The FCC issued a Public Notice on December 26, 2018 seeking input on a petition from General Motors Holding LLC (“GM”) that requests partial waiver of the interoperability functionalities for accessible real-time text (“RTT”) technology, as defined by the FCC. GM intends to launch an autonomous vehicle (“AV”) ride-hailing service in the near future that will include real time voice communication capability that riders can use to communicate with customer support. GM will also use RTT for such communications and GM seeks to be exempted from certain required RTT interoperability features based on planned limitations of the communications.

Comments on the Public Notice are due by January 25, 2019; and reply comments are due by February 11, 2019.

Continue Reading FCC Seeks Comment on GM Request for Waiver of RTT Requirements for Autonomous Vehicle Chat Feature

On August 23, 2016, the FCC issued a Public Notice seeking comment on the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau’s tentative findings about the accessibility of communications technologies, which will be included in this year’s biennial report to Congress on the 2010 Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) (Biennial Report).  This will be the third such report, following earlier reports in 2012 and 2014.  Comments are due September 7, 2016.

Continue Reading FCC Seeks Comment on Disabilities Access Findings

Kelley Drye Telecommunications paralegal Jennifer Rodden contributed to this post.

Earlier this year, a coalition of e-reader manufacturers (Amazon, Kobo and Sony Electronics) petitioned for waiver from the disabled access requirements applicable to Advanced Communications Services (“ACS”) under the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (“CVAA”). The Coalition seeks a class waiver from the accessibility requirements for e-readers, such as Kindles, on the grounds that such devices are designed, marketed and used primarily for reading and not for ACS, although they may include some simple browsing and messaging capabilities (e.g., to email documents for viewing on the e-reader). Several consumer groups opposed the petition, and the matter was under consideration when the federal government shutdown commenced.

On October 22, 2013, the Consumer & Government Affairs Bureau of the FCC extended its review of the petition. It did so by granting a temporary waiver – until January 28, 2014 – for compliance with its ACS rules to a class of e-reader equipment. The waiver noted that over the next three months, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau would further evaluate the primary purpose of the e-reader equipment in question and examine the product life cycle of such e-readers to determine the appropriate duration of any further waiver, should it be granted.

The waiver applies only to e-reader devices that: (1) have no LCD screen; (2) have no camera; (3) are not offered or shipped to consumers with built-in ACS client applications, though the devices may include a browser and social media applications; and (4) are marketed to consumers as reading devices and promotional material does not advertise the capability to access ACS.