On October 7, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) adopted a Report and Order that implements the provisions of Section 104 of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (“CVAA”). The CVAA was enacted to ensure that people with disabilities have access to the modern and innovative communications technologies of the 21st century. The FCC also released an accompanying Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks comments on outstanding issues regarding implementation of the CVAA.
The Order extends disability access requirements to providers of “Advanced Communications Services,” and implements the provisions of the CVAA which require interconnected and non-interconnected VoIP service providers to participate in and contribute to the Telecommunications Relay Services (“TRS”) Fund by October 8, 2011. While providers of interconnected VoIP services have been contributing to the TRS Fund since 2007, the CVAA codifies this obligation and extends it to non-interconnected VoIP providers.
While the Order did not address the TRS contribution procedures for non-interconnected providers, it is likely that these providers will be required to complete and submit FCC Form 499-A to the Universal Service Administrative Company (“USAC”) by April 1, 2012. The TRS administrator, Rolka Loube Saltzer Associates, will then use the revenue information reported in FCC Form 499-A to assess the TRS contribution obligations on non-interconnected VoIP providers based on revenue earned after October 8, 2011. However, until notice is given to the non-interconnected VoIP community regarding the specific contribution procedures, the industry will remain somewhat in the dark.
The Report and Order is available here.
Clients should contact the attorney assigned to their account with any questions or concerns about ensuring compliance with the new requirement, and ensuring that enough money is being collected via pass-through charges to avoid a shortfall when TRS contributions come due next summer.