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Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov
TTY: 202/418-2555

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

July 21, 2000
Audrey Spivack 202-418-0512
TTY 202-418-2555

Adopted rules and guidelines that will make it easier for consumers to
access and use relay service

Washington, D.C--Today, the FCC required all telecommunications carriers nationwide to implement three-digit, 711, dialing for access to all Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS). This new dialing arrangement will supplement existing systems in most states that require 7 or 10 digit numbers in order to initiate relay calls. TRS facilitates telephone conversations between people who do and those who do not have hearing or speech disabilities.

In one type of TRS, a text telephone (TTY) user calls a voice telephone user through a TRS provider (or relay center), where a communications assistant places the call to the voice user, and then relays the conversation by transcribing spoken content for the TTY user and reading text aloud for the voice user.

The FCC noted that its new rule will eliminate the difficulties that individuals have with finding or remembering various relay numbers as they travel from state to state. Bothvoice and TRSusers will be able to initiate a call from any telephone, anywhere in the United States, without having to remember and dial a 7 or 10-digit number.

By reducing the number of digits needed for accessing relay services, nationwide implementation of 711 access to TRS will make relay access convenient, fast, and uncomplicated. As a result, it will improve access to TRS, and encourage and facilitate communication among individuals with hearing or speech disabilities and voice users. Besides providing easier communication for millions of Americans with disabilities, the FCC expects the new rules to spur greater demand for quality relay service by text and voice users. The greater demand may encourage the market entry of new TRS competitors, thereby increasing innovation, lowering prices, and enhancing the quality of relay services.

The requirement to implement 711 dialing to an appropriate provider of TRS covers all telecommunications carriers in the United States, including wireline, Commercial Mobile Radio Services, and payphone providers. The Commission's rule also encourages all PBX suppliers to configure their systems for 711 access to TRS. Several states (and Canada) have already demonstrated the technical feasibility, economic viability, and consumer benefits of 711 access to TRS.

Implementation period:

The Commission concluded that it is technically and economically feasible for all telecommunications carriers to implement 711 access in a manner that is consistentwith Commission service quality standards within one year.

Cost Recovery:

The FCC determinedthat carriers and relay providers may recover costs associated with 711 access to TRS through existing intrastate and interstate cost recovery and TRS funding mechanisms.

Education and outreach:

In order to ensure the efficient, effective, and successful use of 711 access to TRS, the FCC required carriers and relay providers, in cooperation with the states, to engage in on-going and comprehensive education and outreach programs to publicize the availability of 711 access in a manner reasonably designed to reach the largest number of consumers possible.

Communications Act:

Section 225 of the Communications Act, which was added by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, directs the Commission to ensure that telecommunications relay services (TRS) "are available, to the extent possible and in the most efficient manner," to individuals with hearing and speech disabilities in the United States. The provision further requires that TRS facilitate the ability of individuals with hearing or speech disabilities to communicate over the telecommunications network in a manner that is "functionally equivalent" to the ability of individuals who do not have such disabilities. A fundamental purpose of section 225 is to remove communication barriers within the nation's telecommunications network that have deprived individuals with hearing and speech disabilities of meaningful opportunities to participate in the economic and social mainstream of American life. Today's action by the Commission will be one more step toward making this network more usable by all Americans.

Action by the Commission July 21, 2000, by Second Report and Order (FCC 00-257). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell, and Tristani.


CC Docket 92-105

Common Carrier Bureau Contact: Staci L. Pies 202-418-2320 (V), 202-418-0484 (TTY)
Consumer Information Bureau Contact: Karen Peltz Strauss 202-418-1400 (V); 202-418-2520 (TTY)