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Hearing Aid Compatibility Waiver Reconsideration Order

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Released: August 14, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-89

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)
Section 68.4(a) of the Commission’s Rules
)
WT Docket No. 01-309
Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Telephones
)
)
Petitions for Waiver of Section 20.19 of the
)
Commission’s Rules
)

ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION

Adopted: August 10, 2012

Released: August 14, 2012

By the Commission:

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Heading
Paragraph #
I.
INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................. 1
II. BACKGROUND .................................................................................................................................... 3
III. DISCUSSION......................................................................................................................................... 5
A. Petition of North Dakota Network Co. ............................................................................................ 6
B. Petition of Iowa Wireless Services, LLC d/b/a i wireless................................................................ 9
C. Petition of South Slope Cooperative Telephone Co., Inc. d/b/a South Slope Wireless ................. 14
D. Petition of CTC Telecom, Inc., Blanca Telephone Company, and Farmers Cellular
Telephone, Inc................................................................................................................................ 17
E. Petition of Uintah Basin Electronic Telecommunications d/b/a UBET Wireless.......................... 29
F. Petition of SLO Cellular, Inc. d/b/a Cellular One of San Luis Obispo & Entertainment
Unlimited ....................................................................................................................................... 32
IV. CONCLUSION .................................................................................................................................... 39
V. ORDERING CLAUSES....................................................................................................................... 40

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
In this Order on Reconsideration, we address six petitions requesting reconsideration of
decisions that denied the petitioners partial waivers of their obligations to offer hearing aid-compatible
handsets capable of inductive coupling.1 Inductive coupling avoids feedback from a handset to a hearing
aid and eliminates background noise, and thus provides improved access to digital mobile
communications to the deaf and hard of hearing community. Under Section 20.19(d)(2) of the
Commission’s rules, Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) providers and handset manufacturers
were required to have offered by September 18, 2006, at least two handset models that met the


1 See Section 68.4(a) of the Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Telephones, WT Docket No.
01-309, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 23 FCC Rcd 3352 (2008) (February 2008 Waiver Order).

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Commission’s standard for inductive coupling capability.2 The Commission subsequently granted
waivers providing limited extensions of the September 18, 2006 deadline to some wireless service
providers and denied waivers to others.3
2.
Several Tier III carriers that were denied waiver relief have sought reconsideration.4
Specifically, the six pending petitions were filed by the following carriers: (1) North Dakota Network Co.
(NDNC); (2) Iowa Wireless Services, LLC d/b/a i wireless, on behalf of itself and 37 related licensees
(collectively, i wireless); (3) South Slope Cooperative Telephone Co., Inc. d/b/a South Slope Wireless
(South Slope); (4) Blanca Telephone Company (Blanca), CTC Telecom, Inc. (CTC), and Farmers
Cellular Telephone (Farmers Cellular) (collectively, Joint Petitioners); (5) Uintah Basin Electronic
Telecommunications d/b/a UBET Wireless (UBET); and (6) SLO Cellular, Inc. d/b/a Cellular One of San
Luis Obispo (SLO Cellular) and Entertainment Unlimited (EU).5 After careful consideration of the merits
of the requests, and pursuant to our waiver authority, we grant the petitions of NDNC, i wireless, and
South Slope, and deny the petitions of Blanca, CTC, Farmers Cellular, UBET, SLO Cellular, and EU.

II.

BACKGROUND

3.
In the 2003 Hearing Aid Compatibility Order, the Commission adopted several measures


2 See 47 C.F.R. § 20.19(d)(2) (2006). In February 2008, as part of a comprehensive reconsideration of the
effectiveness of the hearing aid compatibility rules, the Commission made several changes to these rules, including
revisions to expand, for most carriers, the number of handsets that they must offer that meet the inductive coupling
standard. See Amendment of the Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Mobile Handsets, WT
Docket No. 07-250, First Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd 3406 (2008) (2008 Hearing Aid Compatibility Order),
Order on Reconsideration and Erratum, 23 FCC Rcd 7249 (2008); see also Amendment of the Commission’s Rules
Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Mobile Handsets, WT Docket No. 07-250, Policy Statement and Second Report
and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
, 25 FCC Rcd 11167 (2010) (2010 Hearing Aid
Compatibility Order
); Amendment of the Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Mobile
Handsets, WT Docket No. 07-250, Third Report and Order, DA 12-550 (WTB/OET rel. April 9, 2012) (both
adopting further changes to hearing aid compatibility rules). These revised rules, however, do not govern conduct
prior to the effective date of the revisions, June 6, 2008, see 73 Fed. Reg. 25,566 (May 7, 2008), and therefore are
not relevant to disposition of the pending petitions.
3 See February 2008 Waiver Order.
4 Tier III carriers are non-nationwide wireless radio service providers with 500,000 or fewer subscribers as of the
end of 2001. See Revision of the Commission’s Rules to Ensure Compatibility with Enhanced 911 Emergency
Calling Systems, Phase II Compliance Deadlines for Non-Nationwide CMRS Carriers, Order to Stay, 17 FCC Rcd
14841, 14847 ¶¶ 22-24 (2002).
5 See Section 68.4(a) of the Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Telephones, WT Docket No.
01-309, Petition for Reconsideration by North Dakota Network Co. (filed Mar. 27, 2008) (NDNC Petition); Section
68.4(a) of the Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Telephones, WT Docket No. 01-309,
Petition for Reconsideration by South Slope Cooperative Telephone Co., d/b/a South Slope Wireless (filed Mar. 27,
2008) (South Slope Petition); Section 68.4(a) of the Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible
Telephones, WT Docket No. 01-309, Petition for Reconsideration by CTC, Inc., Blanca Telephone Company,
Farmers Cellular Telephone, Inc. et al. (filed Mar. 28, 2008) (CTC, Blanca, and Farmers Cellular Petition); Section
68.4(a) of the Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Telephones, WT Docket No. 01-309,
Petition for Reconsideration by SLO Cellular, Inc. d/b/a Cellular One Of San Luis Obispo & Entertainment
Unlimited (filed Mar. 28, 2008) (SLO/EU Petition), erratum filed, Mar. 28, 2008; Section 68.4(a) of the
Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Telephones, WT Docket No. 01-309, Petition for
Reconsideration by Uintah Basic Electronic Telecommunications d/b/a UBET Wireless (filed Mar. 28, 2008)
(UBET Petition). A seventh petition for reconsideration of the February 2008 Waiver Order was filed by IT&E
Overseas, Inc. (IT&E) on March 28, 2008. IT&E subsequently withdrew its petition, and we will not address it
herein.
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to enhance the ability of the deaf and hard of hearing community to access digital wireless
telecommunications.6 Among other actions, the Commission established technical standards that digital
wireless handsets must meet to be considered hearing aid-compatible. One of these standards -- the “U3”
(now “M3”) rating7 -- indicates a reduction in radio frequency (RF) interference to enable effective
acoustic coupling between a digital wireless phone and hearing aids operating in acoustic coupling (a.k.a.
microphone) mode. The other standard -- the “U3T” (now “T3”) rating -- indicates that the handset
produces an audio signal-based magnetic field to enable inductive coupling with hearing aids operating in
telecoil mode.8 The Commission further established, for each standard, deadlines by which service
providers and manufacturers were required to offer specified numbers or percentages of digital handset
models per air interface9 that were compliant with the relevant standard. In particular, manufacturers
were required to offer to service providers, and service providers were required to offer and make
available in each retail store that they own or operate, at least two handset models that met the U3T or T3
rating for inductive coupling by September 18, 2006.
4.
In the February 2008 Waiver Order, the Commission addressed 46 waiver petitions filed
on behalf of 99 service providers and one manufacturer seeking extensions of the September 18, 2006
deadline to offer handsets that met the Commission’s hearing aid compatibility standard for inductive
coupling. As the Commission noted, parties seeking a waiver face a “high hurdle,” and must demonstrate
that “the underlying purpose of the rule(s) would not be served or would be frustrated by application in
the instant case, and grant would be in the public interest, or, in view of unique or unusual factual
circumstances, application of the rule(s) would be inequitable, unduly burdensome, or contrary to the


6 Section 68.4(a) of the Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Telephones, WT Docket No. 01-
309, Report and Order, 18 FCC Rcd 16753 (2003); erratum, 18 FCC Rcd 18047 (2003) (2003 Hearing Aid
Compatibility Order
).
7 The 2001 version of American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard C63.19, which the Commission
adopted in the 2003 Hearing Aid Compatibility Order, used a “U” nomenclature for radio frequency interference
reduction in acoustic coupling mode and a “UT” nomenclature for inductive coupling capability. The 2006 version
of this standard substituted the terms “M” and “T,” respectively. In obtaining certification, manufacturers during the
time period relevant to these petitions were permitted to rely on either of these standards or on an intermediate 2005
draft revision. See Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Office of Engineering and Technology Clarify Use of
Revised Wireless Phone Hearing Aid Compatibility Standard, Public Notice, 21 FCC Rcd 6384 (WTB/OET 2006).
8 The 2003 Hearing Aid Compatibility Order described hearing aids’ acoustic coupling and telecoil (or inductive
coupling) modes as follows:
In acoustic coupling mode, the [hearing aid’s] microphone picks up surrounding sounds, desired and
undesired, and converts them into electrical signals. The electrical signals are amplified as needed and then
converted back into sound by the hearing aid speaker. In telecoil mode, with the microphone turned off,
the telecoil picks up the audio signal-based magnetic field generated by the voice coil of a dynamic speaker
in hearing aid-compatible telephones, audio loop systems, or powered neck loops. The hearing aid
converts the magnetic field into electrical signals, amplifies them as needed, and converts them back into
sound via the speaker. Using a telecoil avoids the feedback that often results from putting a hearing aid up
against a telephone earpiece, can help prevent exposure to over amplification, and eliminates background
noise, providing improved access to the telephone. 18 FCC Rcd at 16763 ¶ 22.
9 The term air interface refers to the system that ensures compatibility between mobile radio service equipment, such
as handsets, and the service provider’s base stations. Currently, the leading air interfaces used for voice
communications include Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Global System for Mobile Communications
(GSM), Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (iDEN), and Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA).
WCDMA is also known as Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS).
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public interest, or the applicant has no reasonable alternative.”10 Further, parties “must plead with
particularity the facts and circumstances which warrant” a waiver.11 Applying this standard, the
Commission denied waivers to, among others, NDNC, i wireless and its 37 associated licensees, South
Slope, Blanca, CTC, Farmers Cellular, UBET, SLO Cellular, and EU.12 The Commission found that
these petitioners had not presented any facts or circumstances warranting grant of the requested relief.
Following the submission of petitions for reconsideration, the Commission put the petitions out for
comment on May 7, 2008.13 Several of the petitioners, as well as the National Telecommunications
Cooperative Association, filed comments supporting the requests for relief.14

III.

DISCUSSION

5.
For the reasons discussed below, we grant the petitions of NDNC, i wireless, and South
Slope, and deny the petitions of Blanca, CTC, Farmers Cellular, UBET, SLO Cellular, and EU. A
petition for reconsideration may rely on facts not previously presented to the Commission only if the new
information was not previously available to the petitioner or circumstances have changed, or if
consideration of the new information serves the public interest.15 In the instant case, when the original
waiver petitions were filed prior to the February 2008 Waiver Order, it was not clear what facts the
Commission would find most relevant in considering waiver requests, and we therefore find that
consideration of the new facts that petitioners present does serve the public interest. We emphasize,
however, that in light of the February 2008 Waiver Order, all petitioners have had a full opportunity in
their present petitions to present all relevant facts. We therefore would be strongly disinclined to grant
any further petitions based upon new facts.

A.

Petition of North Dakota Network Co.

6.
Background: NDNC is a Tier III CDMA carrier serving parts of North Dakota.16 It


10 February 2008 Waiver Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3356-57 ¶ 7; see 47 C.F.R. § 1.925(b)(3); WAIT Radio v. FCC, 418
F.2d 1153 (D.C. Cir. 1969), appeal after remand, 459 F.2d 1203 (D.C.Cir. 1972), cert. denied, 409 U.S. 1027
(1972); Northeast Cellular Tel. Co. v. FCC, 897 F.2d 1164 (D.C. Cir. 1990); 47 C.F.R. § 1.3.
11 February 2008 Waiver Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3357 ¶ 7, citing Rio Grande Family Radio Fellowship v. FCC, 406
F.2d 664 (D.C. Cir. 1968).
12 See February 2008 Waiver Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3364-65, 3368-69, 3372 ¶¶ 22, 34, 44.
13 See Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Seeks Comment on Petitions for Reconsideration Filed in Hearing Aid
Compatibility Docket, WT Docket No. 01-309, Public Notice, 23 FCC Rcd 7482 (WTB 2008) (Reconsideration
Petition Public Notice
).
14 Comments were filed by the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA), and jointly by
Blanca, CTC, and Farmers Cellular. See Comments of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association,
WT Docket No. 01-309, filed May 22, 2008 (NTCA Comments); Comments of Blanca Telephone Company, CTC
Telecom, Inc., and Farmers Cellular Telephone, Inc., WT Docket No. 01-309, filed May 22, 2008 (Joint Petitioners
Comments). Reply comments were filed jointly by Blanca, CTC, and Farmers Cellular and by IT&E, NDNC, South
Slope, and UBET. See Reply Comments of Blanca Telephone Company, CTC Telecom, Inc., and Farmers Cellular
Telephone, Inc., WT Docket No. 01-309, filed June 2, 2008 (Joint Petitioners Reply Comments); Reply Comments
of IT&E Overseas, Inc., WT Docket No. 01-309, filed June 2, 2008; Reply Comments of North Dakota Network
Co., WT Docket No. 01-309, filed June 2, 2008 (NDNC Reply Comments); Reply Comments of South Slope
Cooperative Telephone Co., Inc. d/b/a South Slope Wireless, WT Docket No. 01-309, filed June 2, 2008 (South
Slope Reply Comments); Reply Comments of Uintah Basic Electronic Telecommunications d/b/a UBET Wireless,
WT Docket No. 01-309, filed June 2, 2008 (UBET Reply Comments).
15 47 C.F.R. § 1.106(c).
16 See February 2008 Waiver Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3364 ¶ 20.
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sought a waiver of the requirement to offer inductive coupling-capable handsets until September 18,
2007, citing difficulties in obtaining handsets.17 The February 2008 Waiver Order denied NDNC’s
request for a waiver because it had not shown sufficient evidence that it was diligent in its efforts to
obtain compliant handsets.18
7.
Petition for Reconsideration: NDNC filed its Petition for Reconsideration of the
February 2008 Waiver Order on March 27, 2008. In its petition, NDNC provides new material
information supported by a sworn declaration documenting its efforts to come into compliance prior to
and within a reasonable period after the September 18, 2006 deadline. This documentation includes a
detailed timeline of contacts it pursued with vendors in its attempts to obtain compliant handsets.19
Further, while NDNC had previously reported to the Commission that it came into compliance on January
23, 2007, it provides in its petition information showing that it in fact came into compliance on December
29, 2006.20
8.
Decision: We grant NDNC’s Petition for Reconsideration. The documentation of efforts
NDNC provides in support of its petition, as well as the fact that those efforts bore fruit on December 29,
2006, persuades us that NDNC was reasonably diligent in its efforts to obtain compliant handsets. Thus,
we find that NDNC has made a showing sufficient to justify a waiver of Section 20.19(d)(2), and we
therefore grant its Petition for Reconsideration of the February 2008 Waiver Order.

B.

Petition of Iowa Wireless Services, LLC d/b/a i wireless

9.
Background: On September 18, 2006, i wireless filed a request on behalf of itself and 37
related licensees for a waiver of Section 20.19(d)(2) until “such time as compliant handsets are
commercially available” to it, citing its inability to obtain compliant handsets by the deadline.21 On
November 21, 2006, i wireless filed a status report, stating that it was offering two compliant handsets
(the Nokia 6061 and Motorola V3i).22 In a subsequent filing, however, i wireless indicated that it only
came into compliance as of March 22, 2007, based on its offering of the Motorola RAZR V3 and the
Nokia 6126h.23
10.
In the February 2008 Waiver Order, the Commission denied i wireless’s request, finding
that it had not demonstrated unique or unusual circumstances, nor sufficient diligence, to warrant a waiver
of the handset deployment deadline.24 The Commission found that i wireless had failed to demonstrate a
need for a six month extension when most similarly situated carriers were able to comply in less time.25 It
also noted that the Nokia 6061, reported as compliant in i wireless’s November 2006 Status Report, had
not in fact been certified as hearing aid-compatible for inductive coupling. Furthermore, i wireless had
not explained why it had initially listed the Nokia 6061 as hearing aid-compatible, and it had provided no


17 Id.
18 See id. at 3365 ¶ 22
19 See NDNC Petition at 13-15.
20 See id. at 15.
21 See February 2008 Waiver Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3372 ¶ 42.
22 Id. at 3372 ¶ 43.
23 Id.
24 Id. at 3372 ¶ 44.
25 Id.
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information as to whether, and if so why, it had believed the handset was hearing aid-compatible.26
11.
Petition for Reconsideration: In its Petition for Reconsideration, i wireless asserts that,
during the period both before and after the deadline, it worked diligently to procure hearing aid-
compatible handsets from authorized distributors.27 i wireless further asserts that, while it offered its first
compliant handset on October 16, 2006, it was prevented from offering a second compliant handset due to
“delays and misinformation from handset manufacturers and distributors, and a lack of availability of
compliant units. . . .”28 With its petition, i wireless provides documentation of its efforts to obtain
compliant handsets supported by a sworn declaration and an affidavit from its inventory manager.29
12.
Decision: We grant the Petition for Reconsideration filed by i wireless and its related
licensees. i wireless’s petition provides sufficient information to show that its efforts to obtain compliant
handsets, although not achieving compliance until March 22, 2007, were nevertheless reasonably diligent.
In the accompanying affidavit, i wireless’s inventory manager relates that “[i]n order to identify and
procure [hearing aid-compatible] phones for i wireless to comply with Section 20.19(d)(2) of the
Commission’s rules, I regularly contacted manufacturers and distributors, and asked them for information
regarding the availability of compliant handsets,”30 a process that included identifying the authorized
distributors for particular manufacturers, obtaining information regarding handset availability from these
distributors, and obtaining and testing handsets for network compatibility.31 The petition, supported by a
sworn declaration and affidavit, documents with timelines i wireless’s efforts in connection with fourteen
handsets.32 According to this evidence, among other efforts, i wireless:
·
tested and began offering the Motorola V3i by shortly after September 16, 2006;
·
determined that most inductive coupling-capable GSM handsets were either subject to exclusive
contracts with large carriers, were not in production, or would not work on the i wireless network;
·
determined that two models were not available on a wholesale basis; and
·
purchased two compliant Nokia models as soon as they were available from Brightpoint, Nokia’s
authorized distributor in the United States.33
13.
i wireless also provides evidence that its efforts were partly hindered by misinformation
from manufacturers. It indicates that it initially identified the Nokia 6061 as hearing aid-compatible for
inductive coupling based on information it had received from Nokia. When Nokia subsequently informed
it that the handset was not in fact compliant, i wireless states, it decided to obtain the Nokia 6126h as a


26 Id.
27 See i wireless Petition at 5-14.
28 See id. at 4-5.
29 See i wireless Petition; Affidavit of Phillip Luebke, Inventory Manager, i wireless, dated Mar. 25, 2008 (Luebke
Aff.). See also i wireless Petition; Certification by Phillip Luebke, Inventory Manager, Iowa Wireless Services,
LLC d/b/a i wireless, dated Mar. 25, 2008.
30 Luebke Aff. at 4.
31 See id. at 1-4; i wireless Petition at 5-10. i wireless states that because many handsets were certified as hearing
aid-compatible for inductive coupling only shortly before the deadline, it “accelerated its testing program to identify,
test, order, and distribute compliant phones as soon as possible.” i wireless Petition at 7.
32 See i wireless Petition at 13-17.
33 See id.
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second compliant handset.34 However, Nokia’s projection of availability for that handset again turned out
to be inaccurate.35 We find that the difficulties i wireless faced due to such inaccurate information and
faulty projections further support its claim to have made diligent efforts. While it is possible that further
attempts or alternative avenues might have led to compliance sooner, we find the actions by i wireless,
taken as a whole, establish a reasonably diligent effort to achieve compliance under the circumstances.
We conclude that i wireless has made a showing sufficient to justify a waiver of Section 20.19(d)(2), and
we therefore grant its Petition for Reconsideration of the February 2008 Waiver Order.36

C.

Petition of South Slope Cooperative Telephone Co., Inc. d/b/a South Slope Wireless

14.
Background: South Slope Wireless is a Tier III GSM carrier providing service in Iowa.37
While it filed its waiver request and Petition for Reconsideration separately from i wireless, it is
associated with, and its circumstances are the same as, those carriers which filed jointly with i wireless.
15.
Petition for Reconsideration: South Slope argues in its petition that the Commission
should have ensured that compliant handsets were in fact available to carriers before denying their waiver
requests and that the Commission acted arbitrarily in its use of the January 1, 2007 date in its
deliberations.38 South Slope also incorporates the arguments put forth by i wireless and states that its
factual circumstances, as an affiliated carrier, are exactly as represented by i wireless.39
16.
Decision: We grant the Petition for Reconsideration filed by South Slope Wireless.
While we find no merit in its arguments that the onus was on the Commission to ascertain the availability
of compliant handsets or that the Commission acted arbitrarily,40 South Slope has presented evidence that,
as a carrier associated with i wireless, its circumstances are indistinguishable from those of i wireless and
its other associated carriers.41 Thus, we find that South Slope has made a showing sufficient to justify a
waiver of Section 20.19(d)(2) until March 22, 2007, and we therefore grant its Petition for
Reconsideration of the February 2008 Waiver Order.

D.

Petition of CTC Telecom, Inc., Blanca Telephone Company, and Farmers Cellular
Telephone, Inc.

17.
Background: In separate requests filed on September 18, 2006, CTC and Blanca, both
Tier III CDMA carriers, and Farmers Cellular, a Tier III GSM carrier, each contended that it was unable


34 See id. at 8 n.31.
35 See id. at 15.
36 We note that i wireless filed two versions of its Petition for Reconsideration, a redacted version filed publicly and
an unredacted version containing allegedly confidential information. Together with the unredacted version, i
wireless submitted a request seeking confidential treatment of certain portions of its unredacted filing. We do not
rule on the request for confidential treatment at this time because it is unnecessary to do so for purposes of this
Order. Consistent with i wireless’s request, this Order relies solely on information in the public domain and on
those portions of i wireless’s petition for which it did not seek confidential treatment. We find that this publicly
available information is sufficient to warrant granting the petition without consideration of any of the allegedly
confidential communications or documents.
37 See South Slope Petition at 13.
38 See id. at 10.
39 Id. at 15.
40 See ¶ 31, infra.
41 See South Slope Petition at 13.
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to obtain compliant handsets from its vendors prior to the September 18, 2006 deadline for deployment of
inductive coupling-capable handsets as set forth in Section 20.19(d)(2) of the Commission’s rules.42 In
the February 2008 Waiver Order, the Commission denied these requests.43 Finding that Blanca, CTC,
and Farmers Cellular had come into compliance on June 20, 2007, March 13, 2007, and June 6, 2007,
respectively,44 the Commission concluded that each had failed to demonstrate sufficiently diligent efforts
to obtain compliant handsets either prior to the deadline or within a reasonable period afterward.45 The
Commission found that other Tier III carriers had been able to comply by or before January 1, 2007, 46
and that the petitioners had not presented any facts or circumstances to clearly distinguish themselves
from those other Tier III carriers. The Commission also stated that it was not “sufficient effort after this
time frame simply to contact one’s existing vendors on a monthly basis, or to limit one’s efforts to testing
those existing vendors’ handsets for system compatibility.”47
18.
Petition for Reconsideration: On March 28, 2008, CTC, Blanca, and Farmers Cellular
jointly filed a petition for reconsideration of the February 2008 Waiver Order.48 In their petition, CTC,
Blanca, and Farmers Cellular (collectively, Joint Petitioners) argue that the Commission failed to provide
carriers with prior notice in either establishing January 1, 2007, as a new compliance deadline or requiring
a more substantial showing of compliance effort for carriers that came into compliance after that date.49
The Joint Petitioners further argue that the Commission’s reliance on the compliance records of other
carriers to identify January 1, 2007, as a significant date was both arbitrary and contrary to the facts in the
record.50 They argue that the Commission, in resting its decision in part on a finding that the carriers
made only monthly contacts with vendors, failed to explain why monthly contact is insufficient or what
the frequency of contact should be.51 They also contend that the Commission’s conclusion was
inconsistent with its resolution of hearing aid compatibility waiver requests in the 2007 GSM Waiver
Order
,52 in which, they argue, the Commission granted much longer extensions to carriers that had relied
on existing vendor relationships.53 They similarly allege that the Commission applied a different waiver
standard to the carriers that were granted relief in the February 2008 Waiver Order than to those that
were denied relief.54 CTC, Blanca, and Farmers Cellular also make brief separate arguments based on


42 See February 2008 Waiver Order, 20 FCC Rcd. at 3363 ¶¶ 19-20.
43 See id at 3364-65 ¶ 22.
44 See id.
45 See id. at 3365 ¶ 22.
46 See id.
47 See id.
48 See CTC, Blanca, and Farmers Cellular Petition.
49 See id at 5-6.
50 See id at 6-8.
51 See id at 9-10.
52 See Section 68.4(a) of the Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Telephones, WT Docket No.
01-309, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 22 FCC Rcd 20459 (2007) (2007 GSM Waiver Order) (addressing
twelve requests by GSM carriers for partial waiver of the requirement to offer, by September 16, 2005, two or more
digital handset models per air interface that were rated hearing aid-compatible for acoustic coupling).
53 CTC, Blanca, and Farmers Cellular Petition at 10-14.
54 Joint Petitioners Reply Comments at 2-3.
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their individual factual circumstances.55 Finally, they allege that the February 2008 Waiver Order
improperly relied on comments made in violation of the Commission’s ex parte rules and that the
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau inappropriately extended the comment period on the petitions for
reconsideration.56
19.
Decision: We deny the joint Petition for Reconsideration filed by CTC, Blanca, and
Farmers Cellular. First, the Commission did not apply January 1, 2007, as an alternate deadline nor did it
otherwise impose any new obligations without notice. The Joint Petitioners had notice of their obligation
to meet the September 18, 2006 deadline absent a waiver, and in evaluating their requests, the
Commission did not depart from its general waiver standard. Rather, the Commission considered the date
of compliance, along with the carrier’s description of its efforts to comply, in determining whether a
carrier had demonstrated reasonably diligent efforts to come into compliance, both before the September
18, 2006 deadline and after it. For carriers that came into compliance by January 1, 2007, the
Commission found that their efforts at compliance were more likely to have met the standard of
reasonable diligence, given that many carriers achieved compliance shortly before that date, and that a
previous order had granted waivers to several carriers that had complied with a different hearing aid
compatibility requirement within a comparable time period.57 Accordingly, the Commission granted
waivers to most, but not all, carriers that complied prior to January 1, 2007.58 Carriers that did not
achieve compliance by this date were not automatically precluded from relief or subject to higher burdens
of proof; rather, the Commission was not able to rely on the time of compliance to support a similar
inference. We find that in applying this analysis, the Commission appropriately carried out its obligation
to take a “hard look” at each case.59


55 See, e.g., CTC, Blanca, and Farmers Cellular Petition at 3 n.4, 9 n.15, 3 n.6.
56 See Joint Petitioners Comments at 3-6.
57 The Joint Petitioners take issue with the Commission’s assertion that “the great majority of the Tier III carriers
were able to achieve compliance within a few months of the deadline,” see February 2008 Waiver Order, 23 FCC
Rcd at 3365 ¶ 22, asserting that of those Tier III carriers seeking waivers, 59 percent did not achieve compliance
until later. See CTC, Blanca, and Farmers Cellular Petition at 7. The Joint Petitioners’ calculation ignores those
Tier III carriers that did not seek waivers. In any case, we find that the large number of petitioners who achieved
compliance on or before January 1, 2007, is evidence that a carrier could obtain handsets in that time frame through
reasonably diligent efforts. See February 2008 Waiver Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3365 ¶ 22; see also id. at 3362 ¶ 17
(“[W]e note that many of the petitioners achieved compliance on or shortly before January 1, 2007. This similarity
in timing supports our conclusion that a Tier III carrier exercising reasonable diligence might have required this
much time to resolve issues involved in identifying, testing, and ultimately selling inductive coupling-compliant
handsets.”).
58 We note that compliance by January 1, 2007, although indicative of reasonably diligent efforts, was not
conclusive. For example, the Commission found that SLO Cellular had not been reasonably diligent
notwithstanding its compliance by December 1, 2006. See February 2008 Waiver Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3368 ¶ 32,
3369 ¶ 34.
59 See WAIT Radio v. FCC, 418 F.2d 1153, 1158 (D.C.Cir. 1969). Consistent with the “hard look” standard, failure
to comply until after January 1, 2007, is not conclusive proof of a lack of diligent efforts. Above we conclude,
based on specific facts in the record, that i wireless and its related licensees were reasonably diligent although they
did not achieve compliance until March 22, 2007. We do not find, however, that the record supports relief for the
Joint Petitioners. Aside from their failure to make a comparable showing of effort, we note that our determinations
regarding i wireless are specific to GSM technology, for which hearing aid-compatible handset availability was
significantly more limited than for CDMA. See Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions, Hearing Aid
Compatibility Status Report #6, WT Docket No. 01-309, filed Nov. 17, 2006, at 7. Among the Joint Petitioners, the
only carrier to use GSM, Farmers Cellular, did not achieve compliance until June 6, 2007, more than two months
after i wireless and its related licensees.
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20.
We similarly find unpersuasive the Joint Petitioners’ arguments that the Commission’s
decision was inconsistent with the 2007 GSM Waiver Order. In that ruling, the Commission extended
from August 1, 2006 until February 23, 2008, a limited waiver which provided that, for the purposes of
acoustic coupling compatibility, it would accept a GSM dual-band handset’s hearing aid compatibility
rating in the 1900 MHz band as the rating for the handset overall.60 The Commission instructed carriers
that it expected compliance at the end of this period, and that if the carriers’ “usual vendors [could not]
supply appropriate handset models, [the Commission expected that] petitioners [would] make the
necessary arrangements with other vendors.”61 Joint Petitioners argue that this language implies that
carriers need only rely on existing vendor relationships until expressly directed otherwise by the
Commission. 62 However, the 2007 GSM Waiver Order granted the carriers extensions not based on their
claimed inability to get compliant handsets from their existing vendors, but because they had reasonably
concluded, in part based on information from those vendors, that they had already achieved compliance.63
The carriers’ reliance on their existing vendors for information in that case is distinguishable from
reliance on a vendor that the carrier knows cannot provide compliant handsets. In the latter circumstance,
a failure to investigate alternatives will be a relevant factor in assessing a carrier’s diligence, and the
Commission has never indicated otherwise.
21.
Joint Petitioners’ argument that the 2007 GSM Waiver Order granted longer periods of
relief than Joint Petitioners requested fails because their circumstances are not comparable. The
Commission concluded in the 2007 GSM Waiver Order that the petitioners who had mistakenly relied on
non-compliant handsets to meet their obligations should be granted a waiver because “the difficulty they
had in obtaining the correct compatibility information created unique and unusual circumstances.”64 Due
to the circumstances cited, the Commission extended the waiver that it had previously granted for
approximately 16 additional months until the date of its new ruling, plus four months into the future.
Joint Petitioners claim that they should be granted similar relief, but they themselves note that whereas
the carriers in the 2007 GSM Waiver Order had received erroneous information from their vendors that
certain handsets were compliant, the Joint Petitioners “were correctly advised by their vendors that they
could not be timely supplied with [hearing aid-compatible] handsets.”65 Because the Joint Petitioners
were on notice of their non-compliance, the unique circumstances that supported the 2007 GSM Waiver
Order
are not present here.
22.
Beyond their legal arguments, Joint Petitioners provide very little in the way of new
information to demonstrate that they exercised reasonable diligence in their attempts to obtain compliant
handsets.66 CTC points to an invoice indicating that on January 25, 2007, it purchased the Kyocera K132,


60 See 2007 GSM Waiver Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 20459-61 ¶ 1 (extending, for certain GSM carriers, the relief
previously granted in Cingular Wireless LLC Petition for Waiver of Section 20.19(c)(3)(i)(A) of the Commission’s
Rules, Memorandum Opinion and Order, WT Docket No. 01-309, 20 FCC Rcd 15108 (2005)).
61 See id. at 20473 ¶ 31.
62 See CTC, Blanca, and Farmers Cellular Petition at 10.
63 See 2007 GSM Waiver Order at 20472-73 ¶ 30.
64 See id. at 20473 ¶ 30.
65 CTC, Blanca, and Farmers Cellular Petition at 13 n.17.
66 Joint Petitioners argue that granting relief is “especially” appropriate as “it does not appear that any person was
denied a [hearing aid-compatible] handset.” Joint Petitioners Supplemental Reply Comments at 6. To the extent
that the Joint Petitioners seek relief on the grounds that none of them received requests from consumers for hearing
aid-compatible handsets, we note again that this consideration is not relevant to determining whether a waiver is
justified. See February 2008 Waiver Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3365 ¶ 22.
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which was later certified by the Commission as compliant for inductive coupling.67 We note that CTC
did not provide a sworn declaration establishing the authenticity of the invoice, but in any case, given that
the device was not requested until the end of January, this additional device would not support a finding
of reasonably diligent efforts. Farmers Cellular and CTC take issue with the Commission’s conclusion
that it was not sufficient “simply to contact one’s existing vendors on a monthly basis.”68 Farmers
Cellular points to a 2007 status report indicating that it would usually contact its existing vendors “weekly
or every other week” rather than monthly, and CTC points to a statement in a 2007 status report that it
would check with its vendor “at least monthly, sometimes more often. . . .”69 Regardless of how often
these carriers contacted their existing vendors, however, they do not suggest that they investigated
alternative suppliers, as they should have done in the exercise of reasonable diligence when their existing
vendors could not satisfy their requirements. Blanca highlights that it did offer one hearing aid-
compatible handset shortly after the compliance date. 70 However, this does not alter our conclusion that
Blanca has not justified waiver relief for its failure to offer a second compliant handset.71
23.
Ex Parte Issues: Joint Petitioners also argue that they should be granted relief to remedy
a procedural violation by certain parties opposed to their waiver requests. On November 6, 2006, after
the filing of the original waiver requests but prior to the Commission’s decision on those requests,
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. and Hearing Loss Association of America
(collectively, Opponents) filed a joint opposition to the Joint Petitioners’ waiver requests as well as to the
waiver requests of other carriers (hereinafter Consolidated Opposition).72 Addressing what they
characterized as “long-term” waiver requests, the Opponents stated, among other things, that if the
Commission “should deem waivers of Commission Rule 20.19(d)(2) to be in the public interest . . . the
Commission should grant a temporary waiver until January 1, 2007,” conditioned on certain proposed
reporting obligations.73
24.
The Opponents filed the Consolidated Opposition in the Commission’s Electronic
Comment Filing System (ECFS) in the same public docket in which the carriers had filed their waiver
requests, WT Docket No. 01-309. Although the consideration of the waiver requests was a restricted
proceeding under the Commission’s ex parte rules, the Opponents did not serve their filing on the
relevant petitioners.74 Subsequently, on January 18, 2007, the Commission changed the status of the


67 See CTC, Blanca, and Farmers Cellular Petition at 3 n.4, Attachment.
68 See id. at 9 n.15; February 2008 Waiver Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3365 ¶ 22.
69 See CTC, Blanca, and Farmers Cellular Petition at 9 n.15.
70 See id. at 3 n.6.
71 We note that in determining the amount of forfeiture for which Blanca is apparently liable, the Enforcement
Bureau took the date on which it offered its first compliant handset into account. See Blanca Telephone Company,
Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 23 FCC Rcd 9398, 9404 ¶ 13 (Enf. Bur., Spectrum Enf. Div. 2008).
72 See Consolidated Opposition of Telecommunications For the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. and Hearing Loss
Association of America to Requests For Waiver of Commission Rule 20.19(d)(2), WT Docket No. 01-309, filed
Nov. 6, 2006 (Consolidated Opposition).
73 Id. at 12.
74 Under the Commission’s ex parte rules, waiver proceedings are generally classified as restricted, which means
that ex parte presentations are prohibited and that written presentations must therefore be served on all parties to the
proceeding. See 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.1208, 1.1202(b)(1), 1.1202(a).
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proceeding to permit-but-disclose.75 In the February 2008 Waiver Order, after finding that relief was
warranted to certain carriers, all of whom had achieved compliance on or before January 1, 2007, the
Commission noted in a footnote that its conclusion was also “consistent with the [Opponents’] position
that to the extent we grant any waivers, they should not extend beyond January 1, 2007.”76
25.
In comments filed in this proceeding, the Joint Petitioners argue that the Consolidated
Opposition was the source of the Commission’s use of January 1, 2007, in addressing reasonable
diligence. They further argue that the Opponents’ failure to serve them violated the ex parte rules and
that they were denied an opportunity to respond to the Consolidated Opposition as a result.77 The
Commission’s Office of General Counsel requested that the Opponents respond to the Joint Petitioners’
allegations of ex parte violations.78 In their reply, the Opponents admit that their failure to serve the
Consolidated Opposition on the Joint Petitioners violated the Commission’s ex parte rules, but argue that
the violation was inadvertent and non-prejudicial.79 In response to the Opponents’ arguments, the Joint
Petitioners counter that the ex parte violation was not mitigated by either the Consolidated Opposition’s
posting on ECFS or the subsequent conversion of the proceeding to “permit-but-disclose” status.80 They
conclude that “because the [Opponents] obtained relief illegally, . . . an appropriate remedy would be to
grant the [hearing aid compatibility] waiver requests. . . .”81
26.
Although the filing of the Consolidated Opposition violated the Commission’s ex parte
rules, we are not persuaded that the Joint Petitioners suffered prejudice as a result, and we find that no
remedial action is warranted. Most importantly, in the February 2008 Waiver Order, the Commission
rested its conclusion that a carrier that came into compliance before January 1, 2007, was more likely to
have exercised reasonable diligence on the Commission’s examination of all the petitions in this
proceeding, as well as on periods of relief that were previously found justified in a similar context.82 The
Commission merely noted that this conclusion was “consistent” with the Consolidated Opposition, and
not that it relied on it. Therefore, we find the Commission would have reached the same result with or


75 See Modification of Ex Parte Status of Pending Petitions for Waiver of Hearing Aid Compatibility Requirements,
Public Notice,
WT Docket No. 01-309, 22 FCC Rcd 535, 536 (WTB 2007) (“Because these petitions implicate
broadly applicable policy issues, we find . . . that these petitions should be treated as permit-but-disclose
proceedings under the ex parte rules.”).
76 See February 2008 Waiver Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3362 n.75. See also id. at 3356 ¶ 6 (summarizing the
Consolidated Opposition).
77 See Joint Petitioners Comments at 2-3; Ex Parte Supplemental Reply Comments Regarding Petitions For
Reconsideration of Blanca Telephone Company, CTC Telecom, Inc., and Farmers Cellular Telephone, Inc., WT
Docket No. 01-309, filed July 28, 2008 (Joint Petitioners Supplemental Reply Comments). See also SLO/EU
Petition at 8-9 (stating that the February 2008 Waiver Order “makes clear that the Consolidated Opposition was the
source of the January 1, 2007 cut-off date applied by the Commission”); UBET Petition at 10-11 (same).
78 See Letter from Joel Kaufman, Associate General Counsel, FCC, to Paul O. Gagnier, Esq. and Jeffrey J.
Strenkowski, Esq. (June 16, 2008).
79 See Letter from Paul O. Gagnier and Jeffrey R. Strenkowski to Joel Kaufman, Esq., Associate General Counsel,
FCC (July 22, 2008) (Ex Parte Violation Response).
80 See Joint Petitioners Supplemental Reply Comments at 2-4.
81 See id. at 6.
82 See February 2008 Waiver Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3362 ¶ 17; see also id. at 3364-65 ¶ 22.
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without consideration of the Consolidated Opposition. 83 Furthermore, petitioners have had ample
opportunity to discuss and address the Consolidated Opposition in several of their filings, and vacating
the February 2008 Waiver Order to give them a further such opportunity would serve no purpose.
27.
Extension of Comment Period: Finally, the Joint Petitioners argue that the Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau improperly waived and extended the deadline in Section 1.106(g) of the
Commission’s rules for filing oppositions to the petitions for reconsideration when it sought comment on
these petitions in the Reconsideration Petitions Public Notice.84 Neither petitioners nor any other party in
this proceeding suffered any prejudice as a result of the Bureau’s extension of the filing period, as a
routine exercise of its discretion.85 No party filed any opposition to the reconsideration petitions, the
Joint Petitioners availed themselves of the opportunity to file both comments and reply comments, and
the Joint Petitioners cited the supportive comments filed by other parties. Therefore, it is apparent that
Joint Petitioners suffered no prejudice from this additional opportunity for public comment on their
petition. Moreover, we agree that the Bureau’s extension of the filing period was an appropriate exercise
of its discretion in this case,86 and doing so was entirely consistent with the Commission’s earlier
determination that the underlying waiver petitions “implicate broadly applicable policy issues” warranting
the application of “permit-but-disclose” rules.87
28.
We conclude that CTC, Blanca, and Farmers Cellular have not made a showing sufficient
to justify a waiver of Section 20.19(d)(2), and we therefore deny their joint Petition for Reconsideration
of the February 2008 Waiver Order.

E.

Petition of Uintah Basin Electronic Telecommunications d/b/a UBET Wireless

29.
Background: On September 18, 2006, UBET, a Tier III CDMA carrier serving parts of
Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado, sought a waiver of the requirement to offer inductive coupling-capable
handsets until September 18, 2007, citing difficulties obtaining compliant handsets prior to the deadline.88
Subsequently, UBET indicated that it came into compliance on January 15, 2007.89 In the February 2008
Waiver Order
, the Commission found that UBET failed to show that it had exercised sufficient diligence


83 We similarly decline to impose sanctions against the Opponents for their failure to serve the Consolidated
Opposition. The Opponents state that they discussed with Commission staff their intent to file an Opposition and
were not informed that the proceeding was restricted, and they note that they did post the Consolidated Opposition
to the correct docket, thereby making it available electronically to the petitioners and all interested parties. Ex Parte
Violation Response at 2-3. While inquiries made to staff do not relieve a party of its obligation to understand and
comply with the Commission’s rules, after weighing the evidence, we find credible the Opponents’ assertion that
their violation was inadvertent. Furthermore, as noted above, we find that there was no prejudice to petitioners. We
also note that the Joint Petitioners do not propose any sanctions against the Opponents, but only that the
Commission grant waiver relief to Tier III carriers previously denied such relief in this proceeding. See Joint
Petitioners Supplemental Reply Comments at 6.
84 See Joint Petitioners Comments at 3-4. See also 47 C.F.R. § 1.106(g) (providing that oppositions to a petition for
reconsideration shall be filed within 10 days after the petition is filed).
85 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.3 (providing for suspension, amendment, or waiver of rules by the Commission on its own
motion). Nothing in the Communications Act or the Commission’s rules prevents a waiver or extension of this
filing period.
86 See 47 C.F.R. § 0.331.
87 See Modification of Ex Parte Status of Pending Petitions for Waiver of Hearing Aid Compatibility Requirements,
Public Notice,
WT Docket No. 01-309, 22 FCC Rcd 535, 536 (WTB 2007).
88 See February 2008 Waiver Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3364 ¶ 21.
89 See id.
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in seeking inductive coupling-capable handsets.90
30.
Petition for Reconsideration: UBET argues in its petition that the Commission was
required to ensure that compliant handsets were in fact available to carriers such as UBET before denying
its waiver request, and that the Commission failed to make this determination.91 UBET also makes
arguments similar to those set forth by CTC, Blanca, and Farmers Cellular that the Commission acted
arbitrarily in its use of the January 1, 2007 date in its deliberations.92
31.
Decision: We deny UBET’s Petition for Reconsideration. First, we reject UBET’s
assertion that the Commission had the burden to show that inductive coupling-capable handsets were
available. The burden of showing that a waiver is warranted rests squarely with the party seeking the
waiver, and thus, in this case, it was UBET’s obligation to demonstrate that it could not obtain compliant
handsets notwithstanding reasonably diligent efforts to do so.93 UBET made no such demonstration.94
UBET’s argument that the Commission established a new arbitrary cut-off date for relief is similarly
without merit for the reasons discussed above.95 Furthermore, UBET supplies no additional facts that
would warrant a reexamination of its circumstances.96 We conclude that UBET has not made a showing
sufficient to justify a waiver of Section 20.19(d)(2), and we therefore deny its Petition for
Reconsideration of the February 2008 Waiver Order.


90 See id. at 3365 ¶ 22.
91 See UBET Petition at 5-7 (asserting the February 2008 Waiver Order is “devoid of any information
demonstrating that the Commission went to the manufacturers or distributors to investigate and determine the actual
date that each [hearing aid-compatible] handset was available for shipping”).
92 See id. at 10.
93 See Petition By Gila River Telecommunications, Inc. Pursuant to 47 C.F.R. Sections 36.3, 36.123-126, 36.152-
157, and 36.372-382 For Commission Approval to Unfreeze Part 36 Category Relationships, CC Docket No. 80-
286, 25 FCC Rcd 17459, n.42 (2010) (“[I]n demonstrating whether a waiver is warranted, the burden of proof rests
with the petitioner.”); Tucson Radio, Inc. v. FCC, 452 F.2d 1380, 1382 (D.C. Cir. 1971).
94 UBET merely asserts that other “distributors may only be authorized to sell handsets in particular areas of the
country” and thus “[c]arriers located in different regions of the country may not have had access to handsets at the
same time depending on the distributor to which they were assigned.” UBET Petition at 7-8. However, UBET does
not provide evidence that there were in fact no alternatives to its existing vendors or that it made reasonable efforts
to identify such alternatives.
95 See supra ¶ 19. In support of its claim that the Commission applied a hard cut-off-date, UBET asserts that in the
February 2008 Waiver Order, another carrier was denied waiver relief notwithstanding its compliance on January 3,
2007. UBET Petition at 10. As the Commission noted in denying relief, however, that carrier achieved compliance
on January 3, 2007, only in its Caribbean market; for its “mainland market,” it did not claim compliance until
November 19, 2007. See February 2008 Waiver Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3378 ¶ 60.
96 UBET mischaracterizes the February 2008 Waiver Order in asserting that the Commission failed to consider with
respect to UBET, as it did for other petitioners, the availability of handsets to small carriers. UBET Petition at 12;
see also SLO/EU Petition at 11-12. The Commission took into account in all cases that “[m]any inductive coupling-
compliant handsets became available to Tier III carriers only after the September 18, 2006 compliance deadline.”
February 2008 Waiver Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3362 ¶ 17. This was, however, only one factor in determining
whether each petitioner had justified a waiver providing for the specific extension it had requested. See also id. at
3370 ¶ 38 (noting that “additional compliant models were not available to [the petitioner] as of the deadline and it
could not reasonably have come into compliance at that time.”) (emphasis added).
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F.

Petition of SLO Cellular, Inc. d/b/a Cellular One of San Luis Obispo &
Entertainment Unlimited

32.
Background: SLO Cellular and EU operated Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA)
networks in southern California as of September 18, 2006.97 Recognizing that TDMA was being phased
out by vendors and carriers, the Commission had previously granted TDMA carriers that were
overbuilding their networks with another air interface an extension from September 16, 2005, to
September 18, 2006, of the requirement to offer acoustic coupling-compatible handsets on their TDMA
networks. This extension was conditioned on the carrier: (1) offering two acoustic coupling-compatible
handsets on its non-TDMA network; (2) completely replacing its TDMA network with an alternative air
interface; and (3) completing the transition by September 18, 2006.98
33.
On September 14, 2006, SLO Cellular and EU filed a joint petition seeking waivers of
the requirement to offer inductive coupling-capable handsets. SLO Cellular and EU requested until
September 18, 2007, to achieve compliance and stated that no compliant handsets were then available for
TDMA networks.99 On November 17, 2006, SLO Cellular filed a supplemental petition indicating that it
had completed its transition to GSM as of October 16, 2006, and expected to have hearing aid-compatible
handsets available to its customers by November 2006, and requesting a waiver of both the acoustic
coupling and inductive coupling requirements for its GSM network until January of 2007.100
Subsequently, in June of 2007, SLO Cellular indicated that it had come into compliance with the hearing
aid compatibility requirements for both inductive and acoustic coupling as of December 1, 2006. Also in
June 2007, EU reported that it was still not in compliance.
34.
In the February 2008 Waiver Order, the Commission denied the waiver requests,
concluding that neither SLO Cellular nor EU had demonstrated circumstances or factors that would
satisfy the standard for a waiver.101 With respect to their TDMA networks, the Commission found that
while both carriers cited the lack of hearing aid-compatible handsets for the TDMA air interface, the
Commission had already taken that factor into account in setting a technology transition deadline of
September 18, 2006, as a condition for extending the acoustic coupling compliance date, and neither
carrier had made any showing as to why its transition was taking longer than anticipated. The
Commission also held that SLO Cellular had not shown sufficient efforts to support a waiver with respect
to its GSM network.
35.
Petition for Reconsideration: On March 28, 2007 SLO Cellular and EU filed a joint
Petition for Reconsideration of the February 2008 Waiver Order.102 These petitioners cite the complexity
faced by small carriers in migrating from one technology to another as a factor in their inability to
complete their transitions by the September 18, 2006 deadline.103 Given that complexity, and the
continued lack of hearing aid-compatible handsets for TDMA networks, they state that the Commission


97 It appears that EU may have ceased operation by 2009.
98 See 47 C.F.R. § 20.19(c)(2)(i)(B); see also Section 68.4(a) of the Commission’s Rules Governing Hearing Aid-
Compatible Telephones, WT Docket No. 01-309, Order on Reconsideration and Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking,
20 FCC Rcd 11221(2005) (2005 Hearing Aid Compatibility Reconsideration Order).
99 See February 2008 Waiver Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3368 ¶ 31.
100 See id. at 3368 ¶ 32; see also Petition for Temporary Waiver or Temporary Stay by SLO Cellular, Inc. d/b/a
Cellular One of San Luis Obispo, WT Docket No. 01-309, filed Nov. 17, 2006.
101 See February 2008 Waiver Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3368 ¶ 34.
102 See SLO/EU Petition.
103 Id. at 10.
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should have granted their waiver requests for their TDMA networks until such time as they were able to
complete the transition. SLO Cellular further argues that the Commission should have granted a waiver
with respect to its GSM network because it was in compliance prior to January 1, 2007, the date by which
other carriers granted waivers were in compliance.104
36.
Decision: We deny the joint Petition for Reconsideration filed by SLO Cellular and EU.
With regard to petitioners’ requests for waiver relief for their TDMA networks, neither petitioner offers
grounds for such relief beyond the lack of available compliant TDMA handsets and the difficulty and
complexity of the overbuild process. However, the Commission took these factors into account in the
2005 Hearing Aid Compatibility Reconsideration Order, in which it granted TDMA carriers that were
overbuilding their networks a one-year extension of the September 16, 2005 deadline to offer acoustic
coupling-compatible handsets conditioned on, among other things, their completing the overbuild by
September 16, 2006.105 The Petitioners argue that the Commission should extend the hearing aid
compatibility obligations for their TDMA networks indefinitely because it is impossible to obtain TDMA
handsets that are hearing aid-compatible. That is not consistent, however, with the temporary and
conditional framework for relief established by the Commission in the 2005 Hearing Aid Compatibility
Reconsideration Order
. Further, while that Order did contemplate individual requests for waivers from
TDMA carriers that did not intend to “completely replace existing networks . . . ,”106 it did not indicate
that carriers operating TDMA networks were categorically excused from compliance. As in their original
waiver petition, neither carrier offers any detail to demonstrate diligent efforts to complete the overbuild
by the deadline or explain why they could not complete their overbuild by the deadline.107 Given that
they offer no information beyond the general factors that have already been considered in the relief
granted TDMA carriers in 2005, we find no grounds for extending that relief.
37.
SLO Cellular has also not made a sufficient showing to support a waiver of hearing aid
compatibility obligations with regard to its GSM network. SLO Cellular does not contest that it made no
effort to obtain hearing aid-compatible GSM handsets until several weeks after the September 16, 2006
deadline. While SLO Cellular argues that it was preoccupied by the tasks involved in changing over its
network,108 this does not excuse disregard of its obligations. SLO Cellular argues that it has not been
treated similarly to other carriers that, like itself, achieved compliance before January 1, 2007. However,
in these cases, the record supported a finding of diligent efforts to obtain handsets.109 SLO Cellular, by
contrast, has made no such showing.
38.
We conclude that neither SLO Cellular nor EU has justified a waiver, and we therefore
deny their joint Petition for Reconsideration of the February 2008 Waiver Order.


104 See id. at 9.
105 See 2005 Hearing Aid Compatibility Reconsideration Order, 20 FCC Rcd at 11242-43 ¶ 48.
106 See id. at 11243 ¶ 50.
107 See 2008 Hearing Aid Compatibility Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3369 ¶ 34 (“SLO and EU provide no details as to
why they could not complete their overbuilds by that deadline.”).
108 SLO/EU Petition at 10.
109 SLO Cellular notes in particular that the Commission granted one carrier relief even though the Commission
found that it was not diligent in verifying the status of a handset it erroneously believed to be compliant. SLO/EU
Petition at 11; February 2008 Waiver Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3370 ¶ 38. That carrier’s case is also distinguishable.
Unlike SLO Cellular, that carrier did not fail to make efforts to obtain compliant handsets for weeks after the
deadline. Rather the carrier, although erroneously believing itself compliant, nevertheless continued its efforts to
obtain additional compliant handsets. See id. at 3370 ¶¶ 37-38.
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IV.

CONCLUSION

39.
In this Order on Reconsideration, we address six petitions for reconsideration of the 2008
denial of petitioners’ requests for partial waivers of their hearing aid compatibility obligations.
Specifically, we grant the petitions for reconsideration of NDNC, i wireless, and South Slope Wireless.
We deny the petitions of UBET Wireless, CTC, Blanca, Farmers Cellular, SLO Cellular, and EU. By
requiring that carriers demonstrate reasonably diligent efforts to comply with our hearing aid
compatibility rules before granting waivers of those rules, we ensure that deaf and hard-of-hearing
Americans will have access to the rapidly growing number of digital wireless handsets.

V.

ORDERING CLAUSES

40.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED, pursuant to Sections 1, 4(i), and 405 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 151, 154(i), 405 and Sections 1.3, 1.106, 1.925,
and 20.19 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.3, 1.106, 1.925, 20.19, that this Order on
Reconsideration IS ADOPTED.
41.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, pursuant to Sections 1, 4(i), and 405 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 151, 154(i), 405 and Sections 1.3, 1.106, 1.925,
and 20.19 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.3, 1.106, 1.925, 20.19, that the Petition For
Reconsideration, filed March 27, 2008, by North Dakota Network Co. IS GRANTED.
42.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, pursuant to Sections 1, 4(i), and 405 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 151, 154(i), 405 and Sections 1.3, 1.106, 1.925,
and 20.19 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.3, 1.106, 1.925, 20.19, that the Petition For
Reconsideration, filed March 27, 2008, by Iowa Wireless Services, LLC d/b/a i wireless IS GRANTED.
43.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, pursuant to Sections 1, 4(i), and 405 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 151, 154(i), 405 and Sections 1.3, 1.106, 1.925,
and 20.19 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.3, 1.106, 1.925, 20.19, that the Petition For
Reconsideration, filed March 27, 2008, by South Slope Cooperative Telephone Company d/b/a South
Slope Wireless IS GRANTED.
44.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, pursuant to Sections 1, 4(i), and 405 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 151, 154(i), 405 and Sections 1.3, 1.106, 1.925,
and 20.19 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.3, 1.106, 1.925, 20.19, that the Petition For
Reconsideration, filed March 28, 2008, by CTC Telecom, Inc, Blanca Telephone Company, and Farmers
Cellular Telephone, Inc, IS DENIED.
45.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, pursuant to Sections 1, 4(i), and 405 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 151, 154(i), 405 and Sections 1.3, 1.106, 1.925,
and 20.19 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.3, 1.106, 1.925, 20.19, that the Petition For
Reconsideration, filed March 28, 2008, by Uintah Basin Electronic Telecommunications d/b/a UBET
Wireless, IS DENIED.
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46.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, pursuant to Sections 1, 4(i), and 405 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 151, 154(i), 405 and Sections 1.3, 1.106, 1.925,
and 20.19 of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.3, 1.106, 1.925, 20.19, that the Petition For
Reconsideration, filed March 28, 2008, by SLO Cellular Inc d/b/a/ Cellular One of San Luis Obispo and
Entertainment Unlimited, IS DENIED.

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Marlene H. Dortch
Secretary
18

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