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FCC Issues Order to Combat Waste, Fraud and Abuse in VRS

On April 6th, the FCC issued an order to deal with waste and fraud they had uncovered in a series of investigations and arrests more than a year ago. In addition they issued a proposed rulemaking process to deal with certification of VRS providers.  This is only the beginning of what is expected to be a series of orders and proposed rules. Dr. Z commends the FCC for taking such steps to insure viability of the VRS program for years to come.  We need to be sure that VRS is here to stay–we all have become attached to the wonders of the service, along with new devkices and developments that have occurred of late and to come in the near future.

The order requires the following (partial quotes from FCC documents):

· 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 screen

· 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;

· 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;

· Adopt whistleblower protection rules for current and former employees and contractors of TRS providers;

In addition, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to deal with the certification process.

To read the order and the proposed rules, click 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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