81 FR 33170 - Transition From TTY to Real-Time Text Technology

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

Federal Register Volume 81, Issue 101 (May 25, 2016)

Page Range33170-33192
FR Document2016-12057

In this document, the Commission proposes amendments to its rules to facilitate a transition from outdated text telephone (TTY) technology to a reliable and interoperable means of providing real-time text (RTT) communication for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech disabled, and deaf-blind over Internet Protocol (IP) enabled networks and services.

Federal Register, Volume 81 Issue 101 (Wednesday, May 25, 2016)
[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 101 (Wednesday, May 25, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 33170-33192]
From the Federal Register Online  [www.thefederalregister.org]
[FR Doc No: 2016-12057]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Parts 6, 7, 14, 20, 64, and 67

[CG Docket No. 16-145 and GN Docket No. 15-178; FCC 16-53]


Transition From TTY to Real-Time Text Technology

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: In this document, the Commission proposes amendments to its 
rules to facilitate a transition from outdated text telephone (TTY) 
technology to a reliable and interoperable means of providing real-time 
text (RTT) communication for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, 
speech disabled, and deaf-blind over Internet Protocol (IP) enabled 
networks and services.

DATES: Comments are due July 11, 2016 and Reply Comments are due July 
25, 2016.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by CG Docket No. 16-145, 
by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the Internet by accessing the Commission's Electronic Comment 
Filing System (ECFS), through the Commission's Web site http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs//. Filers should follow the instructions provided on 
the Web site for submitting comments. For ECFS filers, in completing 
the transmittal screen, filers should include their full name, U.S. 
Postal service mailing address, and CG Docket No. 16-145.
     Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must 
file an original and one copy of each filing. Filings can be sent by 
hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by 
first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail (although the 
Commission continues to experience delays in receiving U.S. Postal 
Service mail). All filings must be addressed to the Commission's 
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
    For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional 
information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section of this document.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Suzy Rosen Singleton, Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, at 202-510-9446 or email 
[email protected], or Robert Aldrich, Consumer and Governmental 
Affairs Bureau, at 202-418-0996 or email [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Pursuant to 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested 
parties may file comments and reply comments on or before the dates 
indicated on the first page of this document. Comments may be filed 
using the Commission's ECFS. See Electronic Filing of Documents in 
Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
     All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings 
for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 
445 12th Street SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. All hand 
deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any 
envelopes must be disposed of before entering the building.
     Commercial Mail sent by overnight mail (other than U.S. 
Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 
East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
     U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority 
mail should be addressed to 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 20554.
    This is a summary of the Commission's document FCC 16-53, 
Transition from TTY to Real-Time Text Technology, Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking, adopted April 28, 2016, and released April 29, 2016, in CG 
Docket No. 16-145 and GN Docket No. 15-178. The full text of document 
FCC 16-53 will be available for public inspection and copying via ECFS, 
and during regular business hours at the FCC Reference Information 
Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 
20554. Document FCC 16-53 can also be downloaded in Word or Portable 
Document Format (PDF) at: https://www.fcc.gov/general/disability-rights-office-headlines. This proceeding shall be treated as a 
``permit-but-disclose'' proceeding in accordance with the Commission's 
ex parte rules. 47 CFR 1.1200 et seq. Persons making ex parte 
presentations must file a copy of any written presentation or a 
memorandum summarizing any oral presentation within two business days 
after the presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the 
Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral ex parte presentations 
are reminded that memoranda summarizing the presentation must (1) list 
all persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting at 
which the ex parte presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data 
presented and arguments made during the presentation. If the 
presentation consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data 
or arguments already reflected in the presenter's written comments, 
memoranda or other filings in the proceeding, the presenter may provide 
citations to such data or arguments in his or her prior comments, 
memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page and/or 
paragraph numbers where such data or arguments can be found) in lieu of 
summarizing them in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to 
Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be written ex 
parte presentations and must be filed consistent with 47 CFR 1.1206(b). 
In proceedings governed by 47 CFR 1.49(f) or for which the Commission 
has made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte 
presentations and memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations, 
and all attachments thereto, must be filed through the electronic 
comment filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed 
in their native format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). 
Participants in this proceeding should familiarize themselves with the 
Commission's ex parte rules. To request materials in accessible formats 
for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, 
audio format), send an email to [email protected] or call the Consumer and 
Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 
(TTY).

Initial Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 Analysis

    Document FCC 16-53 seeks comment on proposed rule amendments that 
may result in modified information collection requirements. If the 
Commission adopts any modified information collection requirements, the 
Commission will publish another notice in the Federal Register inviting 
the public to comment on the requirements, as required by the Paperwork 
Reduction Act. Public Law 104-13; 44 U.S.C. 3501-3520. In addition, 
pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of

[[Page 33171]]

2002, the Commission seeks comment on how it might further reduce the 
information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer 
than 25 employees. Public Law 107-198; 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).

Synopsis

Introduction

    1. In document FCC 16-53, the Commission proposes amendments to its 
rules to facilitate a transition from outdated text telephone (TTY) 
technology to a reliable and interoperable means of providing real-time 
text (RTT) communication for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, 
speech disabled, and deaf-blind over Internet Protocol (IP) enabled 
networks and services. RTT is a mode of communication that permits text 
to be sent immediately as it is being created. As a technology designed 
for today's IP environment, and one that allows the use of off-the-
shelf rather than specialized end user devices, RTT can, for the first 
time in our nation's history, enable people with disabilities who rely 
on text to use text-based communications services that are fully 
integrated with mainstream communications services and devices used by 
the general public. In addition, RTT's advanced features, including its 
speed, full character set, reliability, and ease of use, can 
significantly improve access to emergency services for people with 
disabilities and help reduce reliance on telecommunications relay 
services.
    2. In order to facilitate an effective and seamless transition to 
RTT, the Commission proposes to amend its rules as follows:
     The Commission proposes to replace its rules governing the 
obligations of wireless service providers and equipment manufacturers 
to support TTY technology with rules defining the obligations of these 
entities to support RTT over IP-based wireless voice services.
     The Commission proposes that, for wireless service 
providers' and equipment manufacturers' support of RTT to be deemed 
sufficient for compliance with the Commission's rules:
     RTT communications must be interoperable across networks 
and devices, and this may achieved through adherence to Internet 
Engineering Task Force (IETF) Request for Comments 4103, Real-time 
Transport Protocol Payload for Text Conversation (2005) (RFC 4103), as 
a ``safe harbor'' standard for RTT;
     RTT communications must be backward compatible with TTY 
technology, until the Commission determines that such compatibility is 
no longer necessary; and
     Wireless services and equipment capable of sending, 
receiving and displaying text must support specific RTT functions, 
features, and capabilities necessary to ensure that people with 
disabilities have accessible and effective text-based communications 
service.
     The Commission proposes establishing timelines for 
implementation of RTT as follows:
     For Tier I wireless service providers, and manufacturers 
that provide devices for such services, implementation of RTT would be 
required by December 31, 2017.
     For non-Tier I wireless providers, and manufacturers of 
equipment used with such services, the Commission seeks comment on an 
appropriate timeline for implementation of RTT.
     Finally, the Commission seeks comment on whether to amend 
its rules to place comparable responsibilities to support RTT on 
providers and manufacturers of wireline IP services and equipment that 
enable consumers to initiate and receive communications by voice.
    3. The Commission believes that the above proposals for the 
migration from TTY to RTT technology will ensure that people with 
disabilities can fully utilize and benefit from twenty-first century 
communications technologies as our nation migrates from legacy analog 
systems to IP-based networks and services. The Commission seeks comment 
on the tentative conclusions, proposals, and analyses put forth in 
document FCC 16-53, as well as on any alternative approaches.

Background

    4. The Commission has adopted specific rules requiring support for 
TTY technology by providers and manufacturers of telecommunications and 
advanced communications services and devices. See 47 CFR 6.5, 7.5, 
14.20, 14.21, 20.18(c), 64.601(a)(1), (b), 64.603, 64.604(a)(3)(v), 
(c)(5)(iii). On June 12, 2015, AT&T filed a petition requesting that 
the Commission initiate a rulemaking proceeding to authorize the 
substitution of RTT for TTY technology, as an accessibility solution 
for use with IP-based voice communications networks and services.

Limitations of TTY Technology and the Need for a Rulemaking

    5. TTY technology was developed more than fifty years ago as a 
means of enabling people who are deaf, hard of hearing, and speech 
disabled to use the legacy Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). 
The record shows the significant challenges that TTY technology 
presents on IP-based communication networks and platforms, including 
its susceptibility to packet loss, compression techniques that distort 
TTY tones, and echo or other noises that result from the transmission 
of the Baudot character string. These deficiencies can degrade quality, 
augment error rates, and hurt the reliability of telephone 
communications. When these shortcomings occur, synchronization of the 
conversation also can be impeded, and the transmission can become 
garbled until it is restored. For TTY users, this not only is 
frustrating, but also can present a dangerous situation in an 
emergency, when effective communication is critical. TTYs are also 
criticized for their slow transmission speed, their dependency on turn-
taking, their use of significant network bandwidth, their lack of 
interoperability with dedicated text devices used in other countries, 
and their limited character set, the latter of which can make 
communicating certain information, such as email and web addresses, 
difficult or impossible.
    6. The record shows that these technical and functional limitations 
of TTY technology have resulted in a steady decline in its use in favor 
of other forms of text communication that offer greater ease of use, 
improved features, and practicability. This trend is also revealed in a 
survey of the participants in field trials conducted to assess the user 
experience of the quality and interoperability of RTT and alternatives. 
Reports by the Interstate Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) Fund 
Administrator, Rolka Loube, confirm decreasing reliance on TTYs; over 
the past 7\1/2\ years, its monthly filings show a drop of nearly 80 
percent in the number of minutes attributed to TTY-initiated relay 
calls. Rolka Loube, TRS Fund Performance Status Report, http://www.rolkaloube.com/#!formsreport/c1zvl. TTYs are hardly ever used with 
wireless services. Instead, consumers have opted for applications that 
are native to the IP environment, such as short messaging services 
(SMS), instant messaging, email, IP Relay Service, and various social 
media applications.
    7. Support for Commission action comes from the industry, the 
consumers, and the Commission's federal advisory bodies that have 
addressed this matter over the past several years. Most recently, in 
October 2015 and February 2016, the

[[Page 33172]]

Commission's Disability Advisory Committee (DAC) submitted two sets of 
recommendations that support the Commission's exploration into the use 
of RTT or other text-based solutions as a replacement for TTY 
technology. Prior to this, in March 2013, the Commission's Emergency 
Access Advisory Committee (EAAC) recommended replacing TTY support 
requirements with requirements for direct access to 911 services via 
IP-based text communications that include real-time text.

Proposals for RTT Implementation

    8. The Commission proposes to amend its rules to replace the rules 
governing the obligations of wireless providers and manufacturers to 
support TTY technology with rules defining the obligations of these 
entities to support RTT over IP-based wireless voice services. The 
Commission tentatively concludes that the technical and functional 
limitations of TTYs make this technology unsuitable as a long-term 
means to provide full and effective access to IP-based wireless 
telephone networks, and that there is a need to provide individuals who 
rely on text communication with a superior accessibility solution for 
the IP environment. The Commission further tentatively concludes that 
RTT can best achieve this goal because it can be well supported in the 
wireless IP environment, will facilitate emergency communications to 
911 services, allows for more natural and simultaneous interactions on 
telephone calls, will largely eliminate the need to purchase 
specialized or assistive devices that connect to mainstream technology, 
and may reduce reliance on telecommunications relay services.

RTT Support by Wireless Providers and Manufacturers

Transmission of RTT Over IP-Based Wireless Services

    9. To achieve an effective and timely transition to RTT, the 
Commission proposes to require RTT support at a specified time in the 
future, but also seeks comment on the extent to which there should be 
an interim period preceding such deadline, during which covered 
entities would be allowed to provide either RTT or TTY support on IP-
based wireless services. The Commission believes that establishing an 
RTT requirement is necessary to ensure that people with disabilities 
continue to have effective access to wireless communications services 
as these services make the transition to an all-IP environment, and 
seeks comment on this approach. To this end, the Commission proposes 
the following revisions to its rules:
     Amend Sec.  20.18(c) to require wireless IP-based voice 
service providers to be capable of transmitting 911 calls from 
individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or speech 
disabled through RTT technology, in lieu of transmitting 911 calls from 
TTYs over IP networks;
     Amend part 64 to require wireless interconnected voice-
over-IP (VoIP) service providers to support TRS access through RTT 
technology, including 711 abbreviated dialing access, in lieu of 
supporting TRS access via TTY technology;
     Amend parts 6 and 7 to require providers of wireless 
interconnected VoIP services subject to these rules to provide and 
support RTT, if readily achievable, in lieu of providing connectability 
and compatibility with TTYs; and
     Amend part 14 to require providers of wireless VoIP 
services subject to these rules to provide and support RTT, unless this 
requirement is not achievable, in lieu of providing connectability and 
compatibility with TTYs.

End User Device Support for RTT

    10. The Commission believes that the availability of RTT-capable 
end user devices for users is essential in order to facilitate the use 
of RTT for emergency purposes, fully integrate RTT capability into the 
IP environment, and ensure that RTT users have the same range of device 
choices offered to the general public for voice communications. To this 
end, the Commission further proposes to amend its rules in the 
following manner to address the ability of wireless devices used by 
consumers to support RTT.
    11. Wireless service providers. For providers of IP-based voice 
services, the Commission proposes to:
     Amend Sec.  20.18(c), which requires the transmission of 
911 calls from TTYs, and parts 6, 7, and 14 to require that, to the 
extent a wireless provider issues design specifications, purchases for 
resale to users, or otherwise authorizes new handsets or other text-
capable end user devices for use with its IP-based voice services, the 
provider shall ensure that such devices have the ability to send, 
receive and display RTT.
     If it is not readily achievable (under parts 6 and 7) or 
achievable (under part 14) to incorporate RTT capability within such 
wireless devices, the wireless provider shall ensure that such devices 
are compatible with RTT-equipped stand-alone devices or software 
applications, ``if readily achievable'' for equipment subject to parts 
6 and 7 of the rules, and ``unless not achievable'' for equipment 
subject to part 14 of the rules.
    12. Manufacturers. For manufacturers of wireless handsets or other 
wireless text-capable end user devices used with IP-based voice 
services, the Commission proposes to amend parts 6, 7, and 14 to 
require such manufacturers to:
     Ensure that their devices have the ability to send, 
receive, and display RTT, if readily achievable for equipment subject 
to parts 6 and 7 of the rules, and unless not achievable for equipment 
subject to part 14.
     If it is not readily achievable (under parts 6 and 7) or 
achievable (under part 14) to incorporate RTT capability within such 
devices, ensure that such devices are compatible with RTT-equipped 
stand-alone devices or software applications, if readily achievable for 
equipment subject to parts 6 and 7 of the rules, and unless not 
achievable for equipment subject to part 14 of the rules.
    13. The Commission's proposal to create an affirmative requirement 
for RTT support is consistent with past Commission actions and 
Congressional mandates to ensure that, as communications networks 
evolve to incorporate new technologies, accessibility safeguards be 
amended to ensure that people with disabilities continue to have 
effective access to communications. The purpose of section 716, added 
to the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act), by the Twenty-
First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 
(CVAA), Public Law 111-260, 124 Stat. 2751 (October 8, 2010), is to 
ensure that ``advanced communications services'' (ACS) that incorporate 
new technologies are accessible to individuals with disabilities. 47 
U.S.C. 617(a)(1) (emphasis added). As explained by the Senate committee 
report on the CVAA, the CVAA's purpose is ``to update the 
communications laws'' to ensure accessibility, because, since the 
previous update in 1996 (when section 255 of the Act was added), 
``[i]nternet-based and digital technologies are now pervasive . . . 
[and] the extraordinary benefits of these technological advances are 
sometimes not accessible to individuals with disabilities.'' S. Rep. 
No. 111-386 at 1-2 (2010). Thus, for example, section 716(d) of the Act 
expressly prohibits ACS providers from ``install[ing] network features, 
functions or capabilities that impede accessibility or usability.'' 47 
U.S.C. 617(d). By requiring wireless providers and manufacturers, as 
they deploy IP-based

[[Page 33173]]

voice services, equipment, and networks, to implement RTT as a state-
of-the-art accessibility technology, the Commission will ensure not 
only that such networks do not impede accessibility, but that the 
benefits of technological advances are accessible to individuals with 
disabilities as Congress intended.
    14. The Commission's proposals are also intended to avoid 
repetition of past failures to build in accessibility at the outset of 
technological changes, which led to long delays in providing access to 
new communications technologies for people with disabilities. For 
example, in the mid-1990s, despite the public safety dangers of leaving 
people with disabilities behind as the wireless industry made its 
transition from analog to digital technology, repeated delays resulted 
in the lack of access to digital wireless services by TTY users for 
over six years, well past the rise in popularity of digital technology 
with the general public. Similarly, it was not until 2005 that digital 
handsets began integrating hearing aid compatibility, again despite the 
introduction of these handsets in the mid-1990s. Each of these delays 
imposed considerable hardships on people with disabilities, who 
remained without digital wireless access--and without emergency access 
via wireless networks--for lengthy periods of time after these 
technologies became available to everyone else. Additionally, industry 
efforts that were needed to eventually achieve such access--which took 
place very late in the design and development process of building of 
such phones--proved more costly and burdensome than would likely have 
been the case had accessibility been incorporated from the outset.
    15. The Commission has noted that communication networks are 
rapidly transitioning away from the historic provision of time-division 
multiplexed (TDM) services running on copper to new, all-IP multimedia 
networks using copper, co-axial cable, wireless, and fiber as physical 
infrastructure. As these changes take place, the Commission seeks to 
ensure that its accessibility rules for IP-based voice networks achieve 
the early integration of accessibility features, so that people with 
disabilities can enjoy communications services as they emerge, along 
with the general population. The Commission believes that amending its 
rules to require support of RTT at this time is likely to create 
greater certainty for companies that have expressed an interest in 
deploying RTT, and provide a supportive regulatory landscape in which 
to do so. With the action taken today, the Commission expects that 
covered entities will have the necessary incentives to invest and 
innovate to improve products employing RTT functionalities, promoting 
more effective access to 911 services and other communications for 
individuals with disabilities.
    16. The Commission seeks comment on its tentative conclusions, 
proposals, and analysis, including the costs and technical feasibility 
of the proposed rule amendments, and on any proposed alternatives. The 
Commission notes that in its text-to-911 proceeding, it determined that 
significant benefits could be attained by enabling people with 
disabilities to use text to access emergency services by phone. The 
Commission has recognized that as our nation ages, the number of 
Americans who may need alternatives to voice telephone communications 
is likely to increase. The Commission believes that establishing a 
requirement to ensure that RTT is incorporated in wireless IP-based 
services and devices as these are designed and developed will reduce 
the overall costs of incorporating this access feature, while ensuring 
that people with disabilities are not left behind in the transition to 
new technology. The Commission seeks comment on whether these 
assumptions are correct and generally on the benefits to be derived 
from incorporating RTT functionalities into wireless services and end 
user devices, including the benefits that may accrue for improving 
access to 911 services.
    17. In a joint filing, three technology research centers, the 
Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Telecommunications 
Access, Trace Research & Development Center at the University of 
Wisconsin-Madison, and the Gallaudet University Technology Access 
Program (Technology Research Centers), contend that the implementation 
of RTT would not add any hardware costs to support RTT, if limited to 
products used for receiving and displaying RTT that already have a 
display large enough to display multiple lines of text (or software 
designed to run on a multi-line display) and a mechanism for generating 
text for other purposes. They and others point out that many Internet-
enabled terminal devices, including smartphones, tablets, and VoIP desk 
phones, already have such text generation and display capabilities. 
Costs also appear to be minimized if incorporated in the beginning of 
the design process. The Commission seeks comment on the merits of these 
assumptions, and on how they would be affected by the outcome of the 
issues raised for comment in this section regarding the scope of an 
equipment capabilities requirement.

Timelines

    18. Larger wireless carriers. The Commission seeks comment on when 
its rules requiring implementation of RTT should become effective. The 
Commission proposes that this be completed by Tier I wireless service 
providers, which offer nationwide service, no later than December 31, 
2017. See 47 CFR 20.19(a)(3)(v) for a definition of Tier I providers. 
The Commission seeks comment on whether the proposed date will afford 
sufficient time for this category of providers to achieve compliance 
with the rules proposed in document FCC 16-53. Alternatively, the 
Commission seeks comment on whether it would be preferable to establish 
a specified interim period of time--prior to the deadline set for an 
RTT requirement--during which Tier I covered entities would be allowed 
to support RTT over their IP facilities if they are unable to support 
TTYs. The Commission asks parties that believe such interim period is 
necessary to explain whether and how such period would be needed to 
afford additional flexibility during the transition to RTT technology. 
The Commission further asks commenters who disagree with the 
Commission's proposed deadline of December 31, 2017, for Tier I 
carriers to explain why additional time would be needed to achieve 
deployment of RTT.
    19. Smaller wireless carriers. The Commission proposes that smaller 
wireless carriers, to be defined as those that do not fall into Tier I, 
be given an additional period of time to achieve compliance with the 
proposed RTT support requirements beyond the deployment date proposed 
for the larger, Tier I carriers. The Commission seeks comment on what 
would be an appropriate extension of time, as well as whether the 
Commission should distinguish between Tier II (non-nationwide mid-sized 
commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) providers with greater than 
500,000 subscribers) and Tier III carriers (non-nationwide small CMRS 
providers with no more than 500,000 subscribers) in determining 
appropriate benchmarks for these providers. Alternatively, the 
Commission seeks comment on whether it would be more appropriate to tie 
the obligations of these carriers to the timing of their transition to 
IP-based wireless technologies, such as IMS/VoLTE or 4G services. 
Finally, to what extent would it be appropriate to

[[Page 33174]]

establish an interim transitional period, akin to what is discussed 
above for Tier I carriers, during which such smaller carriers would be 
allowed, but not required, to support RTT in lieu of TTY technology?
    20. End user devices. The Commission proposes that the timeline 
established for RTT support over IP-based wireless services apply as 
well to handsets and other text-capable end user devices for use with 
such services, and thus proposes that any such handsets or devices sold 
after December 31, 2017, have RTT capability, and seeks comment on this 
proposal. Making this requirement effective at the same time that 
wireless services are required to become RTT-capable would ensure that 
sufficient handsets are available for people with disabilities to have 
access to text communications in real time after the existing orders 
waiving service provider requirements for TTY support expire. Will the 
proposed December 2017 deadline for the Tier I service providers allow 
sufficient time to incorporate RTT capability in end user devices? Is 
it more appropriate for the deadline established for end user devices 
to apply to the date on which new devices are manufactured, rather than 
first made available to the general public?
    21. In addition to requiring the inclusion of RTT support on new 
terminal devices, consistent with statutory requirements for 
telecommunications access and access to advanced communications 
services and equipment, should there be a requirement to add RTT 
capability to end user devices already in service at the compliance 
deadline, at ``natural opportunities,'' previously defined by the 
Commission to occur upon the redesign of a product model or service, 
new versions of software, upgrades to existing features or 
functionalities, significant rebundling or unbundling of product and 
service packages, or any other significant modification that may 
require redesign? Further, to the extent that it is not achievable 
under section 716 of the Act or readily achievable under section 255 of 
the Act to make an end user device accessible through RTT, by what date 
should such device be made compatible with a stand-alone RTT device or 
app to the extent that these become available?
    22. The Commission also seeks comment on the period of time, if 
any, that over-the-top applications or plug-ins for RTT should be 
permitted as an interim measure to achieve RTT on end user devices, and 
if permitted as over-the-top applications, whether manufacturers and 
service providers should be required to pre-install such applications 
on devices before they are sold to the public. Specifically, the 
Commission proposes that the use of an over-the-top application as an 
interim solution, such as that which AT&T is achieving, will be 
sufficient to constitute compliance with the RTT requirement by 
December 31, 2017, and seeks comment on this tentative conclusion. At 
the same time, the Commission asks to what extent the Commission should 
be concerned that the many advantages of RTT as a universal text 
solution will not be achieved until RTT is incorporated as a native 
function in end user devices, or at a minimum, pre-installed by the 
manufacturer or service provider as a ``default'' application. The 
Commission seeks comment on whether this concern should guide its final 
rules, and further seeks comment on what functionalities of RTT, and 
what associated benefits of RTT, if any, would be unavailable if it is 
initially implemented as an over-the-top application rather than as 
native functionality. With this in mind, the Commission asks commenters 
to provide specific parameters for and factual showings justifying any 
timelines they propose for transitioning to native RTT functionality in 
covered devices.

Advantages of RTT

    23. IP-Based Technology. There is general agreement among AT&T and 
those commenting on its petition that RTT is an effective alternative 
to TTY technology for the IP environment. Commenters concur that RTT is 
designed for today's packet-switching environment and offers an 
expanded array of features to enable more robust user conversations, 
including real-time editing of text and full-duplex functionality 
(i.e., both parties can communicate simultaneously). Various commenters 
state that RTT allows for the intermixing of speech with text, is more 
spectrally efficient than TTY, will be superior to TTY in every way--
transmission speed, latency, reliability, features, privacy, 
conversation form, and ease of use--will facilitate the transition to 
end-to-end Next Generation 911 (NG911), and will meet the needs of 
legacy TTY users during the transition. The Commission tentatively 
concludes that deployment of RTT on IP networks will offer 
functionality greatly superior to that of TTY technology, and it seeks 
comment on this tentative conclusion.
    24. Off-the-Shelf Devices. Commenters also state that RTT will 
allow consumers with disabilities to make calls using the built-in 
functionality of a wide selection of off-the-shelf devices, including 
smartphones, tablets, computers and other Internet-enabled devices that 
have the ability to send, receive, and display text. These parties 
point out that this can eliminate the high costs and other challenges 
involved in finding, purchasing, and making effective use of assistive 
devices such as TTYs. The Commission tentatively concludes that the 
ability to acquire off-the-shelf RTT-capable devices will be beneficial 
for text communication users, and seeks comment on this tentative 
conclusion.
    25. Substitution for Telecommunications Relay Services. Section 225 
of the Act directs the Commission to ensure that TRS is available ``in 
the most efficient manner.'' 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1). The record suggests 
that, because RTT will provide greater opportunities for direct, point-
to-point text communication and can enable text to be intermixed with 
voice, it can reduce reliance on relay services and thereby provide 
consumers with greater privacy and independence, while reducing overall 
costs for telecommunications users. For example, one form of TRS, 
captioned telephone relay service (CTS), currently uses communication 
assistants (CAs) to enable people who are hard of hearing to receive 
captions of conversation spoken by other parties to a telephone call. 
The Commission expects that RTT users might not need these services if 
they were able to receive RTT over VoIP phones to supplement incoming 
voice conversations for difficult-to-understand words. Similarly, the 
Commission predicts that people with speech disabilities who can type 
will be able to use standard phones capable of generating RTT to 
communicate with other persons who also have VoIP phones with displays. 
However, the Commission notes that these results are likely to be 
achieved only to the extent that RTT capabilities in end user devices 
truly become ubiquitous--i.e., are enabled by default in all or most 
wireless (and eventually wireline) terminal equipment. To the extent 
that RTT is ``supported'' but not fully incorporated as a native or 
default function of devices--and is merely available for users to 
download or install--commenters suggest that the universal reach of 
text as a substitute for relay services will be less likely to be 
achieved, because many individuals who do not rely on text may not 
install this extra functionality. The Commission seeks comment on 
whether these assumptions are correct.
    26. Improvement of Telecommunications Relay Services. In addition 
to substituting for TRS in some

[[Page 33175]]

circumstances, the Commission believes that RTT can be used to enhance 
the ability of TRS to provide functionally equivalent telephone 
service. For example, it would appear that for text-based forms of TRS, 
RTT can improve the speed and reliability of communications in an IP 
environment. The Technology Research Centers further note that 
individuals may be able to use RTT to supplement communications in sign 
language with text during video relay service (VRS) calls, reducing the 
time needed for CAs to convey detailed information, such as addresses 
and URLs. The Commission seeks comment on these assertions and whether 
there are other ways that RTT can improve the provision of TRS for its 
users.
    27. Advantages Over Messaging-Type Services. Text-based 
accessibility solutions include RTT, SMS, instant messaging and similar 
chat-type functions, and email. With the exception of RTT, each of 
these technologies requires parties to complete their messages and to 
press ``send,'' ``enter,'' or a similar key to transmit the message to 
its recipient. By contrast, when a message is sent in real time, it is 
immediately conveyed to and received by the call recipient as it is 
being composed. Several commenters maintain that RTT is the only type 
of text communication that allows a natural flow of conversation akin 
to voice telephone calls, and therefore the only form that meets the 
criterion of functional equivalency. Without the turn-taking and delays 
characteristic of messaging-type communications, these parties state, 
RTT gives call recipients ``an opportunity to follow the thoughts of 
the sender as they are formed into words.'' The Technology Research 
Centers note what they consider additional drawbacks of these 
alternatives: The delivery of messages over SMS is not guaranteed; 
instant messaging is not interoperable; and certain features, such as 
conference calling, are not available via instant messaging across 
multiple providers.
    28. Access to 911 Emergency Services. Perhaps the most compelling 
case to be made in favor of RTT over messaging-type services is in the 
context of emergency calls to 911. Recent studies reveal a preference 
for RTT in simulated emergency situations by 100 percent of 
participants. According to the Technology Research Centers, a principal 
reason for preferring RTT over SMS is that the latter can result in 
``[c]rossed messages [that] can lead to misunderstanding and loss of 
time. . . . In an emergency situation, a panicked caller may ask a 
second or third question if there is no immediate visible response from 
the 9-1-1 call-taker. This can lead to confusion, crossed answers, and 
error.'' In contrast, these groups explain, RTT enables ``emergency 
call-takers [to] view the message as it is being typed and respond, 
refer, interrupt, or guide the information being sent to speed up 
communication and make it more helpful to emergency responders.'' In 
this manner, they say, RTT ``allows for the efficient exchange of 
information and a continued sense of contact,'' as well as the delivery 
of even incomplete messages, which can result in potentially saving 
lives in an emergency.
    29. The Commission recognizes that, two years ago, it adopted rules 
that could be met through the provision of SMS-based text-to-911 
service. The Commission's goal in doing so was to ensure that, in the 
near term, individuals have a direct and familiar means of contacting 
911 via text through mass market communication devices that are already 
available to people with disabilities and other members of the general 
public. The Commission noted that some commenters were less supportive 
of SMS-to-911 because it does not support the ability to ``send and 
receive text simultaneously with the time that it is typed without 
having to press a `send' key.'' At the same time, the Commission 
recognized that many stakeholders would choose to text to 911 through 
an interim SMS-based solution because of its ease of use for people 
with disabilities and ubiquity in mainstream society. It went on to 
note that RTT ``provides an instantaneous exchange, character by 
character or word by word,'' a feature that commenters to this 
proceeding say is critical in an emergency. The record in the instant 
proceeding continues to reflect major concerns by several commenters 
about using SMS as a long term 911 accessibility solution. While the 
Commission does not propose to make any changes to its existing text-
to-911 rules in this proceeding, it believes that its proposals to 
facilitate the wider availability of RTT for people with disabilities 
could have a beneficial impact on the future evolution of text-to-911.
    30. The Commission proposes that RTT will be more effective than 
messaging-type services in meeting the communication needs of consumers 
with disabilities, including their emergency communication needs, and 
seeks comment on this proposal. Are there other text-based 
communication solutions that can meet the general communication needs 
of this population as effectively as RTT, and if so, how? How would the 
deployment of RTT or other text-based solutions impact the transition 
to NG911? The Commission asks commenters to address concerns about the 
costs, benefits, and feasibility of using RTT for accessing 911 
services, and seeks comment on the technical and operational impact on 
Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) receiving RTT-based 911 calls.

Minimum Functionalities of RTT

    31. The DAC recommends that the Commission ``consider how 
telecommunication and advanced communications services and equipment 
that support RTT [can] provide the users of RTT (either in isolation or 
in conjunction with other media) with access to the same 
telecommunication and advanced communications functions and features 
that are provided to voice-based users of the services and equipment.'' 
The Commission believes that this formulation captures the objectives 
of sections 225, 255, and 716 of the Act, which are to provide 
functionally equivalent communications and to ensure that 
telecommunications and ACS are fully accessible to and usable by people 
with disabilities. The Commission proposes that, in amending its rules 
to recognize IP-based text alternatives and facilitate the transition 
away from TTY technology, the Commission should consider the extent to 
which RTT's features, functions, and capabilities can provide people 
with disabilities with telephone service that is as accessible, usable, 
and otherwise as effective as voice-based services over IP networks. 
The Commission seeks comment on this proposed approach.
    32. The Commission tentatively concludes, proposes, or seeks 
comment on the following basic functionalities that it believes are 
necessary for a wireless provider's implementation of RTT to be 
considered compliant with the rules adopted by the Commission in this 
proceeding. The Commission seeks comment on the extent to which each is 
necessary to achieve effective telephone access for individuals with 
disabilities, as well as its costs, other benefits, and any technical 
or other challenges that may be associated with its provision. Finally, 
the Commission seeks comment on the extent to which each of these 
features will be enabled or facilitated through the use of RFC 4103. 
RFC 4103, http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc4103.txt.

Interoperability

    33. The Commission tentatively concludes that people who rely on 
text to communicate can only achieve effective RTT communications 
across

[[Page 33176]]

multiple platforms and networks if the communication transmissions 
carried across, and the terminal equipment used with, those platforms 
and networks are interoperable with one another. The Commission seeks 
comment on this tentative conclusion. The Commission notes that there 
is consensus among commenters on AT&T's petition for rulemaking with 
respect to the need for seamless interconnection of RTT services across 
networks, service providers, and devices. Virtually all commenters 
agree with AT&T on the importance of not locking users into a single 
network, service provider, or device, as well as the value of ensuring 
that people with disabilities have the same kinds of choices in a 
competitive market as the population in general. Some commenters note 
that if service providers were to adopt proprietary standards that do 
not interoperate, RTT users might not be able to communicate with other 
users in emergency situations.
    34. Commission rules reflect a longstanding commitment to policies 
favoring the openness of telecommunications services across providers 
and devices, so that anyone can make a voice call to anyone else, 
regardless of the provider or device they are using. For example, the 
Commission has promulgated a series of rules to ensure the 
interconnection of terminal equipment to the telephone network. The 
Commission's rules also prohibit telecommunications carriers and ACS 
providers from installing network features, functions, or capabilities 
that impede the accessibility or usability of telecommunications and 
ACS services. Further, in the Emerging Wireline Order and Further 
Notice, the Commission tentatively concluded that a carrier seeking to 
discontinue an existing retail communications service in order to 
transition to a newer technology must demonstrate that the replacement 
service offered by that carrier, or alternative services available from 
other providers in the affected service area, provides voice and non-
voice device and service interoperability--including interoperability 
with third party services--as much as or more than the interoperability 
provided by the service to be retired. Technology Transitions, Report 
and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Further Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking, published at 80 FR 63321, October 19, 2015 (Emerging 
Wireline Order and Further Notice). The Commission believes that 
preserving interoperability is equally important in the transition from 
TTY to RTT technology. The Commission further believes that, in the 
absence of interoperability, multiple versions of RTT may need to be 
supported, not only by user devices, but also by TRS call centers and 
911 PSAPs--a burden that could entail a prohibitive expense for many 
such entities. The Commission seeks comment on this analysis.
    35. RFC 4103 as a Safe Harbor RTT Standard The Commission next 
considers how best to achieve RTT interoperability across communication 
platforms, networks, and devices. Some commenters maintain that having 
a single standard will ensure that RTT is a valuable and universally 
usable communications medium and that it will be less expensive for 
carriers to develop and deploy a single, interoperable RTT system now, 
than to each develop their own versions of RTT service and later try to 
reconfigure these to be interoperable. Various commenters point out 
that the lack of a common standard sometimes has impeded the 
interoperability of communications technologies needed by people with 
disabilities, reporting that the lack of an international standard for 
TTY technology has prevented TTY users from communicating by text in 
real-time with people living or visiting countries abroad, the lack of 
a common standard for instant messaging sometimes prevents instant 
messaging users from being able to contact each other across platforms, 
and the lack of a common VRS standard has impeded full interconnection 
for users of this service since the early 2000s.
    36. The Commission agrees with consumers and researchers that 
standards can be especially important to ensuring interoperability of 
technologies needed by people with disabilities, and that common 
technical specifications will allow connectivity to occur seamlessly 
from one end of the call to the other without incurring obstacles along 
the way. At the same time, the Commission acknowledges the need for its 
rules to incorporate ``key principles of flexibility and technology 
neutrality'' as recommended by industry commenters. The Commission 
tentatively concludes that a middle ground between these two approaches 
can be achieved by referencing a technical standard as a safe harbor. 
The Commission believes that this approach will ensure RTT 
interoperability and product portability, while at the same time 
providing sufficient flexibility for covered entities adhering to 
different internal RTT standards--so long as their RTT support offers 
the same functions and capabilities as the selected standard, and is 
interoperable with the standard's format where they connect with other 
providers. The Commission seeks comment on this tentative conclusion 
and analysis.
    37. To the extent that any commenter believes that reference to a 
safe harbor standard is unnecessary, the Commission seeks comment on 
how it can otherwise ensure that RTT communications are interoperable, 
not just among different implementations of RTT, but also with legacy 
interconnected TTY devices. Likewise, the Commission asks commenters 
who support adoption of a mandatory technical standard to explain why a 
safe harbor, combined with performance objectives, would be 
insufficient to achieve effective and interoperable RTT communications. 
Further, will a safe harbor be sufficient to provide incentives for 
manufacturers and providers to invest in research and development of 
RTT functionalities?
    38. For the reasons discussed below, the Commission tentatively 
concludes that RFC 4103 is the appropriate standard to which covered 
entities should adhere as a safe harbor, conformity with which should 
be deemed to satisfy the Commission's interoperability requirements and 
certain of the Commission's performance objectives for RTT 
communications. The Commission seeks comment on this tentative 
conclusion. Use of RFC 4103 for RTT communications is well supported by 
the record to date. First, RFC 4103 is a non-proprietary, freely 
available standard that has been widely referenced by leading standards 
organizations. This standard, developed by the IETF, has been adopted 
by the International Telecommunications Union Telecommunication 
Standardization Sector, the European Telecommunications Standards 
Institute, 3rd Generation Partnership Project, a partnership of seven 
telecommunications standards organizations (3GPP), and Groupe Speciale 
Mobile Association.
    39. Second, RFC 4103 is already being used or has been widely 
designated for implementation by numerous carriers and other 
organizations, both domestic and foreign. Domestically, both AT&T and 
Verizon have specified RFC 4103 as the standard protocol to be 
implemented in their IP-based wireless networks as the successor to TTY 
technology, the National Emergency Number Association has specified RFC 
4103 for interoperable use in IP-based Next Generation emergency text 
communications where Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) technology is 
used, and the Access Board has proposed requiring RFC 4103 for federal

[[Page 33177]]

procurements associated with the transmission of SIP-based RTT to 
achieve compliance with section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. In 
addition, RFC 4103 is specified in the SIP Forum's interoperability 
profile for VRS providers. Some commenters note that outside the United 
States, RFC 4103 has been implemented in text or video relay services 
in France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway.
    40. Third, according to commenters, RFC 4103 has a number of 
features that make it particularly suitable for RTT. According to the 
Technology Research Centers, RFC 4103 eliminates the need to transcode 
at the borders of a network, permits a wide range of hardware, supports 
the international character set (Unicode), has built-in redundancy, is 
bandwidth efficient, is based on the same transmission protocol (RTP) 
as audio and video, and is supported by existing open source and 
commercial codecs. The Commission seeks comment on the value of each of 
these features and the extent to which they can contribute to making 
RFC 4103 a feasible and flexible means of achieving RTT 
interoperability and functionality. The Commission also seeks comment 
on which of the user functionalities necessary to an effective 
communications system, in addition to interoperability, can be made 
possible with adherence to RFC 4103. Further, to what extent can other 
RTT standards ``coexist'' with RFC 4103 in networks, technologies, and 
terminal equipment on which RTT is being used, to allow RTT to provide 
a universally accessible communications environment for people who are 
deaf, hard of hearing, speech disabled, or deaf-blind?
    41. Next, the Commission seeks comment on whether RFC 4103 is 
sufficiently flexible to spur innovation in accessibility solutions. 
Are there any non-SIP-based networks for which implementation of RTT 
would serve the public interest, and if so, how could RTT be 
implemented on such networks so as to be interoperable with networks 
adhering to RFC 4103? Finally, if any adverse effects would result from 
adopting RFC 4103 as a safe harbor, the Commission asks commenters to 
identify these, and to explain specifically how such effects could be 
mitigated by modifying the standard or allowing an alternative 
protocol.
    42. In the event that the Commission decides to adopt RFC 4103 as a 
safe harbor for RTT, the Commission seeks comment on how this standard 
can be updated and amended to accommodate successor non-proprietary RTT 
technologies that are developed in the future. The Technology Research 
Centers point out that the path for incorporating innovations into RTT 
can be the same as that used to update voice standards and codecs, 
i.e., by phasing in new formats and technologies while continuing to 
support the existing technology until its retirement. How can the 
Commission design its rules to allow these capabilities to continue 
evolving with technological advances and ensure the flexibility 
requested by industry, while not compromising the effectiveness of this 
technology for people with disabilities?
    43. The Commission believes that it has sufficient authority to 
adopt RFC 4103 as a safe harbor. Section 716 of the Act explicitly 
allows the Commission to ``adopt technical standards as a safe harbor 
for such compliance if necessary to facilitate the manufacturers' and 
service providers' compliance with section [716](a) through (c) of the 
Act.'' 47 U.S.C. 617(e)(1)(D). Additionally, section 106 of the CVAA 
expressly authorizes the Commission ``to promulgate regulations to 
implement the recommendations proposed by the EAAC, as well as any 
other regulations, technical standards, protocols, and procedures as 
are necessary to achieve reliable, interoperable communication that 
ensures access by individuals with disabilities to an Internet 
protocol-enabled emergency network, where achievable and technically 
feasible.'' 47 U.S.C. 615c(g) (emphasis added). The Commission seeks 
comment on this analysis. Further, the Commission asks commenters who 
support a mandatory standard to provide legal authority for their 
proposal. CTIA--The Wireless Association points out that section 716 of 
the Act does not permit the Commission's regulations implementing that 
section to mandate technological standards, except as a safe harbor to 
facilitate the manufacturers' and service providers' compliance with 
section 716 of the Act. At the same time, as noted, section 106 of the 
CVAA expressly authorizes the Commission to adopt technical standards 
to ensure access by people with disabilities to an IP-based emergency 
network. In the event that the Commission deems it necessary to adopt a 
mandatory RTT standard, would the Commission's specific standard-
setting authority under section 106 of the CVAA, as well as its 
authority under 47 U.S.C. 225(d), provide sufficient authority for the 
Commission to establish a mandatory technical standard for RTT, 
notwithstanding the standard-setting restriction of section 716 of the 
Act?

Backward Compatibility With TTY Technology

    44. The DAC points out that while TTY usage continues to be in 
steady decline, some people who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, 
or speech disabled, including senior citizens and rural residents, 
continue to rely on TTYs. In order to ensure that TTY-reliant consumers 
continue to have a method of communicating during the transition to RTT 
technology, the Commission proposes that, to comply with the rules 
adopted in this proceeding, wireless service providers must ensure that 
their RTT technology is interoperable with TTY technology. The 
Commission seeks comment on this proposal. Among other things, with 
this requirement, the Commission believes it will remain possible for 
consumers to use their TTYs to communicate with a TRS call center that 
is set up to receive RTT calls and for consumers who use RTT technology 
to communicate with a TRS call center that is set up to provide 
traditional TTY-based TRS. The Commission seeks confirmation on whether 
it is feasible to use gateways and RFC 4103 to achieve backward 
compatibility, as proposed by the Technology Research Centers, and if 
not, how transcoding between RTT packets used with IP-based services 
and TTY Baudot tones can be achieved, in accordance with the accuracy 
criteria the Commission proposes for RTT. Is it correct that such 
interoperability can be achieved without added costs to TTY users and 
PSAPs as suggested by AT&T? The Commission asks commenters to discuss 
the costs, benefits, and technical feasibility of using any alternative 
standards for this purpose.
    45. A particular concern regarding backward compatibility with TTYs 
is the fact that TTYs can only send and display a small subset of 
Unicode characters, namely upper-case letters, numbers, the pound and 
dollar signs, and some punctuation marks. Thus, gateways between RTT 
systems and legacy TTYs need to be able to convert the much larger 
Unicode set used with RTT into readable TTY characters. In general, 
such character conversion is called ``transliteration.'' Thus, accented 
characters may be rendered as multiple characters--e.g., ``[auml] (a 
umlaut)'' may become ``AE.'' In some cases, words must be used in the 
transliteration, but all Unicode characters can be described 
unambiguously, if necessary, by their Unicode character name. According 
to the Unicode Consortium, transliterations should be standard, 
complete, predictable, pronounceable, and reversible. See Unicode 
Common

[[Page 33178]]

Locale Data Repository, http://cldr.unicode.org/index/cldr-spec/transliteration-guidelines. Should the rules require a standard 
transliteration approach or standard table, or should each entity 
responsible for offering gateways between RTT and TTY choose its own 
transliteration approach? What standards should be referenced? If each 
gateway may choose its own transliteration approach, should it meet, 
for example, the general transliteration guidelines formulated by the 
Unicode Consortium or other standards body? Should there be a standard 
indicator that a character string is a Unicode emoji, e.g., ``(* GOLFER 
*)'' for Unicode U+1F3CC? With respect to PSAPs employing TTYs, what 
impact might transliteration have on PSAPs' ability to handle the RTT 
911 call?
    46. The Commission also seeks comment on whether there are other 
assistive devices used with the PSTN, such as Braille-capable devices 
used by people who are deaf-blind, that would require or benefit from 
backward compatibility, and what additional steps are necessary to 
achieve this, beyond the steps necessary to achieve backward 
compatibility for TTYs.
    47. Finally, the Commission seeks comment on what events or 
measures should trigger a sunset of the residual obligation for 
wireless networks to be backward compatible with TTY technology. In the 
CVAA, Congress explicitly asked the EAAC to consider ``the possible 
phase out of the use of current-generation TTY technology to the extent 
that this technology is replaced with more effective and efficient 
technologies and methods to enable access to emergency services by 
individuals with disabilities.'' 47 U.S.C. 615c(c)(6). The EAAC 
recommended against ``imposing any deadline for phasing out TTY at the 
PSAPs until the analog phone system (PSTN) no longer exists, either as 
the backbone or as peripheral analog legs, unless ALL legs trap and 
convert TTY to IP real-time text and maintain [Voice Carry Over (VCO)] 
capability.'' Since then, however, the DAC has requested the Commission 
to ``consider a TTY sunset period when declining wireline TTY minutes 
reaches a certain threshold to be determined, while addressing the 
needs of people who are deaf-blind, speech disabled, and have cognitive 
impairments as well as for relay services and rural access.''
    48. The Commission notes that the NG911 Now Coalition has set a 
goal of transitioning to nationwide NG911 by the end of 2020. See NG911 
Now Coalition, http://www.ng911now.org/#about. The Commission seeks 
comment on whether this is an appropriate benchmark for terminating the 
requirement for backward compatibility, or whether a different 
indicator should be used to make this determination. Would it be more 
appropriate for the Commission to set the end date based on TTY usage 
falling below a threshold level? If the latter, should TTY usage be 
assessed based on usage of TTY-based forms of TRS, or a different 
indicator? The Commission is concerned about ensuring that people with 
disabilities continue to have a means of using text to make emergency 
and non-emergency calls after a TTY phase-out and generally seeks 
comment on safeguards needed to address these communications needs.

Other RTT Functionalities for Wireless Services

    49. In addition to ensuring interoperability, in this section the 
Commission seeks comment on a number of other features and capabilities 
that it believes will be necessary to ensure that RTT is as accessible, 
usable, and effective for people with disabilities as voice telephone 
wireless service is for people without disabilities.

Initiation of Calls Using RTT

    50. As a preliminary matter, the Commission proposes that wireless 
service providers and manufacturers be required to configure their 
networks and devices so that RTT communications can be initiated and 
received to and from the same telephone number that can be used to 
initiate and receive voice communications on a given terminal device. 
Among other things, the Commission tentatively concludes that enabling 
access to ten digit telephone numbers is necessary to reach and be 
reached by any other person with a phone number, and to ensure that RTT 
users can access 911 services. The Commission tentatively concludes 
that a similar ability is an essential part of the provision of RTT, 
and seeks comment on this tentative conclusion and proposal, including 
its costs, benefits and technical feasibility.

Support for 911 Emergency Communications

    51. As the Commission has previously stated, ``[t]he ability of 
consumers to contact 911 and reach the appropriate PSAP and for the 
PSAP to receive accurate location information for the caller is of the 
utmost importance.'' Emerging Wireline Order and Further Notice. The 
Commission proposes that the implementation of RTT in IP networks must 
be capable of transmitting and receiving RTT communications to and from 
any 911 PSAP served by the network in a manner that fully complies with 
all applicable 911 rules, and seeks comment on this proposal. Are 
specific measures or rule amendments necessary to ensure that RTT 
supports legacy 911, text-to-911, and NG 911 services? Given that RTT 
is in an all-IP environment, and that there may be outages during a 
loss of commercial power, or RTT may be unavailable due to the limited 
battery backup inherent in IP-based equipment, are there additional 
ways to ensure continued access to emergency communications in the 
event of a power failure to the same extent this will be guaranteed for 
voice telephone users?

Latency and Error Rate of Text Transmittal

    52. Based on comments in the record, the Commission proposes that 
compliant RTT must be capable of transmitting text instantly, so that 
each text character appears on the receiving device at roughly the same 
time it is created on the sending device. To achieve this, the 
Commission further proposes requiring that RTT characters be 
transmitted within one second of when they are generated, with no more 
than 0.2 percent character error rate, which equates to approximately a 
one percent word error rate. The Commission believes that this will 
allow text to appear character-by-character on the recipient's display 
while the sender is typing it, with a point-to-point transmission 
latency that is no greater than that provided for voice communication. 
The Commission seeks comment on these proposals, as well as whether the 
Commission should adopt other measures regarding the latency and error 
rate for RTT. For example, is it feasible, and necessary for effective 
communication, to provide users with the ability to edit individual 
characters or groups of words in real-time--for example, by backspacing 
and retyping?
    53. The Commission also notes that, according to the Technology 
Research Centers, any RTT system also can be programmed to first 
receive and hold the sender's communication while it is being composed, 
and to then send the entire message together when triggered to do so, 
in a manner akin to instant messaging. Is this ``block mode'' feature 
desirable for certain individuals? For example, would it alert people 
who are deaf-blind to incoming messages so that they know when it is 
appropriate to respond? If so, should the Commission allow or require 
that this capability be made available on compliant RTT technology? If 
such a feature is

[[Page 33179]]

permitted or required, should the Commission require nevertheless that 
RTT service revert to the character-by-character mode when 911 calls 
are detected by the IP network, in order to ensure the rapid exchange 
of information during such calls?
    54. The Commission seeks comment on any other relevant 
considerations pertaining to the transmission and delivery of RTT that 
may affect its utility and effectiveness for people with communication 
disabilities.

Simultaneous Voice and Text Capabilities

    55. The Commission proposes to require that, for a manufacturer's 
or service provider's implementation of RTT to be considered compliant 
with the rules the Commission adopts in this proceeding, users of RTT 
must be able to send and receive both text and voice simultaneously in 
both directions over IP on the same call and via a single device. The 
Commission seeks comment on this proposal.
    56. According to the 3GPP Technical Specification for Global Text 
Telephony, which is cited by the DAC, RTT that is implemented under RFC 
4103 allows text to be transported alone or in combination with other 
media, such as voice and video, in the same call session. The DAC 
therefore asks the Commission to consider ``whether telecommunication 
and advanced communications systems can support the use of RTT 
simultaneously in conjunction with the other Real-Time media supported 
by the system.'' The DAC also recommends that the Commission consider 
whether RTT equipment and services should support, among other 
features, the user's ability to ``intermix voice and text on the same 
call, including, for example, `Voice Carry Over' and `Hearing Carry 
Over.' '' Such ``carry over'' modes currently are available as types of 
TRS. VCO allows people who are deaf and hard of hearing to use their 
own voices (where possible) and receive text back during a captioned 
telephone or TTY-based relay call, while HCO generally allows people 
with speech disabilities on speech-to-speech relay calls to hear 
directly what the other party says and use the CA to repeat what the 
person with the speech disability says. However, in an RTT network, can 
these features also serve as a mode of direct point-to-point 
communications, reducing the need for reliance on TRS?
    57. A coalition of consumer groups points out that simultaneous 
voice and text on the same call also would allow callers to initiate a 
call using either text or voice and to switch to the other mode at any 
time during the call. Users would be able to send text in one direction 
and speech in the other, speak in parallel with text for captioned 
telephony, and supplement speech for difficult-to-hear words, 
addresses, and numbers. Others report findings that the quality, 
intelligibility, speed, and flow of communications improve when text is 
added to voice. Finally, the Technology Research Centers point out that 
the ability to use synchronized voice and text transmissions can 
improve communications on TRS calls. The Commission seeks comment on 
these assertions and the extent to which synchronized voice and text 
transmission is necessary for effective communication via RTT.

RTT With Video and Other Media

    58. Next, the Commission seeks comment on whether to require that, 
where covered service providers support the transmission of other 
media, such as video and data, simultaneously with voice, they also 
provide the capability for the simultaneous transmission of RTT and 
such other media. The Commission notes that in studies conducted by the 
Technology Research Centers, participants generally expressed the 
desire to add video to RTT calls, ``to express feelings, and to provide 
for more natural communication with sign language and the possibility 
of lip reading.'' In addition, some commenters highlight the benefits 
that multimedia capabilities can have in the TRS context, including the 
ability to supplement sign language communications with text on video 
relay calls. By enabling voice, text, and video to be delivered to 
users so that each of these types of media can be available at the same 
time, over the same call session, some parties also state that RTT can 
reduce overall reliance on TRS and also reduce or eliminate the need 
for TRS users to acquire the dedicated terminal equipment that is often 
needed to access these services. They claim that increasingly, people 
with and without disabilities would be able to converse with each other 
directly, using whichever mode of communication--voice, text, or 
video--is most suitable for getting their messages across.
    59. To what extent is requiring such multimedia capabilities 
necessary to achieve telephone communications for text users that are 
as effective as those available to voice users? To what extent can such 
capabilities enhance the accuracy and speed of TRS or reduce overall 
reliance on conventionally defined forms of TRS, to ensure that TRS is 
available ``in the most efficient manner''? 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1). Would 
the inclusion of video capability with RTT be likely to lead to 
congestion problems, and how could such congestion be prevented or 
alleviated? For example, if simultaneous voice, RTT, and video are all 
available over the same telephone connection, could the parties to the 
call better simulate an in-person communication, which can be 
supplemented with RTT as needed, and thereby eliminate the need for a 
CA to serve as a communications bridge between the parties?

Requirements for TRS Providers

    60. The Commission generally seeks comment on how to integrate RTT 
into the provision of TRS. Specifically, should the Commission amend 
its TRS rules to authorize or require TRS providers to incorporate RTT 
capabilities into platforms and terminal equipment used for certain 
forms of TRS, in order to enhance its functional equivalence? For 
example, Omnitor AB asks the Commission to require relay providers to 
incorporate RTT into their systems, so that callers can use RTT 
terminals to access TRS with a single step, using ten digit numbers. 
The Commission notes that at present, some forms of TRS are provided 
over the PSTN, while others are made available via IP networks. In 
light of the ongoing migration of communications from the circuit-
switched PSTN to IP-based technologies, it appears that ultimately all 
PSTN-based TRS will be phased out and all TRS will be IP-based. If this 
occurs, should the Commission authorize or require IP Relay or other 
TRS providers to support an RTT mode between the user and the CA? If 
so, what timeline would be appropriate for implementing such 
capability? The Technology Research Centers suggest this is needed to 
improve the functional equivalence of the IP Relay interface, as well 
as to facilitate relay service modes, such as VCO and HCO. Should the 
Commission also authorize or require IP CTS or other TRS providers to 
support RTT transmission in any voice channels they provide and in any 
off-the-shelf equipment provided to IP CTS users? Finally, should the 
Commission authorize or require VRS providers to support an RTT mode 
between the user and the CA, so that RTT can be used to supplement 
communications in sign language with text during VRS calls? What other 
requirements are appropriate to assign to RTT or TRS providers to 
ensure the compatibility of their services as the transition to RTT 
takes place?

[[Page 33180]]

Character and Text Capabilities

    61. Commenters in this proceeding point out that one advantage of 
RTT is that it allows communications using the full Unicode character 
set, as compared with the more limited character set available on TTY 
transmissions. They point out that besides facilitating communication 
in languages other than English, this capability allows users to 
transmit emoticons, graphic symbols that represent ideas or concepts--
independent of any particular language--and specific words or phrases 
that have become integral to text communications in our society. In 
addition, commenters report that RTT can be equipped with the ability 
for users to control text settings such as font size and color, to 
adjust text conversation windows, and to set up text presentation.
    62. The Commission seeks comment on the technical feasibility, 
costs, and benefits of requiring that these features of RTT be 
supported by a covered service provider's implementation of RTT. How 
can each of these capabilities meet the needs of people with specific 
disabilities? For example, can the availability of emoji characters 
help people with cognitive disabilities better communicate with and 
receive information from others? How well do special characters and 
emojis translate into voice, and what are the challenges of and best 
practices for enabling this capability? Is it necessary or desirable to 
have characters based on Unicode for them to be accessible to screen 
readers used by people who are blind, visually impaired or deaf-blind? 
Similarly, to what extent can the ability to set text style and text 
presentation layout contribute to usability, readability and 
comprehension of RTT? Should there be an option for the user, depending 
on preferences and needs, to configure the display of incoming and 
outgoing text in a certain way? Finally, the Commission seeks comment 
on the extent to which these capabilities are affected by the 
properties of network transmissions.

Accessibility, Usability, and Compatibility With Assistive Technologies

    63. The Commission believes that RTT is appropriately classified as 
an ``electronic messaging service'' and that as such, both RTT services 
and the equipment used with them are subject to the requirements of 
section 716 of the Act and part 14 of the Commission's rules. 47 CFR 
14.10(i). Therefore, the Commission believes that, independently of any 
rules specific to RTT that are adopted in this proceeding, RTT services 
and end user equipment used with them must be accessible, usable, and 
compatible with assistive technologies, as defined by part 14, to the 
same extent as is currently required for telecommunications and 
advanced communications services and equipment under the Commission's 
accessibility regulations. See 47 U.S.C. 617(a)-(b); 47 CFR 14.21. The 
Commission seeks comment on this position.
    64. The Commission also seeks comment on whether it is possible to 
identify, more specifically than is currently identified by its part 14 
rules, certain RTT features or functional capabilities that are needed 
to meet the communication needs of individuals who are deaf-blind, 
people with cognitive disabilities, or other specific segments of the 
disability community. For example, should the Commission require 
compatibility with certain assistive technologies used by people who 
are deaf-blind, such as refreshable Braille displays or screen 
enlargers? In addition to providing emoji's, are there other measures 
that can be taken or required to make RTT effective for people with 
cognitive disabilities? For example, should there be a mechanism for 
slowing up the receipt of text, or an option to enable message turn-
taking to make it easier for these individuals to receive and read 
incoming messages? What features should be incorporated on terminal 
equipment used by these individuals to allow easy activation and 
operation of RTT functions?

Other Features

    65. In addition to the above specific capabilities, the DAC 
recommends that the Commission consider whether compliant RTT equipment 
and services should be required to support the following 
telecommunications functions that are available to voice-based 
telephone users:
     The ability to ``transfer a communication session using 
the same procedures used in voice telecommunication endpoints on the 
system'';
     The ability to ``initiate a multi-party teleconference 
using the same procedures used in voice telecommunication endpoints on 
the system'';
     The ability to ``use messaging, automated attendant, and 
interactive voice response systems''; and
     The ability to use caller identification and similar 
telecommunication functions.
    The Commission tentatively concludes that such functions should be 
available to RTT users as necessary for effective communication, and it 
seeks comment on this tentative conclusion, including the costs, 
benefits, and technical feasibility of supporting these functions. The 
Commission also seeks comment on the extent to which the availability 
of each of these functions may be affected by how a service provider 
implements RTT in an IP network.
    66. Additionally, the Commission seeks comment on whether to 
require that compliant RTT provide the ability to participate on 
multiple calls simultaneously and to leave and access voice and text 
mail, both of which are also telecommunications functions that must be 
made accessible to people with disabilities by federal agencies under 
section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. See 36 CFR 1194.23, 1194.31(c), 
(e). Some commenters explain that when retrieving messages from voice 
mail, text information, including the name of the caller, return number 
(from caller ID), length of the call, time of the call, and related 
details could be sent and be viewable on screens. For interactive voice 
response prompts, they report, instant text of all the choices could be 
made available to callers.

Support of RTT Functionalities in Wireless Devices

Features and Functionalities

    67. The Commission proposes to require that handsets and other end 
user devices subject to an RTT support requirement be required to 
support each of the RTT functionalities discussed above for service 
providers. The Commission seeks comment on this proposal, including its 
costs, benefits, and technical feasibility. To what extent are these 
features and functions under the service provider's or manufacturer's 
control? Are there other features and functionalities that should be 
required for end user devices to effectively support RTT? Further, to 
what extent can such features and functionalities and their associated 
benefits be obtained if RTT is not fully incorporated as a native 
function of end user devices, but is merely available for users to 
download or install as an over-the-top application? To what extent 
would it make a difference if an RTT application is installed as a 
``default'' app prior to sale of a handset or end user device?

Device Portability and Interface With Third-Party Applications

    68. In order to ensure that individuals can use a single device on 
multiple networks, to the same extent as is currently possible with 
voice communications, there must be a stable

[[Page 33181]]

interface between user equipment and VoIP networks. For example, if 
subscribers to one wireless provider were to lose RTT communication 
capability when they insert a subscriber identity module (SIM) card for 
another wireless provider into their smartphones, then the inter-
network portability achieved for voice users' smartphones would be 
unavailable to RTT users, and the Commission's rules may fail to 
achieve functional equivalence in this critical respect. Therefore, the 
Commission proposes to require, at a minimum, that covered service 
providers enable device portability for their RTT services to the same 
extent as they enable device portability for voice services. The 
Commission seeks comment on this proposal.
    69. The Commission also seeks comment on the extent to which all 
necessary functionalities for effective use of RTT can be made 
available through provider-approved devices and applications, or 
whether third party software applications will be needed for some RTT 
features and functions. To what extent will consumers need access to 
third party RTT software applications on user devices to supplement 
native RTT capabilities that are integrated into such devices, in order 
to achieve functional equivalence with voice communications? Should the 
Commission require providers to offer an ``app interface'' to 
facilitate access to third party applications?
    70. In the event that the Commission adopts requirements for device 
portability or the enabling of third party applications, or both, it 
seeks comment on the availability or feasibility of a safe-harbor 
standard for a user-network interface that could support the RTT 
capabilities of user devices and applications from multiple 
manufacturers and providers. Alternatively, are there reasonable 
performance criteria that could be applied to ensure that a network-
user interface can support multiple third party devices and 
applications?

Minimizing Costs Incurred by Consumers

    71. Last, the Commission seeks comment on equipment costs to 
consumers that may result from the transition from TTY to RTT 
technology. Specifically, the Commission seeks comment on whether there 
are measures it could take in the context of this proceeding to ensure 
the affordability of new terminal equipment or assistive devices that 
may be needed as a consequence of the migration to RTT technology, and 
whether such measures are appropriate. The Commission expects that many 
off-the-shelf VoIP devices will be usable with RTT--eliminating 
altogether the need for specialized equipment. In addition, the 
Commission notes that several states have programs that distribute 
specialized communications equipment to people, often based on their 
economic need. Similarly, the Commission administers the National Deaf-
Blind Equipment Distribution Program, which provides funding for 
certified state programs to distribute communications equipment and 
provide related services to low income individuals who are deaf-blind 
across the United States. 47 CFR 64.610. AARP recommends that carriers 
seeking to transition to IP systems be required to work with 
governmental agencies that distribute such assistive equipment to 
qualified individuals with disabilities. The Commission seeks comment 
on the appropriateness of this suggestion, and other ways that the 
Commission can alleviate any burdens that might be associated with 
acquiring new equipment or software, particularly for those who do not 
qualify for existing state and federal equipment distribution programs 
or for those will need to replace devices not covered by such programs.

Consumer Outreach and Notifications

    72. To ensure a seamless TTY-RTT transition, the Commission seeks 
comment on the best means of informing the public, including 
businesses, governmental agencies, and individuals with disabilities 
who will be directly affected by the transition, about the migration 
from TTY technology to RTT and the mechanics of how this technology 
will work. To be effective, RTT must be usable by people with and 
without disabilities. Accordingly, the Commission tentatively concludes 
that such outreach should not only focus on people with disabilities, 
but also on the general public that will be communicating with such 
individuals, and seeks comment on this tentative conclusion. The 
Commission seeks comment on whether the statutory authority on which it 
proposes to rely for the purpose of regulating the provision of RTT is 
sufficient to authorize outreach requirements with respect to RTT. The 
Commission notes that it has previously used its authority under 
section 225 of the Act to require service providers to conduct outreach 
about TRS, and now asks whether it can rely upon such authority to 
require outreach on RTT. See 47 CFR 64.604(c)(3). What are the most 
effective methods to provide such notification, and to what extent 
should covered entities coordinate with consumer and industry 
stakeholders to develop effective messaging and outreach initiatives? 
Further, to what extent should the outreach conducted by manufacturers 
and service providers include outreach to the operators of public TTYs 
and Wi-Fi phone installations?
    73. Prior to the adoption of document FCC 16-53, the Commission's 
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, together with three other 
bureaus within the Commission, granted various wireless carriers 
temporary waivers of the Commission's requirements to support TTY 
technology on IP-based wireless networks subject to certain conditions. 
The Commission proposes that the conditions imposed in the bureaus' 
waiver orders remain in effect until the full implementation of rules 
adopted in this proceeding. These conditions include a requirement for 
waiver recipients to apprise their customers, through effective and 
accessible channels of communication, that (1) until TTY is sunset, TTY 
technology will not be supported for calls to 911 services over IP-
based wireless services, and (2) there are alternative PSTN-based and 
IP-based accessibility solutions for people with communication 
disabilities to reach 911 services. These notices must be developed in 
coordination with PSAPs and national consumer organizations, and 
include a listing of text-based alternatives to 911, including, but not 
limited to, TTY capability over the PSTN, various forms of PSTN-based 
and IP-based TRS, and text-to-911 (where available). The Commission 
tentatively concludes that the provision of this information is 
necessary to ensure that, during the transition period, there is no 
expectation on the part of consumers with disabilities that TTY 
technology will be supported by IP-based wireless services, and to 
ensure that these consumers know that alternative accessible 
telecommunications options exist, and seeks comment on this belief. The 
Commission further proposes that all information and notifications 
about the RTT transition be provided in accessible formats, such as 
large print, Braille, and other appropriate means to make information 
accessible to people with disabilities, and seeks comment on this 
proposal. Are any different or additional notices needed to ensure that 
consumers are aware of potential issues regarding 911 communications 
during a TTY-RTT transition?
    74. Finally, the Commission tentatively concludes that, consistent 
with the usability requirements of its rules implementing sections 255 
and

[[Page 33182]]

716 of the Act (see 47 CFR 6.11(a)(3), 7.11(a)(3)) as well as previous 
actions by the Commission to educate consumers about TRS (see 47 CFR 
64.604(c)(2)), covered entities should be required to implement a 
mechanism to provide information and assistance during business hours 
to their consumers regarding the TTY-RTT transition, and seeks comment 
on this tentative conclusion. The Commission seeks comment on how this 
can best be achieved. For example, to what extent should covered 
entities be required to designate staff trained to assist consumers 
with the complex issues related to the TTY-RTT transition? Are there 
additional mechanisms for outreach education and assistance that should 
be adopted?

Other Matters

    75. Security Concerns. The Commission seeks comment on security 
risks that may be associated with the adoption of RTT technology and 
that require the Commission's attention. The Technology Research 
Centers point out the availability of technical methods to secure SIP 
calls, both for call control security and media security. They also 
caution against ``blocking of RTT,'' which they say could occur where 
security or IT management personnel are not aware of the need to 
support real-time text. They explain that this can be remedied by the 
use of a ``SIP-aware firewall,'' which will allow the proper pass-
through of RTT once deployed. The Commission seeks comment on these and 
other security concerns that should be addressed through this 
proceeding, including the costs, benefits, and technical feasibility of 
implementing specific security measures.

RTT Implementation in IP-Based Wireline Networks and Equipment

    76. The Commission seeks comment on whether, in addition to 
requiring the implementation of RTT by wireless service providers, the 
Commission should amend its rules to require the implementation of RTT 
in IP-based wireline networks. As discussed above, problems associated 
with TTY transmissions are not limited to those that occur over IP 
wireless networks. Because TTYs were not designed for the IP 
environment, they have not performed well in any IP-based system; in 
fact, many of the problems associated with TTY use over IP-enabled 
wireless networks--e.g., dropped packets and data connection stability 
issues--also occur in wireline networks. Thus, as an initial matter, 
the Commission seeks comment on the extent to which wireline IP 
networks can reliably support TTY communications.
    77. Moreover, there is considerable information in the record that 
in any communications environment, TTYs remain inadequate with respect 
to their speed, their limited character set, and their failure to allow 
the simultaneous communication enjoyed by voice communications users. 
The Commission thus next seeks comment on whether the Commission should 
amend its rules at parts 6, 7, 14, and 64, to allow or require wireline 
VoIP service providers to support RTT, as the Commission is proposing 
to do for wireless services. What would be the costs, benefits, and 
technical feasibility of such requirements? The Commission believes 
that for RTT to effectively replace TTYs and allow full integration by 
people with disabilities into our nation's mainstream communications 
system, the ability to access our nation's wireline VoIP services using 
RTT will be just as important as the ability to access wireless 
services, especially if TTY technology is phased out. Many, if not most 
businesses, government agencies, and retail establishments continue to 
rely on wireline services, and having telephone access to such 
enterprises will be necessary for people with disabilities who rely on 
text to maintain their independence, privacy, and productivity.
    78. If the Commission amends its rules governing wireline services 
to incorporate RTT support obligations, how can the Commission ensure 
that end users can readily connect to and use such RTT capabilities in 
wireline IP networks? For example, given that wireline part 68 customer 
premise equipment such as wired and cordless phones currently cannot 
readily support real-time text, would it be feasible and practical for 
wireline VoIP service providers to offer over-the-top RTT applications 
downloadable to text-capable devices such as smartphones, tablets, and 
computers, that could then be used to connect to the carrier's VoIP 
service platform? Should wireline VoIP providers be required to ensure 
the compatibility of their services with third-party RTT applications 
present in stand-alone devices or downloaded onto text-capable devices 
such as smartphones, tablets, and computers? To what extent should 
wireline VoIP manufacturers have RTT support obligations for their 
equipment that is otherwise capable of sending, receiving, and 
displaying text? To the extent that IP-based wireline service providers 
and manufacturers have an obligation under the Commission's rules to 
support RTT, should they be required to adhere to the same 
interoperability requirements, minimum functionalities, and outreach 
obligations that the Commission proposes to require for wireless VoIP 
services and end user devices? Finally, is RFC 4103 an appropriate 
standard to reference as the safe harbor for wireline VoIP services and 
text-capable end user equipment to ensure interoperability and 
compliance with the rules proposed for wireless services?
    79. The Commission also seeks comment on the appropriate timing for 
incorporation of RTT capabilities into wireline VoIP services and end 
user devices, in the event that rules requiring such capabilities are 
adopted, and the extent to which such timing should be determined by 
the manufacture or sell date of new devices. Similarly, should 
requirements for RTT support also be triggered at ``natural 
opportunities''? The Commission also seeks comment on whether RTT would 
be particularly beneficial in the context of Inmate Calling Services 
(ICS), particularly given the problems ICS users have encountered in 
trying to use TTYs, and whether there are specific issues the 
Commission would need to consider in relation to the use of RTT by 
inmates.
    80. Finally, how should TTY support obligations be modified as 
wireline networks discontinue their circuit-switched services? Should 
wireline providers that support RTT on their IP networks be permitted 
to cease supporting TTY technology at all, and if so, on what 
timetable? In comments filed in response to the Emerging Wireline Order 
and Further Notice, AARP has raised concerns about establishing firm 
dates for the sunset of TTY technology, given that a large number of 
carriers ``serving millions of subscribers, may continue to deliver 
voice services over legacy facilities for an extended period.'' AARP 
claims that ``[a]dopting hard and fast sunset dates may lead to 
customer confusion, and place undue burdens on some service providers 
and their customers'' and urges that, if the Commission establishes a 
termination date for TTY technology, it do so only for specific 
carriers that have filed for relief under section 214 of the Act. The 
Commission seeks comment on these claims and how it should consider the 
needs of consumers who still use TTYs in framing rules to address a 
transition to wireline implementation of RTT.

Legal Authority

    81. The Commission believes that it has sufficient legal authority 
to adopt the proposed rules to specify support for RTT communications 
by wireless IP-based services and equipment. The

[[Page 33183]]

Commission also believes that it has sufficient legal authority, should 
it so decide, to amend the Commission's rules to similarly specify 
support of RTT technology by wireline IP-based services and equipment. 
Further, the Commission believes that it may rely on the sources of 
authority identified above, as well as the specific authorities 
discussed below, to require that RTT provided pursuant to the proposed 
rule amendments must meet the interoperability, minimum functionality, 
and outreach requirements proposed above. The Commission seeks comment 
on these views, as well as whether there are other sources of authority 
beyond those described herein to support the proposals herein.

Amendment of Sec.  20.18

    82. The Commission believes its proposal to amend Sec.  20.18(c) of 
its rules to require wireless VoIP service providers to ensure that 
their services, handsets, and other authorized devices are capable of 
transmitting 911 calls through RTT technology over IP networks, in lieu 
of transmitting 911 calls from TTYs, is within the Commission's Title 
III authority to regulate wireless service providers. Title III 
authorizes the Commission, among other things, to prescribe the nature 
of the service to be rendered by licensed service providers and to 
modify the terms of existing licenses where such action will promote 
the public interest, convenience, and necessity. 47 U.S.C. 303(b), (g), 
316(a)(1). The Commission relied on Title III in regulating the 
location capabilities of wireless services and handsets and in adopting 
the rule requiring wireless providers to transmit 911 calls from 
individuals made on non-handset devices such as TTYs. The Commission 
further relied on Title III in requiring wireless providers to support 
text-to-911 service, concluding that Title III confers broad authority 
to prescribe the nature of the emergency service obligations of 
wireless providers, including deployment of text-to-911 capabilities.
    83. The Commission further believes that its RTT-related proposed 
amendments to section 20.18 of its rules are within the Commission's 
direct statutory authority under section 106 of the CVAA to implement 
recommendations proposed by the EAAC (47 U.S.C. 615c(c)), as well as 
``to promulgate . . . any other regulations, technical standards, 
protocols, and procedures as are necessary to achieve reliable, 
interoperable communication that ensures access by individuals with 
disabilities to an Internet protocol-enabled emergency network, where 
achievable and technically feasible.'' 47 U.S.C. 615c(g). The 
Commission relied on this authority to impose text-to-911 requirements 
on wireless providers and interconnected text service providers, as 
well as to require bounce-back messaging when a PSAP is unable to 
accept a text calls. The Commission's determination rested on two 
grounds: (1) That it was a proper exercise of the agency's authority to 
promulgate EAAC recommendations, and (2) that it was a lawful exercise 
of the agency's CVAA authority to promulgate certain ``other 
regulations.'' See 47 U.S.C. 615c(g).
    84. The EAAC submitted several recommendations to the Commission 
that appear to be particularly relevant to this proceeding. For 
example, the EAAC recommended ``that the FCC adopt requirements that 
ensure that the quality of video, text and voice communications is 
sufficient to provide usability and accessibility to individuals with 
disabilities based on industry standards for the environment.'' The 
EAAC also recommended ``that the FCC remove the requirement for TTY 
(analog real-time text) support for new IP-based consumer services that 
implement IP-based text communications that include at a minimum real 
time text or, in an LTE environment, IMS Multimedia Telephony that 
includes real-time text.'' The Commission seeks comment on whether 
these or other of the EAAC's recommendations, including those involving 
the migration to a national IP-enabled network,'' provide an additional 
basis for the Commission to rely on its authority under 47 U.S.C. 
615c(g) to adopt the amendments proposed here. The Commission also 
seeks comment generally on the scope of the Commission's authority 
under section 106 of the CVAA with respect to adoption of rules 
governing access to emergency services via RTT. 47 U.S.C. 615c.
    85. The Commission also has been granted broad authority to ensure 
effective telephone access to emergency services that may be relevant 
here, given the suggested importance of RTT as a means of securing 
emergency assistance. This includes, for example, the specific 
delegation of responsibility to the Commission under 47 U.S.C. 
251(e)(3) to ``designate 911 as the universal emergency telephone 
number for reporting an emergency to appropriate authorities and 
requesting assistance,'' the Wireless Communications and Public Safety 
Act of 1999 (codified at 47 U.S.C. 615-615b) and the NET 911 
Improvement Act of 2008 (codified at 47 U.S.C. 615a). The Commission 
seeks comment on the possible relevance of these sources of authority 
to this proceeding.
    86. Generally, the Commission tentatively concludes that the 
sources of legal authority for the actions taken in connection with the 
above-described 911 initiatives support the initiative the Commission 
is launching today, given the similarities--and despite the 
differences--between them. Major objectives of these 911 initiatives 
have been to ensure that (1) CMRS and other covered wireless providers 
provide an interim mobile text solution for this important constituency 
during the transition to NG911, and (2) the needs of people with 
disabilities do not get left behind as technology develops. The 
proceeding here addresses a current gap in the availability of 
emergency communications services by people with disabilities vis-
[agrave]-vis those now widely available to the population at large, 
namely, the disparity in the opportunity to engage in real-time 
communications with emergency providers. To rectify this deficiency, 
RTT offers the opportunity to engage in text communications on a real-
time basis, which comes much closer to voice than the currently 
available text-based communications vehicles. Analogous to the earlier 
911 initiatives, the above-cited legal authorities support the 
Commission's use of the measures proposed here to provide people who 
are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and speech-disabled with the 
opportunity to access real time communications service in emergency 
situations when the need for such capabilities is most pressing. The 
Commission seeks comment on its tentative conclusion and assessment.

Amendment of Parts 6, 7, and 14

    87. The Commission believes that it is within its authority under 
sections 251, 255, and 716 of the Act to amend parts 6 and 7 of the 
Commission's rules to require providers of interconnected wireless VoIP 
service (as well as manufacturers of equipment used with such services) 
to support RTT, if readily achievable (under parts 6 and 7), and to 
amend part 14 to require wireless providers of VoIP service (as well as 
manufacturers of equipment used with such services) not subject to 
parts 6 and 7 to support RTT, unless this requirement is not achievable 
(under part 14). Likewise, given that the Commission seeks comment 
above on whether to provide for support of RTT on wireline networks, 
the Commission notes its belief that the Commission has sufficient 
authority under these provisions to amend its rules to similarly 
require providers of wireline

[[Page 33184]]

VoIP services and manufacturers of equipment used with such services to 
support RTT, should the Commission so decide. The Commission further 
believes that these sections provide sufficient authority to impose 
requirements to ensure that RTT is compatible with assistive 
technologies used by people with disabilities, such as refreshable 
Braille displays used by people who are deaf-blind, and seeks comment 
on this position.
    88. Section 255 of the Act requires providers of telecommunications 
service and manufacturers of telecommunications and customer premises 
equipment to ensure that their services and equipment are accessible to 
and usable by individuals with disabilities, if readily achievable. 
Section 251(a)(2) of the Act provides that telecommunications carriers 
may not install network features, functions, or capabilities that do 
not comply with the guidelines and standards established pursuant to 
section 255 of the Act. 47 U.S.C. 251(a)(2). Section 716 of the Act 
requires providers of ACS and manufacturers of equipment used with ACS 
to ensure that their services and equipment are accessible to and 
usable by individuals with disabilities, unless such requirements are 
not achievable, and directs the Commission to promulgate implementing 
regulations. 47 U.S.C. 617. ACS, in turn, is defined to include 
interconnected and non-interconnected VoIP service, as well as 
electronic messaging service and interoperable video conferencing 
service. 47 U.S.C. 153(1). Both sections 255 and 716 of the Act require 
that, to the extent that it is not achievable to make a service 
accessible and usable, service providers ``shall ensure that [their] 
equipment or service is compatible with existing peripheral devices or 
specialized customer premises equipment [SCPE] commonly used by 
individuals with disabilities to achieve access,'' if readily 
achievable, under section 255 of the Act, or unless not achievable, 
under section 716 of the Act. 47 U.S.C. 255(d), 617(c). The Commission 
seeks comment on whether these statutory provisions provide sufficient 
authority to establish RTT requirements for wireless and wireline 
services and equipment.
    89. Congress intended for these provisions collectively to ensure 
access by people with disabilities to our nation's telecommunications 
and advanced communications services, and gave the Commission broad 
authority to determine how to achieve this objective. 47 U.S.C. 154(i). 
For example, section 716 of the Act directs the Commission to prescribe 
regulations that ``include performance objectives to ensure the 
accessibility, usability, and compatibility of advanced communications 
services and the equipment'' and ``determine the obligations under this 
section of manufacturers, service providers, and providers of 
applications or services accessed over service provider networks.'' 47 
U.S.C. 617(e)(1)(A), (C). Given the limitations of TTY technology, the 
Commission believes that RTT is best suited to replace TTY technology 
for rendering voice IP services accessible to people who are deaf, hard 
of hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled. The Commission seeks 
comment on this analysis.

Amendment of Part 64

    90. The Commission believes that it has sufficient authority under 
the Act to adopt the proposed amendments to part 64 of its rules to 
require wireless VoIP service providers to support the provision of and 
access to TRS via RTT. The Commission also believes that the Commission 
has sufficient authority under these provisions to adopt similar 
amendments to require wireline VoIP service providers to support RTT 
for the provision of and access to TRS.
    91. Section 225 of the Act directs the Commission to ``ensure that 
interstate and intrastate telecommunications relay services are 
available, to the extent possible and in the most efficient manner, to 
hearing-impaired and speech-impaired individuals in the United 
States,'' and further to prescribe implementing regulations, including 
functional requirements and minimum standards. 47 U.S.C. 225(b)(1), 
(d)(1). Congress initially placed the obligation to provide TRS on 
common carriers ``providing telephone voice transmission services,'' 
either on their own or through a state-supported TRS program, in 
compliance with the implementing regulations prescribed by the 
Commission. 47 U.S.C. 225(c). Pursuant to the Commission's ancillary 
jurisdiction, the Commission extended the TRS obligations to 
interconnected VoIP providers. Included in the TRS obligations of 
carriers and interconnected VoIP service providers is the obligation to 
support access to TRS call centers, including through abbreviated 711 
dialing access for TRS calls initiated by TTYs. The Commission believes 
that it has sufficient authority under these provisions to require VoIP 
service providers to support TRS access via RTT in lieu of requiring 
support for TTY technology. Section 225 of the Act does not require 
that TRS be provided or accessed with TTYs. See 47 U.S.C. 225(a)(3). 
Further, section 225 of the Act expressly directs the Commission to 
``ensure that regulations prescribed to implement this section 
encourage . . . the use of existing technology and do not discourage or 
impair the development of improved technology.'' 47 U.S.C. 225(d)(2). 
The Commission seeks comment on this analysis.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis

    92. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the Commission 
has prepared this present Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis 
(IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities by the policies and rules proposed in document 
FCC 16-53. Written public comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments 
must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the 
deadlines for comments specified in the DATES section. The Commission 
will send a copy of document FCC 16-53, including the IRFA, to the 
Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA). 
See 5 U.S.C. 603(a).

Need For, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

    93. In document FCC 16-53, the Commission proposes amendments to 
its rules to facilitate a transition from outdated text telephony (TTY) 
technology to a reliable and interoperable means of providing real-time 
text (RTT) communication over Internet Protocol (IP) enabled networks 
and services for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech disabled, 
and deaf-blind. Real-time text is a mode of communication that permits 
text to be sent immediately as it is being created. The Commission's 
proposals would replace existing requirements mandating support for TTY 
technology with rules for wireless IP-based voice services to support 
RTT technology instead. The Commission's action seeks to ensure that 
people who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech disabled, and deaf-blind 
can fully utilize and benefit from twenty-first century communications 
technologies as the United States migrates from legacy circuit-switched 
systems to IP-based networks and services.
    94. The Commission seeks comment on the following:
     Its proposal to replace the Commission's rules that 
require wireless service providers and equipment manufacturers to 
support TTY technology with rules defining the obligations of these 
entities to support

[[Page 33185]]

RTT technology over IP-based voice services.
     Its tentative conclusions that the technical and 
functional limitations of TTYs make this technology unsuitable as a 
long-term means to provide full and effective access to IP-based 
wireless telephone networks, that there is a need to provide 
individuals who rely on text communication with a superior 
accessibility solution for the IP environment, and that RTT can best 
achieve this goal because it can be well supported in the wireless IP 
environment, will facilitate emergency communications to 911 services, 
allows for more natural and simultaneous interactions on telephone 
calls, will largely eliminate the need to purchase specialized or 
assistive devices that connect to mainstream technology, and may reduce 
reliance on telecommunications relay services.
     Its proposal to make the above amendments effective by 
December 31, 2017, for large wireless service providers and 
manufacturers of user devices authorized for their services, its 
proposal to give additional time for compliance by smaller service 
providers and manufacturers of user devices authorized for their 
services, and the amount of additional time that would be appropriate.
     Its tentative conclusions that deployment of RTT on IP 
networks will offer functionality greatly superior to that of TTY 
technology; that the ability to acquire off-the-shelf RTT-capable 
devices will be beneficial for text communication users; and that RTT 
will be more effective than messaging-type services such as short 
messaging services (SMS) in meeting the communication needs of 
consumers with disabilities, including their emergency communication 
needs.
     Its tentative conclusion that for effective RTT 
communications across multiple platforms and networks, such 
communications and the associated terminal equipment must be 
interoperable with one another.
     Its proposal to adopt a standard developed by the Internet 
Engineering Task Force (IETF), RFC 4103, as a safe harbor technical 
standard, adherence to which will be deemed to satisfy the 
interoperability requirement for RTT communications.
     Its proposal that service providers should be required to 
make their RTT services interoperable with TTY technology supported by 
circuit-switched networks, and when that requirement should sunset.
     Its proposal to require that wireless providers and 
equipment manufacturers implementing RTT support the following 
telecommunications functions:
     Use of the same North American Numbering Plan numbers used 
for voice, to initiate and receive calls;
     911 emergency communications in full compliance with all 
applicable 911 rules;
     transmission of characters within one second of when they 
are generated, with no more than a 0.2 percent character error rate, 
which equates to approximately a one percent word error rate;
     simultaneous voice and text transmission;
     TRS access;
     a comprehensive character set and the ability to control 
text settings such as font size and color, to adjust text conversation 
windows, and to set up text presentation;
     compliance with the Commission's existing accessibility 
regulations for ``electronic messaging services''; and
     other calling features such as call transfer, 
teleconferencing, caller identification, voice and text mail, and 
interactive voice response systems.
     Its proposal to require wireless service providers 
implementing RTT to enable device portability for their RTT services to 
the same extent as for voice services and whether to require such 
providers to enable the use of third party RTT software applications on 
user devices to supplement the native RTT capabilities.
     Measures that may be needed to ensure the affordability of 
new terminal equipment or assistive devices that may be needed as a 
consequence of the migration to RTT technology.
     Its proposal to require wireless service providers to 
notify their customers about the inability to use TTYs with IP-based 
services and about alternative means of reaching 911 services.
     The best means of informing the public, including 
businesses, governmental agencies, and individuals with disabilities 
who will be directly affected by the transition, about the migration 
from TTY technology to RTT and the mechanics of how this technology 
will work.
     Security risks that may be associated with the adoption of 
RTT technology and that require the Commission's attention.
     Whether to require the implementation of RTT in IP-based 
wireline networks, including:
     Whether to require wireline voice-over-IP (VoIP) service 
providers to support RTT, as the Commission is proposing to do for 
wireless services;
     How to ensure that end users can readily connect to and 
use RTT capabilities in wireline networks, and whether it would be 
feasible and practical for wireline VoIP service providers to offer 
downloadable over-the-top RTT software applications;
     Whether to require VoIP providers to ensure the 
compatibility of their services with third-party RTT software 
applications downloaded onto text-capable devices such as smartphones, 
tablets, and computers;
     The extent to which wireline VoIP manufacturers should 
have RTT support obligations for their equipment that is otherwise 
capable of sending, receiving, and displaying text;
     Whether IP-based wireline service providers and 
manufacturers should be required to adhere to the same interoperability 
requirements, minimum functionalities, and outreach obligations as 
those proposed for wireless VoIP services and end user devices;
     Whether RFC 4103 is an appropriate standard to reference 
as the safe harbor for wireline VoIP services and end user equipment to 
ensure interoperability and compliance with the rules proposed for 
wireless services; and
     The appropriate timing for incorporation of RTT 
capabilities into wireline VoIP services and end user devices.

Legal Basis

    95. The proposed action is authorized under sections 1, 2, 4(i), 
225, 255, 303, 316, and 716 of the Act, section 6 of the Wireless 
Communications and Public Safety Act of 1999, and section 106 of the 
CVAA; 47 U.S.C. 151, 152, 154(i), 225, 255, 303, 316, 615a-1, 615c, 
617.

Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities Impacted

    96. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description and, where 
feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be 
affected by the proposed rules, if adopted. The RFA generally defines 
the term ``small entity'' as having the same meaning as the terms 
``small business,'' ``small organization,'' and ``small governmental 
jurisdiction.'' In addition, the term ``small business'' has the same 
meaning as the term ``small-business concern'' under the Small Business 
Act. A ``small-business concern'' is one which: (1) Is independently 
owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and 
(3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the SBA.
    97. The majority of the Commission's proposals in document FCC 16-
53 will affect obligations on telecommunications carriers and 
providers, VoIP service providers,

[[Page 33186]]

wireline and wireless service providers, ACS providers, and 
telecommunications equipment and software manufacturers. Other 
entities, however, that choose to object to the substitution of RTT for 
TTY technology under the Commission's new proposed rules may be 
economically impacted by the proposals in document FCC 16-53.
    98. A small business is an independent business having less than 
500 employees. Nationwide, there are a total of approximately 28.2 
million small businesses, according to the SBA. Affected small entities 
as defined by industry are as follows.

Wireline Providers

    99. Wired Telecommunications Carriers. The Census Bureau defines 
this industry as comprising ``establishments primarily engaged in 
operating and/or providing access to transmission facilities and 
infrastructure that they own and/or lease for the transmission of 
voice, data, text, sound and video using wired telecommunications 
networks. Transmission facilities may be based on a single technology 
or a combination of technologies. Establishments in this industry use 
the wired telecommunications network facilities that they operate to 
provide a variety of services, such as wired telephony services, 
including VoIP services, wired (cable) audio and video programming 
distribution; and wired broadband Internet services. By exception, 
establishments providing satellite television distribution services 
using facilities and infrastructure that they operate are included in 
this industry.'' The SBA has developed a small business size standard 
for Wired Telecommunications Carriers, which consists of all such 
companies having 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Census Bureau 
data for 2007, there were 3,188 firms in this category, total, that 
operated for the entire year. Of this total, 3,144 firms had employment 
of 999 or fewer employees, and 44 firms had employment of 1000 
employees or more. Thus, under this size standard, the majority of 
firms can be considered small.
    100. Local Exchange Carriers (LECs). Neither the Commission nor the 
SBA has developed a size standard for small businesses specifically 
applicable to local exchange services. The closest applicable size 
standard under SBA rules is for Wired Telecommunications Carriers. 
Under that size standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or 
fewer employees. According to Commission data, 1,307 carriers reported 
that they were incumbent local exchange service providers. Of these 
1,307 carriers, an estimated 1,006 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 
301 have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission 
estimates that most providers of local exchange service are small 
entities.
    101. Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (Incumbent LECs). Neither 
the Commission nor the SBA has developed a small business size standard 
specifically for incumbent local exchange services. The closest 
applicable size standard under SBA rules is for the category Wired 
Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size standard, such a business 
is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. According to Commission 
data, 1,307 carriers reported that they were incumbent local exchange 
service providers. Of these 1,307 carriers, an estimated 1,006 have 
1,500 or fewer employees and 301 have more than 1,500 employees. 
Consequently, the Commission estimates that most providers of incumbent 
local exchange service are small entities.
    102. The Commission has included small incumbent LECs in this 
present RFA analysis. As noted above, a ``small business'' under the 
RFA is one that, inter alia, meets the pertinent small business size 
standard (e.g., a telephone communications business having 1,500 or 
fewer employees), and ``is not dominant in its field of operation.'' 
The SBA's Office of Advocacy contends that, for RFA purposes, small 
incumbent LECs are not dominant in their field of operation because any 
such dominance is not ``national'' in scope. The Commission has 
therefore included small incumbent LECs in this RFA analysis, although 
the Commission emphasizes that this RFA action has no effect on 
Commission analyses and determinations in other, non-RFA contexts.
    103. Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (Competitive LECs), 
Competitive Access Providers (CAPs), Shared-Tenant Service Providers, 
and Other Local Service Providers. Neither the Commission nor the SBA 
has developed a small business size standard specifically for these 
service providers. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules is for 
the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size 
standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. 
According to Commission data, 1,442 carriers reported that they were 
engaged in the provision of either competitive local exchange services 
or competitive access provider services. Of these 1,442 carriers, an 
estimated 1,256 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 186 have more than 
1,500 employees. In addition, 17 carriers have reported that they are 
Shared-Tenant Service Providers, and all 17 are estimated to have 1,500 
or fewer employees. In addition, 72 carriers have reported that they 
are Other Local Service Providers. Of the 72, seventy have 1,500 or 
fewer employees and two have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, 
the Commission estimates that most providers of competitive local 
exchange service, competitive access providers, Shared-Tenant Service 
Providers, and other local service providers are small entities.
    104. Interexchange Carriers. Neither the Commission nor the SBA has 
developed a small business size standard specifically for providers of 
interexchange services. The appropriate size standard under SBA rules 
is for the category Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size 
standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. 
According to Commission data, 359 carriers have reported that they are 
engaged in the provision of interexchange service. Of these, an 
estimated 317 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 42 have more than 1,500 
employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of 
IXCs are small entities.
    105. Other Toll Carriers. Neither the Commission nor the SBA has 
developed a size standard for small businesses specifically applicable 
to Other Toll Carriers. This category includes toll carriers that do 
not fall within the categories of interexchange carriers, operator 
service providers, prepaid calling card providers, satellite service 
carriers, or toll resellers. The closest applicable size standard under 
SBA rules is for Wired Telecommunications Carriers. Under that size 
standard, such a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. 
According to Commission data, 284 companies reported that their primary 
telecommunications service activity was the provision of other toll 
carriage. Of these, an estimated 279 have 1,500 or fewer employees and 
five have more than 1,500 employees. Consequently, the Commission 
estimates that most Other Toll Carriers are small entities.

Wireless Providers

    106. Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite). Since 
2007, the Census Bureau has placed wireless firms within this new, 
broad, economic census category. The Census Bureau defines this 
industry as comprising ``establishments engaged in operating and 
maintaining switching and transmission facilities to provide

[[Page 33187]]

communications via the airwaves. Establishments in this industry have 
spectrum licenses and provide services using that spectrum, such as 
cellular phone services, paging services, wireless Internet access, and 
wireless video services.'' Under the present and prior categories, the 
SBA has deemed a wireless business to be small if it has 1,500 or fewer 
employees. For the category of Wireless Telecommunications Carriers 
(except Satellite), census data for 2007 show that there were 1,383 
firms that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 1,368 firms had 
employment of 999 or fewer employees. Since all firms with fewer than 
1,500 employees are considered small, given the total employment in the 
sector, the Commission estimates that the vast majority of wireless 
firms are small entities.

Cable Service Providers

    107. Cable Companies and Systems (Rate Regulation). The Commission 
has developed its own small business size standards for the purpose of 
cable rate regulation. Under the Commission's rules, a ``small cable 
company'' is one serving 400,000 or fewer subscribers nationwide. 
Industry data indicate that there are currently 4,600 active cable 
systems in the United States. Of this total, all but nine cable 
operators nationwide are small under the 400,000-subscriber size 
standard. In addition, under the Commission's rate regulation rules, a 
``small system'' is a cable system serving 15,000 or fewer subscribers. 
Current Commission records show 4,600 cable systems nationwide. Of this 
total, 3,900 cable systems have fewer than 15,000 subscribers, and 700 
systems have 15,000 or more subscribers. Thus, under this standard, the 
Commission estimates that most cable systems are small entities.

All Other Telecommunications

    108. All Other Telecommunications. The Census Bureau defines this 
industry as including ``establishments primarily engaged in providing 
specialized telecommunications services, such as satellite tracking, 
communications telemetry, and radar station operation. This industry 
also includes establishments primarily engaged in providing satellite 
terminal stations and associated facilities connected with one or more 
terrestrial systems and capable of transmitting telecommunications to, 
and receiving telecommunications from, satellite systems. 
Establishments providing Internet services or Voice over Internet 
Protocol (VoIP) services via client-supplied telecommunications 
connections are also included in this industry.'' The SBA has developed 
a small business size standard for this category; that size standard is 
$32.5 million or less in average annual receipts. According to Census 
Bureau data for 2007, there were 2,383 firms in this category that 
operated for the entire year. Of these, 2,346 firms had annual receipts 
of under $25 million. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the 
majority of these firms are small entities.
    109. TRS Providers. These services can be included within the broad 
economic category of All Other Telecommunications. Seven providers 
currently receive compensation from the Interstate Telecommunications 
Relay Service (TRS) Fund for providing TRS: ASL Services Holdings, LLC; 
CSDVRS, LLC; Convo Communications, LLC; Hamilton Relay, Inc.; Purple 
Communications, Inc.; Sprint Communications, Inc. (Sprint); and 
Sorenson Communications, Inc. However, because Sprint's primary 
business fits within the definition of Wireless Telecommunications 
Carriers (except Satellite), Sprint is not considered to be within the 
category of All Other Telecommunications. As a result, six of the 
authorized TRS providers can be included within the broad economic 
census category of All Other Telecommunications. The SBA has developed 
a small business size standard for All Other Telecommunications, which 
consists of all such firms with gross annual receipts of $32.5 million 
or less. Under this category and the associated small business size 
standard, approximately half of the TRS providers can be considered 
small.

Manufacturers of Equipment To Provide VoIP

    110. Entities manufacturing equipment used to provide 
interconnected VoIP, non-interconnected VoIP, or both are generally 
found in one of two Census Bureau categories, ``Electronic Computer 
Manufacturing'' or ``Telephone Apparatus Manufacturing.'' While the 
Commission recognizes that the manufacturers of equipment used to 
provide interconnected VoIP will continue to be regulated under section 
255 of the Act rather than under section 716 of the Act, the Commission 
includes here an analysis of the possible significant economic impact 
of the Commission's proposed rules on manufacturers of equipment used 
to provide both interconnected and non-interconnected VoIP because it 
was not possible to separate available data on these two manufacturing 
categories for VoIP equipment. In light of this situation, the 
estimates below are in all likelihood overstating the number of small 
entities that manufacture equipment used to provide interconnected VoIP 
and which are subject to the proposed section 716 rules. However, in 
the absence of more accurate data, the Commission presents these 
figures to provide as thorough an analysis of the impact on small 
entities as it can at this time, with the understanding that it will 
modify its analysis as more accurate data becomes available in this 
proceeding.
    111. Electronic Computer Manufacturing. The Census Bureau defines 
this category to include ``. . . establishments primarily engaged in 
manufacturing and/or assembling electronic computers, such as 
mainframes, personal computers, workstations, laptops, and computer 
servers. Computers can be analog, digital, or hybrid. Digital 
computers, the most common type, are devices that do all of the 
following: (1) Store the processing program or programs and the data 
immediately necessary for the execution of the program; (2) can be 
freely programmed in accordance with the requirements of the user; (3) 
perform arithmetical computations specified by the user; and (4) 
execute, without human intervention, a processing program that requires 
the computer to modify its execution by logical decision during the 
processing run. Analog computers are capable of simulating mathematical 
models and contain at least analog, control, and processing elements. 
The manufacture of computers includes the assembly of or integration of 
processors, co-processors, memory, storage, and input/output devices 
into a user-programmable final product. The manufacture of computers 
includes the assembly or integration of processors, coprocessors, 
memory, storage, and input/output devices into a user-programmable 
final product.'' In this category, the SBA has deemed an electronic 
computer manufacturing business to be small if it has fewer than 1,000 
employees. According to Census Bureau data for 2007, there were 425 
establishments in this category that operated that year. Of these, 419 
had less 1,000 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates that 
the majority of these establishments are small entities.
    112. Telephone Apparatus Manufacturing. The Census Bureau defines 
this category to comprise ``establishments primarily engaged in 
manufacturing wire telephone and data communications equipment.'' The 
Census Bureau further states: ``These

[[Page 33188]]

products may be stand alone or board-level components of a larger 
system. Examples of products made by these establishments are central 
office switching equipment, cordless telephones (except cellular), PBX 
equipment, telephones, telephone answering machines, LAN modems, multi-
user modems, and other data communications equipment, such as bridges, 
routers, and gateways.''
    113. In this category, the SBA has deemed a telephone apparatus 
manufacturing business to be small if it has fewer than 1,000 
employees. For this category of manufacturers, Census data for 2007 
show that there were 398 such establishments that operated that year. 
Of those 398 establishments, 393 (approximately 99%) had fewer than 
1,000 employees and, thus, would be deemed small under the applicable 
SBA size standard. Accordingly, the majority of establishments in this 
category can be considered small under that standard. On this basis, 
the Commission continues to estimate that approximately 99% or more of 
the manufacturers of equipment used to provide VoIP in this category 
are small entities.
    114. Computer Terminal Manufacturing. This category ``comprises 
establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing computer terminals. 
Computer terminals are input/output devices that connect with a central 
computer for processing.'' The SBA has developed a small business size 
standard for this category of manufacturing; that size standard is 
1,000 or fewer employees. According to Census Bureau data for 2007, 
there were 43 establishments in this category that operated that year. 
Of this total, all 43 had less than 500 employees. Consequently, the 
Commission estimates that the majority of these establishments are 
small entities.

Manufacturers of Equipment To Provide Electronic Messaging

    115. Entities that manufacture equipment (other than software) used 
to provide electronic messaging services are generally found in one of 
three Census Bureau categories: ``Radio and Television Broadcasting and 
Wireless Communications Equipment Manufacturing,'' ``Electronic 
Computer Manufacturing,'' or ``Telephone Apparatus Manufacturing.''
    116. Radio and Television Broadcasting and Wireless Communications 
Equipment Manufacturing. The Census Bureau defines this industry as 
comprising ``establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing radio 
and television broadcast and wireless communications equipment. 
Examples of products made by the establishments are: Transmitting and 
receiving antennas, cable television equipment, GPS equipment, pagers, 
cellular phones, mobile communications equipment, and radio and 
television studio and broadcasting equipment.'' The SBA has established 
a size standard for this industry that classifies any business in this 
industry as small if it has 750 or fewer employees. Census Bureau data 
for 2007 indicate that in that year 939 such businesses operated. Of 
that number, 912 businesses operated with less than 500 employees. 
Based on this data, the Commission concludes that a majority of 
businesses in this industry are small by the SBA standard.
    117. Electronic Computer Manufacturing. This category ``comprises 
establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing and/or assembling 
electronic computers, such as mainframes, personal computers, 
workstations, laptops, and computer servers. Computers can be analog, 
digital, or hybrid. Digital computers, the most common type, are 
devices that do all of the following: (1) Store the processing program 
or programs and the data immediately necessary for the execution of the 
program; (2) can be freely programmed in accordance with the 
requirements of the user; (3) perform arithmetical computations 
specified by the user; and (4) execute, without human intervention, a 
processing program that requires the computer to modify its execution 
by logical decision during the processing run. Analog computers are 
capable of simulating mathematical models and contain at least analog, 
control, and programming elements. The manufacture of computers 
includes the assembly or integration of processors, coprocessors, 
memory, storage, and input/output devices into a user-programmable 
final product.'' The SBA has developed a small business size standard 
for this category of manufacturing; that size standard is 1,000 or 
fewer employees. According to Census Bureau data for 2007, there were 
425 establishments in this category that operated that year. Of these, 
419 had less 1,000 employees. Consequently, the Commission estimates 
that the majority of these establishments are small entities.

Manufacturers of Equipment To Provide Interoperable Video Conferencing 
Services

    118. Other Communications Equipment Manufacturing. Entities that 
manufacture equipment used to provide interoperable and other video 
conferencing services are generally found in the Census Bureau 
category: ``Other Communications Equipment Manufacturing.'' The Census 
Bureau defines this category to include: ``. . . establishments 
primarily engaged in manufacturing communications equipment (except 
telephone apparatus, and radio and television broadcast, and wireless 
communications equipment).'' In this category, the SBA has deemed a 
business manufacturing other communications equipment to be small if it 
has fewer than 750 employees. For this category of manufacturers, 
Census data for 2007 show that there were 452 such establishments that 
operated that year. Of those 452 establishments, all 452 (100%) had 
fewer than 1,000 employees and 448 of those 452 (approximately 99%) had 
fewer than 500 employees. Between these two figures, the Commission 
estimates that about 450 establishments (approximately 99.6%) had fewer 
than 750 employees and, thus, would be considered small under the 
applicable SBA size standard. Accordingly, the majority of 
establishments in this category can be considered small under that 
standard. On this basis, Commission estimates that approximately 99.6% 
or more of the manufacturers of equipment used to provide interoperable 
and other video conferencing services are small entities.

Manufacturers of Software

    119. Entities that publish software used to provide interconnected 
VoIP, non-interconnected VoIP, electronic messaging services, or 
interoperable video conferencing services are found in the Census 
Bureau category ``Software Publishers.''
    120. Software Publishers. This category ``comprises establishments 
primarily engaged in computer software publishing or publishing and 
reproduction. This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged 
in computer software publishing or publishing and reproduction. 
Establishments in this industry carry out operations necessary for 
producing and distributing computer software, such as designing, 
providing documentation, assisting in installation, and providing 
support services to software purchasers. These establishments may 
design, develop, and publish, or publish only.'' The SBA has developed 
a small business size standard for software publishers, which consists 
of all such firms with gross annual receipts of $38.5 million or less. 
For this category, census data for 2007 show that there were 5,313 
firms that operated for the entire year. Of those

[[Page 33189]]

firms, a total of 4,956 had gross annual receipts less than $25 
million. Thus, a majority of software publishers potentially affected 
by the proposals in document FCC 16-53 can be considered small.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements

    121. Although document FCC 16-53 proposes to require support for 
RTT in lieu of TTY technologies in all IP-based wireless services, and 
seeks comment on whether to require the implementation of RTT in IP-
based wireline networks, document FCC 16-53, for the most part, does 
not propose or seek comment on new or modified reporting, 
recordkeeping, and other compliance requirements. However, document FCC 
16-53 seeks comment on the best means of informing the public, 
including businesses, governmental agencies, and individuals with 
disabilities who will be directly affected by the transition, about the 
migration from TTY technology to RTT and the mechanics of how this 
technology will work.

Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities, 
and Significant Alternatives Considered

    122. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant, 
specifically small business, alternatives that it has considered in 
reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four 
alternatives (among others): ``(1) The establishment of differing 
compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into 
account the resources available to small entities; (2) the 
clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance or 
reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; (3) the use 
of performance, rather than design, standards; and (4) an exemption 
from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small entities.''
    123. Document FCC 16-53 proposes rules intended to replace obsolete 
TTY technology with RTT to ensure consumer access to IP services via 
wireless text-based communications and seeks comment on whether to do 
the same for wireline text-based communications. RTT technology may 
simplify the accessibility obligations of small businesses, because RTT 
allows calls to be made using the built-in functionality of a wide 
selection of off-the shelf devices, and thus may alleviate the high 
costs and challenges faced by small businesses and customers in 
locating dedicated external assistive devices, such as specialty 
phones. Additionally, with the proposal to phase out TTY technology, 
the burden is reduced for small entities and emergency call centers to 
maintain such technology in the long term.
    124. The Commission proposes an implementation deadline for RTT 
technology of December 31, 2017, for the wireless providers that offer 
nationwide service, and manufacturers of end user devices authorized 
for their services, and to reduce the burden and relieve possible 
adverse economic impact on small entities, seeks comment on an 
appropriate deadline for all other wireless providers and equipment 
manufacturers. In addition, the Commission seeks comment from providers 
of wireline VoIP services, including small entities, on the appropriate 
timing for incorporation of RTT capabilities into wireline VoIP 
services and end user devices.
    125. In document FCC 16-53, while the Commission proposes a ``safe 
harbor'' technical standard to ensure RTT interoperability, it proposes 
to allow service providers and carriers to use alternative protocols 
for RTT, provided that they are interoperable. Further, throughout the 
item, flexibility is integrated in the proposed requirements in order 
to take into consideration the limitations of small businesses. For 
instance, the proposed requirement that equipment manufacturers 
supporting RTT offer certain functions as native features on VoIP-
enabled terminal devices that can send, receive, and display text is 
subject to the condition that such features be achievable. As such, the 
Commission anticipates that these proposals will have little to no 
impact on small entities that are eligible to claim that the 
requirement is not achievable.
    126. The Commission believes that any requirement for service 
providers and manufacturers to implement outreach and notification to 
consumers about the transition from TTY to RTT will not require 
significant additional resources for small entities, and in any event 
would be outweighed by the need for consumers to understand the changes 
in the services and associated equipment that they will be receiving.

Federal Rules Which Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With, the 
Commission's Proposals

    127. None.

Ordering Clauses

    Pursuant to sections 4(i), 225, 255, 301, 303(r), 316, 403, 715, 
and 716 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and section 106 
of the CVAA, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 225, 255, 301, 303(r), 316, 403, 615c, 
616, 617, document FCC 16-53 IS ADOPTED.
    The Commission's Consumer Information Bureau, Reference Information 
Center, SHALL SEND a copy of document FCC 16-53, including the Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of 
the Small Business Administration.

List of Subjects

47 CFR Part 6

    Individuals with disabilities, Access to telecommunication service 
and equipment, and Customer premise equipment.

47 CFR Part 7

    Individuals with disabilities, Access to voice mail and interactive 
menu services and equipment.

47 CFR Part 14

    Individuals with disabilities, Access to advanced communication 
services and equipment.

47 CFR Part 20

    Commercial mobile services, Individuals with disabilities, Access 
to 911 services.

47 CFR Part 64

    Telecommunications relay services, Individuals with disabilities.

47 CFR Part 67

    Real-time text, Individuals with disabilities.

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary.
    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal 
Communications Commission proposes to amend 47 CFR parts 6, 7, 14, 20, 
64, and 67 as follows:

PART 6--ACCESS TO TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICE, TELECOMMUNICATIONS 
EQUIPMENT AND CUSTOMER PREMISES EQUIPMENT BY PERSONS WITH 
DISABILITIES

0
1. The authority citation for part 6 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 47 U.S.C. 151-154, 251, 255, and 303(r).

0
2. Amend Sec.  6.3 by adding paragraphs (a)(3), (b)(5), (m), and (n) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  6.3  Definitions.

    (a) * * *
    (3) Real-Time Text. Effective December 31, 2017, for wireless VoIP 
services and text-capable user devices

[[Page 33190]]

used with such services, the service or device supports real-time text 
communications, in accordance with 47 CFR part 67.
    (b) * * *
    (5) Wireless VoIP Exemption. Wireless VoIP services and equipment 
used with such services are not required to provide TTY connectability 
and TTY signal compatibility if such services and equipment support 
real-time text, in accordance with 47 CFR part 67.
* * * * *
    (m) The term real-time text shall have the meaning set forth in 
Sec.  67.1 of this chapter.
    (n) The term text-capable user device means customer premises 
equipment that is able to send, receive, and display text.

PART 7--ACCESS TO VOICEMAIL AND INTERACTIVE MENU SERVICES AND 
EQUIPMENT BY PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

0
3. The authority citation for part 7 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  47 U.S.C. 1, 154(i), 154(j), 208, and 255.

0
4. Amend Sec.  7.3 by adding paragraphs (a)(3), (b)(5), (n), and (o) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  7.3  Definitions.

    (a) * * *
    (3) Real-Time Text. Effective December 31, 2017, for wireless VoIP 
services and text-capable user devices used with such services, the 
service or equipment supports real-time text communications, in 
accordance with 47 CFR part 67.
    (b) * * *
    (5) Wireless VoIP Exemption. Wireless VoIP services and equipment 
are not required to provide TTY connectability and TTY signal 
compatibility if such services and equipment support real-time text, in 
accordance with 47 CFR part 67.
* * * * *
    (n) The term real-time text shall have the meaning set forth in 
Sec.  67.1 of this chapter.
    (o) The term text-capable user device means customer premises 
equipment that is able to send, receive, and display text.

PART 14--ACCESS TO ADVANCED COMMUNICATIONS SERVICES AND EQUIPMENT 
BY PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

0
5. The authority citation for part 14 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  47 U.S.C. 151-154, 255, 303, 403, 503, 617, 618, 619 
unless otherwise noted.

0
6. Amend Sec.  14.10 by adding paragraphs (w) and (x) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  14.10  Definitions.

* * * * *
    (w) The term real-time text shall have the meaning set forth in 
Sec.  67.1 of this chapter.
    (x) The term text-capable user device means end user equipment that 
is able to send, receive, and display text.
0
7. Amend Sec.  14.21 by adding paragraphs (b)(3) and (d)(5) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  14.21  Performance Objectives.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (3) Real-Time Text. Effective July 31, 2017, for wireless VoIP 
services and text-capable user devices used with such services, the 
service or device supports real-time text communications, in accordance 
with 47 CFR part 67.
* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (5) Wireless VoIP Exemption. Wireless VoIP services and equipment 
are not required to provide TTY connectability and TTY signal 
compatibility if such services and equipment support real-time text, in 
accordance with 47 CFR part 67.

PART 20--COMMERCIAL MOBILE SERVICES

0
8. The authority citation for part 20 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  47 U.S.C. 151, 152(a), 154(i), 157, 160, 201, 214, 
222, 251(e), 301, 302, 303, 303(b), 303(r), 307, 307(a), 309, 
309(j)(3), 316, 316(a), 332, 610, 615, 615a, 615b, 615c.

0
9. Amend Sec.  20.18 by revising paragraph (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  20.18  911 Service.

* * * * *
    (c) Access to 911 services. (1) Except as provided in paragraph 
(c)(2) of this section, CMRS providers subject to this section must be 
capable of transmitting 911 calls from individuals who are deaf, hard 
of hearing, speech-disabled, and deaf-blind through the use of Text 
Telephone Devices (TTY), except that CMRS providers transmitting over 
IP facilities are not subject to this requirement if the CMRS provider 
supports real-time text communications, in accordance with 47 CFR part 
67.
    (2) Notwithstanding any other limitation of coverage in this 
section, the requirements of this paragraph (c)(2) apply to providers 
of digital mobile service in the United States to the extent that they 
offer terrestrial mobile service that enables two-way real-time voice 
communications among members of the public or a substantial portion of 
the public. Effective December 31, 2017, such service providers 
transmitting over IP facilities shall support 911 access via real-time 
text communications for individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, 
speech-disabled, and deaf-blind, in accordance with 47 CFR part 67.
* * * * *

PART 64--MISCELLANEOUS RULES RELATING TO COMMON CARRIERS

0
10. The authority citation for part 64 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  47 U.S.C. 154, 254(k), 403(b)(2)(B), (c), Pub. L. 
104-104, 110 Stat. 56. Interpret or apply 47 U.S.C. 201, 218, 222, 
225, 226, 227, 228, 254(k), 616, 620, and the Middle Class Tax 
Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, Pub. L. 112-96, unless 
otherwise noted.

0
11. Amend Sec.  64.601 by revising paragraphs (a)(13), (a)(15), and 
(a)(42), and adding paragraph (a)(46), to read as follows:


Sec.  64.601  Definitions and provisions of general applicability.

* * * * *
    (a)(13) Hearing carry over (HCO). A form of TRS where the person 
with the speech disability is able to listen to the other end user and, 
in reply, the CA speaks the text as typed by the person with the speech 
disability. The CA does not type any conversation. Two-line HCO is an 
HCO service that allows TRS users to use one telephone line for hearing 
and the other for sending TTY messages. HCO-to-TTY allows a relay 
conversation to take place between an HCO user and a TTY user. HCO-to-
RTT is an HCO service that allows a relay conversation to take place 
between an HCO user and an RTT user. HCO-to-HCO allows a relay 
conversation to take place between two HCO users.
* * * * *
    (15) Internet-based TRS (iTRS). A telecommunications relay service 
(TRS) in which an individual with a hearing or a speech disability 
connects to a TRS communications assistant using an Internet Protocol-
enabled device via the Internet, rather than the public switched 
telephone network. Except as authorized or required by the Commission, 
Internet-based TRS does not include the use of a text telephone (TTY) 
or real-time text (RTT) over an interconnected voice over Internet 
Protocol service.
* * * * *
    (42) Voice carry over (VCO). A form of TRS where the person with 
the hearing disability is able to speak

[[Page 33191]]

directly to the other end user. The CA types the response back to the 
person with the hearing disability. The CA does not voice the 
conversation. Two-line VCO is a VCO service that allows TRS users to 
use one telephone line for voicing and the other for receiving TTY 
messages. A VCO-to-TTY TRS call allows a relay conversation to take 
place between a VCO user and a TTY user. VCO-to-RTT is a VCO service 
that allows a relay conversation to take place between a VCO user and 
an RTT user. VCO-to-VCO allows a relay conversation to take place 
between two VCO users.
* * * * *
    (46) Real-Time Text (RTT). The term real-time text shall have the 
meaning set forth in Sec.  67.1 of this chapter.
* * * * *
0
12. Amend Sec.  64.603 by revising the introductory text to read as 
follows:


Sec.  64.603  Provision of services.

    Each common carrier providing telephone voice transmission services 
shall provide, in compliance with the regulations prescribed herein, 
throughout the area in which it offers services, telecommunications 
relay services, individually, through designees, through a 
competitively selected vendor, or in concert with other carriers, 
including relay services accessed via RTT communications. Interstate 
Spanish language relay service shall be provided. Speech-to-speech 
relay service also shall be provided, except that speech-to-speech 
relay service need not be provided by IP Relay providers, VRS 
providers, captioned telephone relay service providers, and IP CTS 
providers. In addition, each common carrier providing telephone voice 
transmission services shall provide access via the 711 dialing code to 
all relay services as a toll free call. Wireless VoIP service providers 
are not required to provide such access to TTY users if they provide 
711 dialing code access by supporting real-time text communications, in 
accordance with 47 CFR part 67. Effective [insert date], wireless VoIP 
service providers shall provide 711 dialing code access by supporting 
real-time text communications, in accordance with 47 CFR part 67.
* * * * *
0
13. Amend Sec.  64.604 by revising paragraphs (a)(1)(v) and (vii) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  64.604  Mandatory minimum standards.

    (a) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (v) CAs answering and placing a TTY- or RTT-based TRS call or VRS 
call shall stay with the call for a minimum of ten minutes.
* * * * *
    (vii) TRS shall transmit conversations between TTY or RTT callers 
and voice callers in real time.
* * * * *
0
14. Add part 67 to read as follows:

PART 67--REAL-TIME TEXT

Sec.
67.1 Definitions.
67.2 Service Provider and Manufacturer Obligations; Minimum 
Functionalities.

    Authority:  47 U.S.C. 151-154, 225, 251, 255, 301, 303, 307, 
309, 316, 615c, 616, 617.


Sec.  67.1  Definitions.

    (a) ``Authorized user device'' means a handset or other end user 
device that is authorized by the provider of a covered service for use 
with that service and is able to send, receive, and display text.
    (b) ``Covered service'' means a VoIP or other service that is 
permitted or required to support RTT pursuant to parts 6, 7, 14, 20, or 
64 of this chapter.
    (c) ``RFC 4103'' means standard Internet Engineering Task Force 
(IETF) Request for Comments (RFC) 4103, Real-time Transport Protocol 
Payload for Text Conversation (2005) and any successor protocol 
published by the IETF. RFC 4103 is available at: http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc4103.txt.
    (d) ``RFC 4103-conforming'' service or user device means a covered 
service or authorized user device that enables initiation, sending, 
transmission, reception, and display of RTT communications in 
conformity with RFC 4103.
    (e) ``RFC 4103-TTY gateway'' means a gateway that is able to 
reliably and accurately transcode communications between:
    (1) RFC 4103-conforming services and devices and;
    (2) Circuit-switched networks that support communications between 
TTYs.
    (f) ``Real-time text (RTT)'' or ``RTT communications'' means text 
communications that are transmitted over Internet Protocol (IP) 
networks immediately as they are typed, e.g., on a character-by-
character basis.
    (g) ``Support RTT'' or ``support RTT communications'' means to 
enable users to initiate, send, transmit, receive, and display RTT 
communications in accordance with the applicable provisions of this 
part.


Sec.  67.2  Service Provider and Manufacturer Obligations; minimum 
functionalities.

    (a) Service Provider Obligations. A provider of a covered service 
shall ensure that its service and all authorized user devices using its 
service support RTT in compliance with this section.
    (b) Manufacturer Obligations. A manufacturer shall ensure that its 
authorized user devices support RTT in compliance with this section.
    (c) RTT-RTT Interoperability. Covered services and authorized user 
devices shall be interoperable with other services and devices that 
support RTT in accordance with this part. RFC 4103-conforming services 
and user devices shall be deemed to comply with this paragraph (c). 
Other covered services or authorized user devices shall be deemed to 
comply if RTT communications between such service or user device and an 
RFC 4103-conforming service or user device are reliably and accurately 
transcoded
    (1) To and from RFC 4103, or
    (2) To and from an internetworking protocol mutually agreed-upon 
with the owner of the network serving the RFC 4103-conforming service 
or device.
    (d) RTT-TTY Interoperability. Covered services and authorized user 
devices shall be interoperable with TTYs connected to other networks. 
Covered services and authorized user devices shall be deemed to comply 
with this paragraph (d) if communications to and from such TTYs:
    (1) Pass through an RFC 4103-TTY gateway, or
    (2) Are reliably and accurately transcoded to and from an 
internetworking protocol mutually agreed-upon with the owner of the 
network serving the TTY.
    (e) Device Portability. Authorized user devices shall be portable 
among service providers for RTT communications to the same extent as 
for voice communications.
    (f) Features and Capabilities. Covered services and authorized user 
devices shall enable the user to:
    (1) Initiate and receive RTT calls to and from the same telephone 
numbers for which they initiate and receive voice calls;
    (2) Transmit and receive RTT communications to and from any 911 
public safety answering point (PSAP) in the United States;
    (3) Transmit text instantly, so that each text character appears on 
the receiving device within one second of when it is generated on the 
sending device, with no more than 0.2 percent character error rate;
    (4) Send and receive text and voice simultaneously in both 
directions on the same call using a single device;
    (5) Transfer RTT calls and initiate conference calls using the same 
procedures used for voice communication;

[[Page 33192]]

    (6) Use RTT to communicate with and retrieve messages from 
messaging, automated attendant, and interactive voice response systems; 
and
    (7) Transmit caller identification and conduct similar 
telecommunication functions with RTT communications.

[FR Doc. 2016-12057 Filed 5-24-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 6712-01-P


Current View
CategoryRegulatory Information
CollectionFederal Register
sudoc ClassAE 2.7:
GS 4.107:
AE 2.106:
PublisherOffice of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration
SectionProposed Rules
ActionProposed rule.
DatesComments are due July 11, 2016 and Reply Comments are due July 25, 2016.
ContactSuzy Rosen Singleton, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, at 202-510-9446 or email [email protected], or Robert Aldrich, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, at 202-418-0996 or email [email protected]
FR Citation81 FR 33170 
CFR Citation47 CFR 14
47 CFR 20
47 CFR 64
47 CFR 67
47 CFR 6
47 CFR 7
CFR AssociatedAccess to Advanced Communication Services and Equipment; Commercial Mobile Services; Access to 911 Services; Individuals with Disabilities; Access to Telecommunication Service and Equipment; Customer Premise Equipment; Telecommunications Relay Services; Real-Time Text and Access to Voice Mail and Interactive Menu Services and Equipment

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