Verizon Petitions FCC Seeking TTY Waiver For Wi-Fi Calling

26 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Could Wi-Fi Calling on the iPhone 6 come to Verizon soon?.

While over-the-top, or OTT, services such as Skype and FaceTime have offered Wi-Fi calls for a few time, they don’t have to face all of the same FCC restrictions and regulations applied to carriers.Verizon has now filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission asking that it be granted a waiver that will enable it to bring Wi-Fi calling to its customers.

The carrier has submitted a petition to the FCC requesting that the regulatory body grant it a waiver identical to the one it gave to AT&T earlier this month. If Verizon can get its waiver, then it will be able to support “true” Wi-Fi calling-iOS and Android devices would both be able to make calls over Wi-Fi through their native dialers, rather than needing a supplemental app to do so.

Since the waiver sought by Verizon would have the same terms as the one granted to AT&T, the carrier argued the approval process should be duly expedited and come without the need for public comment. Enabling Wi-Fi calling is tricky because the underlying technology doesn’t reliably support TTY (teletypewriter), a decades-old service used by the hearing impaired. The FCC has not seen fit to punish the two operators, while it has given AT&T until December 31st 2017 to offer Wi-Fi calling while a replacement for TTY (called RTT) is being tested. Now, Verizon is looking to fully catch up to its peers by requesting an FCC wavier that would allow it to provide native phone calls over unlicensed spectrum.

In the Friday filing, Verizon requested the “prompt approval” of “a waiver of any applicable TTY-related requirements for its IP-enabled wireless services identical to and subject to the same conditions as the waiver recently granted to AT&T”. The waiver, which Verizon’s rival received at the beginning of this month, is critical to the process since Wi-Fi calling doesn’t work well with TTY (teletypewriter), the means by which those with hearing impairments can make and receive calls. Much to AT&T’s chagrin, however, the FCC did not punish T-Mobile or Sprint; instead, it invited “requests from similarly situated providers seeking a similar waiver of the TTY requirements.” Now, after sitting on the sidelines during AT&T’s public spat, Verizon is taking advantage of that decision. In a footnote, the company adds that “it is Verizon’s position that neither the existing rules nor the AT&T Waiver Order require such a waiver,” but it is doing so “out of an abundance of caution.” Verizon already offers Wi-Fi calling on iOS devices through one of its own apps, but this waiver (when granted), will allow the carrier to support the truly integrated Wi-Fi calling in iOS 9 and on Android devices. For Verizon, that’s likely coming in the form of RTT, or real-time text, reports FierceWireless, which says that AT&T’s waiver expires at the end of 2017.

Specifically, Verizon agrees to inform its customers through multiple channels that TTY is not supported on these services for calls to 911 and inform customers of alternative means to reach 911 services.

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