Verizon gets FCC waiver for Wi-Fi calls but needs to provide additional info

Verizon requested its waiver for offering Wi-Fi calls last month and the FCC has provided it. Verizon will have to share specific future plans within the next 90 days, however.

And then there were four.

Now that AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile launched Wi-Fi calling services, Verizon is set to follow, thanks to receiving an official waiver from the FCC on Friday. Verizon requested the waiver on October 26.

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Such waivers are required because current Wi-Fi calling activities aren't compatible with phone call services for the hard of hearing, which the carriers must support. That's set to change in the near future as network providers move from TTY services to something that's compatible with IP-based communications.

Indeed, Verizon's waiver - just like AT&T's - is only good until December 2017; by then a TTY-alternative needs to be in place.

Unlike AT&T's waiver, however, the FCC is requiring additional information from Verizon within the next three months.

Why? Because the agency says it doesn't yet know how Verizon intends to move away from TTY:

"While Verizon's petition asserts its commitment to develop and deploy an interoperable accessibility solution for the IP environment during the waiver period, to date we have not seen specific evidence of Verizon's plans for developing and deploying such an accessibility solution. Therefore, in addition to the conditions included in AT&T's waiver, we require that Verizon file, within 90 days of the date of this Order, a preliminary report with the Commission describing, with greater specificity than is provided in its petition, its initial plans for meeting its commitment to develop and deploy RTT or an alternative text-based solution that is accessible, interoperable with other carriers' accessibility solutions, and backward compatible with TTY technology."

I wouldn't anticipate Verizon having any issues supplying those details and plans within the required timeframe; surely, it has been considering how to make the transition already.

So it shouldn't be too long then, before Verizon customers get Wi-Fi Calling services in the native app of their handsets. For now, they can only use Verizon's Message+ app for Wi-Fi conversations in a Verizon app.

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