Articles
April 2013

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – What It Does and How to File Comments and Complaints

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is issues regulations governing the future of the Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) program. Video Relay Service (VRS) falls under the auspices of the TRS program. We, as consumers, can provide feedback to the FCC, and it is worth taking a minute or two to contact. Here is some information that explains what the FCC does.

The FCC is a government agency directly responsible to Congress. The FCC was established by the Communications Act of 1934, when Congress empowered the FCC to manage the public airwaves and telecommunications services. The FCC regulates TV and radio, telephone, cable, cell phone, satellite companies and TRS, including VRS.

The FCC does not pass laws. The FCC issues regulations and enforces laws enacted by Congress. Congress can overrule an FCC regulation through law, but this is not common.

Who makes decisions at the FCC? There are five FCC commissioners, all appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate. Only three commissioners can be members of the same political party. One of the commissioners is appointed chairman of the commission by the president.

What is a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

A notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) is a public notice issued by law when one of the independent agencies of the United States government wishes to add, remove or change a rule or regulation as part of the rulemaking process. An NPRM is an important part of United States administrative law that provides government with a process of considering public comment. The process and the term “NRPM” is also utilized at the state level.

NPRM procedure is required and defined by the Administrative Procedure Act. The U.S. Constitution does not require NPRMs. Rather, Congress created the requirement to enlighten agencies – that is, to force them to listen to comments and concerns of people whom the regulation will likely affect.

NPRMs are sometimes preceded by a notice of inquiry (NOI), which invites comments, but no rules have yet been proposed. Comments received in this period allow the agency to better prepare the NPRM by making more-informed decisions on proposals. An NPRM may be followed by a further notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPRM), if the comments from the initial NPRM drastically change the proposal to the point where further comment is required. Rules are finalized when a report and order (R&O) is issued, which may be amended with a second R&O (or more) in a continuing proceeding.

What Can Consumers Do?

Get involved by writing to the FCC to share your concerns and/or complaints about VRS. You should be aware that when you file complaints or comments with the FCC, this information becomes public information. Here are some ideas regarding when to write and to whom you can write.

  • If you experience problems when making VRS calls, you should always first contact the VRS provider you are using. First, try to resolve the problem with the company before you contact the FCC.
  • Contact the FCC when you wish to share your concerns, comments or ideas related to VRS.
  • If you are aware of any theft, fraud or abuse involving VRS, you should contact the FCC’s Office of Inspector General by phone at (888) 863-2244 or by email at [email protected].
  • When the FCC releases NPRMs, there is a comment period during which the FCC asks consumers to send comments. VRSCA will make every effort to keep you, the consumers, informed so that you can submit your comments to the FCC.

There is no charge for filing a complaint. For instructions on how to file a complaint with the FCC, you can go to the VRSCA website (www.vrsca.org). Click on the “Take Action” tab and follow the instructions. Or, you can write a letter to the FCC and send it to:

Federal Communications Commission Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division Re: CG 10-51 445 12th Street, SW Washington, DC 20554

So the FCC knows that you are writing about VRS, be sure to include the following information: Filing for Proceeding CG 10-51.

What to Include in Your Comments or Complaint

The best way to provide all the information the FCC needs to process your complaint is to thoroughly complete the complaint form online. When you open the complaint form, you will be asked a series of questions that will take you to the particular section of the form you need to complete. If you do not use the online complaint form, your complaint, at a minimum, should indicate:

  • Your name, address, email address and a phone number where you can be reached
  • Whether you are filing a complaint on behalf of another party and, if so, the party’s name, address, email address, daytime phone number and your relationship to the party
  • Preferred format or method of response (letter, fax, voice phone call, email, VRS, TTY, ASCII text, audio recording or Braille)
  • That your complaint is about VRS
  • The name, address and telephone number (if known) of the company or companies involved with your complaint
  • A brief description of your complaint and the resolution you are seeking as well as a full description of the equipment or service you are complaining about, including date of the complaint

For More Information

For more information about VRS, or to learn more about FCC programs to promote access to telecommunications services for people with disabilities, visit the FCC Disability Rights Office’s website at http://transition.fcc.gov/cgb/dro/.

Get Involved

Would you like to have a town hall presentation in your area? Contact your Region Manager.

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