The FCC recently issued a public notice reminding Advanced Communications Providers (ACS) and equipment manufacturers that they need to provide evidence that they are complying with the Twenty First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA). The FCC is now implementing Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that requires telecom products and equipment be accessible by people with disabilities.
The FCC defines an ACS provider in Section 3(1) of the Act to mean a carrier that provides one of the following: (A) interconnected VoIP service; (B) non-interconnected VoIP service; (C) electronic messaging service; and (D) interoperable video conferencing service. The FCC also defines advanced communications services providers to include all entities that offer advanced communications services in or affecting interstate commerce, including resellers and aggregators. Such providers include entities that provide advanced communications services over their own networks, as well as providers of applications or services accessed (i.e., downloaded and run) by users over other service providers’ networks.
The CVAA law was enacted in 2010 and is aimed to ensure that people with disabilities have access to advanced communications services. This requirement by the FCC is somewhat unusual in that it applies to telecom providers who are otherwise largely unregulated.
And there are a lot of nuances to be in compliance:
- There must be a filing done for each corporate entity that provides ACS services and you can’t just designate somebody at the parent company to cover all of your subsidiaries.
- You must provide an affidavit of compliance by a company officer.
- It must be filed electronically.
The original deadline for these filings was April 1, but we believe a lot of entities who should have filed did not. If you provide any form of VoIP you need to comply with these rules or face eventual fines.
The filing requires the following:
- A description of the effort the company will undertake to discuss your services with customers with disabilities.
- A description of the features and other ways that your products will be made accessible to customers with disabilities.
- A description of how people with disabilities would most likely be able to use your products.
So, if you provide VoIP – even on a resale basis – you need to make this filing.
If you want to know more about the specific filing requirements, or if you want assistance in making this filing contact Terri Firestein at (301) 788-6889.