Next Generation Text Relay will deliver better quality calls and support smartphones and tablets, says regulator
Ofcom has ordered all telecoms providers to ensure their customers can get access to improved relay services.
Companies already have to provide access to an approved relay service to customers with hearing or speech impairments.
But the communications provider has been investigating technologies that will improve these existing services, which are slow and awkward. It has now put its weight behind a service called Next Generation Text Relay (NGTR) being developed by BT.
NGTR supports a wider range of equipment, such as PCs, tablets and smartphones, as well as conventional phones.
According to Action on Hearing Loss (formerly the RNID), which has welcomed the move, NGTR will provide people with disabilities with simultaneous voice, hearing and text.
"It will enable a more natural flow of conversation, interjections to a conversation and remove the need for saying ‘go ahead' after each part of a conversation as well as increasing conversation speeds for users with good/understandable speech," the charity explained.
Ofcom will continue to investigate other technologies such as speech recognition and video relay services.
BT has 18 months to implement NGTR and can charge other telephone providers to use its service, which it couldn't with its basic relay service.
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