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November 24, 2009

Change in Using 800/866 Calls -- You Still Can Make 800/866 Calls

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that 800 (CSDVRS and Sorenson) and 866 (Sorenson) numbers be removed from the national database.

Here is the statement from FCC:

"Beginning November 13, 2009, all Video Relay Service (VRS) and Internet Protocol (IP) Relay service providers were required to ensure that all users are registered with a provider, have obtained a local ten-digit telephone number for their VRS or IP Relay service, and provided their location information. If VRS and IP Relay users have a toll-free number (i.e., a number containing codes 800, 888, 877, or 866) in addition to a local ten-digit number, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has clarified that a provider must link the toll-free number directly to the user's local ten-digit number in the database that controls all public telephone network toll-free numbers. The goal of the new ten-digit numbering plan is to ensure that VRS and IP Relay users, like voice telephone users, have a local ten-digit telephone number, and, therefore, to transition away from VRS and IP Relay users using toll-free or "proxy" numbers.

The provider with which the VRS or IP Relay user has registered becomes the user's "default" provider, and by default all calls will be routed through that provider. A VRS or IP Relay user may, however, change his or her default provider at any time (and keep the same number), and may also make or receive calls through any other provider ("dial around" calls). Ten-digit numbers may also be used to make point-to-point (i.e., video-to-video) calls that do not require the use of a relay service."

This means that point-to-point calls using an 800 or 866 number from one type of videophone (VP) to a different type of VP are no longer interoperable. VP users will now use local 10-digit numbers to call people with a different VP when making point-to-point calls. The FCC states that the goal of the local 10-digit number plan is to make sure that using a VP is functionally equivalent to using a voice phone; and for everyone to have a local 10-digit number for all calls and to move away from VRS and IP Relay toll-free or "proxy" numbers.

So, if you have a VP with either a 800/866 numbers, it is recommended that you use local 10-digit numbers when making point-to-point calls. The 800/866 numbers can still be used but only to call people with the same type of videophone as yours. Remember that your hearing friends and family can still call you using the 800/866 number. This change applies only for point-to-point calls.

The 800/866 number becomes a unique feature provided by a VRS company that makes videophones. By using a local 10-digit number, a videophone continues to be in compliance with the FCC which requires all households to have a local 10-digit number so they can be registered with the national database when 911 calls are made. The response rate will be the same as for those with voice phone plans. 800/866 phone numbers no longer need to be registered with the national database since the distribution of required local 10-digit numbers.

We will continue to work with the FCC in sharing important information with the public. VRS users are encouraged to contact the FCC directly with any comments or concerns by visiting the FCC website.

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