Last August we reported on new rules imposing a number of restrictions on providers of Internet Telecommunications Relay Service (iTRS). Those rules took effect in October, but if you have an interest in iTRS, heads up. A petition for reconsideration of the new rules was filed, and the deadline for commenting on, or opposing, the petition has just been announced.

Among other things, the new rules put an end to the previous practice of some iTRS providers of assigning free “800” numbers to iTRS users. While iTRS users may still have toll-free numbers, they now have to obtain those numbers like everyone else – from the same companies that provide them to the public at large, subject to whatever fees may be involved (unless a hardship waiver is granted).  Each toll-free number must be mapped to a regular “plain old telephone service” (POTS) number and be portable from one carrier to another; numbers that aren’t so mapped must be removed from directories. 

The sole petitioner seeking reconsideration – Sorenson Communications, Inc. (Sorenson) – says that the FCC put an unjustified burden on its back.Sorenson, which controls the lion’s share of the iTRS market, complains that iTRS service providers should not be responsible for mapping toll-free numbers to POTS numbers. According to Sorenson, if an iTRS provider doesn’t issue the toll-free number, the provider won’t know (other than by burdensome case-by-case investigation) whether a number provided by its customer is legitimate.  The number might not work at all, it might be discontinued after a while, or it might be used for spoofing or other deceptive practices.  If the FCC won’t let iTRS providers issue the numbers, it would be better just to take toll-free numbers out of the iTRS database, in Sorenson’s view.

Oppositions to Sorenson’s petition may be filed by January 24, 2012; replies may be filed by February 3.