Florida’s Public Service Commission (PSC) today approved the annual budget for Florida Telecommunications Relay, Inc. (FTRI), raising the surcharge paid by Florida telephone customers by one cent, totaling 12 cents per month. FTRI administers the statewide Florida Relay System (FRS) that provides access to basic telecommunications services for more than three million Florida citizens who are deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf/blind, or speech-impaired.
“While more FRS users are transitioning to wireless and internet services, FRS still provides a vital service to keep Florida’s deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech-impaired consumers connected to family, friends, and businesses,” said PSC Chairman Art Graham. “It’s important to provide adequate funding to keep the service available for those who depend on it.”
Due to increased use of various wireless and internet services, FRS landline access lines have decreased by almost 33 percent since 2008. Considering this and other factors, the Commission today approved a budget that exceeds FTRI’s historical spending, but is lower than the funding it requested.
FTRI is paying higher rates for its new service contract with Sprint, effective in March 2015, and Commissioners agreed that the approved budget will provide adequate funds to reliably continue the vital FRS service. FTRI will submit a revised budget in 30 days reflecting the approved funding, which will take effect July 1, 2015.
Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, FRS facilitates telephone calls between people with hearing loss or speech disabilities and other individuals by using specialized equipment and a communications assistance operator to relay information.
FTRI is a non-profit organization which contracts with 30 Florida regional distribution centers to assist consumers with specialized phone needs. For information on how to obtain the special equipment, call FTRI at 1-800-222-3448 (Voice) or 1-888-447-5620 (Text Telephone/TTY) or visit www.ftri.org.
For additional information, visit www.floridapsc.com
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