Florida’s Public Service Commission (PSC) today approved the annual budget for Florida Telecommunications Relay, Inc. (FTRI), keeping the monthly surcharge—applied to landline customer bills—at its current 10 cents for the fifth consecutive year. FTRI is a non-profit that administers the Florida Relay System (FRS), providing basic telecommunications access to Florida citizens who are hard of hearing, deaf, or have difficulty speaking.
FTRI’s approved Fiscal Year 2021/2022 budget, effective August 1, totals $4.45 million. This represents a 10 percent revenue decrease and a 12.25 percent expense decrease from this year, due to a projected decline in access lines that use the surcharge and a decline in the number of minutes used. As the communications industry offerings expand, traditional relay users are transitioning to Internet, video, and wireless options.
“Even with a decline in users, FRS provides a vital resource for Florida’s deaf and hard-of-hearing community, keeping them connected to family, friends, and businesses,” said PSC Chairman Gary Clark. “This year was particularly hard for FTRI due to the effects of COVID-19. It’s important that FTRI’s funding can continue to seamlessly provide this service to those who depend upon it.”
FTRI contracts with 23 non-profit Regional Distribution Centers (RDC) to distribute equipment and provide training. Currently evaluating its business model, FTRI is striving to increase its RDCs. Florida law requires the PSC to approve FTRI’s annual budget.
Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the 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. Sprint Communications Company, L.P., is the current FRS provider.
For information on how to obtain the FRS 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.
Follow the PSC on Twitter, @floridapsc.