In one of his last moves as FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler and his committee have approved a change mandating the use of Real-Time Text, or RTT, to facilitate communications for the deaf and hard of hearing.
RTT resembles regular two-way text-based communications but, for both expediency and safety, must be conveyed in fractions of a second, similar to expectations with voice-based communications. From Motherboard:
RTT is important because requires that communication be possible without the legacy "send" button that is common in most texting apps. There are even implications for those without hearing impairments, as the adoption of RTT could alter the way regular SMS texting is conveyed over carriers' networks. Recently, Google has been working with the GSMA and network providers around the world to modernize SMS using the RCS standard which, while not completely real-time, supports typing indicators and read receipts. From the FCC press release (PDF) on the change:
The implications are just as important for customer service, support and business communications as they are for the personal variety, and that existing smartphones can be made to work with RTT is one of its biggest attractions. AT&T spearheaded the campaign to get the FCC to mandate the adoption of RTT, and the move ensures that any integration will be fully backwards compatible with existing TTY solutions.
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Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central.