The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined Sprint
close to $1.2 million for issues that prevented people with hearing difficulties from calling the emergency services. Sprint and a number of connected companies were accused of failing to connect a telephone relay service (TRS), used by hard of hearing customers to contact other people, to 911 for long periods of time varying between five weeks and ten months, with the fine settling the FCC investigation.
The TRS in question is called the Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS
), which involves an Internet-connected device that lets callers listen to the call and simultaneously read captions of what the other party is saying. The service itself is free for customers to use, with companies offering it able to receive compensation from a federally-mandated TRS Fund, if they abide by the rules.
The Register reports
the outages occurred between March 28 and September 18, during which time Sprint failed to either notice or report to the FCC the issues. Sprint was accused of sending incorrect information for TRS Fund reimbursements during the period, as well as potentially endangering its users by not providing a suitable service.
The lion's share of the $1.4 million fine was chargeable to Sprint, with it paying $1.175 million, while InnoCaption and Hamilton Relay make up the difference. Sprint also had to sign a consent decree, requiring it to reimburse the wrongly-collected TRS Fund money, as well as putting into place a compliance plan with the FCC to detect potential issues with the service.