[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 193 (Wednesday, October 5, 2011)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 61655-61660]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-25756]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 15

[ET Docket No. 10-26; FCC 11-133]


Definition of Part 15 Auditory Assistance Device

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: This document proposes to amend the definition of ``auditory 
assistance device'' in the Commission's rules to allow such devices to 
be used by anyone at any location for simultaneous language 
interpretation, where the spoken words are translated continuously in 
near real time. This action is taken in response to a petition for 
declaratory ruling filed by Williams Sound Corporation (Williams Sound 
Petition), a provider of wireless auditory assistance devices. The 
current definition restricts the use of part 15 auditory assistance 
devices that operate in the 72.0-73.0 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and 75.2-76.0 
MHz bands (72-76 MHz bands) to auditory assistance to a handicapped 
person or persons; such devices 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. The proposed 
amendment would permit part 15 auditory assistance devices that operate 
in the 72-76 MHz bands to be used by anyone at any location for 
simultaneous language interpretation.

DATES: Comments must be filed on or before November 4, 2011, and reply 
comments must be filed on or before November 21, 2011.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Patrick Forster, Office of Engineering 
and Technology, (202) 418-7061, e-mail: [email protected], TTY 
(202) 418-2989.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by ET Docket No. 10-26, 
by any of the following methods:
     Federal Communications Commission's Web Site: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/. Follow the instructions for submitting 
comments.
     Mail: [Optional: Include the mailing address for paper, 
disk, or CD-ROM submissions needed/requested by your Bureau or Office. 
Do not include the Office of the Secretary's mailing address here.]
     People with Disabilities: Contact the FCC to request 
reasonable accommodations (accessible format documents, sign language 
interpreters, CART, etc.) by e-mail: [email protected] or phone: 202-418-
0530 or TTY: 202-418-0432.

For detailed instructions for submitting comments and additional 
information on the rulemaking process, see the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION of this document.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Order 
and Notice of Proposed Rule Making, ET Docket No. 10-26, FCC 11-133, 
adopted September 9, 2011, and released September 16, 2011. The full 
text of this document is available for inspection and copying during 
normal business hours in the FCC Reference Center (Room CY-A257), 445 
12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20554. The complete text of this 
document also may be purchased from the Commission's copy contractor, 
Best Copy and Printing, Inc., 445 12th Street, SW., Room CY-B402, 
Washington, DC 20554. The full text may also be downloaded at: http://www.fcc.gov.
    Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 
47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply 
comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this 
document. Comments may be filed using the Commission's Electronic 
Comment Filing System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents in 
Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
     Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically 
using the Internet by accessing the ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.
     Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must 
file an original and one copy of each filing. If more than one docket 
or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding, filers 
must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or 
rulemaking number.
    Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial 
overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service 
mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, 
Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
     All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings 
for the Commission's Secretary must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 
445

[[Page 61656]]

12th St., SW., Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours are 
8 a.m. to 7 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber 
bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be disposed of before 
entering the building.
     Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service 
Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton 
Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
     U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority 
mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20554.
    People With Disabilities: To request materials in accessible 
formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic 
files, audio format), send an e-mail to [email protected] or call the 
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-
418-0432 (tty).

Introduction

    1. In the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), the Commission 
proposes to amend the definition of ``auditory assistance device'' in 
its part 15 rules to allow such devices to be used by anyone at any 
location for simultaneous language interpretation, where the spoken 
words are translated continuously in near real time. Auditory 
assistance devices transmit audio signals via radio frequency (RF) 
waves, magnetic fields, or infrared light waves 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 hearing disabilities, 
auditory assistance devices improve the quality of the sound over that 
which would be received via a loudspeaker system.
    2. The Commission takes this action in response to a petition for 
declaratory ruling filed by Williams Sound Corporation (Williams Sound 
Petition), a provider of wireless auditory assistance devices. Williams 
Sound asks the Commission to clarify that part 15 auditory assistance 
devices may be used to provide simultaneous language interpretation. 
This proposed amendment would expand the opportunities to deploy 
auditory assistance devices and remove barriers to communication, 
provide greater flexibility and enhanced benefits for persons wishing 
to use auditory assistance technologies, and 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. The Commission declines to grant the relief that Williams Sound 
has requested and instead is incorporating the issues raised in 
Williams Sound's petition into the NPRM.

Order

    3. The Commission first addresses the Williams Sound petition for 
declaratory ruling. Williams Sound seeks a ruling that auditory 
assistance devices which operate under the part 15 rules in the 72-76 
MHz bands may be used to provide simultaneous language interpretation 
and that such use is expressly included in the uses defined by 47 CFR 
15.3(a). Under such an interpretation, the existing definition of an 
``auditory assistance device'' would allow part 15 devices that operate 
in the 72-76 MHz bands to be used to provide simultaneous language 
interpretation for any individual that does not understand the language 
spoken in an audio presentation.
    4. The Commission concludes that a declaratory ruling is not the 
appropriate vehicle to grant the relief requested by Williams Sound. 
Pursuant to Sec.  1.2 of the Commission's rules, it may issue a 
declaratory ruling for purposes of ``terminating a controversy or 
removing uncertainty.'' However, a declaratory ruling may not be used 
to substantively change a rule. An analysis of the Commission's 
auditory assistance device rules in part 15 leads the Commission to the 
conclusion that by accepting Williams Sound's proposed interpretation, 
the Commission would expand the scope of permitted uses so 
significantly as to constitute a change in the rule. Section 15.3(a) of 
the Commission's rules states that an auditory assistance device is 
``[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 education institution, for auditory assistance at places 
of public gatherings, such as a church, theater, or auditorium, and for 
auditory assistance to handicapped individuals, only, in other 
locations.''
    5. In 1982, the Commission addressed the issue of whether auditory 
assistance devices that operate in the 72-73 MHz and 75.4-76 MHz bands 
could be used for purposes other than serving handicapped individuals 
in response to petitions for rulemaking filed by Williams Sound and 
Phonic Ear, Inc. In that proceeding, the Commission expanded the use of 
auditory assistance devices that operate in the 72-73 MHz and 75.4-76 
MHz bands beyond the initial limitations of operating solely in 
educational institutions and mere 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.
    6. In 2009, the Commission issued a citation to ProLingo, a 
provider of simultaneous interpretation equipment and services, for 
marketing, as a component of its simultaneous language interpretation 
systems, transmitters operating on frequencies in the 72-76 MHz bands. 
ProLingo was found to have violated Section 302(b) of the 
Communications Act and Sec. Sec.  2.803(a)(1) and 15.237 of the 
Commission's rules. Williams Sound appears to seek approval by 
declaratory ruling to conduct substantially the same activity that the 
Commission found to violate its rules. Furthermore, the Commission 
rejects Williams Sound's assertion that the inability to understand a 
foreign language can be considered a handicap, which thereby justifies 
permitting auditory assistance devices that operate in the 72-76 MHz 
bands to be used for simultaneous language interpretation. Such an 
interpretation is not consistent with the meaning given to the term 
``handicap'' historically in part 1, subpart N of the Commission's 
rules, which was based on the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The term was 
defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits 
one or more of the major life activities of an individual. In 2003, the 
Commission replaced ``handicap'' with ``disability'' in part 1, subpart 
N, to be consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 
but did not make any substantive changes to the definition. Williams 
Sound does not provide a basis for interpreting the term ``handicap'' 
in part 15 differently than the Commission has interpreted that term in 
part 1.
    7. Together, these reasons lead the Commission to conclude that it 
would not be appropriate to grant the relief that Williams Sound has 
requested. The Commission believes, however, that Williams Sound 
provides good reasons for exploring whether expanding the part 15 
definition of an ``auditory assistance device'' to permit such devices 
to be used for simultaneous language interpretation would benefit the 
public interest. Accordingly, on its own motion, the Commission 
addresses this matter in the NPRM.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    8. In this NPRM, the Commission proposes to amend the part 15 
definition of an ``auditory assistance device'' to permit these devices 
to be

[[Page 61657]]

used by anyone at any location for simultaneous language 
interpretation. As discussed by Williams Sound, the Commission believes 
that there are sound public policy reasons for allowing auditory 
assistance devices that operate in the 72-76 MHz bands to be used by 
persons who have language barriers but who may not be disabled. 
Expanding the scope of the rule would appear to be consistent with the 
Commission's goal of facilitating public access to telecommunications 
technologies. Many commenters, several of them providers of auditory 
assistance devices and/or simultaneous interpretation systems, support 
Williams Sound's Petition. Several of these commenters submit that 
allowing auditory assistance devices to be used in support of 
simultaneous language interpretation would also benefit individuals who 
have a hearing disability by promoting wider availability of auditory 
assistance devices in general. This, in turn, could facilitate 
communications with individuals that require both amplification and 
language interpretation. The Commission also finds merit in Williams 
Sound's observation that the use of auditory assistance devices that 
operate in the 72-76 MHz bands in support of simultaneous language 
interpretation would not only improve the aural experience and 
comprehension of those who need interpretation, but also would lower 
the noise level for those who do not care to listen to an interpreter, 
thereby enhancing the auditory experience of both groups.
    9. Although current law requires operators of public gathering 
places to provide auditory assistance devices for use by persons with 
disabilities, operators of such venues may not decide who may benefit 
from these devices. However, the interference potential of an auditory 
assistance device is unrelated to the number of users or type of use. 
The Commission expects that expanding the permitted uses of part 15 
auditory assistance devices that operate in the 72-76 MHz bands to 
include simultaneous language interpretation by anyone at any location 
will not increase their potential for harmful interference to 
authorized users in the 72-76 MHz or adjacent bands or impede the 
operation of other part 15 auditory assistance devices operating in the 
72-76 MHz bands. In addition, because part 15 auditory assistance 
devices that operate in the 72-76 MHz bands use 200-kilohertz wide 
channels, ample spectrum is available for multiple applications. Thus, 
the Commission believes that part 15 auditory assistance devices that 
operate in the 72-76 MHz bands and provide simultaneous language 
interpretation should be able to simultaneously provide auditory 
assistance to persons with disabilities, and in any event, will not 
diminish the ability to provide auditory assistance to persons with 
disabilities.
    10. For these reasons, the Commission proposes to amend the part 15 
definition of ``auditory assistance device'' to permit these devices to 
be used by anyone at any location for simultaneous language 
interpretation as permitted under part 95, as reflected in the proposed 
rules set forth in Appendix A of the NPRM. The expanded definition 
would include any person requiring simultaneous language interpretation 
at any location. The Commission seeks comment on this proposal and its 
advantages and disadvantages. The Commission believes this action would 
serve the public interest by aiding the comprehension of individuals 
who require such interpretation. Moreover, expanding the permissible 
uses of part 15 auditory assistance devices to include simultaneous 
language interpretation would allow these devices to be used to provide 
either simultaneous language interpretation or auditory assistance, or 
both, thereby potentially providing a significant benefit to the public 
at no apparent additional cost. The Commission seeks comment on the 
potential benefits of expanding the allowable uses of part 15 auditory 
assistance devices to include simultaneous language interpretation. Do 
commenters agree with the Commission's assessment that its proposed 
rule change would not appear to impose additional costs? If not, the 
Commission seeks comment on any qualitative or quantitative costs 
associated with its proposal.
    11. The Commission expects that expanding the types of operation 
permitted for part 15 auditory assistance devices to include 
simultaneous language interpretation for anyone at any location will 
result in an increase in their use. This could include operation of 
devices at locations where they are not also used to provide auditory 
assistance to disabled individuals. In addition, a greater number of 
channels may be operated at any given location where auditory 
assistance devices are used to provide both simultaneous language 
interpretation and auditory assistance for persons with disabilities. 
Thus, the Commission must also consider the effect that such increased 
use may have on other in-band, as well as adjacent-band, services.
    12. The 72-73 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and 75.2-76 MHz bands, where part 
15 auditory assistance device transmitters operate, are allocated on a 
primary basis to the fixed and mobile services. As indicated, these 
bands are available for licensed use under the Public Mobile Service 
(part 22), the Aviation Service (part 87), the Private Land Mobile 
Radio Service (part 90), and the Radio Control (R/C) Radio Service 
(part 95). In the bands adjacent to those where Part 15 auditory 
assistance devices operate, the 73-74.6 MHz band is allocated on a 
primary basis for radio astronomy, and the 74.8-75.2 MHz band is 
allocated on a primary basis to the aeronautical radionavigation 
service and is available for licensed use in the Radiodetermination 
Service (part 87). Additionally, the 66-72 MHz and 76-82 MHz bands (VHF 
TV channels 4 and 5, respectively) are allocated to the broadcast 
service and are available for licensed television broadcast stations 
(part 73).
    13. With a maximum permissible ERP of 1.2 mW, the power of auditory 
assistance devices that operate in the 72-76 MHz bands is relatively 
low compared to that of authorized services in the 72-76 MHz and 
adjacent bands. Under the current rules which limit the location and 
types of use of part 15 auditory assistance devices, these devices have 
not been sources of interference to authorized services in these bands. 
The Commission seeks comment on whether increased use of part 15 
auditory assistance devices for simultaneous language interpretation 
would increase the potential for harmful interference to authorized 
services in the 72-76 MHz and adjacent bands. If so, by how much, and 
what would the specific effects of such harmful interference be? If 
commenters believe there are qualitative or quantitative costs 
associated with increased use of part 15 auditory assistance devices 
for simultaneous language interpretation, the Commission asks that they 
discuss them. In particular, the Commission seeks comment on whether 
increased use of part 15 auditory assistance devices for simultaneous 
language interpretation would require additional safeguards or changes 
to the technical requirements to prevent harmful interference to 
authorized services in the 72-76 MHz (72-73 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and 
75.2-76 MHz) and adjacent (66-72 MHz, 73-74.6 MHz, 74.8-75.2 MHz, and 
76-82 MHz) bands, and if so, what rule changes are necessary. Are there 
any qualitative or quantitative costs associated with such rule 
changes?

[[Page 61658]]

If so, the Commission asks commenters to discuss them.
    14. Outside of the 72-76 MHz bands in which they operate, part 15 
auditory assistance devices must comply with an emissions limit of 
1,500 microvolts per meter ([mu]V/m) measured at a distance of 3 
meters. As noted above, the aeronautical radiodetermination, radio 
astronomy, and TV broadcast services are in bands adjacent to the part 
15 auditory assistance device bands and are therefore potentially 
affected by out-of-band emissions from these auditory assistance 
devices. As with the case of in-band emissions from part 15 auditory 
assistance devices, the Commission is not aware of instances where 
auditory assistance devices have caused harmful interference to 
authorized services in adjacent bands. However, since the time the 
Commission adopted the rules for auditory assistance device 
transmitters in 1972, all full-service TV stations have converted from 
analog to digital transmissions. The Commission notes that in its 
proceeding proposing steps to open the TV spectrum to new wireless 
broadband services, it has sought comment on measures it could take to 
improve TV reception for consumers on VHF channels and encourage 
broadcasters to use these channels in the future. It noted that one of 
the problems with indoor VHF reception is noise from nearby consumer 
electronics equipment. The Commission stated that it would be desirable 
to reduce that noise, and while it declined to propose any specific 
changes, it sought comment on what actions it might take to reduce 
noise in the VHF TV bands.
    15. The Commission notes that the allowed out-of-band emissions 
limit of 1,500 [micro]V/m at 3 meters for auditory assistance devices 
that operate in the 72-76 MHz bands is 15 times higher (23.5 dB more 
power) than the Sec.  15.209 emissions limit of 100 [mu]V/m at 3 meters 
that applies to most other part 15 devices' emissions in the 72-76 MHz 
and adjacent bands. It is also 18 times higher (25 dB more power) than 
the out-of-band emissions limit that applies to part 15 personal/
portable TV bands devices that operate in bands adjacent to occupied TV 
channels, which corresponds to 84 [mu]V/m at 3 meters for a device 
operating at 40 mW. In light of the Commission's proposal to expand the 
permissible uses for part 15 auditory assistance devices to include 
simultaneous language interpretation and its goal of improving VHF TV 
reception, it seeks comment on whether there is a need to tighten the 
out-of-band emissions limits for part 15 auditory assistance devices. 
If so, what limit is appropriate--the Sec.  15.209 limit, the 
unlicensed TV bands device limit, or some other limit? What are the 
potential advantages and disadvantages of each limit, and what specific 
qualitative or quantitative costs are associated with each limit? Are 
any other safeguards or technical requirements necessary to prevent 
harmful interference to authorized services in the adjacent 66-72 MHz, 
73-74.6 MHz, 74.8-75.2 MHz, and 76-82 MHz bands? If so, what are the 
potential advantages and disadvantages and specific qualitative or 
quantitative costs associated with each? The Commission also notes 
that, based upon its review of the equipment authorization records for 
auditory assistance devices that operate in the 72-76 MHz bands, 
currently available equipment would not comply with the Sec.  15.209 
limits. If tighter limits are necessary, what would be the appropriate 
transition period for compliance with new limits? Should currently 
approved equipment be grandfathered, either for a limited time or 
permanently? If not, what specific qualitative or quantitative costs 
would be associated with acquiring equipment that complies with the 
Sec.  15.209 limits?
    16. The Commission recognizes that further restricting the out-of-
band emissions of part 15 auditory assistance devices to protect the 
adjacent VHF TV bands would impose additional costs on manufacturers of 
these devices. Would the advantages of improving the reception of VHF 
TV channels 4 and 5 outweigh the disadvantages associated with further 
restricting part 15 auditory assistance device emissions to both 
manufacturers and users of these devices? The Commission requests 
specific information and data on the qualitative and quantitative costs 
associated with complying with additional safeguards or changes to the 
technical requirements and/or more restrictive out-of-band emissions 
limits. For example, the Commission requests information on 
technologies that could be used to decrease out-of-band emissions and 
the advantages and disadvantages of each; the cost to manufacturers and 
users to meet lower out-of-band emissions limits; and whether further 
reducing the out-of-band emissions would in any way impair the device's 
performance in other ways and how. The Commission also requests comment 
on any benefits for authorized services in the 72-76 MHz and adjacent 
bands by reducing the out-of-band emissions of these devices.

Ordering Clauses

    17. 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 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is hereby adopted.
    18. Pursuant to Sections 4(i), 303(f), and 303(r) of the 
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 303(f), and 
303(r), the petition for declaratory ruling filed by Williams Sound 
Corporation filed on September 25, 2009, is denied.
    19. The Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, 
Reference Information Center, shall send a copy of this Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking, including the Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    20. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as 
amended (RFA),\1\ the Commission has prepared this present Initial 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant 
economic impact on small entities by the policies and rules proposed in 
this NPRM. Written public comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments 
must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the 
deadlines specified on the first page of this NPRM. The Commission will 
send a copy of this NPRM, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for 
Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA).\2\ In addition, 
the NPRM and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the 
Federal Register.\3\
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    \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), Public Law 104-121, Title II, 110 Stat. 857 (1996).
    \2\ See 5 U.S.C. 603(a).
    \3\ See 5 U.S.C. 603(a).
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A. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rule

    21. This NPRM proposes to modify Sec.  15.3(a) definition of 
``auditory assistance device'' to allow part 15 unlicensed auditory 
assistance devices to be used by anyone at any location for 
simultaneous language interpretation. The proposal is designed to 
expand the permitted uses of part 15 auditory assistance devices to 
include a use other than those for the disabled (i.e., amplification of 
sound for those with a hearing disability and audio description for the 
blind) to facilitate public access to telecommunications technology. 
Permitting part 15 audio assistance devices that operate in the 72.0-
73.0 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and 75.2-76.0 MHz bands (72-76 MHz bands) to 
be

[[Page 61659]]

used by anyone at any location for simultaneous language interpretation 
would benefit persons requiring simultaneous language interpretation 
whether or not they have a disability. The NPRM seeks comment on 
whether allowing auditory assistance devices that operate in the 72-76 
MHz bands to also be used by anyone at any location for simultaneous 
language interpretation will increase the potential for harmful 
interference to authorized services in the 72-76 MHz and adjacent bands 
(i.e., 66-72 MHz, 73-74.6 MHz, 74.8-75.2 MHz, and 76-82 MHz), and if 
so, whether additional safeguards or technical requirements are 
necessary to prevent harmful interference to these authorized services.

B. Legal Basis

    22. This action is authorized under Sections 1, 4(i), 302, 303(f) 
and (r), 332, and 337 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 
U.S.C. 1, 4(i), 154(i), 302a, 303(f) and (r), 332, 337.

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

    23. 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\
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    \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).
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    24. Nationwide, there are a total of approximately 29.6 million 
small businesses, according to the SBA.\7\ A ``small organization'' is 
generally ``any not-for-profit enterprise which is independently owned 
and operated and is not dominant in its field.'' \8\ Nationwide, as of 
2002, there were approximately 1.6 million small organizations.\9\ The 
term ``small governmental jurisdiction'' is defined generally as 
``governments of cities, towns, townships, villages, school districts, 
or special districts, with a population of less than fifty thousand.'' 
\10\ Census Bureau data for 2002 indicate that there were 87,525 local 
governmental jurisdictions in the United States.\11\ The Commission 
estimates that, of this total, 84,377 entities were ``small 
governmental jurisdictions.'' \12\ Thus, the Commission estimates that 
most governmental jurisdictions are small.
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    \7\  See SBA, Office of Advocacy, ``Frequently Asked 
Questions,'' http://web.sba.gov/faqs/faqindex.cfm?areaID=24 (revised 
Sept. 2009).
    \8\ 5 U.S.C. 601(4).
    \9\ Independent Sector, The New Nonprofit Almanac & Desk 
Reference (2002).
    \10\ 5 U.S.C. 601(5).
    \11\ U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United 
States: 2006, Section 8, page 272, Table 415.
    \12\ The Commission assumes that villages, school districts, and 
special districts are small, and they total 48,558. See U.S. Census 
Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2006, section 8, 
page 273, Table 417. For 2002, Census Bureau data indicate that the 
total number of county, municipal, and township governments 
nationwide was 38,967, of which 35,819 were small. Id.
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D. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other 
Compliance Requirements for Small Entities

    25. This NPRM addresses the possibility of allowing additional 
flexibility for part 15 auditory assistance devices that operate in the 
72-76 MHz bands by expanding the definition of allowed uses of part 15 
auditory assistance devices to include simultaneous language 
interpretation for anyone at any location. This item does not contain 
any new reporting or recording keeping requirements.

E. Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small 
Entities, and Significant Alternatives Considered

    26. 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.\13\
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    \13\ 5 U.S.C. 603(c).
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    27. If the part 15 definition of auditory assistance device is 
expanded to include simultaneous language interpretation for anyone as 
an allowed use at any location, it may be necessary to modify the 
administrative and/or technical requirements for auditory assistance 
devices that operate in the 72-76 MHz bands to prevent harmful 
interference to authorized services in the 72-76 MHz and adjacent bands 
(i.e., 66-72 MHz, 73-74.6 MHz, 74.8-75.2 MHz, and 76-82 MHz).
    28. Although the proposed rule is not expected to have a 
significant economic impact on small entities, the Commission will 
continue to examine alternatives with the objectives of eliminating 
unnecessary regulations and minimizing significant economic impact on 
small entities. The Commission seeks comment on significant 
alternatives that should be adopted.

F. Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the 
Proposed Rule

    29. None.

List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 15

    Communications equipment.

Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Federal 
Communications Commission proposes to amend 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:


Sec.  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

[[Page 61660]]

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.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2011-25756 Filed 10-4-11; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P