties maintain that 
this feature is not feasible now, but may be in the future, the 
Commission also seeks comment on the appropriate interval for 
revisiting the technological feasibility issue.
    25. Annual Reports. For those mandatory minimum standards for which 
the Commission decides to adopt permanent exemptions in place of 
existing waivers, it further proposes elimination of the requirement to 
file annual reports. The Commission asks commenters for their input on 
this proposal.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Certification

    26. The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) requires that an agency 
prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis for notice-and-comment 
rulemaking proceedings, unless the agency certifies that ``the rule 
will not, if promulgated, have a significant economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities.'' The RFA generally defines 
``small entity'' as having the same meaning as the terms ``small 
business,'' ``small organization,'' and ``small governmental 
jurisdiction.'' In addition, the term ``small business'' has the same 
meaning as the term ``small business concern'' under the Small Business 
Act. A ``small business concern'' is one which: (1) Is independently 
owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and 
(3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the Small Business 
Administration (SBA).
    27. In document FCC 13-119, the Commission seeks comment on its 
proposal to permanently waive in some instances and to terminate the 
waivers in other instances of certain operational, technical, and 
functional mandatory minimum standards applicable to the provision of 
TRS for providers using the Internet to provide services such as VRS, 
IP Relay, and IP CTS as well as for providers offering traditional CTS. 
To be eligible for compensation from the interstate TRS Fund, a TRS 
provider must offer service in compliance with all applicable mandatory 
minimum standards, unless they are waived. The Commission has waived 
several of these mandatory minimum standards for VRS, IP Relay, and IP 
CTS either because, as Internet-based services, it is not 
technologically feasible for them to meet the requirement or, in the 
case of VRS, because VRS is a video-based service and the communication 
is via sign language and not text. The Commission has waived other 
mandatory minimum standards that are inapplicable to the particular 
form of TRS, including VRS, IP Relay, IP CTS and CTS. Some of these 
waivers have been for finite periods, usually one year, and require new 
waivers at the end of the period while other waivers have been for 
indefinite periods. Document FCC 13-119 proposes to incorporate these 
waivers into the Commission's rules to obviate the need for annual 
waivers to be applied for and granted and to harmonize the treatment of 
all TRS providers to which these mandatory minimum standards do not 
apply given the technology through which the service is provided.
    28. Document FCC 13-119 seeks comment on whether to incorporate 
these waivers into the rules. It further seeks comment on a 
Petitioner's request that the Commission clarify whether the Spanish-
to-Spanish requirement should be a non-mandatory service for IP Relay 
and IP CTS providers as it is for VRS providers.
    29. Where a mandatory minimum standard is inapplicable, the 
Commission proposes to convert existing waivers of the mandatory 
minimum standards to permanent exemptions, thereby eliminating 
unnecessary administrative burdens on providers and the Commission. 
Specifically, IP CTS providers have received waivers for the following 
features: (1) Gender preference; (2) handling calls in ASCII and Baudot 
formats; (3) call release; (4) Speech-to-Speech; (5) Hearing Carry Over 
(HCO) and VCO services; (6) outbound 711 calling; (7) emergency call 
handling; (8) equal access to interexchange carriers; (9) pay-per-call 
(900) service; (10) three-way calling; (11) speed dialing; and (12) 
certain rules applying to CAs.
    30. With regard to the criterion of the economic impact of document 
FCC 13-119, with respect to those waivers that are proposed to be made 
permanent or otherwise codified, the Commission notes that all 
providers potentially affected by the proposed rules, including those 
deemed to be small entities under the SBA's standard, would benefit by 
being relieved from the necessity to periodically file for new waivers 
of the TRS mandatory minimum standards and from incurring unnecessary 
expenses in research and development of features or services that are 
inapplicable to certain types of TRS services. Therefore, the 
Commission concludes that with respect to those waivers, document FCC 
13-119, if adopted, will not have a significant economic impact on any 
entities.
    31. With respect to those waivers that are being terminated, the 
record shows that the providers are generally providing the features 
that had been the subject of such waivers. For example, the record 
shows that providers are now able to offer three-way calling and speed 
dialing. With respect to one-line VCO, one-line HCO, VCO-to-VCO, HCO-
to-HCO, VCO-to-TTY, and HCO-to-TTY, the Commission is seeking comment 
to better determine which features should be waived and which features 
no longer require a waiver for the providers of VRS, IP Relay, IP CTS 
and CTS. The Commission believes that the entities that may be affected 
by the termination of such waivers are only those TRS providers that 
offer VRS, IP Relay, IP CTS and CTS. Should the TRS providers, 
including the small entities, become affected by the termination of 
such waivers, the costs of compliance of the requirements to offer 
three-way calling and speed dialing are minimal. 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. Collectively, there are fewer than ten TRS providers 
that are authorized by the Commission or, in the case of CTS, by any 
state Commission, to offer these services. No more than four of these 
entities may be small businesses under the SBA size standard. 
Therefore, document FCC 13-119, if adopted would not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.
    32. The Commission therefore certifies, pursuant to the RFA, that 
the proposals in document FCC 13-119, if adopted, will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. 
If commenters believe that the proposals discussed in document FCC 13-
119 require additional RFA analysis, they should include a discussion 
of these issues in their comments and additionally label them as RFA 
comments. The Commission will send a copy of document FCC 13-119, 
including a copy of the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Certification, 
to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the SBA.

Ordering Clauses

    33. Pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1, 4(i), 4(j), 
and 225 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 
154(i), 154(j), and 225, that document FCC 13-119 is adopted.
    34. The Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, 
Reference Information Center, shall send a copy of

[[Page 63157]]

document FCC 13-119, including the Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Certification, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration.

List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 64

    Individuals with disabilities, Telecommunications.

Proposed Rule Changes

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal 
Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR part 64 as follows:

PART 64--MISCELLANEOUS RULES RELATING TO COMMON CARRIERS

0
1. The authority citation for 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, and 254(k), 616, 620, and the Middle Class Tax 
Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, Pub. L. 112-96, unless 
otherwise noted.

0
2. Amend Sec.  64.603 by adding paragraph (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  64.603  Provision of services.

* * * * *
    (c) Providers of captioned telephone relay service, Internet-based 
captioned telephone relay service, VRS and IP Relay are not required to 
offer speech-to-speech relay service and interstate Spanish language 
relay service.

0
3. Amend Sec.  64.604 by revising paragraphs (a)(3)(ii), (iv), (v), and 
(vi) and (b)(1) and (3) to read as follows:


Sec.  64.604  Mandatory minimum standards.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (3) * * *
    (ii) Relay services shall be capable of handling any type of call 
normally provided by telecommunications carriers unless the Commission 
determines that it is not technologically feasible to do so. Relay 
service providers have the burden of proving the infeasibility of 
handling any type of call. Providers of Internet-based TRS need not 
provide the same billing options (e.g., sent-paid long distance, 
operator-assisted, calling card, collect, and third party billing) 
traditionally offered for wireline and wireless voice services.
* * * * *
    (iv) Relay services other than Internet-based TRS shall be capable 
of handling pay-per-call calls.
    (v) TRS providers are required to provide the following types of 
TRS calls: Text-to-voice and voice-to-text; VCO, two line VCO, VCO-to-
TTY, and VCO-to-VCO; HCO, two-line HCO, HCO-to-TTY, HCO-to-HCO. VRS 
providers are not required to provide text-to-voice and voice-to-text 
functionality. IP Relay providers and VRS providers are not required to 
provide VCO-to-TTY and HCO-to-TTY. Captioned telephone service 
providers and Internet-based captioned telephone service providers are 
not required to provide text-to-voice; VCO-to-TTY; HCO, two-line HCO, 
HCO-to-TTY, HCO-to-HCO.
    (vi) TRS providers are required to provide the following features: 
call release functionality (only with respect to the provision of TTY-
based TRS); speed dialing functionality; and three-way calling 
functionality.
* * * * *
    (b) Technical standards--(1) ASCII and Baudot. TTY service shall be 
capable of communicating with ASCII and Baudot format, at any speed 
generally in use. Other forms of TRS are not subject to this 
requirement.
* * * * *
    (3) Equal access to interexchange carriers. TRS users shall have 
access to their chosen interexchange carrier through the TRS, and to 
all other operator services to the same extent that such access is 
provided to voice users. This requirement is inapplicable to providers 
of Internet-based TRS if they do not assess specific charges for long 
distance calling.
* * * * *

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Office of Managing Director.
[FR Doc. 2013-24262 Filed 10-22-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P