On March 21, the Entertainment Software Association filed a petition seeking a waiver from the Federal Communications Commission’s recently adopted rules that would impose certain disabilities act requirements on providers of advanced communications services (ACS) — which could include video games that allow voice or text communications during game play. The petition notes that while communications may be integrated into video games, it is not the primary purpose of the games, and therefore should be eligible as a class for waiver. The waiver request included the following three classes of video game industry products and services: Game consoles and their peripherals; game distribution and online game services; and, game software. (See our recent client alert: Telecom Monitor). ESA asked the FCC to rule on the petition within 90 days.
ACS includes interconnected VoIP, non-interconnected VoIP, electronic messaging service and interoperable video conferencing services, which are defined as:
- Non-interconnected VoIP: a service that (i) enables real-time voice communications that originate from or terminate to the user’s location using Internet protocol or any successor protocol; and (ii) requires Internet protocol compatible customer premises equipment” and “does not include any service that is an interconnected VoIP service.
- Electronic Messaging Service: “means a service that provides real-time or nearreal-time non-voice messages in text form between individuals over communications networks. This service does not include interactions that include only one individual (human to machine or machine to human communications).
- Interoperable Video Conferencing Services: services that provide real-time video communications, including audio, between two or more users. This service does not include video mail. The Commission has sought additional comment, pursuant to the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, regarding the definition and application of “interoperable”.