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Auditory Assistance and Simultaneous Translation Devices

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Released: May 2, 2013

Federal Communications Commission FCC 13-59

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Amendment of Part 15 of the Commission’s Rules )
to Amend the Definition of Auditory Assistance
)
ET Docket No. 10-26
Device in Support of Simultaneous Language
)
Interpretation
)

REPORT AND ORDER

Adopted: May 1, 2013

Released: May 2, 2013

By the Commission: Commissioner McDowell not participating.

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
In this Report and Order, we modify the definition of “auditory assistance device” in
Part 15 of our rules to permit these devices to be used by anyone at any location for simultaneous
language interpretation (simultaneous translation), where the spoken words are translated continuously in
near real time.1 Under these rules, Part 15 auditory assistance devices are permitted to operate in the
72-73 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and 75.2-76 MHz (72-76 MHz) bands on an unlicensed basis to provide
aural assistance to persons with disabilities (e.g., amplification of sounds for the hard of hearing and
audio description for the blind).2 Expanding the permissible uses of Part 15 auditory assistance devices to
include simultaneous language interpretation will allow these devices to be used for both purposes. This
action will expand the opportunities to deploy auditory assistance devices and remove barriers to
communication and provide greater flexibility and enhanced benefits for persons wishing to use auditory
assistance technologies. It will also harmonize the definition of “auditory assistance device” in Part 15 of
our rules with the definition of “auditory assistance communications” in Part 95 of our rules.
2.
In support of the Commission’s goal of improving the reception of very high frequency
television (VHF TV) service by reducing the electronic noise from nearby consumer electronics
equipment as we discuss below, we also lower the limit for Part 15 auditory assistance devices’ unwanted
emissions. We establish an 18-month transition period after which Part 15 auditory assistance devices’


1 Simultaneous language interpretation is the translation of a spoken language into a second language as the first
language is being spoken. See “Petition for Declaratory Ruling to Clarify That Part 15 Auditory Assistance Devices
May Be Used in Support of Simultaneous Language Translation,” Petition for Declaratory Ruling by Williams
Sound Corporation, ET Docket No. 10-26, at 4 (filed Sept. 25, 2009) (“Williams Sound Petition”). Typically, the
listener hears both languages simultaneously, with the translated language at full volume and the original language
at a substantially reduced volume. Id.
2 47 C.F.R. § 15.237. Under Section 15.237, unlicensed use of the 72-76 MHz bands is restricted to auditory
assistance devices. Id.

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unwanted emissions must comply with the Section 15.209 emissions limits for equipment approval, and a
3-year transition period after which these devices’ unwanted emissions must comply with the
Section 15.209 emissions limits for manufacturing, marketing, and importation purposes. However,
Part 15 auditory assistance devices which are installed or in use prior to the end of the 3-year transition
period may continue to operate without having to meet the lower unwanted emissions limits.

II.

BACKGROUND

3.
Part 15 of the Commission’s rules provides for the operation of low power radio
frequency (RF) devices without an individual license from the Commission.3 A party seeking to market a
Part 15 unlicensed device to the public must first comply with the Commission’s equipment authorization
procedures, which, inter alia, require a demonstration that the device complies with the Commission’s
rules.4 As a general condition of operation, Part 15 devices may not cause harmful interference to any
authorized services and must accept any interference that may be received from them or other Part 15
devices.5 Common Part 15 devices include cordless telephones, Wi-Fi devices, automated utility meter
reading equipment, and auditory assistance devices.
4.
Part 15 auditory assistance devices transmit audio via RF signals to specialized receivers
used by listeners to enhance the reception of speech. By minimizing the disproportionate effects of
background noise and reverberation on speech perception by people with disabilities, these devices
improve the quality of sound over that which would be received via a loudspeaker system.6 Under the
Part 15 rules, an auditory assistance device is defined as “[a]n intentional radiator used to provide
auditory assistance to a handicapped person or persons. Such a device may be used for auricular training
in an educational institution, for auditory assistance at places of public gatherings, such as a church,
theater, or auditorium, and to handicapped individuals, only, in other locations.”7


3 47 C.F.R. § 15.1(a).
4 47 C.F.R. §§ 2.803, 2.901, 15.201(b).
5 47 C.F.R. § 15.5.
6 Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), operators of public gathering places are required to
provide auditory assistance devices for use by persons with disabilities. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 12103, 12181(7)(A)-(L),
12182.
7 47 C.F.R. § 15.3(a). The Commission first authorized Part 15 auditory assistance devices to use the 72-73 MHz
and 75.4-76 MHz bands in 1972 for auditory training systems in institutional education programs for auricular
instruction of persons having speech or hearing handicaps, and expanded that authorization to include the
74.6-74.8 MHz and 75.2-75.4 MHz bands in 1992. See Amendment of the Commission’s Rules and Regulations to
Provide for the Licensing of Auditory Training Devices for the Partially Deaf in the Bands 72-73 and 75.4-76 MHz,
Docket No. 19185, Report and Order, 35 FCC 2d 677, 685 para. 34, 688, Appendix, Subpart G – Auditory Training
Devices, § 15.331 (1972) (“1972 Auditory Training Device Order”); Amendment of Part 15 to Provide Additional
Frequencies for Auditory Assistance Devices for the Hearing Impaired, ET Docket No. 91-150, Report and Order,
7 FCC Rcd 2256 (1992). In 1982, the Commission expanded the permissible uses of Part 15 auditory assistance
devices beyond the initial limitations of operating solely in educational institutions for amplification of sounds to
include any aural assistance that may be given to a handicapped person (e.g., audio description for the blind) but
maintained the restrictions that these devices be used only by and for handicapped persons. See Amendment of
Subpart G of Part 15 of the Commission’s Rules and Regulations regarding Auditory Training Devices., General
Docket No. 81-786, RM-3832, RM-3126, Report and Order, 90 FCC 2d 1015, 1017 para. 5; 1018 para. 8 (1982)
(“1982 Auditory Training Device Order”).
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5.
The 72-76 MHz bands (72-73 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and 75.2-76 MHz) in which Part 15
auditory assistance devices are permitted to operate are allocated on a primary basis to licensed stations in
the Public Mobile Service (Part 22), the Maritime Service (Part 80), the Aviation Service (Part 87), the
Private Land Mobile Radio Service (Part 90), and the Radio Control (R/C) Radio Service (Part 95).8 In
the bands adjacent to those bands in which Part 15 auditory assistance devices operate, the 73-74.6 MHz
band is allocated on a primary basis to the Radio Astronomy Service for Federal and non-Federal use; the
74.8-75.2 MHz band is allocated on a primary basis to the Aeronautical Radionavigation Service for
Federal and non-Federal use and is available for licensed use in the Radiodetermination Service (Part 87);
and the 54-72 MHz (VHF TV channels 2-4) and 76-88 MHz bands (VHF TV channels 5 and 6) are
allocated to the Broadcasting Service on a primary basis and are available for licensed TV broadcasting
stations (Part 73).9
6.
On September 9, 2011, the Commission adopted an Order and Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking (Auditory Assistance Device NPRM) in this proceeding that proposed to modify the Part 15
definition of “auditory assistance device” to expand the permissible uses of these devices to include
simultaneous language interpretation.10 The expanded definition would allow Part 15 auditory assistance
devices to be used by any person requiring simultaneous language interpretation at any location, in the
same manner as permitted under Part 95 for Low Power Radio Service stations that operate in the
216-217 MHz band.11 The Commission took this action in response to a petition for declaratory ruling


8 Specifically, the 72-73 MHz and 75.4-76 MHz bands are allocated on a primary basis for non-Federal Fixed and
Mobile services; the 74.6-74.8 MHz and 75.2-75.4 MHz bands are allocated on a primary basis for Federal and
non-Federal Fixed and Mobile services. The 72-73 MHz and 75.4-76 MHz bands are available for use under the
Public Mobile, Maritime, Aviation, Private Land Mobile, and R/C Radio Services. The 74.6-74.8 MHz and
75.2-75.4 MHz bands are available for use only under the Private Land Mobile Service. Under Part 22, frequencies
in the 72-73 MHz and 75.4-76 MHz bands are allocated for licensing fixed transmitters that support other
transmitters that provide Public Mobile Service. See 47 C.F.R. § 22.591. Under Parts 80, 87, and 90, respectively,
frequencies in the 72-73 MHz and 75.4-76 MHz bands may be licensed for operational fixed stations, which provide
control, repeater, or relay functions for their associated Part 80 coast stations (i.e., land stations in the Maritime
Mobile Service), Part 87 aeronautical stations (i.e., land stations in the Aeronautical Mobile Service), and Part 90
base, control, fixed, operational fixed, and fixed relay stations (i.e., land stations in the Private Land Mobile
Service), telemetry operations, and radio call box stations for the public to request fire, police, ambulance, road
service, and other emergency assistance. See 47 C.F.R. §§ 80.5, 80.381, 80.555; 87.5, 87.173(b), 87.445, 87.449;
90.7, 90.20(c)(3), 90.35(b)(3), 90.238(a), 90.241(a), and 90.257(a)(1). Under Part 90, frequencies in the
72.4-72.6 MHz and 75.4-75.6 MHz bands may be licensed for mobile stations in the Public Safety Pool and
frequencies in the 72-72.6 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and 75.2-75.6 MHz bands may be licensed for mobile stations in
the Industrial/Business Pool. Under Part 95, R/C Radio Service stations may use frequencies in the 72-73 MHz
band to operate model aircraft devices and in the 75.4-76 MHz band to operate model surface craft devices. See
47 C.F.R. § 95.207(a)(2), (3).
9 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 2.106 United States Table of Frequency Allocations, 73.601, 73.603, 87.173(b). Under Part 87,
aeronautical marker beacon (i.e., radionavigation land) stations may be authorized to transmit on 75 MHz
(74.8-75.2 MHz) to provide position information to aircraft using an instrument landing system (ILS). See
47 C.F.R. §§ 87.173(b), 87.475(b)(3).
10 See Amendment of Part 15 of the Commission’s Rules to Amend the Definition of Auditory Assistance Device in
Support of Simultaneous Language Interpretation, ET Docket No. 10-26, Order and Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking
, 26 FCC Rcd 13600 (2011) (“Auditory Assistance Device NPRM”).
11 Under the Part 95 rules, Low Power Radio Service stations in the 216-217 MHz band are permitted to provide
“auditory assistance communications (including but not limited to applications such as assistive listening devices,
audio description for the blind, and simultaneous language translation)” for persons with disabilities, persons who
require language translation, or persons who may otherwise benefit from auditory assistance in educational settings.
See 47 C.F.R. § 95.1009(a)(1)-(3).
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filed by Williams Sound Corporation (Williams Sound), a provider of wireless auditory assistance
devices.12
7.
In the Auditory Assistance Device NPRM, the Commission sought comment on the
advantages and disadvantages and potential benefits of expanding the permissible uses of Part 15 auditory
assistance devices and any qualitative or quantitative costs associated with this proposal.13 It also sought
comment on whether increased use of Part 15 auditory assistance devices for simultaneous language
interpretation would increase the potential for harmful interference14 to authorized services in the
72-76 MHz and adjacent bands and whether additional safeguards or changes to the technical
requirements for these devices would be necessary to prevent harmful interference to those services.15 In
addition, the Commission sought comment on whether a more restrictive limit for Part 15 auditory
assistance devices’ out-of-band emissions is needed to prevent harmful interference to authorized services
in the 72-76 MHz and adjacent bands and improve the reception of VHF TV channels 2-6.16
8.
Part 15 auditory assistance devices may operate in a full duplex mode of operation using
necessary bandwidths up to 200 kilohertz wide. All fundamental emissions must be contained wholly
within the 72-73 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and 75.2-76 MHz bands with a maximum field strength of
80 millivolts per meter (mV/m) measured at a distance of 3 meters, which is equivalent to a maximum
effective radiated power (ERP) of 1.2 milliwatts (mW).17 The field strength of any unwanted emissions
must not exceed 1,500 microvolts per meter (µV/m) measured at a distance of 3 meters, which is
equivalent to an ERP of 0.4 microwatts (µW).18 The Commission asked what out-of-band emissions limit


12 See Williams Sound Petition, supra.
13 See Auditory Assistance Device NPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 13605 para. 16.
14 Under the Commission’s rules, harmful interference is defined as interference which endangers the functioning of
a radionavigation service or of other safety services or seriously degrades, obstructs, or repeatedly interrupts a
radiocommunication service operating in accordance with the International Telecommunication Union Radio
Regulations. 47 C.F.R. § 2.1(c).
15 See Auditory Assistance Device NPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 13606 para. 19. If additional safeguards or changes to the
Part 15 technical requirements are needed to prevent harmful interference to authorized services, the Commission
asked commenters to specify what rule changes are necessary and whether there are any qualitative or quantitative
costs associated with such rule changes. Id.
16 See Auditory Assistance Device NPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 13607 para 21. If a more restrictive out-of-band
emissions limit is necessary, the Commission sought information and comment on specific technologies that could
be used, their advantages, disadvantages, and associated qualitative or quantitative costs to manufacturers and users,
and whether Part 15 auditory assistance devices’ performance would be impaired in other ways and how. It also
sought comment on any benefits for authorized services in the 72-76 MHz and adjacent bands in reducing the
out-of-band emissions limit for these devices. See id. at 13607-8 paras. 21-22. We note that the term “out-of-band”
emissions was used in the Auditory Assistance Devices NPRM when referring to emissions outside of the frequency
bands in which the auditory assistance devices operate (paras. 20 and 21). The correct term to describe the
emissions outside of the necessary bandwidth of the transmitting system is “unwanted” emissions, and so the term
“unwanted” emissions is being used where appropriate throughout this Report and Order.
17 47 C.F.R. § 15.237(b), (c).
18 47 C.F.R. § 15.237(c). The fundamental and unwanted emissions limits of Part 15 auditory assistance devices are
relatively low compared to the ERPs of devices used in authorized services in the 72-76 MHz and adjacent bands;
there have not been any reports of Part 15 auditory assistance devices’ fundamental or unwanted emissions causing
harmful interference to these authorized services. For example, the maximum allowed ERP for fixed stations that
operate in the 72-73 MHz and 75.4-76 MHz bands is 150 Watts under Part 22 and 300 Watts under Part 90. Mobile
(continued….)
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would be appropriate – the Section 15.209 limit,19 the unlicensed TV bands device limit,20 or some other
limit – what would be an appropriate transition period for compliance, and whether currently approved
Part 15 auditory assistance devices should be grandfathered for a limited time or permanently.21
9.
The Commission received six comments, two reply comments, and two Ex Parte
comments in response to the Auditory Assistance Device NPRM. 22 The majority of commenters, which
include providers of auditory assistance and/or simultaneous language equipment, support the
Commission’s proposal to expand the permissible uses of Part 15 auditory assistance devices to include
simultaneous language interpretation.23 Two commenters oppose the Commission’s proposal.24

III.

DISCUSSION

10.
Based on the record in this proceeding, we modify the definition of “auditory assistance
device” in Part 15 of our rules to expand the permissible uses of these devices to include simultaneous
language interpretation. The expanded definition permits the use of Part 15 auditory assistance devices
by any person requiring translation services at any location. We conclude that the public interest will be
served by expanding the permissible uses of Part 15 auditory assistance devices to include simultaneous
translation. We also conclude that the benefits of expanding service to the public far outweigh any
additional costs associated with implementing these changes.
11.
The majority of commenters submit that expanding the permissible uses of Part 15
auditory assistance devices to include simultaneous interpretation is in the public interest. Bridge and
Infinity agree with the Commission’s tentative assessment that expanding the permissible uses of Part 15
auditory assistance devices beyond only aural assistance to persons with disabilities would be beneficial
in that it will allow these devices to provide either auditory assistance or simultaneous translation, or
(Continued from previous page)


stations that operate under Part 90 in the 72-76 MHz bands are limited to a maximum transmitter power of 1 Watt.
See 47 C.F.R. §§ 22.593, 90.205(c).
19 Under Section 15.209, most other Part 15 devices’ emissions in the 72-76 MHz and adjacent bands are limited to
a maximum of 100 µV/m at 3 meters, which is equivalent to an ERP of 1.83 nanowatts (nW). See 47 C.F.R.
§ 15.209(a).
20 The unwanted emissions of Part 15 personal/portable TV bands devices that operate in bands adjacent to occupied
TV channels are limited to 84 µV/m at 3 meters, which is equivalent to an ERP of 1.3 nW. See 47 C.F.R.
§ 15.709(c)(1)(ii).
21 See Auditory Assistance Device NPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 13607 para. 21. If existing equipment should not be
grandfathered, the Commission asked what qualitative or quantitative costs would be associated with acquiring
compliant devices. In addition, it sought comment on whether the advantages of improving the reception of VHF
TV channels 4 and 5 would outweigh any disadvantages to device manufacturers and users associated with further
restricting Part 15 auditory assistance devices’ out-of-band emissions. See id. at 13607-8 paras. 21-22.
22 Comments were due November 4, 2011, and reply comments were due November 21, 2011. See 76 FR 61655.
23 See, e.g., Comments of Chris Redish, Owner, A Bridge Between Nations, Inc. (Bridge); Comments of Joseph
Rhody, Owner, Infinity Translation Services Inc. (Infinity); Comments of Williams Sound Corporation (Williams
Sound); Hearing Industries Association Comments; and iProbe Multilingual Solutions, Inc. (iProbe) Ex Parte
comments (filed Dec. 8, 2011).
24 See Reply Comments of Mr. Keir Milan, President of Lingualink, which provides translation and interpretation
services via infrared technology; Reply Comments of Michael Held, Ph.D, Chief Executive Officer of the Etta Israel
Center, which provides educational, clinical, and support services to individuals with disabilities.
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both, without imposing additional costs.25 Infinity also states that this action will serve the public interest
by aiding the comprehension of individuals who require language interpretation.26 Williams Sound
submits that adoption of the proposed rule changes would enhance the auditory experience for all
audience members by lowering the noise level for those who do not care to listen to an interpreter and
would benefit individuals who require both auditory assistance and language interpretation.27 Rodrigo
Tranamil notes the need of non-English speakers with hearing disabilities as well as the need to increase
and improve the availability of translation services in general, and submits that expanding the use in this
manner could foster technological advances in the use of these auditory assistance devices.28 Charles
Wurm submits that the proposed rule would allow both current and new technologies to be developed to
enable people to better communicate with persons supporting international and global training
applications and with U.S. international allies.29 The Hearing Industries Association (HIA) – the national
trade association of manufacturers of hearing aids, assistive listening devices, component parts, and
power sources – states that the Commission’s proposal “appears to be a reasonable expansion in support
of a service that is needed” and “the reasons for the proposed changes are sound and the application
worthy of the Commission’s proposed action.”30
12.
The majority of commenters also agree with the Commission’s tentative assessment that
expanding the permissible uses of Part 15 auditory assistance devices to include simultaneous
interpretation will not increase costs to the public. Bridge and Infinity submit that broadening the
permitted uses of Part 15 auditory assistance devices will likely reduce the costs of providing translation
services by increasing competition in the market and reduce translation devices’ prices by increasing their
availability.31 Williams Sound states that by expanding the permissible uses of Part 15 auditory
assistance devices, parties responsible for providing auditory assistance will find it easier to stock
receivers operating in one band and will have the flexibility to configure their operations to meet different
service needs.32 Williams Sound further submits that for non-profit organizations such as schools and
houses of worship, the ability to simplify their equipment acquisitions and to operate with added
flexibility will be most beneficial.33
13.
iProbe submits that many small to medium business rental companies and end users,
including non-profit organizations and freelance professionals, with frequent interpretation needs have
accumulated a large number of 72-76 MHz bands transmitters and receivers that could be used for
language interpretation. iProbe contends that it would be detrimental to these organizations to have to
invest in translation equipment that operates on different frequencies.34 In opposition, Keir Milan and


25 See Bridge comments at 1; Infinity comments at 1.
26 See Infinity comments at 1.
27 See Williams Sound comments at 2.
28 See Rodrigo Tranamil comments at 1-2,
29 See Charles Wurm comments at 1.
30 See HIA comments at 2 and 6.
31 See Bridge comments at 1; Infinity comments at 1.
32 See Williams Sound comments at 4.
33 See Letter from David E. Hilliard, Counsel for Williams Sound, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC in
ET Docket No. 10-26, Attachment at 2 (filed Aug. 14, 2012) (“Williams Sound Aug. 14, 2012 Ex Parte Letter”).
34 See iProbe Ex Parte comments at 1.
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Michael Held contend that the permissible uses of Part 15 auditory assistance devices should not be
expanded to include simultaneous translation, arguing respectively that doing so would be anticompetitive
by penalizing entities that provide translation services via higher-cost infrared technology equipment and
that such use is not covered by the ADA.35

14.
We agree with those commenters who contend that expanding the permissible uses of
Part 15 auditory assistance devices to include simultaneous translation is in the public interest and will
not increase costs. Permitting Part 15 auditory assistance devices to be used for simultaneous translation
could reduce the costs of translation services by increasing competition and allowing providers to use less
expensive RF equipment for simultaneous translation instead of higher-cost infrared technology
equipment.36 It is likely also to reduce auditory assistance equipment costs, result in economies of scale
in production and marketing, and introduce more competition for such devices. This action will promote
more flexible and efficient use of Part 15 auditory assistance devices by allowing them to be used for
either auditory assistance or simultaneous translation, or both, without impeding their ability to provide
auditory assistance to persons with disabilities.37 Permitting such use of these devices will increase the
comprehension of persons that need language translation in public venues while lowering the ambient
noise level for all listeners, thereby enhancing the auditory experience of all listeners.38
15.
We are not persuaded by Keir Milan’s assertion that allowing Part 15 auditory assistance
devices to be used for simultaneous language interpretation would penalize entities that provide
translation services via higher-cost infrared technology equipment.39 Instead, we believe that the
marketplace provides the best measure for determining which technology is optimal for addressing the
translation needs of users. This approach permits each interpreter to analyze customers’ needs in its
market area and employ the technology that best meets their needs. For example, some customers may
prefer the inherent security and privacy of infrared technology over the capabilities of RF technology.
We also reject Michael Held’s assertion that Part 15 auditory assistance devices’ use of the 72-76 MHz
bands should be limited only to providing assistance to persons with disabilities under the ADA.40
Although Part 15 auditory assistance devices have previously been restricted under the Commission’s
rules to solely providing aural assistance to persons with disabilities, unlicensed use of the 72-76 MHz
bands is not restricted under the ADA or the Communications Act of 1934 to only uses covered by the
ADA.41
16.
We also conclude that permitting Part 15 auditory assistance devices to be used for
simultaneous language interpretation will not, per se, increase the potential for harmful interference (i.e.,


35 See Mr. Keir Milan reply comments at 1-3; Reply Comments of Michael Held, Ph.D. at 1.
36 See Bridge comments at 1-2; Infinity comments at 1-3; and Williams Sound Aug. 14, 2012 Ex Parte Letter
Attachment at 2.
37 See Infinity comments at 1; Williams Sound comments at 4; Williams Sound Aug. 14, 2012 Ex Parte Letter at 2.
38 See Infinity comments at 1; Williams Sound comments at 2, 4.
39 See Mr. Keir Milan reply comments at 1-3.
40 See Michael Held, Ph.D. reply comments at 1.
41 We note that in an early phase of this proceeding, Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), Deaf and Hard
of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network (DHHCAN), National Association of the Deaf (NAD), and
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (TDI) filed comments supporting Williams Sound’s
proposal. See HLAA, DHHCAN, NAD, and TDI reply comments filed March 15, 2010.
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interference that seriously degrades, obstructs, or repeatedly interrupts a radicommunication service)42 to
authorized services in the 72-76 MHz and adjacent bands. No commenter expressed concern that
increased use of Part 15 auditory assistance devices for simultaneous interpretation would cause harmful
interference to authorized services. As the Commission noted in the Auditory Assistance Device NPRM,
the interference potential of a Part 15 auditory assistance device is generally unrelated to the number of
users or type of use.43 Rather, the interference potential is a function of the device’s operating
characteristics and parameters. There is no difference in the interference potential of a Part 15 auditory
assistance device whether it is used for auditory assistance or simultaneous translation.
17.
Bridge submits that given the low power of Part 15 auditory assistance devices’
fundamental emissions, increased use of Part 15 auditory assistance devices is unlikely to cause harmful
interference to any authorized services.44 Infinity argues that based on the lack of any reports of harmful
interference to authorized services, the existing limit for Part 15 auditory assistance devices’ fundamental
emissions is already sufficient to prevent increased use of these devices for simultaneous translation from
causing harmful interference to authorized services.45 Bridge and Infinity argue that increasing the
number of users and uses of Part 15 auditory assistance devices in operation in the 72-76 MHz bands will
not increase the potential for harmful interference to authorized services since the locations of such use
should be similar to those where these devices are already used to provide auditory assistance.46 They
also state that in their experience, licensed users in the 72-76 MHz and adjacent bands and over-the-air
reception of VHF TV channels are unlikely to be located near where Part 15 auditory assistance devices
are used or most events requiring translation occur.47 They assert that as a result, the low-powered
fundamental signals from increased use of Part 15 auditory assistance devices for simultaneous translation
are unlikely to cause harmful interference to authorized services in the 72-76 MHz and adjacent bands or
to the reception of VHF TV channels 2-6.48 In opposition, Michael Held asserts that increased use of
Part 15 auditory assistance devices for simultaneous translation could cause harmful interference to other
Part 15 auditory assistance devices that are providing auditory assistance by “crowding” the frequencies.49


42 See n.14, supra.
43 See Auditory Assistance Device NPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 13605 para. 15.
44 See Bridge comments at 1.
45 See Infinity comments at 1-2.
46 See Bridge comments at 1-2; Infinity comments at 1-2.
47 See id. Bridge and Infinity also assert that most events requiring translation services will most likely occur
indoors in urban locations where Part 15 auditory assistance devices’ fundamental signals are significantly
attenuated by the walls of the building (e.g., hotels, convention centers, stadiums, houses of worship, schools, and
court houses) and, when used indoors, the range of the devices’ signals outdoors is severely limited (e.g., to less than
100 feet) or may not even be discernible. They state that although some Part 15 auditory assistance devices’
fundamental signals have a theoretical range of 1,000 feet without obstructions, such devices are rarely used
outdoors where this range might be attainable and that most Part 15 auditory assistance devices used for language
interpretation have a range of only 150 feet without obstructions. See Bridge comments at 1; Infinity comments at 1.
48 See Bridge comments at 1; Infinity comments at 1-2. We disagree with Keir Milan’s assertion that commenters
did not adequately address whether increased use of Part 15 auditory assistance devices for simultaneous language
interpretation would increase the potential for harmful interference to authorized services. See Mr. Keir Milan reply
comments at 3-4.
49 See Michael Held, Ph.D. reply comments at 1.
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18.
We agree with Bridge and Infinity that the existing limit for Part 15 auditory assistance
devices’ fundamental emissions is already sufficient to prevent increased use of these devices for
simultaneous translation from causing harmful interference to authorized services. This conclusion is
supported by the absence of any reports of harmful interference to date. We note that although the
locations and channels where Part 15 auditory assistance devices are operated may increase by expanding
their permissible uses to include simultaneous translation, the market for and use of these devices should
remain limited and they will not be ubiquitously deployed. We expect that this outcome, coupled with
their relatively low fundamental emissions limit,50 will help prevent increased use of Part 15 auditory
assistance devices for simultaneous translation from causing harmful interference to authorized services.
19.
We are not persuaded by Michael Held’s assertion that increased use of Part 15 auditory
assistance devices for simultaneous translation will interfere with other Part 15 auditory assistance
devices providing auditory assistance by “crowding” the frequencies. As noted above, these devices’
fundamental signals may transmit in bandwidths up to 200 kilohertz wide in the 72-73 MHz,
74.6-74.8 MHz, and 75.2-76 MHz bands, so ample spectrum is available for multiple applications.51
Further, Part 15 auditory assistance devices’ low power levels will enable other parties to re-use their
frequencies at nearby locations.
20.
With respect to Part 15 auditory assistance devices’ unwanted emissions (i.e., emissions
outside of the 200 kilohertz necessary bandwidths), comments are mixed on whether we should modify
the limit for these emissions. In the Auditory Assistance Device NPRM, we proposed that Part 15
auditory assistance devices’ out-of-band emissions limit be lowered to the general emissions limits for
other unlicensed devices that are specified in rule Section 15.209. We noted that expanding the
permissible use of these devices at any location could increase their use at locations where they are not
also used to provide auditory assistance to disabled individuals as well as increase the number of channels
operated at any given location to provide both auditory assistance and simultaneous translation.52 Infinity
argues that based on the lack of any reports of harmful interference, the existing limit for Part 15 auditory
assistance devices’ out-of-band emissions is already sufficient to prevent increased use of these devices
for simultaneous translation from causing harmful interference to authorized services.53 Bridge and
Infinity argue that the out-of-band emissions are unlikely to be problematic since much of the increased
use of Part 15 auditory assistance devices would occur in areas where the VHF TV bands are not used
(e.g., hotels, convention centers, and stadiums).54
21.
Bridge and Infinity both recommend that if the Commission lowers the existing out-of-
band emissions limit for these devices, it should grandfather Part 15 auditory assistance devices that are
already installed or in use for the life of the equipment.55 Williams Sound asserts that the Section 15.209
emissions limits are appropriate for Part 15 auditory assistance devices’ out-of-band emissions because
they have proven effective in limiting interference from millions of Part 15 intentional radiators.


50 See para. 8 and n.18, supra.
51 See para. 8, supra. For example, Williams Sound’s PPA 377 PRO Personal PA FM Listening System features
17 pre-set 75 kilohertz wideband channels (selectable) and 77 pre-set 5 kilohertz narrowband channels (selectable)
in the 72-73 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and 75.2-76 MHz bands. See
http://www.williamssound.com/resources/products/web/ppa/ppa_377pro_specs_en.pdf (last visited Feb. 26, 2013).
52 See Auditory Assistance Device NPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 13605 para. 17
53 See Infinity comments at 1-2.
54 See Bridge comments at 1-2; Infinity comments at 2.
55 See Bridge comments at 2; Infinity comments at 2.
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Williams Sound also asserts that the Section 15.209 emissions limits are identical to the general limits
that are applicable to millions of Part 15 unintentional radiators that operate above 30 MHz, and are
currently achievable in Part 15 auditory assistance devices at a small additional cost of 1 to 2 percent per
device using industry standard components employing relatively straight-forward designs.56 Williams
Sound further asserts that reduced out-of-band emissions limits for Part 15 auditory assistance devices
would address any potential for possible harmful interference to adjacent users that may arise from
increased use of these devices for simultaneous interpretation and, with a reasonable transition period,
should not be unduly burdensome.57
22.
We are concerned that the unwanted emissions from increased use of Part 15 auditory
assistance devices for simultaneous interpretation could degrade the reception of particularly sensitive
VHF TV channels 2-6. The current allowed unwanted emissions limit of 1,500 µV/m at 3 meters for
Part 15 auditory assistance devices that operate in the 72-76 MHz bands is 15 times higher (23.5 dB more
power) than the Section 15.209 emissions limit of 100 µV/m at 3 meters that applies to most other Part 15
devices’ unwanted emissions in the 72-76 MHz and adjacent bands. It is also 18 times higher (25 dB
more power) than the unwanted emissions limit of 84 µV/m at 3 meters that applies to Part 15
personal/portable TV bands devices that operate in bands adjacent to occupied TV channels.58
Accordingly, as we discuss below, we will require that Part 15 auditory assistance devices’ unwanted
emissions be lowered to the general emission limits for other unlicensed devices that are specified in rule
Section 15.209. Although Part 15 auditory assistance devices do not have a history of causing harmful
interference to authorized services under the current rules, this approach will reduce the likelihood of
harmful interference as their use increases and help improve the reception of VHF TV channels 2-6 and
accordingly is in the public interest.
23.
As the Commission noted in the Auditory Assistance Device NPRM, since the time the
Commission adopted the rules for Part 15 auditory assistance device transmitters in 1972, all full-service
TV stations have converted from analog to digital transmissions.59 We note that the Commission has
sought comment on measures to improve digital TV reception for consumers on VHF channels and
encourage broadcasters to use these channels in the future.60 The Commission noted that one of the
problems with indoor VHF TV reception is the high levels of noise on those channels from nearby
consumer electronics equipment.61 The Commission stated that it would be desirable to reduce that noise
and sought comment on what actions it might take to reduce such noise in the VHF TV bands.62


56 See Williams Sound comments at 3.
57 See Williams Sound Aug. 14, 2012 Ex Parte Letter at 2.
58 See 47 C.F.R. § 15.709(c)(1)(ii).
59 See Auditory Assistance Device NPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 13607 para. 20.
60 In 2010, the Commission sought comment on measures it could take to improve TV reception for consumers on
VHF TV channels and encourage broadcasters to use these channels in the future. See Innovation in the Broadcast
Television Bands: Allocations, Channel Sharing and Improvements to VHF, ET Docket No. 10-235, Notice of
Proposed Rule Making
, 25 FCC Rcd 16498 (2010) (“Channel Sharing NPRM”). The Commission did not adopt
any rules to address this issue when it concluded this docket in 2012 but stated that it may revisit this issue at a later
time. See Innovation in the Broadcast Television Bands: Allocations, Channel Sharing and Improvements to VHF,
ET Docket No. 10-235, Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd 4616, 4621 para. 10 (2012) (“Channel Sharing R&O”).
61 See Channel Sharing NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 16512 para. 43.
62 See Channel Sharing NPRM, 25 FCC Rcd at 16513 para. 47.
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24.
Since the Commission adopted the Auditory Assistance Device NPRM, the “Middle Class
Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012” was enacted to enable the Commission to make more efficient
use of the TV bands spectrum by freeing up broadcast TV spectrum for wireless broadband services.63
Section 6403(a)(2) of the Spectrum Act directs the Commission to conduct a reverse auction of broadcast
television spectrum that includes, inter alia, a bid option for participants’ voluntary relinquishment of “all
usage rights with respect to an ultra high frequency television channel in return for receiving usage rights
with respect to a very high frequency television channel...” (UHF to VHF bid).64 In the incentive auction
proceeding, the Commission sought comment on whether to permit eligible licensees to participate in the
auction by agreeing to relinquish a high VHF channel in exchange for a low VHF channel.65 The
Commission again recognized that increased signal interference caused by the higher levels of ambient
noise from other electronic devices operating on or near the low VHF frequency range can make the use
of the low VHF channels difficult and could deter reverse auction participation.66
25.
Commenters’ contention that most increased use of Part 15 auditory assistance devices
for simultaneous translation would not be proximate to VHF TV reception areas is not compelling – it is
not self-evident, it disregards the consequences of harmful interference where it could occur, and it
disregards locations at which these frequencies could be used post-auction. In light of the Commission’s
efforts to make the VHF channels more useful to broadcasters by improving the reception of VHF digital
TV and consistent with the objectives in the Spectrum Act, we conclude that it is in the public interest and
sound public policy to require Part 15 auditory assistance devices’ unwanted emissions to comply with
the Section 15.209 emissions limits.67 We will provide a transition period to implement this requirement,
and we will grandfather all devices installed prior to the end of the transition period, as we further explain
below.
26.
We are persuaded by the record that reducing the unwanted emissions limit of Part 15
auditory assistance devices to the Section 15.209 emissions limits can be accomplished using current
technology at minimal cost. Williams Sound asserts that the Section 15.209 emissions limits are currently
achievable in Part 15 auditory assistance devices using industry standard components employing
relatively straight-forward designs at a small additional cost of 1 to 2 percent per device.68 Williams
Sound recommends that the Commission provide a 3-year transition period to allow manufacturers to
design new Part 15 auditory assistance device transmitters with out-of-band emissions that comply with
the Section 15.209 emissions limits, complete the needed testing, obtain regulatory approvals, and plan
the transition for manufacturing devices that incorporate the new design. It also recommends that the
domestic manufacture and importation for domestic sale of Part 15 auditory assistance devices with
out-of-band emissions that do not meet the Section 15.209 emissions limits cease after 3 years.
27.
Williams Sound further recommends that devices manufactured in the United States or
imported before the 3-year transition date should continue to be permitted to be installed or sold


63 See “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012,” Pub. L. No. 112-96 (2012) (“Spectrum Act”).
64 Spectrum Act at Sec. 6403(a)(2).
65 See Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions, Docket
No. 12-268, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 27 FCC Rcd 12357, 12385 para. 86 (2012) (“Incentive Auctions
NPRM
”).
66 See Incentive Auctions NPRM 27 FCC Rcd at 12385 para. 85.
67 See 47 C.F.R. § 15.209(a).
68 See Williams Sound comments at 3.
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indefinitely. In addition, it recommends that any Part 15 auditory assistance device equipment
authorizations granted 18 months or more after the effective date of the new rules should comply with the
new rules. Williams Sound argues that due to the time needed to develop transmitters with out-of-band
emissions that comply with the Section 15.209 emissions limits, complete the needed testing, obtain
regulatory approvals, and plan the transition for manufacturing transmitters, allowing transmitters
manufactured in the United States or imported before the transition date to continue to be permitted to be
installed or sold would facilitate the transition to tighter out-of-band emissions limits for Part 15 auditory
assistance devices without creating shortages that could impair the availability or cost of these devices.69
28.
For these reasons, we establish an 18-month timetable after the effective date of the new
rules in this proceeding for manufacturers to produce Part 15 auditory assistance devices with unwanted
emissions that comply with the Section 15.209 emissions limits. We also establish a 3-year timetable
after the effective date of the new rules for requiring that any Part 15 auditory assistance devices
manufactured in or imported into the United States for sale comply with the revised unwanted emissions
limits. We agree with Williams Sound that an 18-month transition period should provide sufficient time
for manufacturers to design equipment that complies with the new rules and to obtain equipment
certification.70 Therefore, we will provide transitional provisions in our rules to allow for the certification
of Part 15 auditory assistance devices under the current rules for up to 18 months after the publication of a
summary of this Report and Order in the Federal Register.
29.
Beginning 18 months after the effective date of the new rules, equipment certification
may no longer be obtained for Part 15 auditory assistance devices with unwanted emissions that do not
meet the Section 15.209 emissions limits. However, until the end of the 3-year transition period, we will
permit Class II permissive changes for equipment certified prior to the 18-month transition date,71 as well
as their continued manufacture, marketing, installation, and importation. After the end of the 3-year
transition period, Class II permissive changes for such devices will not be permitted nor will their
manufacture, marketing, installation, or importation. We find that these requirements will facilitate the
transition to tighter unwanted emissions limits without unduly impairing the availability or cost of Part 15
auditory assistance devices or imposing undue burdens on manufacturers, translation services providers,
or the public.
30.
We agree with Bridge and Infinity that Part 15 auditory assistance devices that are
already installed or in use should be grandfathered for the life of the equipment.72 Requiring the upgrade
or replacement of existing Part 15 auditory assistance devices with units having unwanted emissions that
comply with the Section 15.209 emissions limits would be an unnecessary financial burden on operators
of these devices and could inhibit the ability of operators of public venues to provide auditory assistance
to persons with disabilities as required by the ADA. Grandfathering existing equipment will ensure that


69 See Williams Sound comments at 3-4.
70 Under Section 15.201(b), Part 15 auditory assistance devices must be certificated by the Commission pursuant to
the equipment authorization procedures in Subpart J of Part 2 of the Commission’s rules prior to marketing.
47 C.F.R. § 15.201(b).
71 See 47 C.F.R. § 2.1043(b)(2).
72 Bridge and Infinity state that if existing Part 15 auditory assistance devices are not grandfathered, numerous
houses of worship, museums, schools, theaters, non-profit community organizations, and other organizations that
operate Part 15 auditory assistance devices would be required to upgrade or replace their existing devices at
considerable cost. See Bridge comments at 2; Infinity comments at 2. Infinity further states that entities that could
not afford to upgrade or replace their existing devices would be forced to cease providing auditory assistance. See
Infinity comments at 2.
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entities will be permitted to operate their existing Part 15 auditory assistance devices until replacement is
necessary or desired due to age, malfunction, or other concerns, and will facilitate continued compliance
with the ADA.
31.
In light of the foregoing considerations, we amend the definition of “auditory assistance
device” in Part 15 of the rules to expand the permissible uses of these devices to include simultaneous
language interpretation for anyone at any location. We also amend Section 15.237 to require that Part 15
auditory assistance devices’ unwanted emissions comply with the Section 15.209 emissions limits. In
addition, we establish a 3-year transition period after the effective date of the rules adopted in this
proceeding for manufacturers to cease the domestic manufacture or importation for domestic sale of
Part 15 auditory assistance devices that do not comply with the revised unwanted emissions limits. We
also establish a cutoff date of 18 months after the effective date of the new rules after which unwanted
emissions from new Part 15 auditory assistance devices must comply with the Section 15.209 emissions
limits in order to order to receive an equipment authorization.
32.
Except for the tighter unwanted emissions limits, the other administrative and technical
requirements for operation of Part 15 auditory assistance devices in the 72-73 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and
75.2-76 MHz bands remain unchanged. The specific rule amendments are shown in Appendix A.

IV.

PROCEDURAL MATTERS

A.

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

33.
As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA),73 an Initial Regulatory Flexibility
Analysis (IRFA) for ET Docket No. 10-26 was incorporated into the Auditory Assistance Device NPRM.74
The Commission sought written public comment on the possible significant economic impact of the
proposed rules on small entities in the Auditory Assistance Device NPRM, including comments on the
IRFA. No parties commented specifically on the IRFA. Pursuant to the RFA,75 a Final Regulatory
Flexibility Analysis is contained in Appendix B.

B.

Paperwork Reduction Analysis

34.
This Report and Order contains no new and modified information collections subject to
the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law 104-13.

C.

Congressional Review Act

35.
The Commission will send a copy of this Report and Order in a report to be sent to
Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review Act,
see 5 U.S.C. § 801(a)(1)(A).

V.

ORDERING CLAUSES

36.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Sections 2, 4(i), 302(a), 303(f), and
303(r) of the Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C. §§ 152, 154(i), 302(a), 303(f), and 303(r), this
Report and Order in ET Docket No. 10-26 is hereby ADOPTED.


73 See 5 U.S.C. § 603.
74 See Auditory Assistance Device NPRM, 26 FCC Rcd at 13612 (Appendix B).
75 See 5 U.S.C. § 604.
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37.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Part 15 of the Commission’s rules IS AMENDED as
set forth in Appendix A. These rule revisions will take effect 30 days after a summary of the Report and
Order is published in the Federal Register.
38.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Commission’s Consumer and Governmental
Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, SHALL SEND a copy of this Report and Order, including
the Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business
Administration.
39.
IT IS FURTHERED ORDERED that the Commission SHALL SEND a copy of this
Report and Order in a report to be sent to Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant
to the Congressional Review Act, see 5 U.S.C. § 801(a)(1)(A).
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Marlene H. Dortch
Secretary
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APPPENDIX A

Final Rules

For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal Communications Commission amends Part 15 of
Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations to read as follows:

PART 15 – RADIO FREQUENCY DEVICES

1. The authority citation for Part 15 continues to read as follows:

AUTHORITY:

47 U.S.C. 154, 302a, 303, 304, 307, 336, and 544a.
2. Section 15.3 is amended by revising paragraph (a) to read as follows:
§ 15.3 Definitions.
(a) Auditory assistance device. An intentional radiator used to provide auditory assistance
communications (including but not limited to applications such as assistive listening, auricular training,
audio description for the blind, and simultaneous language translation) for:
(1) Persons with disabilities. In the context of the Part 15 rules, the term “disability,” with respect to the
individual, has the meaning given to it by section 3(2)(A) of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
(42 U.S.C. 12102(2)(A)), i.e., a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the
major life activities of such individuals;
(2) Persons who require language translation; or
(3) Persons who may otherwise benefit from auditory assistance communications in places of public
gatherings, such as a church, theater, auditorium, or educational institution.
* * * * *
3. Section 15.37 is amended by adding paragraph (g) as follows:
§ 15.37 Transition provisions for compliance with the rules.
* * * * *
(g) The manufacture or importation of auditory assistance devices that operate in the 72.0-73.0 MHz,
74.6-74.8 MHz, and 75.2-76.0 MHz bands that do not comply with the requirements of § 15.237(c) shall
cease on or before [insert date 3 years after effective date of rules]. Effective [insert date 18 months
after effective date of rules]
, equipment approval will not be granted for auditory assistance devices that
operate in the 72.0-73.0 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and 75.2-76.0 MHz bands that do not comply with the
requirements of § 15.237(c). These rules do not prohibit the sale or use of authorized auditory assistance
devices that operate in the 72.0-73.0 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and 75.2-76.0 MHz bands manufactured in
the United States, or imported into the United States, prior to [insert date 3 years after effective date of
rules]
.
4. Section 15.237 is amended by revising paragraph (c) to read as follows:
§ 15.237 Operation in the bands 72.0-73.0 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz and 75.2-76.0 MHz.
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* * * * *
(c) The field strength within the permitted 200 kHz band shall not exceed 80 millivolts/meter at 3 meters.
The field strength of any emissions radiated on any frequency outside of the specified 200 kHz band shall
not exceed the general radiated emissions limits specified in §15.209. The emission limits in this
paragraph are based on measurement instrumentation employing an average detector. The provisions in
§15.35 for limiting peak emissions apply.
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APPENDIX B

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA),1 an Initial Regulatory
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was incorporated in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Auditory Assistance
Device NPRM
) in ET Docket No. 10-26.2 The Commission sought written public comment on the
proposals in the Auditory Assistance Devices NPRM, including comment on the IRFA. This present Final
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) conforms to the RFA.3

A.

Need for, and Objective of, the Report and Order

In this Report and Order, the Commission expands the permissible uses of Part 15 auditory
assistance devices that operate in the 72.0-73.0 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and 75.2-76 MHz bands
(72-76 MHz bands) beyond solely aural assistance for persons with disabilities to include simultaneous
language interpretation (simultaneous translation) for anyone at any location. It also reduces the limits for
Part 15 auditory assistance devices’ unwanted emissions to the radiated emissions limits specified in
Section 15.209 to help prevent the unwanted emissions from increased use of these devices for
simultaneous translation from degrading the reception of VHF TV channels 2-6. The objectives of the
Commission in this Report and Order are to allow Part 15 auditory assistance devices to be used for
simultaneous translation by anyone at any location, remove barriers to communications, provide greater
flexibility and enhanced benefits for persons wishing to use auditory assistance technologies, expand the
opportunities to deploy auditory assistance devices, and improve the reception of VHF TV channels 2-6.

B.

Summary of Significant Issues Raised by Public Comments in Response to the IRFA

No comments were filed in direct response to the IRFA. However, in general comments on the
Auditory Assistance Device NPRM, some commenters raised issues that might affect small entities. In
particular, one commenter argued that allowing Part 15 auditory assistance devices to be used for
simultaneous translation would penalize entities that have purchased higher-cost infrared technology
equipment to provide simultaneous translation. One commenter also argued that use of Part 15 auditory
assistance devices for simultaneous translation is not an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990
use and would interfere or disrupt other Part 15 auditory assistance devices by crowding the frequencies.
Commenters also requested that if the Commission imposes stricter out-of-band emissions limits on
Part 15 auditory assistance devices, then a transition period for compliance with the new limits should be
established and existing Part 15 auditory assistance devices should be grandfathered for the life of the
equipment. The Commission carefully considered each of these comments in reaching the decisions set
forth in this Report and Order.


1 See 5 U.S.C. § 603. The RFA, see 5 U.S.C. § 601 – 612, has been amended by the Small Business Regulatory
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), Pub. L. No. 104-121, Title II, 110 Stat. 857 (1996), and the Small
Business Jobs Act of 2010, Public Law No. 111-240, 124 Stat. 2504 (2010).
2 See Amendment of Part 15 of the Commission’s Rules to Amend the Definition of Auditory Assistance Device in
Support of Simultaneous Language Interpretation, ET Docket No. 10-26, Order and Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking
, 26 FCC Rcd 13600 (2011) (“Auditory Assistance Device NPRM”).
3 See 5 U.S.C. § 604.
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C.

Response to Comments by the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business
Administration

Pursuant to the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, the Commission is required to respond to any
comments filed by the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA), and to
provide a detailed statement of any change made to the proposed rules as a result of those comments. The
Chief Counsel did not file any comments in response to the proposed rules in this proceeding.

D.

Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the Proposed
Rule Will Apply

The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of and, where feasible, an estimate of the
number of small entities that may be affected by the proposed rules, if adopted.4 The RFA generally
defines the term "small entity" as having the same meaning as the terms "small business," "small
organization," and "small governmental jurisdiction." In addition, the term "small business" has the same
meaning as the term "small business concern" under the Small Business Act.5 A small business concern
is one which: 1) is independently owned and operated; 2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and 3)
satisfies any additional criteria established by the SBA.6

Small Businesses, Small Organizations, and Small Governmental Jurisdictions

. Our action
may, over time, affect small entities that are not easily categorized at present. We therefore describe here,
at the outset, three comprehensive, statutory small entity size standards that encompass entities that could
be directly affected by the proposals under consideration.7 As of 2009, small businesses represented
99.9 percent of the 27.5 million businesses in the United States, according to the SBA.8 Additionally, a
“small organization” is generally “any not-for-profit enterprise which is independently owned and
operated and is not dominant in its field.”9 Nationwide, as of 2007, there were approximately 1,621,315
small organizations.10 Finally, the term “small governmental jurisdiction” is defined generally as
“governments of cities, counties, towns, townships, villages, school districts, or special districts, with a
population of less than fifty thousand.”11 Census Bureau data for 2007 indicate that there were 89,527
governmental jurisdictions in the United States.12 We estimate that, of this total, as many as 88,761


4 Id. at § 603(b)(3).
5 5 U.S.C. § 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition of “small business concern” in 15 U.S.C. § 632).
Pursuant to the RFA, the statutory definition of a small business applies “unless an agency, after consultation with the
Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and after opportunity for public comment, establishes one or
more definitions of such term which are appropriate to the activities of the agency and publishes such definition(s) in
the Federal Register.” 5 U.S.C. § 601(3).
6 Small Business Act, 15 U.S.C. § 632 (1996).
7 See 5 U.S.C. § 601(3)–(6).
8 See SBA, Office of Advocacy, “Frequently Asked Questions,” available at
http://web.sba.gov/faqs/faqindex.cfm?areaID=24 (last visited Aug. 31, 2012).
9 5 U.S.C. § 601(4).
10 INDEPENDENT SECTOR, THE NEW NONPROFIT ALMANAC & DESK REFERENCE (2010).
11 5 U.S.C. § 601(5).
12 U.S. CENSUS BUREAU, STATISTICAL ABSTRACT OF THE UNITED STATES: 2011, Table 427 (2007).
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entities may qualify as “small governmental jurisdictions.”13 Thus, we estimate that most governmental
jurisdictions are small.

Fixed Microwave Services

. Fixed microwave services include common carrier,14 private
operational-fixed,15 and broadcast auxiliary radio services.16 At present, there are approximately
22,015 common carrier fixed licensees and 61,670 private operational-fixed licensees and broadcast
auxiliary radio licensees in the microwave services. The Commission has not created a size standard for a
small business specifically with respect to fixed microwave services. For purposes of this analysis, the
Commission uses the SBA small business size standard for the category Wireless Telecommunications
Carriers (except Satellite), which is 1,500 or fewer employees.17 The Commission does not have data
specifying the number of these licensees that have no more than 1,500 employees, and thus we are unable
at this time to estimate with greater precision the number of fixed microwave service licensees that would
qualify as small business concerns under the SBA’s small business size standard. Consequently, the
Commission estimates that there are 22,015 or fewer common carrier fixed licensees and 61,670 or fewer
private operational-fixed licensees and broadcast auxiliary radio licensees in the microwave services that
may be small and may be affected by the rules and policies proposed herein. We note, however, that the
common carrier microwave fixed licensee category includes some large entities.

Wireless Equipment Manufacturers

. This industry is comprised of businesses primarily
engaged in manufacturing radio, television broadcast, and wireless communications equipment.
Examples of products made by these establishments are: transmitting and receiving antennas, cable
television equipment, cordless phones, global positioning system (GPS) equipment, pagers, cellular
phones, mobile communications equipment, and radio and television studio and broadcasting


13 The 2007 U.S Census data for small governmental organizations are not presented based on the size of the
population in each such organization. There were 89,476 local governmental organizations in 2007. If we assume
that county, municipal, township, and school district organizations are more likely than larger governmental
organizations to have populations of 50,000 or less, the total of these organizations is 52,095. If we make the same
population assumption about special districts, specifically that they are likely to have a population of 50,000 or less,
and also assume that special districts are different from county, municipal, township, and school districts, in 2007
there were 37,381 such special districts. Therefore, there are a total of 89,476 local government organizations. As a
basis of estimating how many of these 89,476 local government organizations were small, in 2011, we note that
there were a total of 715 cities and towns (incorporated places and minor civil divisions) with populations over
50,000. CITY AND TOWNS TOTALS: VINTAGE 2011 – U.S. Census Bureau, available at
http://www.census.gov/popest/data/cities/totals/2011/index.html. If we subtract the 715 cities and towns that meet
or exceed the 50,000 population threshold, we conclude that approximately 88,761 are small. U.S. CENSUS
BUREAU, STATISTICAL ABSTRACT OF THE UNITED STATES 2011, Tables 427, 426 (Data cited therein are
from 2007).
14 See 47 C.F.R. §§ 101 et seq. for common carrier fixed microwave services (except Multipoint Distribution
Service).
15 Persons eligible under Parts 80 and 90 of the Commission’s Rules can use Private Operational-Fixed Microwave
services. See 47 C.F.R. Parts 80 and 90. Stations in this service are called operational-fixed to distinguish them
from common carrier and public fixed stations. Only the licensee may use the operational-fixed station and only for
communications related to the licensee’s commercial, industrial, or safety operations.
16 Auxiliary Microwave Service is governed by Part 74 of Title 47 of the Commission’s Rules. See 47 C.F.R.
Part 74. This service is available to licensees of broadcast stations and to broadcast and cable network entities.
Broadcast auxiliary microwave stations are used for relaying broadcast television signals from the studio to the
transmitter, or between two points such as a main studio and an auxiliary studio. The service also includes mobile
television pickups, which relay signals from a remote location back to the studio.
17 13 C.F.R. § 121.201, NAICS code 517210.
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equipment.18 In this category, the SBA has deemed a business manufacturing radio and television
broadcasting equipment, wireless telecommunications equipment, or both, to be small if it has fewer than
750 employees.19 For this category of manufacturing, Census data for 2007 show that there were
919 firms that operated that year. Of those establishments, 531 had between 1 and 19 employees; 240 had
between 20 and 99 employees; and 148 had more than 100 employees.20 Since 771 establishments had
fewer than 100 employees, and since only 148 had more than 100 employees, the vast majority of
manufacturers in this category would be considered small under applicable standards. The rules adopted
in this Report and Order will apply to small businesses that choose to use, manufacture, design, import, or
sell Part 15 auditory assistance devices. There is no requirement, however, for any entity to use, market,
or produce these types of products.

E.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance
Requirements for Small Entities

This Report and Order expands the permissible uses of Part 15 auditory assistance devices to
include simultaneous language interpretation for anyone at any location and reduces the permitted level of
Part 15 auditory assistance devices’ unwanted emissions to the Section 15.209 emissions limits. This
item does not contain any new reporting or recordkeeping requirements.
After 18 months after the effective date of the new rules in this proceeding, the unwanted
emissions of Part15 auditory assistance devices submitted for equipment authorization must comply with
the Section 15.209 emissions limits. After 3 years of the effective date of the new rules, the unwanted
emissions of Part 15 auditory assistance devices manufactured or imported for sale in the U.S. must
comply with the emissions limits in Section 15.209. Manufacturers will incur engineering services and
production costs to design and produce Part 15 auditory assistance devices whose unwanted emission
comply with the Section 15.209 emissions limits. The Section 15.209 emissions limits are currently
achievable for Part 15 auditory assistance devices’ unwanted emissions at an estimated additional cost of
1 to 2 percent per device using industry standard components employing relatively straight-forward
designs.21 We expect that these costs will be comparable for large and small entities.

F.

Steps Taken to Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities, and
Significant Alternatives Considered

The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant alternatives that it has considered in
reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four alternatives (among others): 1) the
establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account the
resources available to small entities; 2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of compliance or
reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; 3) the use of performance, rather than design,
standards; and 4) an exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small entities.22
To reduce the burdens on small entities, we have provided a 3-year transition period after the
effective date of the new rules for manufacturers to produce new Part 15 auditory assistance devices with


18 http://www.census.gov/econ/industry/def/d334220.htm.
19 See 13 C.F.R. § 121.201, NAICS code 334220.
20 http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/IBQTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=&-_skip=300&-ds_name+EC0731I1&-_lang=en.
21 See Williams Sound comments at 3.
22 5 U.S.C. § 603(c).
20

Federal Communications Commission



FCC 13-59

unwanted emissions that comply with the Section 15.209 emissions limits, after which the domestic
manufacture and importation for domestic sale of Part 15 auditory assistance devices with unwanted
emissions that do not meet these lower emissions limits must cease. However, there is no limit on the
marketing of Part 15 auditory assistance devices manufactured or imported prior to the end of this 3-year
transition period. In addition, we have provided 18 months after the effective date of the new rules in this
proceeding for manufacturers to produce Part 15 auditory assistance devices with unwanted emissions
that comply with the Section 15.209 emissions limits in order to receive an equipment authorization. This
should provide sufficient time for manufacturers to obtain equipment authorization from the Commission
for any Part 15 auditory assistance devices currently under development under the current rules, design
such devices whose unwanted emissions comply with the Section 15.209 limits, and submit to the
Commission equipment authorization applications for these devices. This approach will facilitate the
lowering of Part 15 auditory assistance devices’ unwanted emissions to the Section 15.209 emissions
limits without unduly impairing the availability or cost of these devices. To avoid imposing unnecessary
financial burdens on entities that produce, market, or operate Part 15 auditory assistance devices, we are
permitting Part 15 auditory assistance devices that have already been installed or are in use prior to the
end of the 3-year transition period to be operated without a cutoff date without having to meet the Section
15.209 emissions limits.

Report to Congress:

The Commission will send a copy of the Report and Order, including this
FRFA, in a report to Congress pursuant to the Congressional Review Act.23 In addition, the Commission
will send a copy of the Report and Order, including this FRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the
SBA. A copy of the Report and Order and FRFA (or summaries thereof) will also be published in the
Federal Register.


23 See 5 U.S.C. § 801(a)(1)(A).
21

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