Individuals who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or deafblind will soon have access to faster, better message relay services By Sameer Chhabra
Dec 14, 2018
Canada’s telecommunications watchdog has issued a decision mandating standards for message relay services.
According to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) December 14th, 2018 decision, groups that provide text-based message relay services (MRS) like teletypewriter relay (TTY) and internet protocol relay (IP relay) will be required to implement quality of service standards, as well as a standard for call answer time and typing speed.
As per the CRTC’s latest telecom decision, 80 percent of all calls each months will need to be responded to by a live MRS operator within 20 seconds.
The CRTC will raise the standard to 85 percent and 10 seconds in 12 months.
“MRS providers that engage a third-party service provider must ensure that the provider meets these requirements,” reads an excerpt from the CRTC’s December 14th decision.
In addition to setting a standard for call answer time, the Commission determined that every MRS operator will need to achieve a typing speed of 45 words-per-minute, with a 95 percent transcription accurate rate.
“MRS providers must monitor the typing speeds of the MRS operators and may measure typing speeds once a year using a statistically random sample of MRS operators,” reads another excerpt.
“Alternatively, MRS providers that engage a third-party service provider must ensure that the provider meets these requirements.”
Wireless service providers across Canada have also been ordered to “make enhanced functionality available to IP relay users.”
“The Commission also directs Bell Canada et al., Cogeco, Eastlink, RCCI, SaskTel, Shaw, TCI, and Videotron to consult accessibility groups to determine how the minimum functionality requirements will be achieved for IP relay service, and to file a report with the Commission, within six months of the date of this decision, that describes the outcomes of discussions and that lists the accessibility groups that were consulted,” the CRTC wrote.
The Commission also ordered any group that provides mobile wireless voice services to provide IP relay to their customers within six months of the December 14th decision.
“WSPs will be responsible for recovering their costs and may use their own discretion to determine how to do so,” said the CRTC.
“The Commission does not expect that a separate fee for IP relay service would be identified on subscribers’ bills, but rather that the cost of offering IP relay service would be included in the cost of providing the subscribers’ telecommunications services.”
Canada’s larger carriers have until the end of 2019 to provide the CRTC with plans to support relay service based on real-time text, “which can be transmitted over modern wireless networks.”
“IP relay service will continue to be offered to all home phone subscribers and will also be offered to all cell phone subscribers,” reads an excerpt from a December 14th, 2018 CRTC media release.
“Any cell phone subscriber who wishes to access IP relay service will not be required to subscribe to a home phone service.”
The CRTC added that its latest decision doesn’t affect video relay services.
MobileSyrup has reached out to the Deaf Wireless Canada Committee (DWCC) for comment. This story will be updated with a response.
Update 14/12/2018 4:59pm ET: The Deaf Wireless Canada Committee (DWCC) told MobileSyrup that it had mixed feelings about the CRTC’s latest decision:
“Our group believes in providing all telecommunications options possible, unfortunately, the CRTC decided to focus on only one of the options IP-browser web-based relay services and did not mandate IP-Relay apps because they would rather wait until Real Time Text becomes available.
Once again, we are left to wait until everything becomes accessible, again we are left behind in stagnation and waiting to catch up with others in Canadian society.”