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April 6, 2011

FCC Releases Important Fraud Order

On April 6, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the Video Relay Service (VRS) Fraud Order and the new Further Notice of Proposed RuleMaking (FNPRM) certification. You can read the FNPRM, which is 69 pages, here.

Comments on the FNPRM are due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, with reply comments due 15 days thereafter. Below are some key points included in the FNPRM. The actual date of publication in the Federal Register is unknown at this time, but often takes 30-60 days.

Report and Order

  • In addition to annual VRS audits, new record keeping requirements and updated procedures for dispute resolutions related to payment claims the FCC’s comprehensive reforms: Require that VRS providers submit a statement describing the location and staffing of their call centers twice a year, and a notification at least 30 days prior to any change in the location of such centers;
  • Prohibit VRS CAs from relaying calls from their homes and prohibit VRS providers from tying minutes or calls processed by a CA to compensation provided;
  • Prohibit compensation for VRS calls that originate from IP addresses that indicate the individual initiating the call is located outside of the United States, with the exception of callers who preregister with their default provider for a specified time and location of travel;
  • Prohibit compensation for VRS calls for remote training when the service provider is involved in any way with such training (e.g., sponsors, promotes or hosts such training);
  • Prohibit VRS CAs from using visual privacy screens, and requires that CAs terminate a VRS call, after providing a warning announcement, if either party to the call: (1) enables a privacy screen or similar feature for more than five minutes, or (2) is unresponsive or unengaged for more than five minutes, unless the call is to 9-1-1 or one of the parties is on hold;
  • Require automated recordkeeping of TRS minutes submitted to the Fund;
  • Require that VRS be offered to the public only in the name of the provider eligible for compensation from the Fund and, when sub-brands are used, that these identify such eligible provider; requires that calls to any brand or sub-brand of VRS be routed through a single URL address for that brand or sub-brand;
  • Prohibit revenue sharing agreements for CA or call center functions between entities eligible for compensation from the Fund and non-eligible entities;
  • Prohibit compensation on a per-minute basis for marketing and outreach costs performed through a subcontractor where such services utilize VRS; and
  • Adopt whistleblower protection rules for current and former employees and contractors of TRS providers.

Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

The Commission seeks public comment on proposals to:

  • Require that all Internet-based TRS providers be certified by the Commission to become eligible to receive compensation from the TRS Fund;
  • Require new and renewing certification applicant providers to provide specific documentary evidence of their ability to comply with the TRS rules; The Commission may choose to conduct on-site visits as part of the certification process;
  • Revise the provider’s annual report filings to the Commission to require further documentation that providers are in compliance with the Commission’s TRS rules;
  • Clarify what types of changes trigger a provider’s obligation to notify the Commission that substantive changes in its TRS program have occurred; and
  • Require providers to seek approval from the Commission for voluntary interruption of their Internet-enabled relay service and to promptly notify the Commission after-the-fact when unforeseen service interruptions occur.

VRSCA will let you know when comments on the Certification FNPRM will actually be due when the item is published in the Federal Register.

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