In a unanimous decision at its February open meeting, the FCC adopted a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) further reforming its IP Captioned Telephone Service (“IP CTS”) program, which is part of the telecommunications relay service (“TRS”). After the IP CTS program grew to 80 percent of the costs covered by TRS, last June the FCC approved a package of reform measures to control costs by imposing interim compensation rates to bring compensation closer to FCC determined actual average provider costs. In the instant Order, the FCC takes steps (over the objections of the IP CTS providers) to address potential waste, fraud and abuse by requiring IP CTS providers to submit user registration information to the existing video relay service (“VRS”) Database to limit program access to only those determined to be eligible to use IP CTS. The Commission also granted waivers of its emergency call handling requirements to reduce the requirements on IP CTS providers to relay certain information to PSAPs and initiate reconnection of a disconnected 911 call. The FNPRM proposes additional changes, including making permanent the emergency call handling requirement changes granted by waiver. Comments will be due 30 days after publication of the item in the Federal Register and reply comments will be due 45 days after publication.

Continue Reading FCC Further Reforms IP CTS Program

At its open meeting on February 20, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) to improve the accuracy of caller location information provided to public safety officials for all wireless calls to 911, including indoor calls. The Commission noted that over 70 percent of 911 calls are placed from wireless phones, with those calls increasingly coming from indoor locations. Last month, Commissioner Rosenworcel characterized the lack of reliable location information as “an unacceptable gap.” Today’s action moves forward on the issue, despite carriers’ concerns (and those of some Commissioners) that the technologies are not sufficiently ready. Continue Reading FCC Proposes Aggressive Location Accuracy Requirements for Indoor 911 Calls Despite Concerns

 As required by a recent act of Congress, the FCC opened a proceeding to create a Do-Not-Call registry to allow public safety answering points ("PSAPs") to register telephone numbers associated with the provision of their emergency telephone services.  Once the registry is established, telemarketers would be prohibited from using automatic telephone dialing systems to place calls to these numbers and from delivering prerecorded calls to these numbers.  

Under the new legislation, PSAPs would be permitted to register all 911 trunks and "other lines used for the provision of emergency services" in the do-not-call database.  The Commission proposes to allow both primary PSAPs and secondary (overflow) PSAPs to register numbers in the database.  The Commission also asks for comment on the most efficient way to establish the registry, including ways the registry could be coordinated with the National Do-Not-Call registry for residential telephone numbers.  

The NPRM also seeks comment on various enforcement provisions related to the new registry.  The legislation requires the Commission to establish monetary penalties of "not less than $100,000 per incident nor more than $1 million per incident" for disclosure of the numbers in the registry and between $10,000 and $100,000 per call made in violation of the do-not-call restriction.  Further, similar to the finding it made with respect to the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act ("CVAA"), the Commission asks whether it may proceed against non-licensees directly, without first issuing citations that are otherwise required under the Communications Act.

Comments will be due 30 days from publication of the NPRM in the Federal Register, with reply comments due 45 days from FR publication.