As used in this section—(1) Common carrier or carrier
The term "common carrier" or "carrier" includes any common carrier engaged in interstate communication by wire or radio as defined in section 153 of this title and any common carrier engaged in intrastate communication by wire or radio, notwithstanding sections 152(b) and 221(b) of this title.(2) TDD
The term "TDD" means a Telecommunications Device for the Deaf, which is a machine that employs graphic communication in the transmission of coded signals through a wire or radio communication system.(3) Telecommunications relay services
The term "telecommunications relay services" means telephone transmission services that provide the ability for an individual who is deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or who has a speech disability to engage in communication by wire or radio with one or more individuals, in a manner that is functionally equivalent to the ability of a hearing individual who does not have a speech disability to communicate using voice communication services by wire or radio.(b) Availability of telecommunications relay services (1) In general
In order to carry out the purposes established under section 151 of this title, to make available to all individuals in the United States a rapid, efficient nationwide communication service, and to increase the utility of the telephone system of the Nation, the Commission shall ensure that interstate and intrastate telecommunications relay services are available, to the extent possible and in the most efficient manner, to hearing-impaired and speech-impaired individuals in the United States.(2) Use of general authority and remedies
For the purposes of administering and enforcing the provisions of this section and the regulations prescribed thereunder, the Commission shall have the same authority, power, and functions with respect to common carriers engaged in intrastate communication as the Commission has in administering and enforcing the provisions of this subchapter with respect to any common carrier engaged in interstate communication. Any violation of this section by any common carrier engaged in intrastate communication shall be subject to the same remedies, penalties, and procedures as are applicable to a violation of this chapter by a common carrier engaged in interstate communication.(c) Provision of services
Each common carrier providing telephone voice transmission services shall, not later than 3 years after July 26, 1990, provide in compliance with the regulations prescribed under this section, throughout the area in which it offers service, telecommunications relay services, individually, through designees, through a competitively selected vendor, or in concert with other carriers. A common carrier shall be considered to be in compliance with such regulations—
(1) with respect to intrastate telecommunications relay services in any State that does not have a certified program under subsection (f) and with respect to interstate telecommunications relay services, if such common carrier (or other entity through which the carrier is providing such relay services) is in compliance with the Commission's regulations under subsection (d); or
(2) with respect to intrastate telecommunications relay services in any State that has a certified program under subsection (f) for such State, if such common carrier (or other entity through which the carrier is providing such relay services) is in compliance with the program certified under subsection (f) for such State.(d) Regulations (1) In general
The Commission shall, not later than 1 year after July 26, 1990, prescribe regulations to implement this section, including regulations that—
(A) establish functional requirements, guidelines, and operations procedures for telecommunications relay services;
(B) establish minimum standards that shall be met in carrying out subsection (c);
(C) require that telecommunications relay services operate every day for 24 hours per day;
(D) require that users of telecommunications relay services pay rates no greater than the rates paid for functionally equivalent voice communication services with respect to such factors as the duration of the call, the time of day, and the distance from point of origination to point of termination;
(E) prohibit relay operators from failing to fulfill the obligations of common carriers by refusing calls or limiting the length of calls that use telecommunications relay services;
(F) prohibit relay operators from disclosing the content of any relayed conversation and from keeping records of the content of any such conversation beyond the duration of the call; and
(G) prohibit relay operators from intentionally altering a relayed conversation.(2) Technology
The Commission shall ensure that regulations prescribed to implement this section encourage, consistent with section 157(a) of this title, the use of existing technology and do not discourage or impair the development of improved technology.(3) Jurisdictional separation of costs (A) In general
Consistent with the provisions of section 410 of this title, the Commission shall prescribe regulations governing the jurisdictional separation of costs for the services provided pursuant to this section.(B) Recovering costs
Such regulations shall generally provide that costs caused by interstate telecommunications relay services shall be recovered from all subscribers for every interstate service and costs caused by intrastate telecommunications relay services shall be recovered from the intrastate jurisdiction. In a State that has a certified program under subsection (f), a State commission shall permit a common carrier to recover the costs incurred in providing intrastate telecommunications relay services by a method consistent with the requirements of this section.(e) Enforcement (1) In general
Subject to subsections (f) and (g), the Commission shall enforce this section.(2) Complaint
The Commission shall resolve, by final order, a complaint alleging a violation of this section within 180 days after the date such complaint is filed.(f) Certification (1) State documentation
Any State desiring to establish a State program under this section shall submit documentation to the Commission that describes the program of such State for implementing intrastate telecommunications relay services and the procedures and remedies available for enforcing any requirements imposed by the State program.(2) Requirements for certification
After review of such documentation, the Commission shall certify the State program if the Commission determines that—
(A) the program makes available to hearing-impaired and speech-impaired individuals, either directly, through designees, through a competitively selected vendor, or through regulation of intrastate common carriers, intrastate telecommunications relay services in such State in a manner that meets or exceeds the requirements of regulations prescribed by the Commission under subsection (d); and
(B) the program makes available adequate procedures and remedies for enforcing the requirements of the State program.(3) Method of funding
Except as provided in subsection (d), the Commission shall not refuse to certify a State program based solely on the method such State will implement for funding intrastate telecommunication relay services.(4) Suspension or revocation of certification
The Commission may suspend or revoke such certification if, after notice and opportunity for hearing, the Commission determines that such certification is no longer warranted. In a State whose program has been suspended or revoked, the Commission shall take such steps as may be necessary, consistent with this section, to ensure continuity of telecommunications relay services.(g) Complaint (1) Referral of complaint
If a complaint to the Commission alleges a violation of this section with respect to intrastate telecommunications relay services within a State and certification of the program of such State under subsection (f) is in effect, the Commission shall refer such complaint to such State.(2) Jurisdiction of Commission
After referring a complaint to a State under paragraph (1), the Commission shall exercise jurisdiction over such complaint only if—
(A) final action under such State program has not been taken on such complaint by such State—
(i) within 180 days after the complaint is filed with such State; or
(ii) within a shorter period as prescribed by the regulations of such State; or
(B) the Commission determines that such State program is no longer qualified for certification under subsection (f).
(June 19, 1934, ch. 652, title II, §225, as added Pub. L. 101–336, title IV, §401(a), July 26, 1990, 104 Stat. 366; amended Pub. L. 104–104, §3(d)(1), Feb. 8, 1996, 110 Stat. 61; Pub. L. 111–260, title I, §103(a), Oct. 8, 2010, 124 Stat. 2755.)
This chapter, referred to in subsec. (b)(2), was in the original "this Act", meaning act June 19, 1934, ch. 652, 48 Stat. 1064, known as the Communications Act of 1934, which is classified principally to this chapter. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see section 609 of this title and Tables.
2010—Subsec. (a)(3). Pub. L. 111–260 amended par. (3) generally. Prior to amendment, text read as follows: "The term 'telecommunications relay services' means telephone transmission services that provide the ability for an individual who has a hearing impairment or speech impairment to engage in communication by wire or radio with a hearing individual in a manner that is functionally equivalent to the ability of an individual who does not have a hearing impairment or speech impairment to communicate using voice communication services by wire or radio. Such term includes services that enable two-way communication between an individual who uses a TDD or other nonvoice terminal device and an individual who does not use such a device."
1996—Subsec. (a)(1). Pub. L. 104–104 substituted "section 153" for "section 153(h)".
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