At one period in the past when people see VRS reimbursement rates above $7 per minute (not anymore now), naturally they want to get into the VRS business. So up to 52 VRS providers – majority were white label providers – were formed.
Unfortunately, with so many VRS providers and the difficulty of oversight by the FCC for so many providers, frauds were likely to happen and they did happen. So the FCC, DOJ, and FBI got into act and arrested quite a few of them.
The FCC upon realizing the flexibility (in other words, too many loopholes that nefarious individuals/providers took advantage of) of the VRS regulations was that caused the frauds so the FCC had to start constricting the VRS regulations to ensure that the regulations are followed by all VRS providers (both white label and certified). Sure enough, number of VRS providers were whittled down to 9 VRS providers: Convo, ZVRS, SVRS, Purple, SnapVRS, HealincVRS, GraciasVRS, CAAG, and Lifelink. HealincVRS and ZVRS had quite a few subcontracts.
All of these 9 VRS went through fine-tooth comb review and investigation by the FCC which subsequently narrowed number of VRS providers down to 6 VRS providers: Convo, ZVRS, SVRS, Purple, GraciasVRS and CAAG. Purple recently bought the Healinc along with its other purchased VRS providers.
By this time, VRS providers still in business; those providers who do not have more than 1 million minutes a month (so far only one) realized that VRS is not a "lucrative" business.
Anyway, many folks ask me who owns these VRS providers? The following comments should give you an insight.
- Convo is mostly deaf-owned (a few percentages to hearing) and deaf-operated and its management team link;
- ZVRS is venture-capital (VC) owned with 20% to CSD/Ben Soukup and mostly hearing-managed and its link to management team;
- SVRS is VC owned and hearing managed with one senior deaf manager and the link to management link:
- Purple is VC owned 97% and with rest of % to executives, and mostly hearing managed and its link to management team:
- GraciasVRS is interpreter owned, and hearing managed and no link to management team;
- and finally this CAAG is interpreter owned, and hearing managed with one deaf manager (the deaf pix not on management team) and its management team link.
So there are now 6 VRS certified providers; all still need to undergo further review by the FCC before final certification. However, my personal opinion is as we're so far down the road for having met the regulations so far, these listed VRS providers are for practical purposes VRS certified infinitely.
So what about other VRS providers that have VRS certification like these providers? AmericanVRS and HawkVRS? They are not providing service and if they do not come up with VRS plan to the FCC by the time of renewal, they will lose the VRS certification. AmericanVRS simply closed down. Others who had certification were taken over by other VRS providers.
The summary is now: one deaf-owned, two interpreter-owned and three VC-owned making total of 6 VRS providers now.
eyes open & thumbs up,
Postscript: For those who are curious about history of relay rates, here is the link:
Double Postscript: All these information are based on websites that I have googled plus talking with several individuals. If you believe I erred, then comment away.