CapTel services have temporarily been extended.
4 February 2020

The National Relay Service (NRS) is now provided by Concentrix following a competitive tender process conducted last year to get the best service for users and value for money.

CapTel services are not supported under the new arrangement, however the CapTel provider, Ultratec, has temporarily extended support of captioning on the handset.

I thought that CapTel would no longer work from 1 February—why do the captions still work on my phone?

The CapTel handset ceased to be supported as part of the NRS from 1 February 2020.

The owners of CapTel, Ultratec, announced over the weekend that they would continue supporting CapTel handsets independently of the NRS. Ultratec has not specified how long these temporary arrangements will be in place.

What will happen to my calls now that Ultratec is operating CapTel handsets outside of the NRS?

Ultratec has stated that under its temporary arrangements, CapTel phone calls will be sent to Ultratec's American-based call centre to convert into captions.

Ultratec has not indicated how long these temporary measures will be in place.

Why has CapTel been removed from the NRS?

The previous provider of the NRS, Australian Communications Exchange (ACE), had exclusive Australian rights to CapTel. Following a competitive tender process conducted last year, ACE was not renewed as the NRS provider.

Concentrix was awarded the NRS contract and is delivering the NRS within the Commonwealth's $22 million budget. Concentrix is providing a wider range of services than was previously the case, and its technology can be delivered over mobiles and tablets as well as fixed line devices, giving more options for users, such as video relay for people who prefer to communicate using AUSLAN (sign language).

Why doesn't the Government pay Ultratec to continue to provide CapTel?

The Australian Government's position continues to be that we are open to CapTel being supported by the NRS if Ultratec can strike a suitable commercial arrangement with the current NRS provider, Concentrix.

However, NRS users should be aware that there is no certainty such an arrangement can be reached.

To date, Ultratec has been unwilling to enter into new arrangements with the NRS provider Concentrix.

In these uncertain circumstances, it remains prudent for CapTel users to transition to NRS-supported alternatives or other options, because of the risk that the current temporary support for CapTel could end at any time.

Can I continue to use my CapTel handset?

The Government encourages CapTel users to migrate to either NRS-supported alternatives or other options such as Skype Captions, transcription apps such as Live Transcribe, and the Konnekt video phone with captions.

In these uncertain circumstances, it remains prudent for CapTel users to transition to NRS-supported alternatives or other options, because of the risk that the current temporary support for CapTel could end at any time.

What options do I have to migrate from CapTel?

NRS has alternatives in place to support people who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment to make and receive phone calls following the US-owned proprietary handset CapTel ceasing to be supported by the NRS.

Training and support including in-home assistance is available to CapTel users needing personalised help to understand the many different options available from the NRS, and to be trained in the use of the option which best meets the user's needs.

NRS-supported alternatives include NRS Captions, which delivers captions on a smartphone, computer or tablet whilst the user speaks on a telephone, or via Speak and Read on a teletypewriter (TTY).

Other options inlcude Skype Captions, transcription apps such as Live Transcribe, and the Konnekt video phone with captions.

Information on all of the options is available from the NRS Helpdesk.

The Government will continue to work with Concentrix to further develop its service offerings to best meet the needs of current and future NRS users.

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