[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 114 (Thursday, June 12, 2008)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 33324-33326]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-13219]



47 CFR Part 20

[WT Docket No. 07-250; FCC 08-68]

Hearing Aid-Compatible Mobile Handsets, Petition of American 
National Standards Institute Accredited Standards Committee C63 (EMC) 

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Request for comments.


SUMMARY: The Federal Communications Commission (Commission) invites 
additional submissions regarding the treatment under its hearing aid 
compatibility rules of multi-mode and multi-band handsets and regarding 
the application of the de minimis exception to those rules.

DATES: The Commission requests comments on or before August 28, 2008.

ADDRESSES: You may submit ex parte submissions, identified by WT Docket 
No. 07-250, by any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Federal Communications Commission's Web Site: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     E-mail: [email protected], and include the following words in 
the body of the message, ``get form.'' A sample form and directions 
will be sent in response.
     Mail: Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, 
SW., Washington, DC 20554.
     Hand Delivery/Courier: 236 Massachusetts Avenue, NE., 
Suite 110, Washington, DC 20002.

[[Page 33325]]

     Accessible Formats: Contact the FCC to request reasonable 
accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language 
interpreters, CART, etc.) for filing comments either by e-mail: 
[email protected] or phone: 202-418-0530 or TTY: 202-418-0432.
    Instructions: All submissions received must include the agency name 
and docket number for this rulemaking. All submissions received will be 
posted without change to http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs including any 
personal information provided.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Peter Trachtenberg, Spectrum & 
Competition Policy Division, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, 
Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, SW., Portals I, 
Room 6119, Washington, DC 20554.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of open issues in the 
Commission's First Report & Order (R&O) in WT Docket No. 07-250 
released February 28, 2008. The complete text of the Commission's R&O 
is available for public inspection and copying from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 
p.m. Monday through Thursday or from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Friday at 
the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street, SW., 
Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. [The R&O may also be purchased from 
the Commission's duplicating contractor, Best Copy and Printing, Inc. 
(BCPI), Portals II, 445 12th Street, SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 
20554, telephone 202-488-5300, facsimile 202-488-5563, or you may 
contact BCPI at its Web site: http://www.BCPIWEB.com. When ordering 
documents from BCPI please provide the appropriate FCC document number, 
FCC 08-68. The R&O is also available on the Internet at the 
Commission's Web site through its Electronic Document Management System 
(EDOCS): http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/SilverStream/Pages/edocs.html.]
    This is a summary of the two new issues raised in the R&O that the 
public can comment on through the ex parte process in WT Docket No. 07-
    Multi-mode and multi-band handsets. In the R&O, the Commission 
clarifies that, to be counted as hearing aid-compatible, a handset 
model must meet compatibility standards for each air interface and 
frequency band it uses so long as standards exist for each of those 
bands and air interfaces. Except for an interim ruling with respect to 
handsets that incorporate Wi-Fi capabilities, the Commission does not 
resolve whether, or to what extent, multi-band and multi-mode handsets 
should be counted as hearing aid-compatible if they operate in part 
over frequency bands or air interfaces for which technical standards 
have not yet been established. The record contains arguments both in 
favor of and against treating such handsets as hearing aid-compatible. 
Moreover, according to industry representatives, no such handsets 
currently exist, with the exception of devices incorporating Wi-Fi 
capability. The Commission accepts the proposal endorsed by both 
industry and consumer representatives to leave the record open so that 
they may develop a consensus plan on this issue in the near term. The 
Commission looks forward to receiving from the parties to the consensus 
discussions general principles within three months of the release of 
the R&O and a detailed proposal within six months, and the Commission 
also invites the views of other parties. The Commission anticipates 
acting on a final order shortly after receiving the detailed consensus 
proposal. The Commission's decision to take additional time to resolve 
this issue turns in part on the current unavailability of such 
handsets. The Commission therefore expects handset manufacturers to 
keep it informed regarding the status of developments of such handsets, 
and asks the parties to the consensus discussions to include that 
information as part of their filings in three and six months. If such 
handsets are made available in the interim, the Commission will act 
expeditiously to address the hearing aid compatibility status of those 
    When the Commission subsequently addresses the application of 
hearing aid compatibility requirements to Wi-Fi operations, it will 
consider an appropriate transition regime to bring any requirements 
into effect. In view of the fact that Wi-Fi-capable handsets are 
currently available, the Commission invites comments on whether a 
period of time should be given before any requirements to meet hearing 
aid compatibility standards for handsets that incorporate Wi-Fi 
capability become effective, and if so what that time period should be. 
It has been argued by some commenters that due to the lower power of 
the Wi-Fi operations, these operations are unlikely to cause 
interference to hearing aids. However, there has been no specific 
showing towards this. The Commission invites comments in this area in 
order to help it consider the application of hearing aid compatibility 
requirements to Wi-Fi operations and consider a transition regime to 
bring such requirements into effect.
    De minimis rule. Section 20.19 provides a de minimis exception to 
hearing aid compatibility obligations for those manufacturers and 
mobile service providers that only offer a small number of handset 
models. In the R&O, the Commission retains the existing de minimis rule 
and clarifies that it applies on a per-air interface basis rather than 
across a manufacturer's or service provider's entire product line.
    Two commenters proposed that the exception be modified so that it 
does not apply on a permanent basis to large businesses that produce 
only one or two handsets with mass appeal, such as Apple's iPhone. The 
Commission does not adopt this limitation at this time, but leaves the 
record open for further comments. The Commission recognizes the concern 
of Hearing Loss Association of America and Telecommunications for the 
Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (HLAA/TDI) and Gallaudet University 
Technology Access program and Rehabilitation Engineering Research 
Center on Telecommunications Access (Gallaudet/RERC) that if a 
manufacturer produces only one or two models of a popular handset that 
is not hearing aid-compatible, consumers with hearing loss may be 
denied access to attractive features of that handset indefinitely. At 
the same time, as the Commission has stated previously, the exception 
was not adopted solely for the benefit of small businesses, but for 
businesses of any size that sell only a small number of digital 
wireless handsets in the United States. The primary concern of the 
Commission is that the rule not be limited in a manner that would 
compromise its effectiveness in promoting innovation and competition. 
The Commission also takes note of the fact that large manufacturers 
with highly successful initial devices may not continue indefinitely to 
produce only two or fewer handset models, but instead may expand their 
product offerings in response to consumer demand for new and different 
features, thereby bringing themselves under the hearing aid 
compatibility rules and benefiting consumers both with and without 
hearing loss. It is also unclear exactly how the changes proposed by 
Gallaudet/RERC and HLAA/TDI would operate in practice. The Commission 
invites comments on how ``large business,'' ``handsome profits,'' or 
``mass appeal'' would be defined. To the extent the rule's application 
would depend on the volume and profitability of sales during the first 
year, the Commission asks whether manufacturers have sufficient ability 
to anticipate the obligations to which they

[[Page 33326]]

would be subject and plan accordingly. The commenting parties to these 
questions are requested to address the details and effects of any 
limitation on the de minimis exception that they may propose, and the 
need for the limitation to protect consumers' access to phones with 
advanced or desirable technologies and features.

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
[FR Doc. E8-13219 Filed 6-11-08; 8:45 am]