Sprint Real-Time Text (RTT) FAQ



Sprint Real-Time Text (RTT) Frequently Asked Questions


What is Real-Time Text (RTT)?

RTT is an IP-based technology that allows the user to instantly transmit messages, character-by-character, as they are typed.  This means that the recipient can read the newly created text while the sender is still typing it.  RTT is especially useful for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing users that have been using antiquated TTY technology.  TTY’s Baudot tones do not transmit well over IP-based networks.   As Sprint deploys IP-based calling technologies, notably Voice over LTE or VoLTE, Sprint will begin its transition to RTT.  RTT will ultimately replace TTY in the coming years. 


What is Sprint’s responsibilities as they pertain to RTT?

Per Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations, if a Tier I carrier chooses to support RTT in lieu of TTY, it must begin supporting RTT as early as December 31, 2017.  Because Sprint has not transitioned to VoLTE, Sprint has chosen to continue supporting TTY over its CDMA network for the foreseeable future.  Sprint will update this website when it has more information to share regarding its transition to VoLTE and RTT.


What is Sprint’s position on RTT access in lieu of TTY technology?

Sprint believes that RTT is an important and necessary step forward as the nation’s telecommunications carriers transition from circuit switch to IP-based networks.  Sprint will continue to support its robust wireless TTY service as we begin to supplement and ultimately replace it with RTT.  Sprint is committed to making sure the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Speech-Impaired community continues to receive the reliable service it deserves, both now and in the future.


Customer Notice regarding 911 and Voice over WiFi:

Technical challenges may impede or prevent reliable/accurate delivery of TTY messages over IP-based networks including Sprint’s voice over WiFi (VoWiFi) platform. Given these limitations, Sprint’s VoWiFi service has been engineered so that it will not support TTY.  If a user activates the TTY calling feature on their Sprint phone, it will deactivate the VoWiFi feature.  This ensures that TTY calls will be made over Sprint’s CDMA voice calling platform with a high degree of reliability/accuracy. If a CDMA signal is unavailable, Sprint encourages customers to consider alternative means of communicating including utilizing the array of both PSTN and IP-based Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) such as traditional TRS, IP Relay, IP CapTel, or Video Relay Services (VRS). Each of these Relay services supports 911 emergency calling. Finally, customers may also send a text message to 911 directly (where text-to-911 is available).


RTT and PSAPs:

Although the transition to RTT is underway, in its December 2016 order initiating the transition from TTY to RTT technology (“RTT Order”), the Commission acknowledged the following:

  • Many PSAPs are still reliant on TTY technology to receive calls from people with disabilities and it may be a while before they migrate to RTT, enabling RTT users to reach 911 emergency services during the transition period is particularly compelling.

  • Based on the information provided in the record, and given the uncertainty as to how soon RTT will be universally available and familiar to users of wireline and wireless services, we conclude that it is premature at this time to set a date by which the TTY backward compatibility obligation should expire.

FCC RTT Consumer Guide: https://www.fcc.gov/sites/default/files/real-time-text.pdf