Skip Navigation

Federal Communications Commission

English Display Options

Commission Document

ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY: Manufacturers Must File Accurate HAC Reports

Download Options

Released: July 3, 2013

PUBLIC NOTICE

Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

445 12th St., S.W.

Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

Washington, D.C. 20554

TTY: 1-888-835-5322

DA 13-1515

July 03, 2013

Enforcement Advisory No. 2013-5

FCC ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY

HEARING AID COMPATIBILITY FOR WIRELESS TELEPHONES

WIRELESS HANDSET MANUFACTURERS ADVISED TO ENSURE ACCURATE REPORTING

OF WIRELESS HEARING AID COMPATIBILITY COMPLIANCE

Handset Manufacturers Must Make Annual Compliance Filing By July 15, 2013

The Enforcement Bureau reminds wireless handset manufacturers of their obligation to report on compliance
with the hearing aid compatibility rules on or before July 15, 2013.1 The hearing aid compatibility rules ensure
that individuals with hearing loss can fully access advanced wireless phone services without excessive feedback or
noise.

QUICK GUIDE


Reporting Deadline: Wireless handset manufacturers must file required hearing aid compatibility status
reports by July 15, 2013.

Inaccurate Reports: The Bureau has observed that hearing aid compatibility status reports filed by
manufacturers (and service providers) often contain errors. Given the upcoming reporting deadline,
we urge manufacturers to exercise diligence in making the representations required by the hearing aid
compatibility rules. The failure to do so undermines the ability of consumers to access reliable
information on the availability of hearing aid-compatible handsets and confuses other market
participants.

Timely Corrections: Manufacturers that have already filed their 2013 hearing aid compatibility status
reports should review such filings for accuracy and completeness and amend their filings as necessary
to correct any errors before the filing deadline.

No De Minimis Exception: We emphasize that (i) a manufacturer's failure to familiarize itself with the
relevant law does not excuse noncompliance; and (ii) there is no de minimis exception to the wireless
hearing aid compatibility reporting requirement. All wireless handset manufacturers must timely file
hearing aid compatibility status reports, regardless of the number of handset models they offer.

Monetary Liability: Since 2011, the Commission has taken hearing aid compatibility enforcement actions
valued at more than $2.9 million, including a proposed $12,000 monetary penalty for a manufacturer's
failure to timely file its 2012 hearing aid compatibility status report. (See Kyocera Communications, Inc.;
Kyocera Corp
., DA 13-35).

1 The filing deadline for these reports is July 15th each year. When the 15th of the month falls on a weekend or holiday, the report
is due on the next business day. See 47 C.F.R. 1.4; see also Hearing Aid Compatibility Status Reporting at
http://wireless.fcc.gov/hac.
Page 1of 3

As we have previously explained, the Bureau's heightened enforcement posture recognizes that the hearing aid
compatibility rules have been in place for almost a decade and that manufacturers should now have implemented
robust programs to ensure compliance with these important rules.

What do the hearing aid compatibility rules require of manufacturers?

Commission rules require
most wireless handset manufacturers to offer a minimum number of hearing aid-compatible handsets, making
their products accessible to consumers with hearing loss.2 Manufacturers that offer any new handset model for
a particular air interface3 during a calendar year also must partially "refresh" their hearing aid-compatible handset
offerings to ensure that the handsets available to consumers with hearing loss include the newest and most
advanced technologies.4
To provide consumers with up-to-date information on the availability of hearing aid-compatible handsets and
enable the Commission to monitor compliance, Commission rules also require manufacturers to file periodic
status reports and post specific information on their public websites.5 The status reports and web content offer
valuable information to the public concerning the technical testing and commercial availability of hearing aid-
compatible handsets.
As noted above, a manufacturer's failure to familiarize itself with these requirements does not excuse
noncompliance. Similarly, there is no de minimis exception to the wireless hearing aid compatibility reporting
requirement.6

How important is accurate reporting?

Inaccurate reports hamper the Commission's ability to monitor the
deployment of hearing aid-compatible handsets and impede compliance with the hearing aid compatibility rules
themselves. Manufacturers (and service providers) are obligated to accurately report their handset offerings in
their annual hearing aid compatibility status reports.7
The Bureau has found inaccuracies in the relevant hearing aid compatibility handset rating, model name, and FCC
ID, as well as the time period during which such handsets were offered. Errors in manufacturer reports may
then be replicated by other entities, creating a daisy chain of non-compliance. The Commission's Equipment
Authorization System is the most reliable source for information on a handset's hearing aid compatibility rating,8
and the Bureau urges all filers to ensure that the handset model rating reported in their hearing aid compatibility
status reports is consistent with the rating in the grant of equipment authorization. Manufacturers that have
already filed their 2013 hearing aid compatibility status reports should review their filings for accuracy and
completeness and amend their filings as necessary to correct any errors before the filing deadline. Errors that

2 The full text of the wireless hearing aid compatibility rules is set forth at 47 C.F.R. 20.19. Among other things, these rules
include technical standards that digital wireless handsets must meet to be considered compatible with hearing aids operating in
acoustic coupling and inductive coupling (telecoil) modes, and establish deadlines by which manufacturers are required to offer
specified numbers or percentages of handsets per air interface that comply with the relevant standard.
3 The term "air interface" refers to the technical protocol, such as Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), that ensures
compatibility between mobile radio service equipment (e.g., wireless handsets) and the service provider's base stations.
4 See, e.g., 47 C.F.R. 20.19(c)(1)(ii) (requiring manufacturers to offer a mix of new and existing models that comply with paragraph
(b)(1) of this section); Amendment of the Commission's Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Mobile Handsets, Third Report and
Order, 27 FCC Rcd 3732, 3733, para. 3 n.2 (2012).
5 See 47 C.F.R. 20.19(h), (i).
6 Manufacturers offering two or fewer digital wireless handset models per air interface may qualify for the de minimis exception (47
C.F.R. 20.19(e)) to the hearing aid-compatible handset deployment benchmarks, but they must still comply with the reporting
requirement in 47 C.F.R. 20.19(i). Effective September 10, 2012, the de minimis deployment exception is unavailable to
manufacturers that do not meet the definition of a "small entity" beginning two years after their initial offerings. See id.
20.19(e)(1)(ii); see also Amendment of the Commission's Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Mobile Handsets, Policy Statement and
Second Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 25 FCC Rcd 11167, 1118089, paras. 3559 (2010).
7 See 47 C.F.R. 20.19(i).
8 The Equipment Authorization System is an electronic database of all equipment certified under Commission authority. The
database identifies the hearing aid compatibility rating of each handset by FCC ID, as reported by the handset manufacturer in test
reports submitted to the Commission at the time of an equipment authorization or of any modification to such authorization. See
http://transition.fcc.gov/oet/ea/fccid/.
Page 2 of 3

may be subsequently discovered should be immediately reported to the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau
so the associated reports can be promptly corrected. We will consider taking additional enforcement actions in
this area if this problem persists.

What happens if manufacturers or service providers do not comply with the rules?

We intend to
strictly enforce the hearing aid compatibility rules, and will impose escalating penalties on manufacturers that
persist in their failure to file the required reports or otherwise fail to comply with these rules.

Failure to comply with the digital wireless handset deployment requirements may result in monetary
forfeitures starting at $15,000 per violation. In 2012, the Commission revised its approach to the
assessment of base forfeitures for violations of the hearing aid-compatible handset deployment
requirements in order to more fully reflect the significance of these violations and to better deter
future noncompliance. Specifically, the Commission began applying the $15,000 base forfeiture to
each failure to offer a hearing aid-compatible handset during each month of the reporting year.9

Failure to comply with the reporting and web site posting requirements may result in monetary
forfeitures starting at $6,000 per violation.

These base forfeiture amounts are subject to adjustment based on aggravating or mitigating factors.
The Communications Act and Commission rules authorize forfeitures against non-common carriers
of up to $16,000 for each violation, or for each day of a continuing violation, up to a maximum of
$112,500 for a single act or failure to act.10

Need more information?

To file a hearing aid compatibility status report, visit http://wireless.fcc.gov/hac.
For additional information regarding enforcement of the wireless hearing aid compatibility rules, please contact
John D. Poutasse, (202) 418-2172, John.Poutasse@fcc.gov, or Pamera Hairston, (202) 418-1165,
Pamera.Hairston@fcc.gov of the Enforcement Bureau. For general information on compliance with the wireless
hearing aid compatibility rules, contact Christina Clearwater, (202) 418-1893, Christina.Clearwater@fcc.gov, or
Eli Johnson, (202) 418-1395, Eli.Johnson@fcc.gov of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.
To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio
format), send an e-mail to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-
0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY). You may also contact the Enforcement Bureau on its TTY line at (202)
418-1148 for further information about this Enforcement Advisory, or the FCC on its TTY line at 1-888-Tell-
FCC (1-888-835-5322) for further information about the wireless hearing aid compatibility rules.
Media inquiries should be directed to Mark Wigfield, (202) 418-0253, Mark Wigfield@fcc.gov.
Issued by: Acting Chief, Enforcement Bureau
-FCC-

9 See T-Mobile USA, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 27 FCC Rcd 4405, 4415, paras. 22-23 (2012); see also HTC Am.,
Inc.; HTC Corp.
, Order and Consent Decree, 27 FCC Rcd 10819, 10823, para. 3 n.13 (2012).
10 See 47 U.S.C. 503(b)(2)(D); 47 C.F.R. 1.80(b)(7).
Page 3 of 3

Note: We are currently transitioning our documents into web compatible formats for easier reading. We have done our best to supply this content to you in a presentable form, but there may be some formatting issues while we improve the technology. The original version of the document is available as a PDF, Word Document, or as plain text.

close
FCC

You are leaving the FCC website

You are about to leave the FCC website and visit a third-party, non-governmental website that the FCC does not maintain or control. The FCC does not endorse any product or service, and is not responsible for, nor can it guarantee the validity or timeliness of the content on the page you are about to visit. Additionally, the privacy policies of this third-party page may differ from those of the FCC.