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Editorial #65-FCC Proposes New Rules for 800 Numbers--Proposes Use of Local Numbers Not 800/866/877 for VRS

The FCC has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on September 17, 2010. It should be published in the Federal Register anytime now to set the clock for comments and reply comments (within 30 and 45 days.)

In the discussion leading to the proposed rules, the FCC states that  “our goal is to encourage iTRS  users (current deaf and hard of hearing users who have a local number on the national data base) to use the local number as their primary—and in most cases exclusive—telephone number.”  This could be interpreted to mean that the FCC wants to discourage VRS users from using 800/866/877 numbers as their primary number and to require everyone to use local numbers as their primary number.  The 800/866/877 numbers will continue to be available using a different method.

The proposed rules are as follows:

  • The provision of 800/866/877  numbers shall not be automatic.  This means local numbers will be given with each videophone, not 800/866/877 numbers.
  • The issuance of 800/866/877 numbers shall be provided by a toll free provider and be billed to the deaf/hard of hearing user.  The VRS provider shall transfer the number to the toll free provider at the request of the deaf/hard of hearing user.  This works the same way for hearing people today.
  • The FCC is not responsible for the cost of a 800/866/877 number and will not pay for any administration costs to any VRS provider.
  • The toll-free number if used, shall be tied (or mapped) to the deaf/hard of hearing user’s local number.

There are other items that the FCC wants comment on such as having a transition period to enable deaf/hard of hearing users who do not want to pay for a 800/866/877 number to inform their inbound callers of the change to a local number; doing an outreach program to educate consumers about the change in rules and other things.

Bear in mind these are “proposed’ rules.  After comments, and reply comments, some of the proposed rules might change.  It is now up to us all to comment to the FCC on these proposed rules.  Dr. Z is of the opinion that those rules are fair, and functionally equivalent–being like what the hearing people have today.  The transition period and the outreach is going to be important to be sure deaf and hard of hearing people do not lose their inbound calling capability if they do not switch to their local numbers.

The document can be found at the FCC website with this link.

Dr. Z (and the FCC) cares about your communication access.

Disclosure: Dr. Z is a contractor working with CSDVRS on several projects.

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