The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of a TMI Regulatory Bulletin.
The FCC entered into settlement agreements totaling $1.4 million with three relay providers in connection with their handling of IP-CTS calls. (Individuals who can use their own voice but have difficulty hearing utilize a Telephone Relay Service (TRS) called Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS) to engage in a telephone conversation using an Internet Protocol-enabled device that allows callers to simultaneously listen while reading captions of what the other party is saying. Companies that provide IP CTS do not charge consumers for the service, but are instead eligible to receive compensation from the federally-mandated TRS Fund as long as they have complied with the FCC’s TRS Rules and orders.) The settlements are the first enforcement actions against TRS providers involving the emergency call handling requirements.
To resolve the investigations, Sprint will pay $1,175,000, Hamilton will pay $235,000, and InnoCaption will pay $25,000. The companies also agreed to waive all rights and claims to reimbursements from the TRS Fund associated with IP CTS applications during the time that 911 calls could not be handled.
The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau and Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau discovered, through test calls made in 2014, that Hamilton Relay, InnoCaption, and Sprint Corp. were not able to accept and handle 911 emergency calls made using IP CTS applications, as required by FCC rules. The amount of time the companies were out of compliance varied. The FCC also found that the companies submitted inaccurate compensation requests to the TRS Fund administrator during the period the companies were not in compliance with the emergency call handling rules.
As part of their individual settlement, the companies admitted that their actions violated FCC rules and agreed to adopt detailed compliance plans to ensure future compliance with FCC rules, file compliance reports, inform and educate consumers on emergency calling, and strengthen policies and procedures for detection and notification of 911 call handling issues. In addition, the settlements require each company to develop and implement risk management processes to: (1) Identify risks that could result in 911 call failures; (2) Protect against such risks; (3) Detect future 911 call failures; (4) Respond to such failures with remedial actions, including notification to consumers; and (5) Recover from such failures on a timely basis.
Hamilton, InnoCaption, and Sprint also each agree to waive all rights and claims to reimbursements from the TRS Fund associated with IP CTS applications during the time that 911 calls could not be handled. To resolve the investigations, Sprint will pay $1,175,000, Hamilton will pay $235,000, and InnoCaption will pay $25,000, and each company will file detailed compliance reports with the FCC.