FCC Extends COVID -19 Waivers of Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) Rules

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Due to the ongoing COVID-19 national emergency, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau (Bureau) of the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) extends the temporary waivers of certain rules governing telecommunications relay services (TRS) through August 31, 2021.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and states’ responsive emergency regulations, TRS traffic levels have increased, and TRS providers’ ability to staff call centers has been sharply reduced, severely challenging providers’ ability to answer and process TRS calls

The Commission has temporary waived of certain provisions of the Commission’s rules on speed of answer, video relay service (VRS) at-home call handling, VRS call-center status notifications, international VRS calling, VRS subcontracting, and emergency call handling, the Bureau has allowed TRS service providers greater flexibility to provide service during this difficult period. Each of these waivers was previously extended through February 28, 2021.

The Commission has directed the Bureau to monitor the situation and consider, if necessary, additional extension of these waivers. The Commission also granted Hamilton and Sprint partial waivers through February 28, 2021, related to the early termination of TRS calls.

Given the absence of material change in the circumstances justifying the grant of these waivers, the absence of any evidence of abuse, and the vital importance of providing robust, reliable TRS for persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind, or have speech disabilities, the Commission finds good cause to extend all previously granted COVID-19 waivers through August 31, 2021.