FCC Enforcement Advisory, HEARING AID COMPATIBILITY FOR WIRELESS TELEPHONES
Federal Communications Commission
News Media Information 202 / 418-0500445 12th St., S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
January 12, 2011
Enforcement Advisory No. 2011-01
FCC ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY
HEARING AID COMPATIBILITY FOR WIRELESS TELEPHONES
ENFORCEMENT BUREAU ADVISES WIRELESS SERVICE PROVIDERS TO REVIEW
COMPLIANCE WITH HEARING AID COMPATIBILITY RULES
Annual Compliance Filing for Service Providers Due January 18, 2011The Enforcement Bureau reminds wireless service providers, including resellers, of the obligation to report on
the status of their compliance with the hearing aid compatibility rules. The next compliance filing is due on
January 18, 2011.1
We will continue to take action against companies that fail to comply with the hearing aid compatibility rules.
These critical rules ensure that individuals with hearing loss can fully utilize wireless phone services without
excessive feedback and noise. In 2010, the Enforcement Bureau proposed $361,000 in monetary penalties for
violations of the reporting, web posting, and hearing aid-compatible handset deployment requirements. In 2009,
the Bureau issued six enforcement actions totaling $72,000 for similar violations. The Bureau's heightened
enforcement posture recognizes that the hearing aid compatibility rules have been in place for a number of years
and that carriers should now have implemented robust programs to ensure compliance with these rules.
Consistent with past cases, we emphasize (i) that a company's failure to familiarize itself with the relevant law
does not excuse noncompliance; and (ii) that there is no de minimis exception to the wireless hearing aid
compatibility reporting requirement.2
What do the hearing aid compatibility rules require?FCC rules require most wireless service providers to make available a minimum number of hearing aid-
compatible handsets.3 In order to ensure that consumers have access to up-to-date information on the
1 The filing deadline for these reports is January 15th each year. This year, however, that deadline falls on a weekend and is
followed by a federal holiday, which moves the deadline to the next business day, January 18, 2011. See Hearing Aid Compatibility
Status Reporting at http://wireless.fcc.gov/hac.
2 Service providers offering two or fewer digital wireless handset models per air interface qualify for the de minimis exception (47
C.F.R. 20.19(e)). Although these entities are exempt from most of the hearing aid compatibility deployment requirements in 47
C.F.R. 20.19, they must still comply with the reporting requirement in 47 C.F.R. 20.19(i). The Commission recently limited the
de minimis exception so that it is unavailable to service providers that are not small entities after an initial two-year period. See
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 35-59 (rel. Aug. 5, 2010).
3 The full text of the 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 wireless service providers, including resellers and
Mobile Virtual Network Operators, are required to offer specified numbers or percentages of handsets per air interface that
comply with the relevant standard.
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availability of those handsets and to ensure that the Commission can monitor compliance, FCC rules also
require these service providers to make periodic status reports and to post specific information on their public
The status reports and web content provide valuable information to the public concerning the technical testing
and commercial availability of hearing aid-compatible handsets for consumers, particularly those with hearing
loss. The deployment of digital wireless handset models that meet the FCC's technical requirements ensures
that companies make their services and products available to consumers with hearing loss.
What happens if service providers do not comply with the rules?Wireless service providers should promptly review their compliance with the hearing aid compatibility rules, as
we intend to strictly enforce them.
Failure to comply with the digital wireless handset deployment requirements may result in monetary
forfeitures starting at $15,000 per violation.
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. In addition,
the Communications Act and Commission rules authorize forfeitures against a common carrier of up to
$150,000 for each violation, or for each day of a continuing violation, up to a maximum of $1,500,000 for a single
act or failure to act.4
Need more information?To file a hearing aid compatibility status report, visit http://wireless.fcc.gov/hac. For additional information
regarding compliance with and enforcement of the wireless hearing aid compatibility rules, please contact
Pamera Hairston, (202) 418-1165, Pamera.Hairston@fcc.gov, or JoAnn Lucanik, (202) 418-0873,
JoAnn.Lucanik@fcc.gov of the Enforcement Bureau. For general information on the wireless hearing aid
compatibility rules, contact Michael Rowan, (202) 418-1883, Michael.Rowan@fcc.gov, or Winsel Black (202)
418-2356, Winsel.Black@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 email@example.com 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 microphone rules.
Media inquiries should be directed to David Fiske, (202) 418-0513, David.Fiske@fcc.gov.
Issued by: Chief, Enforcement Bureau
4 See 47 U.S.C. 503(b)(2)(B); 47 C.F.R. 1.80(b)(3).
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