FCC Extends Accessibility Rules To Non-Interconnected VoIP Services

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 by Alexei Alexis  

The Federal Communications Commission Oct. 24 published its final rule (released Oct. 7) expanding the roster of contributors to the Commission's program aimed at improving communications access for individuals with hearing or speech disabilities (Contributions to the Telecommunications Relay Services Fund,FCC, CG Docket No. 11-47, 10/07/11).

Under the rule, non-interconnected VoIP service providers must begin participating in the interstate Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) Fund, which allows phone use by persons with hearing and speech disabilities.

Such VoIP service providers must participate “in a manner … consistent with and comparable to the obligations of other TRS Fund contributors,” the FCC said in a notice published in the Federal Register on Oct. 25.

Currently, providers of interstate and international telecommunications services and interconnected VoIP service contribute to the TRS fund, but non-interconnected VoIP providers do not, according to the FCC.

Carriers and interconnected VoIP service providers contribute to the TRS fund on the basis of interstate end-user telecommunications and interconnected VoIP revenues, the FCC said.

The contribution amount is the product of the service provider's interstate end-user revenues and a contribution factor determined annually by the commission, the agency said.