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Wireless carriers will adopt a new real-time text protocol by December 2017

Engadget Engadget 29/04/2016 Nathan Ingraham
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The FCC is ready to adopt a proposal that'll bring a new protocol to wireless networks to help people with disabilities communicate. It's called real-time text (RTT) and will be a replacement for the aging teletypwriter (TTY) devices that let users transmit text conversations over traditional phone lines. The new RTT protocol will work over cellular networks and other "IP-based environments." According to the FCC's statment, RTT will ""allow Americans who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech disabled or deaf-blind to use the same wireless communications devices as their friends, relatives and colleagues, and more seamlessly integrate into tomorrow's communications networks."

The big differentiator for RTT over current, commonly-used text-based messaging systems is that RTT messages are sent immediately as they're typed. The FCC said this allows for a more "conversational" exchange, and it also lets people get out partial messages in the case of an emergency. The RTT technology will let text users communicate with people on voice-based phones and vice versa; it can also work easily in your standard smartphone, eliminating the need for specialized equipment.

RTT represents a much-needed upgrade over TTY. As TTY was build to be used on standard landlines, its usage has decreased dramatically in recent years. The FCC also called it limited in speed (it only transmits at 60 words per minute), characters and capabilities. The proposal calls for RTT to roll out over wireless networks run by "larger carriers" by December of 2017.


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