[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 129 (Friday, July 5, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 40407-40421]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-15925]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 64

[CG Docket Nos. 10-51 and 03-123; FCC 13-82]


Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program: 
Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for 
Individuals With Hearing and Speech Disabilities

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: In this document, the Commission issues a further notice of 
proposed rulemaking (FNPRM) seeking comment on options and proposals to 
ensure that the entire telecommunications relay services (TRS) program 
continues to offer functional equivalence to all eligible users and is 
as immune as possible from any additional waste, fraud, and abuse. 
These proposals involve a transition plan to a market-based 
compensation methodology for VRS, funding mechanism for research and 
development, TRS Fund contribution calculations and reporting method, 
allowing hearing persons to purchase access to video point to point 
service, replacement of the current TRS Advisory Council, 
disaggregation of emergency calls to 911 and additional issues relating 
to restructure of the VRS program. The Commission continues to solicit 
input on ways to strengthen VRS to ensure its efficiency and that this 
service is being offered in a functionally equivalent manner.

DATES: Comments are due on or before August 19, 2013, and reply 
comments on or before September 18, 2013.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by CG Docket Nos. 10-51 
and 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 Nos. 10-51 and 03-123.
     Paper filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must 
file an original and four copies 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

[[Page 40408]]

addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.
    [ssquf] 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: Eliot Greenwald, Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, Disability Rights Office, at (202) 418-
2235 or email Eliot.Greenwald@fcc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's 
Structure and Practices of the Video Relay Service Program; 
Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for 
Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities, Further Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM), document FCC 13-82, adopted on June 7, 
2013 and released on June 10, 2013, in CG Docket Nos. 10-51 and 03-123. 
In document FCC 13-82, the Commission adopted an accompanying Report 
and Order (Report and Order), which is summarized in a separate Federal 
Register Publication. The full text of document FCC 13-82 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 13-82 can also be downloaded 
in Word or Portable Document Format (PDF) at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro/trs.html#orders. 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).

Synopsis

    1. In March 2000, the Commission recognized VRS as a reimbursable 
relay service. 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; published at 65 FR 38432, June 21, 2000, and at 65 FR 
38490, June 21, 2000.
    2. In this document, the Commission takes 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. See Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech 
Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities, Order, 
(2010 TRS Rate Order), CG Docket No. 03-123, published at 75 FR 49491, 
August 13, 2010. Ratemaking based on calculations of allowable costs is 
inherently a contentious, complicated, and imprecise process, 
particularly in the VRS context. Telecommunications Relay Services and 
Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing and Speech 
Disabilities, Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, (2011 VRS Reform 
FNPRM), CG Docket Nos. 10-51 and 03-123, published at 77 FR 4948, 
February 1, 2012. First, unlike most regulated telecommunications 
services, VRS is generally provided at no charge to users. There is no 
pressure from users on VRS suppliers to restrain the amount they charge 
because the users share none of the costs. 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. Third, the 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. 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. Therefore, the 
Commission proposes 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.
    3. There are several elements in this new approach. First, the 
outreach and registration verification components of VRS will not be 
handled by VRS providers but that 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.
    4. Second, 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. 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.
    5. Third, the Commission proposes 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.
    6. Fourth, the Commission proposes to establish a compensation rate 
for the provision of VRS CA service by auctioning a portion of VRS 
traffic.

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

    7. The Commission tentatively concluded that the contract price 
that it 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 its rules requiring 
providers only to be compensated for the reasonable costs of providing 
service. See 47 CFR 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(E) of the Commission's rules. 
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 communication 
service provider would not, or vice versa? Are there other factors the 
Commission should consider

[[Page 40409]]

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 or a usage sensitive basis. Does the compensation 
structure for the neutral video communication service provider affect 
this analysis?

Using Auctions To Establish a Per Minute Rate for CA Service

    8. 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.
    9. Given this pattern of calling, the Commission proposes 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. The Commission seeks comment on 
this proposal. Is it appropriate to use an auction determined price as 
a benchmark for regulating other prices?
    10. 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?
    11. 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.
    12. 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, the Commission could use a descending clock 
auction in which bid prices are reduced until only a single bidder 
remains. 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 the 
Commission 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?
    13. 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%. Given that the Commission 
has 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?
    14. 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.
    15. Form of Bids. What form should bids take? The Commission 
contemplates 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?
    16. Bidder Qualifications. What qualifications should the 
Commission set for bidders? Should the Commission 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? Are there additional criteria that should be 
established for entities that wish to bid in an auction?
    17. 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)?
    18. 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?
    19. Ensuring Quality of Service. How can the Commission ensure that 
auction winners provide an appropriate level of quality of service? 
Should it 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? If all rights are terminated should it be 
immediate or phased out over a period of time and, if so, over what 
period?

[[Page 40410]]

Other Issues

    20. How can the Commission ensure that there are sufficient bidders 
for a competitive auction? If it is 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?
    21. 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?
    22. Providers of Multiple Forms of iTRS. A number of VRS providers 
also provide other forms of iTRS and VRI, an interpreting service that 
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, or in different locations. Several VRS providers also 
provide VRI. 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?
    23. 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?

Cost Recovery

    24. Section 225 of the Act creates a cost recovery regime whereby 
TRS providers are compensated for their reasonable costs of providing 
service in compliance with the TRS regulations. See 47 U.S.C. 
225(d)(3); 47 CFR 64.604(c)(5) of the Commission's rules. To be 
reasonable, the costs of providing service must relate to the provision 
of service in compliance with the applicable mandatory minimum 
standards.
    25. As noted in Report and Order, the Commission does not believe 
that the providers' additional costs necessary to implement the 
requirements adopted today will be substantial, but it recognizes that, 
in its First Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order, it provided a 
mechanism whereby providers could seek to recover their actual 
reasonable costs of complying with certain of the new requirements 
adopted in that Report and Order. Telecommunications Relay Services and 
Speech-To-Speech Services For Individuals With Hearing and Speech 
Disabilities; E911 Requirements For IP-Enabled Services Providers, CG 
Docket No. 03-123 and WC Docket No. 05-196, Report and Order; published 
at 73 FR 41286, July 18, 2008. The Commission seeks comment on whether 
it 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?

Research and Development

    26. The Commission seeks comment on the appropriate budget and 
funding mechanism for research conducted pursuant to the arrangement 
with the National Science Foundation it directs be entered into in the 
Report and Order. The Commission proposes 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 research and development, and seeks 
comment on this proposal. The Commission further seeks 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?

TRS Fund Contribution Calculations and Reporting

    27. The Commission proposes to amend Sec.  Sec.  64.604(c)(iii)(B) 
and (H) of the Commission's rules 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 the Office of the Managing Director's (OMD) 
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. The Commission seeks comment on this proposal and asks 
commenters to address the costs and benefits of the proposal.

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

    28. 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 if 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. The Commission seeks 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 User Registration Database (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?

[[Page 40411]]

TRS Fund Advisory Council

    29. The Commission proposes to revise the nature, composition, and 
functions of the advisory body that focuses on TRS issues. It proposes 
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.
    30. The Commission believes that the role and structure of the TRS 
Fund Council should be redefined to reflect the changing needs of the 
TRS program. The Commission notes that at various times, the existing 
TRS Fund Council itself has asked for additional responsibilities, 
including matters concerning TRS quality. The Commission proposes 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 it is 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.
    31. In place of the existing TRS Fund Council, the Commission 
proposes 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, it is intended 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. The Commission seeks comment on which of the following 
areas should be included within the new advisory committee's focus: (1) 
Technology; (2) efficiency; (3) outreach; (4) user experience 
(reference functional equivalency requirement); (5) eligibility, 
registration, and verification; and (6) porting and slamming. In 
addition, comments are solicited on which specific matters within these 
general areas require input from an advisory committee.
    32. Composition of Proposed Committee's Membership. The Commission 
invites input on the appropriate composition of the new advisory 
committee to ensure that all interested parties are fairly represented. 
It is believed that 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 it is expected that providers will have an opportunity 
to make their views known to the committee through open sessions held 
by the advisory committee, the Commission is 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. In addition, 
provider membership may lead to distracting discussions regarding the 
relative merits of competing provider services and technologies.
    33. The Commission proposes that the Consumer and Governmental 
Affairs Bureau releases a PN seeking nominations for the new committee. 
Comments are sought on ways in which the proposed advisory committee 
may play a productive role in connection with the four proposed areas.

Consistent Regulations of All Forms of iTRS

    34. With certain exceptions such as the treatment of iTRS access 
technology, this proceeding has focused on the structure and practices 
of the VRS program. There are, however, 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, and VRS and IP CTS now have 
comparable requirements for certification of eligibility. Indeed, many 
of the actions taken in the Report and 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. The Commission 
therefore seeks comment on extending the structural reforms adopted in 
the Report and Order to all forms of Internet-based TRS.
    35. 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. 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. The Commission therefore proposes to require 
each iTRS provider to provide users with the capability to register 
with that iTRS provider as a ``default provider,'' to populate the TRS-
URD with the necessary information for each registered user, and to 
query the database to ensure 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?
    36. 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. 
e.g. Misuse of Internet Protocol (IP) Captioned Telephone Service; 
Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for 
Individuals with Hearing and Speech Disabilities, CG Docket Nos. 13-24 
and 03-123, (IP CTS Report and Order); published at 78 FR 8030, March 
7, 2013. Comment is sought on extending these certification and 
verification requirements to IP Relay. What criteria should be 
established when determining a user's eligibility for IP Relay? The 
Commission previously has required IP Relay providers to take 
reasonable measures to verify the registration information of new IP 
Relay registrants. Misuse Of Internet Protocol (IP) Relay Service; 
Telecommunications Relay Services And Speech-To-Speech Services For 
Individuals With Hearing And Speech Disabilities, CG Docket Nos. 12-38 
and 03-123, Order, (2012 IP Relay Misuse Order); published at 77 FR

[[Page 40412]]

43538, July 25, 2012. Is the information currently required 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?
    37. Neutral Platform. The Commission seeks 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 its 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?
    38. Outreach. The Report and 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. The Commission seeks 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?
    39. 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 would appear to be appropriate for application to IP 
Relay and IP CTS providers. Similarly, the rule on VRS provider 
compliance plans appears to be appropriate for application to IP Relay 
and IP CTS providers, and the rules on prevention of slamming appear to 
be appropriate for application to IP CTS providers. Comment is sought 
on whether to make these provisions of its rules applicable to all iTRS 
providers.

Disaggregation of Emergency Calls to 911

    40. In the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 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. These requirements direct VRS 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. 47 CFR 64.605(b)(2)(ii). Because the Report and 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 its mandates for emergency calling. Nevertheless, in an 
effort to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of emergency call 
handling for VRS users, the Commission invites 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.
    41. In particular, in line with the Commission's decision to 
disaggregate and contract for the provision of the video communication 
service components of VRS, as well as its proposal to partially include 
certain CA service components in a competitive bidding process, 
feedback is sought on whether the Commission 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, the Commission asks for comment 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. 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?
    42. It would also help the Commission to receive public comment on 
the average number of 911 calls that are made through VRS each month. 
To that end, commenters--both providers and consumers--are asked 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?
    43. 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.'' 47 CFR 604(a)(1)(iv) of the Commission's 
rules. 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? Commenters are asked to describe the extent to 
which such training already is provided for the purpose of handling 
emergency VRS calls.
    44. Finally, in March 2013, the Commission's Emergency Access 
Advisory Committee (EAAC), established under the Twenty-First Century 
Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA), released a 
report containing recommendations to facilitate effective communication 
for relay users who need to access 911. According to the EAAC, because 
current VRS providers have frequently improperly delivered or 
mishandled emergency calls it would be best to create nationally 
certified ``Media Communications Line Service,'' (MCLS) centers, that 
would provide ``translation service for people with disabilities and 
telecommunicators using video, voice, text and data during NG [next 
generation] 911 calls.'' The Commission seeks 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, training 
protocols and performance criteria to achieve and maintain highly 
skilled CAs capable of handling crisis calls, the provision of stress 
management services for CAs, the availability of caller profiles, and 
compatibility between emergency call handling procedures by VRS 
providers and specifications established by the National Emergency 
Number Association (NENA). The Commission invites comment on each of 
these recommendations, the appropriateness of integrating any or all of 
the EAAC's proposals into the Commission's VRS program, and information 
on the costs

[[Page 40413]]

and benefits of adopting each of the EAAC's proposals.

Speed of Answer

    45. In the Report and Order, the Commission establishes 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. In document FCC 13-82 FNPRM, comment is sought on how the 
Commission should measure compliance with the new threshold. 
Specifically, the Commission proposes and seeks 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)).
    46. Alternatively, the Commission proposes and seeks 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).
    47. As noted in the Report and 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.
    48. To enable the TRS Fund administrator to confirm the correct 
calculation of speed-of-answer performance, the Commission proposes 
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. The Commission seeks comment on this proposed 
methodology for calculating and verifying speed-of-answer compliance 
for video relay service.
    49. The Commission also seeks 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. The Commission further 
proposes that, if adopted, compliance with this measurement continue to 
be determined on a daily basis. Feedback is requested on the benefits 
and the costs of adopting these proposals. Specifically, commenters are 
asked 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, commenters are asked to address whether adopting a 
phase-in period to implement this further reduction would facilitate 
any necessary hiring of 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.

Administrative, Oversight, and Certification Rules

    50. In the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, 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, (2) modifying the 
rules governing payments to TRS providers, eligibility for payments 
from the TRS Fund, and notice of participation in the TRS Fund, (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, (4) 
modifications to TRS rules to ensure that they are enforceable, and (5) 
modifying or enhancing the TRS Fund administrator's authority to 
conduct audits. See 47 CFR 64.604(c)(5)(iii)(D) through (K), (7). The 
Commission has adopted some changes to these rules, as described above. 
The Commission seeks additional comment on whether further changes to 
these rules are necessary and appropriate to effectively implement 
those reforms.
    51. Additionally, comment is invited 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? 
Should the Commission explicitly require providers to submit additional 
detailed information, such as information regarding their financial 
status?
    52. The Commission also seeks comment on whether there should be 
changes in its rules relating to the certification of VRS providers 
and/or other iTRS providers, in order to effectively implement the 
reforms adopted in the accompanying order. For example, Section V.E of 
the Report and 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. The Commission 
proposes to modify its VRS certification rules to eliminate such 
requirements and seek comment on this proposal. In addition, it seeks 
comment on whether and how to modify its 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, 
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

[[Page 40414]]

who provide sign language functions, in determining certification for 
either standalone VRS CA service providers or integrated VRS providers? 
The Commission welcomes other comments on considerations that the 
Commission should take into consideration when certifying such 
standalone entities or integrated providers.

Restructuring Section 64.604

    53. In the 2011 VRS Reform FNPRM, observing that Sec.  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. 2011 VRS Reform 
FNPRM. The Commission also sought comment on whether it should separate 
Sec.  64.604 of the Commission's rules 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. The Commission now proposes to revise the 
structure of its rules so that they are service-specific and 
transmission-specific, where appropriate, and seeks additional comment 
on this proposed structural approach and related issues. For example, 
it would 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?

Use of Consumer Information

    54. The Commission is adopting a number of privacy protections for 
users of TRS services. The Consumer Groups proposed that the Commission 
prohibit a relay provider from using CPNI to contact a relay user for 
political and regulatory advocacy purposes, unless the user opts in to 
such contacts. The Consumer Groups argue that just as voice telephone 
users do not receive political and regulatory advocacy messages when 
using the telephone, the Commission should emphasize that TRS 
providers, while permitted to advocate such issues on their Web sites, 
may not advocate these issues or promote or advertise anything, on Web 
pages that must be navigated to make a relay call. The Commission seeks 
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?

Unjust and Unreasonable Practices

    55. In the Report and Order, the Commission adopts a rule modeled 
on section 202(a) of the Act 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, the Commission seeks 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) of the Act. Comment is 
sought 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) of the Act, authority to ``prescribe 
regulations to implement this section, including regulations that--(A) 
establish functional requirements, guidelines, and operations 
procedures for telecommunications relay services. . .''? 47 U.S.C. 
225(d)(1)(A). Would such a rule be consistent with prior Commission 
decisions interpreting section 225(d)(1)(E) of the Act and its 
legislative history? 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?

Temporary Registration

    56. 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. Telecommunications Relay Services, Speech-to-Speech 
Services, E911 Requirements for IP-Enabled Service Providers, CG Docket 
No. 03-123, (Second Internet-Based TRS Numbering Order); 73 FR 79683, 
published December 30, 2008, at 79687. 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. 
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.

Access to Video Mail

    57. 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. Misuse of Internet 
Protocol (IP) Relay Service; Telecommunications Relay Services and 
Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals with Hearing And Speech 
Disabilities, CG Docket Nos. 12-38 and 03-123, (2012 IP Relay Misuse 
Order); published at 77 FR 43538, July 25, 2012. 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.
    58. 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, the Commission questions whether there is still any reason to 
continue the guest user procedure for VRS. The Commission

[[Page 40415]]

therefore proposes 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 its proposal. In 
particular, commenters are asked to weigh the costs and benefits of 
continuing the guest user procedure for VRS against the costs and 
benefits of eliminating the procedure.

Access to Video Mail

    59. The Commission proposes to amend its 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. As 
the Commission has previously noted, point to point calls, while not 
relay calls, do constitute an important form of communication for many 
VRS users, and any loss of basic functionality for these calls is not 
acceptable. 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. 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. See 47 CFR 64.611(e) of the Commission's 
rules. The Commission also seeks comment on whether the Commission's 
authority extends to this type of rule
    60. The Commission believes 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. It seeks 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. In addition, comment is 
sought 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, and 
on whether such failure may unfairly discourage a consumer from 
switching from one default VRS provider to another.
    61. Finally, the Commission seeks 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, comment is also sought on the appropriate forum for developing 
such standards and on the content of such standards.

Non-Competition Agreements in VRS CA Employment Contracts

    62. 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. 
Petitioners argued that non-competition agreements are overly broad, 
harm the VRS market, and are contrary to the public interest. The 
Commission placed the petition on public notice, and received five 
comments and two reply comments from organizations and providers. 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. 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. 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.
    63. The Commission seeks 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 the Commission should prohibit 
these agreements in VRS CA employment contracts. What are the benefits 
or disadvantages of allowing or prohibiting these agreements? The 
Commission is 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? Commenters are asked 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. The Commission also asks 
commenters to address possible sources of authority for the Commission 
to regulate or prohibit VRS Relay CA non-competition agreements, and 
seeks feedback on any other matter that might assist the Commission in 
determining whether and how to regulate these agreements.

CAs Working from Home Environments During Overnight Hours

    64. In the VRS Call Practices R&O the Commission found that 
allowing VRS CAs to work from home poses more risks than benefits, and 
consequently adopted a rule prohibiting VRS CAs from handling relay 
calls from a location used primarily as their home. Structure and 
Practices of the Video Relay Service Program, CG Docket No. 10-51, (VRS 
Call Practices R&O); published at 76 FR 24393, May 2, 2011, at 24395. 
The Commission was particularly concerned that the unsupervised home 
environment is more conducive to fraud than a supervised call center 
with on-site management. The Commission also concluded that compliance 
with its mandatory minimum requirements, including the expectation of 
user privacy, 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. Lastly, the Commission was concerned that CAs working in 
the home environment might not be able to meet service quality 
standards. 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.'' Id. at 24395.
    65. In August 2011, CSDVRS filed a petition for partial waiver of 
the above

[[Page 40416]]

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. 
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. CSDVRS further 
alleges that its at-home interpreting service provides sufficient 
safeguards against fraud; security for CAs working at home during off-
hours because the CAs do not need to report to an office building; and 
more opportunities to recruit CAs. Finally, CSDVRS argues that it has 
taken steps to ensure confidentiality, redundancy, the handling of 
emergency calls, and service quality.
    66. The Commission seeks comment on whether it 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. It asks commenters to address these safety concerns and to 
propose specific hours when CAs may be permitted to work from home. It 
also asks 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, commenters are asked 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. The Commission also asks commenters to address 
the costs and benefits of permitting CAs to work from home on this 
limited basis.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Certification

    67. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 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 document FCC 13-82 FNPRM. 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 document FCC 13-82. The Commission will send a copy of 
document FCC 13-82, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for 
Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA).
    68. 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. Section 225 of the 
Act defines TRS as a service provided in a manner that is 
``functionally equivalent'' to voice telephone services and directs the 
Commission to establish functional requirements, minimum standards, and 
other regulations to carry out the statutory mandate. In addition, the 
Commission's regulations must encourage the use of existing technology 
and must not discourage the development of new technology. Finally, the 
Commission must ensure that TRS users ``pay rates no greater than the 
rates paid for functionally equivalent voice communication services.'' 
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), 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.
    69. In the Report 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-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.
    70. The Commission also includes in document FCC 13-82 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;
     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 Sec.  64.606(g) of the 
Commission's rules are truthful, accurate, and complete; and
     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.
    71. In the FNPRM, 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--

[[Page 40417]]

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.
    72. In the FNPRM, 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.
    73. In the FNPRM, 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 FNPRM asks whether the 
Commission should consider the impact of certifying the standalone 
provider on the availability of community interpreting services. In 
addition, the FNPRM 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.
    74. The Commission also seeks comment in the FNPRM 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);
     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;
     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.
    75. In the FNPRM, 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'' 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 Sec.  64.604 of the Commission's rules 
into service-specific rules or transmission-specific rules or to adopt 
some other structure;
     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 
Act that would prohibit unjust and unreasonable practices on the part 
of TRS providers and would be modeled after section 201(b) of the Act, 
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.
    76. 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. The RFA generally defines the term ``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 SBA.
    77. The Commission believes 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. Currently, there are ten TRS providers that 
are

[[Page 40418]]

authorized by the Commission to receive compensation from the Fund. Six 
of these entities may be small businesses under the SBA size standard.
    78. 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.
    79. 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.
    80. 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.
    81. 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.
    82. 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.
    83. 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.
    84. 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.
    85. 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.
    86. 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.
    87. 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.
    88. 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.
    89. 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.
    90. 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.
    91. 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.
    92. If the Commission were to restructure Sec.  64.604 of its 
rules, such restructuring would not impose additional regulatory 
obligations on TRS providers, including small entities.
    93. 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.
    94. If the Commission were to adopt a rule that would prohibit 
unjust and unreasonable practices on the part of

[[Page 40419]]

TRS providers, it would impose additional regulatory compliance 
obligations on TRS providers, including small entities.
    95. 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.
    96. 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.
    97. 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.
    98. 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.
    99. 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.''
    100. 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.
    101. 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.
    102. 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. 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.
    103. 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.
    104. 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.
    105. 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.
    106. 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.
    107. 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.

[[Page 40420]]

    108. 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 
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.
    109. 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.
    110. 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 from 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.
    111. 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.
    112. 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.
    113. 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 answer wait time for other forms of TRS and would be more 
functionally equivalent than a permitted wait time of 30 seconds for 85 
percent of the calls. 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.
    114. 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.
    115. If the Commission were to restructure Sec.  64.604 of its 
rules, such restructuring would not impose additional regulatory 
obligations on TRS providers, including small entities.
    116. 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.
    117. If the Commission were to adopt an explicit rule that would 
prohibit

[[Page 40421]]

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.
    118. 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.
    119. 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 of 
all VRS providers, including small entities, would be able to leave 
video mail messages with consumers using any VRS provider.
    120. 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.
    121. 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.

Ordering Clauses

    Pursuant to sections 1, 2, 4(i), (j), 225, 251 254 and 303(r), of 
the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), (j) 
and (o), 225, 251, 254 and 303(r), document FCC 13-82 is adopted.
    The Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, 
Reference Information Center, shall send a copy of document FCC 13-82 
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, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Telecommunications.

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Office of Managing Director.
[FR Doc. 2013-15925 Filed 7-2-13; 11:15 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P