[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 137 (Tuesday, July 17, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 41919-41929]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-17113]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Parts 2 and 20

[WTB: WT Docket No. 07-250; DA 12-550]


Hearing Aid Compatibility Technical Standard

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Office of 
Engineering and Technology (Bureaus) adopt the 2011 ANSI Standard for 
evaluating the hearing aid compatibility of wireless phones. The 
Bureaus take this action to ensure that a selection of digital wireless 
handset models is available to consumers with hearing loss.

DATES: These rules are effective August 16, 2012.
    The incorporation by reference of certain publications listed in 
the rule is approved by the Director of the Federal Register as of 
August 16, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael Rowan, 202 418-1883, email 
michael.rowan@fcc.gov, or Saurbh Chhabra, 202 418-2266, email 
saurbh.chhabra@fcc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Wireless 
Telecommunications Bureau and the Office of Engineering and 
Technology's Third Report and Order in WT Docket 07-250, adopted April 
9, 2012, and released April 9, 2012. The full text of the Third Report 
and Order is available for inspection and copying during business hours 
in the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street 
SW., Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554. Also, it may be purchased from 
the Commission's duplicating contractor at Portals II, 445 12th Street 
SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554; the contractor's Web site, 
http://www.bcpiweb.com; or by calling (800) 378-3160, facsimile (202) 
488-5563, or email FCC@BCPIWEB.com. Copies of the Third Report and 
Order also may be obtained via the Commission's Electronic Comment 
Filing System (ECFS) by entering the docket number, WT Docket No. 07-
250. Additionally, the complete item is available on the Federal 
Communications Commission's Web site at http://www.fcc.gov.

I. Introduction

    1. The Federal Communications Commission (Commission) has wireless 
hearing aid compatibility rules to ensure that consumers with hearing 
loss are able to access wireless communications services through a wide 
selection of handsets without experiencing disabling radio frequency 
(RF) interference or other technical obstacles. In order to ensure that 
the hearing aid compatibility rules cover the greatest number of 
wireless handsets and reflect recent technological advances, the 
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) and Office of Engineering and 
Technology (OET) (jointly the Bureaus) adopt in this Third Report and 
Order, pursuant to authority delegated by the Commission, the most 
current hearing aid compatibility technical standard.
    2. The standard that the Bureaus adopt was developed through a 
voluntary, consensus-driven approach and is broadly supported by both 
industry and consumer groups. The Bureaus extend its appreciation for 
the efforts of the many parties involved in developing this standard. 
The Bureaus strongly encourage all parties to continue their efforts to 
refine and develop standards applicable to new telephone technologies 
that may create potential for interference with hearing aids.

II. Background

    3. To ensure that a selection of digital wireless handset models is 
available to consumers with hearing loss, the Commission's rules 
require both manufacturers and service providers to meet defined 
benchmarks for deploying hearing aid-compatible wireless phones. 
Specifically, manufacturers and service providers are required to offer 
minimum numbers or percentages of handset models that meet technical 
standards for compatibility with hearing aids operating in both 
acoustic coupling and inductive coupling modes. These benchmarks apply 
separately to each air interface for which the manufacturer or service 
provider offers handsets.
    4. To define and measure the hearing aid compatibility of handsets, 
the Commission's rules reference the 2007 revision of American National 
Standards Institute (ANSI) technical standard C63.19 (the ``2007 ANSI 
Standard''), formulated by the Accredited Standards Committee 
C63[supreg]--Electromagnetic Compatibility (ASC C63[supreg]). A handset 
is considered hearing aid-compatible for acoustic coupling if it meets 
a rating of at least M3 under the 2007 ANSI Standard. A handset is 
considered hearing aid-compatible for inductive coupling if it meets a 
rating of at least T3. The 2007 ANSI Standard specifies testing 
procedures for determining the M-rating and T-rating of digital 
wireless handsets that operate over the air interfaces that, at the 
time it was promulgated, were commonly used for wireless services in 
the 800-950 MHz and 1.6-2.5 GHz bands.
    5. ASC C63[supreg] recently adopted an updated version of ANSI 
C63.19 (the ``2011 ANSI Standard''). The 2011 ANSI Standard was 
published on May 27, 2011, and ASC C63[supreg] subsequently requested 
that the Commission adopt this newer version of the standard into its 
rules. The 2011 ANSI Standard expands the operating frequency range for 
covered wireless devices to 698 MHz-6 GHz. It also establishes a direct 
method for measuring the RF interference level of wireless devices to 
hearing aids, which enables testing procedures to be applied to 
operations over any RF air interface or protocol. In addition, the 2011 
ANSI Standard

[[Page 41920]]

exempts from testing certain low power transmitters that are unlikely 
to cause unacceptable RF interference to hearing aids and deems those 
transmitters to meet an acceptable M rating.
    6. To ensure that the hearing aid compatibility standard codified 
in the rules remains current, the Commission has delegated to the Chief 
of WTB and the Chief of OET limited authority to update its rules as 
revisions to ANSI technical standard C63.19 are published. In 
particular, the Commission delegated the authority to conduct a notice-
and-comment rulemaking proceeding on the use of future versions of the 
standard that do not raise major compliance issues. In addition, the 
Commission delegated authority to the Chief of WTB and the Chief of OET 
to conduct rulemaking proceedings to adopt future versions of the ANSI 
Standard that add frequency bands or air interfaces not covered by 
previous versions, if the new version does not impose materially 
greater obligations than those imposed on services already subject to 
the hearing aid compatibility rules. Under this delegated authority, 
the Bureaus shall set an effective date for new obligations imposed on 
manufacturers and Commercial Mobile Radio Service (CMRS) providers as a 
result of their adoption of technical standards for additional 
frequency bands and air interfaces that is no less than one year after 
release of the order for manufacturers and nationwide (Tier I) carriers 
and no less than 15 months after release for other service providers.
    7. On November 1, 2011, the Bureaus released the Second Further 
Notice, which drew upon the request of ASC C63[supreg] to adopt the 
2011 ANSI Standard as an applicable technical standard for evaluating 
the hearing aid compatibility of wireless handsets. See Amendment of 
the Commission's Rules Governing Hearing Aid Compatible Mobile 
Handsets, WT Docket No. 07-250, Second Further Notice of Proposed 
Rulemaking, 76 FR 77747, Dec. 14, 2011 (Second Further Notice). In the 
Second Further Notice, the Bureaus tentatively concluded to adopt the 
2011 ANSI Standard. The Bureaus proposed a 12-month transition period 
during which multi-band and/or multi-mode handset models with certain 
operations not covered by the 2007 ANSI Standard could continue to be 
tested under that standard and launched as hearing aid-compatible with 
appropriate disclosure. The Bureaus also sought comment on whether a 
transition period of two years, with an additional three months for 
non-Tier I service providers, would be appropriate before applying 
handset deployment benchmarks to handset operations over air interfaces 
and frequency bands that are newly covered under the 2011 ANSI 
Standard.

III. Discussion

A. Adoption of the 2011 ANSI Standard

    8. The Bureaus adopt the 2011 ANSI Standard, as proposed, as an 
applicable technical standard for evaluating the hearing aid 
compatibility of wireless phones. The commenters unanimously support 
this proposal. Codification of the 2011 ANSI Standard serves the public 
interest by applying the Commission's hearing aid compatibility rules 
to operations over additional frequency bands and air interface 
technologies. The new testing methodologies in the 2011 ANSI Standard 
will also greatly improve the measurement of potential hearing aid 
interference. The Bureaus find that adopting this new technical 
standard will not raise any major compliance issues or impose 
materially greater obligations with respect to newly covered frequency 
bands and air interfaces than those already imposed under the 
Commission's rules. The Bureaus also find no evidence that adopting the 
2011 ANSI Standard will impose significant costs on manufacturers or 
service providers. If compliance costs increase significantly in the 
future, the Bureaus will evaluate any such future costs and address 
them as necessary in the Commission's ongoing hearing aid compatibility 
proceedings.
    9. As set forth in the proposed rules in the Second Further Notice, 
the new rules will permit new handset models to be tested for 
certification using either the 2007 or 2011 ANSI Standard. All existing 
grants of certification issued under the 2007 ANSI Standard, as well as 
any pre-2010 grants under earlier versions of ANSI C63.19, remain 
valid, and no existing handset models will need to be retested or 
recertified as hearing aid-compatible. This is reflected in the rules 
both as proposed and as adopted. Consistent with existing rules that do 
not permit a handset model to be certified partly under one version of 
the ANSI Standard and partly under another, manufacturers must test 
each new handset model either exclusively under the 2007 ANSI Standard 
or exclusively under the 2011 ANSI Standard both during and after the 
12-month transition period.
    10. While supporting adoption of the 2011 ANSI Standard, some 
commenters ask the Commission to provide additional guidance on certain 
testing techniques under the standard so that test equipment can be 
developed and the relevant tests applied. In particular, Samsung 
Telecommunications America, LLC (Samsung) states that guidelines are 
required to facilitate use of the Modulation Interference Factor (MIF) 
testing technique. Similarly, some commenters contend that guidance is 
necessary to enable hearing aid compatibility testing under the 2011 
ANSI Standard for Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) 
transmissions.\1\ The Bureaus anticipate that the manufacturers and 
standards bodies working with OET will be able quickly to develop 
guidance for the MIF testing techniques and for determination of the M 
rating for VoLTE transmissions. To the extent such guidance has not 
been issued, OET will work with manufacturers to the extent of its 
authority so that the manufacturers can provide test reports that 
sufficiently demonstrate compliance with the rules as required by 
Section 2.1033(d) of the rules. The Bureaus recognize, however, that it 
may take longer to develop guidance for testing the inductive coupling 
capability of VoLTE transmissions under the 2011 ANSI Standard. 
Accordingly, until such guidance is issued, OET will adapt its 
certification procedures so that manufacturers can use the 2011 ANSI 
Standard for these handsets during a 12-month transition period. The 
Bureaus further note that under the newly adopted rules, as an 
alternative to using the 2011 ANSI Standard, handsets introduced during 
the 12-month transition period may be tested under the 2007 ANSI 
Standard for their operations that are covered under that standard and 
treated as hearing aid-compatible only for those operations. Finally, 
because Section 2.1033(d) currently refers to the U-ratings that were 
used in early versions of ANSI Standard C63.19, the Bureaus take this 
opportunity to conform this rule to the terminology used in the 2007 
and 2011 ANSI Standards. The Bureaus find good cause not to provide 
public notice and an opportunity for comment on this rule change under 
Section 553(b)(3)(B) of the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 
553(b)(3)(B), because the change is purely ministerial and necessary to 
conform the Commission's written rules to ANSI Standard C63.19.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ VoLTE refers to the native voice capability of an LTE 
system, and it is distinguished from Voice over Internet Protocol 
capability that may be provided over LTE through a third-party 
application. Questions regarding hearing aid compatibility testing 
for voice capabilities offered through third-party applications will 
be addressed separately by the Commission.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 41921]]

    11. In addition to the need for technical guidance, commenters 
raise two other issues related to the 2011 ANSI Standard. While it 
supports the standard's adoption, Hearing Industries Association (HIA) 
is concerned that certain low power devices that are deemed M4 without 
testing under the 2011 ANSI Standard because they are unlikely to cause 
interference may in fact cause interference to hearing aids. As HIA 
suggests, the Bureaus will work with ASC C63[supreg] to monitor how 
these handsets perform and will consider future action if needed. Also, 
several consumer groups, in light of the more accurate testing 
methodology under the 2011 ANSI Standard, advocate eliminating the 
existing rule that allows phones operating over the Global System for 
Mobile (GSM) air interface in the 1900 MHz band to be tested with 
reduced power under some circumstances. As the consumer groups 
acknowledge, this issue is outside the scope of the Second Further 
Notice, and the Commission will address it separately.

B. Transitional Testing and Disclosure Requirements for Multi-Band and 
Multi-Mode Handsets

    12. As proposed in the Second Further Notice and in Multi-Band 
Principles that were previously developed by a working group of 
industry and consumer representatives, the Bureaus adopt a 12-month 
transition period for testing of multi-band and multi-mode handsets 
that incorporate operations which are not covered under the 2007 ANSI 
Standard. Specifically, for the 12 months following Federal Register 
publication of rules adopting the 2011 ANSI Standard, as an alternative 
to using the 2011 ANSI Standard, the Bureaus will permit manufacturers 
to certify such handsets as hearing aid-compatible if they meet hearing 
aid compatibility criteria under the 2007 ANSI Standard for all 
operations covered under that standard, provided they meet requisite 
disclosure obligations. After the end of the 12-month transition 
period, any new handset model containing operations that are not 
covered under the 2007 ANSI Standard will have to meet hearing aid 
compatibility criteria under the 2011 ANSI Standard for all of its 
operations in order to be considered hearing aid-compatible over any 
air interface. Handset models that are certified under the transitional 
rule during the 12-month transition period, however, may continue to be 
counted and marketed as hearing aid-compatible after the transition 
period has ended without additional testing or certification.
    13. Several commenters explicitly support adopting a transition 
period for testing of handsets with newly covered operations, and none 
oppose this proposal. The transitional rule recognizes that at the time 
the new rules become effective, some manufacturers will be in product 
fabrication cycles where it will be impractical to initiate testing of 
upcoming multi-band or multi-mode handsets under the 2011 ANSI 
Standard. It is also possible, although unlikely, that multi-band or 
multi-mode handsets may be planned for near-term introduction that meet 
the hearing aid compatibility criteria for their operations that are 
covered under the 2007 ANSI Standard but do not meet those criteria for 
newly covered operations under the 2011 ANSI Standard. Accordingly, a 
transition period will ease the burden on handset manufacturers that 
are close to introducing handsets that would have met hearing aid 
compatibility requirements under the old rules, but that without an 
accommodation would require retesting, or in some cases redesign, to be 
hearing aid-compatible under the new rules.
    14. Most commenters that address the issue support the 12-month 
transition period proposed in the Second Further Notice as sufficient 
to meet manufacturers' needs. Telecommunications Industry Association 
(TIA) argues that a 24-month transition period is needed to allow 
sufficient time for laboratory equipment to be developed and tested, as 
well as to accommodate possible parts shortages and other unexpected 
developments. In its comments, TIA does not distinguish clearly between 
the transition period for multi-band and multi-mode testing and the 
transition period for applying deployment benchmarks, and to the extent 
it is concerned about uncertainties that may affect when models can be 
introduced to or withdrawn from the market, its arguments appear to 
pertain only to the separate transition for applying existing 
deployment benchmarks. To the extent TIA is concerned about the 
availability of testing equipment, the Bureaus note that nearly 10 
months have already passed since the 2011 ANSI Standard was published, 
and that manufacturers have had the opportunity to use that time to 
develop such equipment. The Bureaus are not persuaded that an 
additional 24 months is needed, particularly in light of the other 
comments from manufacturers and service providers indicating that 12 
months is sufficient.
    15. The Bureaus clarify that during the 12-month transition period, 
manufacturers that choose to test a multi-band and/or multi-mode 
handset model only for those operations covered under the 2007 ANSI 
Standard must use the 2007 ANSI Standard for such testing. Conversely, 
if manufacturers choose to use the 2011 ANSI Standard, they must test 
all operations in the handset that fall within the 2011 ANSI Standard, 
subject only to an accommodation for VoLTE transmissions. The Bureaus 
find that permitting use of the 2011 ANSI Standard to test only those 
operations covered under the 2007 ANSI Standard would be confusing and 
would discourage early testing of newly covered air interfaces and 
frequency bands. Accordingly, the Bureaus revise Section 
20.19(b)(3)(ii) of the proposed rule to clarify that the 2007 ANSI 
Standard must be used for these tests during the 12-month transition 
period. Some commenters express concern that, given the lack of 
guidance for testing the inductive coupling capability of VoLTE 
transmissions, a simple choice between these two alternatives would 
make it impossible to test any handset with VoLTE capability under the 
2011 ANSI Standard for any of its operations. In recognition of this 
concern, until such guidance is issued during the 12-month transition 
period, OET will permit handsets to be certified for inductive coupling 
under the 2011 ANSI Standard if they meet at least a T3 rating for all 
operations covered under that standard other than for VoLTE. 
Alternatively, to the extent a manufacturer is able to test inductive 
coupling capability for VoLTE transmissions under the 2011 ANSI 
Standard prior to the issuance of general guidance, OET will accept 
such testing if it meets OET's standards under 47 CFR 2.1033(d). 
Manufacturers and service providers will be required to disclose when 
handsets have not been tested for all their operations. The Bureaus 
expect that during the next 12 months, industry members will work with 
the standards bodies to finalize all guidance necessary to facilitate 
full application of the 2011 ANSI Standard, and the Bureaus will 
provide all possible support to this endeavor. In the event sufficient 
testing guidance has not been completed by the end of the 12-month 
period, the Bureaus will recommend that the Commission address this 
issue.
    16. The Commission's existing rules require manufacturers and 
service providers to inform consumers, using specific prescribed 
language, when handsets designated as hearing aid-

[[Page 41922]]

compatible have not been tested over some of their operations. See 47 
CFR 20.19(f)(2). This requirement will continue to apply to handsets 
introduced during the 12-month transition period that the manufacturer 
has not tested for newly covered operations. However, during the 12-
month transition period, there may be handsets that the manufacturer 
tests and finds not to meet hearing aid compatibility requirements for 
newly covered operations under the 2011 ANSI Standard. The manufacturer 
may submit such handsets for certification based on hearing aid 
compatibility ratings under the 2007 ANSI Standard for operations 
covered by that standard. The Bureaus proposed in the Second Further 
Notice to require manufacturers and service providers to disclose to 
consumers that operations in these handsets had been tested and found 
not to be hearing aid-compatible. The Bureaus further proposed not to 
require specific language for this disclosure, but to rely on a general 
disclosure requirement backed by case-by-case resolution of disputes. 
In their comments, several consumer groups and HIA each propose 
specific disclosure language that they say should be required.\2\ These 
parties argue that the Bureaus should prescribe language to fully 
inform consumers and to remove any possibility of inconsistent 
information. Other commenters, however, oppose prescribing language so 
as to maintain their flexibility to disclose the most relevant 
information about a particular handset model.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ The consumer groups also propose requirements regarding the 
font and location of the disclosure. These matters are outside the 
scope of the Second Further Notice, and they will be addressed 
separately by the Commission.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    17. While the Bureaus recognize that uniform disclosure language 
can provide benefits of certainty to both regulated entities and 
consumers, the Bureaus decline to prescribe such language here. 
Instead, the Bureaus require generally that manufacturers and service 
providers inform users by clear and effective means about any 
operations in a hearing aid-compatible handset model that they tested 
under the 2011 ANSI Standard and found not to meet hearing aid 
compatibility requirements under that standard. The Bureaus recognize 
that the Commission already requires specific disclosure language for 
handset models that have not been tested for some of their operations, 
and the rule continues to require such disclosure for these handsets, 
including handsets introduced during the 12-month transition period 
that the manufacturer has not tested for newly covered operations. See 
47 CFR 20.19(f)(2). Unlike that case, however, there is no consensus in 
the record on specific language to be used for handset models that the 
manufacturer has tested and found to be non-compliant under the 2011 
ANSI Standard for some of their operations, and indeed several 
commenters oppose prescribing specific language.
    18. In the absence of a consensus or a demonstrated problem, the 
Bureaus find it prudent not to prescribe language that may hinder 
regulated entities from developing and employing more effective 
disclosures. Moreover, as explained in the Second Further Notice, it is 
likely that few handsets that meet hearing aid compatibility standards 
for operations that are covered under the 2007 ANSI Standard will not 
also meet the hearing aid compatibility standards for newly covered 
operations. Nonetheless, the Bureaus note that the language proposed by 
the consumer groups appears to provide appropriate information to 
consumers, and to the extent it is applicable to their particular 
circumstances, the Bureaus encourage manufacturers and service 
providers to consider modeling their disclosures on this language. The 
Bureaus note that the consumer groups modeled their disclosure after 
the existing language for handsets with untested operations that was 
previously agreed to by representatives of all interests. The Bureaus 
will resolve any disputes over the adequacy of individual disclosures 
on a case-by-case basis. In addition, the Bureaus will revisit the 
possibility of prescribing disclosure language in the event disputes or 
misunderstandings develop in practice.
    19. The Bureaus find that the language in Section 20.19(f)(2) will 
also constitute sufficient disclosure for multi-band and/or multi-mode 
handsets tested under the 2011 ANSI Standard during the 12-month 
transition period that have not been tested for inductive coupling 
capability over VoLTE transmissions. Alternatively, manufacturers or 
service providers may develop more descriptive and informative 
disclosure language for these handsets. The Bureaus advise 
manufacturers and service providers to consult with WTB staff before 
using any alternative language.

C. Transition Period for Applying Deployment Benchmarks

    20. The 2011 ANSI Standard enables handsets to be tested for 
hearing aid compatibility over a broad range of frequency bands and 
independent of air interface technology. Therefore, following the 
adoption of this new standard and completion of the applicable 
transition period, the Commission's benchmark rules for hearing aid-
compatible handset deployment will apply to handset operations over 
additional air interfaces and frequency bands. Under 47 CFR 
20.19(k)(1), the Bureaus shall set the date when existing deployment 
benchmarks, and other attendant Section 20.19 hearing aid compatibility 
obligations, shall begin to apply to handset operations over newly 
covered air interfaces and frequency bands no earlier than one year 
after release of the order for manufacturers and Tier I carriers and no 
earlier than 15 months after release for other service providers.
    21. As proposed in the Second Further Notice, the Bureaus adopt a 
24-month transition period for manufacturers and Tier I service 
providers, and 27 months for non-Tier I service providers, to apply the 
Commission's existing deployment benchmarks to handset operations over 
air interfaces and frequency bands that are not covered under the 2007 
ANSI Standard but are covered under the 2011 ANSI Standard. Several 
consumer groups argue that the Bureaus should adopt the minimum 
permissible 12-month and 15-month transition periods in order to serve 
the needs of consumers with hearing loss, stating that the changes in 
the standard are not dramatic and that manufacturers and service 
providers have had ample time to anticipate any possible effects. 
Indeed, the consumer groups state that they would prefer an even 
tighter schedule. HIA also states generally that it supports 
expeditious transition periods. Other commenters contend, however, that 
a longer, two-year period is necessary to allow affected parties to 
adjust existing handset inventories.
    22. While the Bureaus recognize that a shorter transition period 
would benefit consumers if sufficient hearing aid-compatible models 
were in fact made available within that period to meet the benchmarks, 
the Bureaus are not persuaded that meeting these targets is generally 
feasible for manufacturers and service providers. Meeting deployment 
benchmarks requires not only that hearing aid-compatible handsets be 
designed and tested under the new standard, but that manufacturers and 
service providers adjust their portfolios over each air interface to 
include sufficient numbers of models to meet the benchmarks. Moreover, 
under the newly adopted rules, many new handset models may not even be 
tested under the new standard during the first 12

[[Page 41923]]

months. The Bureaus agree with CTIA--The Wireless Association (CTIA) 
that the 12-month transition period for testing will help ensure that 
handsets tested under the 2011 ANSI HAC Standard will be available to 
service providers and manufacturers so that they can be offered to 
consumers within the 24-month benchmark compliance period. The Bureaus 
also note that a two-year transition period for applying hearing aid 
compatibility benchmarks and other requirements is consistent with the 
Commission's proposals in a separate pending Notice for wireless 
handsets that fall outside the subset of CMRS that is currently covered 
by Section 20.19(a) of the rules. While the Bureaus expect 
manufacturers and service providers to begin offering hearing aid-
compatible handsets over the newly covered air interfaces and frequency 
bands well before the end of the transition period, the Bureaus agree 
with most of the commenters that a two-year period will appropriately 
accommodate their design, engineering, and marketing needs as they 
adjust their inventories to offer enough of these handset models to 
meet the benchmarks. In order to ease the burdens on non-Tier I service 
providers that often have difficulty obtaining the newest handset 
models, the Bureaus afford these providers an additional three months 
to meet newly applicable deployment benchmarks.

IV. Procedural Matters

A. Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    23. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as 
amended (RFA), an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was 
incorporated in the Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The 
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) and the Office of Engineering 
and Technology (OET) (jointly the Bureaus) sought written public 
comment on the proposals in the Second Further Notice, including 
comment on the IRFA. This present Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis 
(FRFA) conforms to the RFA.
    24. Although Section 213 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 
2000 provides that the RFA shall not apply to the rules and competitive 
bidding procedures for frequencies in the 746-806 MHz Band, the Bureaus 
believe that it would serve the public interest to analyze the possible 
significant economic impact of the proposed policy and rule changes in 
this band on small entities. Accordingly, this FRFA contains an 
analysis of this impact in connection with all spectrum that falls 
within the scope of this Third Report and Order, including spectrum in 
the 746-806 MHz Band.
1. Need for, and Objectives of, the Third Report and Order
    25. The Third Report and Order amends Section 20.19 of the 
Commission's rules by adopting the new ANSI C63.19-2011 standard (the 
``2011 ANSI Standard'') as an applicable hearing aid compatibility 
technical standard. The standard specifies testing procedures to 
establish the M-rating (acoustic coupling) and T-rating (inductive 
coupling) to gauge the hearing aid compatibility of handsets. 
Specifically, the Third Report and Order finds that adoption of the new 
2011 ANSI Standard will raise no major compliance issues and will not 
impose materially greater obligations with respect to proposed newly 
covered frequency bands and air interfaces than those already imposed 
under the Commission's rules. By bringing operations over additional 
frequency bands and air interfaces under the hearing aid compatibility 
regime, and by aligning the Commission's rules with the most current 
measurement practices, this rule change will help ensure that consumers 
with hearing loss are able to access wireless communications services 
through a wide selection of handsets without experiencing disabling 
interference or other technical obstacles.
    26. Under the rules that the Bureaus adopt, a manufacturer is 
permitted to submit handsets for certification using either ANSI 
C63.19-2007 (``the 2007 ANSI Standard'') or the 2011 ANSI Standard. A 
multi-band and/or multi-mode handset model launched earlier than 12 
months after Federal Register publication of these rules codifying the 
2011 ANSI Standard may be considered hearing aid-compatible if its 
operations that are covered under the current 2007 ANSI Standard meet 
the requirements for hearing aid compatibility, as determined under the 
2007 ANSI Standard. For multi-band and/or multi-mode handset models 
launched after this period, as well as for handset models that only 
include operations covered under the 2007 ANSI Standard, the Commission 
will continue to apply the current principle that a handset model must 
meet ANSI C63.19 technical standards over all frequency bands and air 
interfaces over which it operates in order to be considered hearing 
aid-compatible over any air interface. The purpose of the transitional 
rule for models launched within 12 months after Federal Register 
publication is to limit the compliance burdens on businesses, both 
large and small, with respect to handset models that are already 
deployed or in development at the time these final rules become 
effective.
    27. The Third Report and Order also adopts rules to phase in over a 
defined period of time expanded handset deployment requirements that 
result from adopting the 2011 ANSI Standard. The Bureaus adopt a two-
year period for applying the hearing aid-compatible handset deployment 
benchmarks to handset operations over newly covered air interfaces and 
frequency bands. The Bureaus also afford non-Tier I service providers 
three months additional time to meet these deployment benchmarks in 
order to account for the difficulties they face in timely obtaining new 
handset models. The purpose of this rule change is to create a time 
frame for implementation that would be the most efficient and least 
burdensome for businesses, both large and small, while ensuring that 
consumers with hearing loss have timely access to wireless 
communications.
    28. Finally, the Third Report and Order adopts a requirement that 
manufacturers and service providers disclose the hearing aid 
compatibility status of handsets that meet hearing aid compatibility 
criteria over previously covered frequency bands or air interfaces but 
have been tested and found not to meet such criteria over frequency 
bands or air interfaces that are outside the 2007 ANSI Standard. The 
Third Report and Order declines to require specific language for this 
disclosure. This rule change is a minimally intrusive means of ensuring 
that consumers with hearing loss have the information they need to 
choose a handset that will operate compatibly with their hearing aid or 
cochlear implant.
2. Summary of Significant Issues Raised by Public Comments in Response 
to the IRFA
    29. There were no comments filed that specifically addressed the 
rules and policies proposed in the IRFA.
3. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which 
the Proposed Rules Would Apply
    30. 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 rules adopted herein. 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. A ``small

[[Page 41924]]

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 Small Business 
Administration (SBA).
    31. Small Businesses, Small Organizations, and Small Governmental 
Jurisdictions. The Bureaus' action may, over time, affect small 
entities that are not easily categorized at present. The Bureaus 
therefore describe here, at the outset, three comprehensive, statutory 
small entity size standards. First, nationwide, there are a total of 
approximately 27.5 million small businesses, according to the SBA. In 
addition, a ``small organization'' is generally ``any not-for-profit 
enterprise which is independently owned and operated and is not 
dominant in its field.'' Nationwide, as of 2007, there were 
approximately 1,621,315 small organizations. Finally, 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.'' Census 
Bureau data for 2011 indicate that there were 89,476 local governmental 
jurisdictions in the United States. The Bureaus estimate that, of this 
total, as many as 88,506 entities may qualify as ``small governmental 
jurisdictions.'' Thus, the Bureaus estimate that most governmental 
jurisdictions are small.
    32. Cellular Licensees. The SBA has developed a small business size 
standard for small businesses in the category ``Wireless 
Telecommunications Carriers (except satellite).'' Under that SBA 
category, a business is small if it has 1,500 or fewer employees. The 
census category of ``Cellular and Other Wireless Telecommunications'' 
is no longer used and has been superseded by the larger category 
``Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except satellite)''. The Census 
Bureau defines this larger category to include ``* * * establishments 
engaged in operating and maintaining switching and transmission 
facilities to provide communications via the airwaves. Establishments 
in this industry have spectrum licenses and provide services using that 
spectrum, such as cellular phone services, paging services, wireless 
Internet access, and wireless video services.''
    33. In this category, the SBA has deemed a wireless 
telecommunications carrier to be small if it has fewer than 1,500 
employees. For this category of carriers, Census data for 2007 shows 
1,383 firms in this category. Of these 1,383 firms, only 15 
(approximately 1%) had 1,000 or more employees. While there is no 
precise Census data on the number of firms in the group with fewer than 
1,500 employees, it is clear that at least the 1,368 firms with fewer 
than 1,000 employees would be found in that group. Thus, at least 1,368 
of these 1,383 firms (approximately 99%) had fewer than 1,500 
employees. Accordingly, the Commission estimates that at least 1,368 
(approximately 99%) had fewer than 1,500 employees and, thus, would be 
considered small under the applicable SBA size standard.
    34. Broadband Personal Communications Service. The broadband 
personal communications services (PCS) spectrum is divided into six 
frequency blocks designated A through F, and the Commission has held 
auctions for each block. The Commission initially defined a ``small 
business'' for C- and F-Block licenses as an entity that has average 
gross revenues of $40 million or less in the three previous calendar 
years. For F-Block licenses, an additional small business size standard 
for ``very small business'' was added and is defined as an entity that, 
together with its affiliates, has average gross revenues of not more 
than $15 million for the preceding three calendar years. These small 
business size standards, in the context of broadband PCS auctions, have 
been approved by the SBA. No small businesses within the SBA-approved 
small business size standards bid successfully for licenses in Blocks A 
and B. There were 90 winning bidders that claimed small business status 
in the first two C-Block auctions. A total of 93 bidders that claimed 
small business status won approximately 40 percent of the 1,479 
licenses in the first auction for the D, E, and F Blocks. On April 15, 
1999, the Commission completed the re-auction of 347 C-, D-, E-, and F-
Block licenses in Auction No. 22. Of the 57 winning bidders in that 
auction, 48 claimed small business status and won 277 licenses.
    35. On January 26, 2001, the Commission completed the auction of 
422 C and F Block Broadband PCS licenses in Auction No. 35. Of the 35 
winning bidders in that auction, 29 claimed small business status. 
Subsequent events concerning Auction 35, including judicial and agency 
determinations, resulted in a total of 163 C and F Block licenses being 
available for grant. On February 15, 2005, the Commission completed an 
auction of 242 C-, D-, E-, and F-Block licenses in Auction No. 58. Of 
the 24 winning bidders in that auction, 16 claimed small business 
status and won 156 licenses. On May 21, 2007, the Commission completed 
an auction of 33 licenses in the A, C, and F Blocks in Auction No. 71. 
Of the 12 winning bidders in that auction, five claimed small business 
status and won 18 licenses. On August 20, 2008, the Commission 
completed the auction of 20 C-, D-, E-, and F-Block Broadband PCS 
licenses in Auction No. 78. Of the eight winning bidders for Broadband 
PCS licenses in that auction, six claimed small business status and won 
14 licenses.
    36. Specialized Mobile Radio. The Commission awards ``small 
entity'' bidding credits in auctions for Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) 
geographic area licenses in the 800 MHz and 900 MHz bands to firms that 
had revenues of no more than $15 million in each of the three previous 
calendar years. The Commission awards ``very small entity'' bidding 
credits to firms that had revenues of no more than $3 million in each 
of the three previous calendar years. The SBA has approved these small 
business size standards for the 900 MHz Service. The Commission has 
held auctions for geographic area licenses in the 800 MHz and 900 MHz 
bands. The 900 MHz SMR auction was completed in 1996. Sixty bidders 
claiming that they qualified as small businesses under the $15 million 
size standard won 263 geographic area licenses in the 900 MHz SMR band. 
The 800 MHz SMR auction for the upper 200 channels was conducted in 
1997. Ten bidders claiming that they qualified as small businesses 
under the $15 million size standard won 38 geographic area licenses for 
the upper 200 channels in the 800 MHz SMR band. A second auction for 
the 800 MHz band was conducted in 2002 and included 23 Basic Economic 
Area licenses. One bidder claiming small business status won five 
licenses.
    37. The auction of the 1,050 800 MHz SMR geographic area licenses 
for the General Category channels was conducted in 2000. Eleven bidders 
that won 108 geographic area licenses for the General Category channels 
in the 800 MHz SMR band qualified as small businesses under the $15 
million size standard. In an auction completed in 2000, a total of 
2,800 Economic Area licenses in the lower 80 channels of the 800 MHz 
SMR service were awarded. Of the 22 winning bidders, 19 claimed ``small 
business'' status and won 129 licenses. Thus, combining all three 
auctions, 40 winning bidders for geographic area licenses in the 800 
MHz SMR band claimed status as small business.
    38. In addition, there are numerous incumbent site-by-site SMR 
licensees and licensees with extended

[[Page 41925]]

implementation authorizations in the 800 and 900 MHz bands. The Bureaus 
do not know how many firms provide 800 MHz or 900 MHz geographic area 
SMR service pursuant to extended implementation authorizations, nor how 
many of these providers have annual revenues of no more than $15 
million. One firm has over $15 million in revenues. In addition, the 
Bureaus do not know how many of these firms have 1,500 or fewer 
employees. The Bureaus assume, for purposes of this analysis, that all 
of the remaining existing extended implementation authorizations are 
held by small entities, as that small business size standard is 
approved by the SBA.
    39. Advanced Wireless Services (1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz 
bands (AWS-1); 1915-1920 MHz, 1995-2000 MHz, 2020-2025 MHz and 2175-
2180 MHz bands (AWS-2); 2155-2175 MHz band (AWS-3)). For the AWS-1 
bands, the Commission has defined a ``small business'' as an entity 
with average annual gross revenues for the preceding three years not 
exceeding $40 million, and a ``very small business'' as an entity with 
average annual gross revenues for the preceding three years not 
exceeding $15 million. In 2006, the Commission conducted its first 
auction of AWS-1 licenses. In that initial AWS-1 auction, 31 winning 
bidders identified themselves as very small businesses. Twenty-six of 
the winning bidders identified themselves as small businesses. In a 
subsequent 2008 auction, the Commission offered 35 AWS-1 licenses. Four 
winning bidders identified themselves as very small businesses, and 
three of the winning bidders identified themselves as small businesses. 
For AWS-2 and AWS-3, although the Bureaus do not know for certain which 
entities are likely to apply for these frequencies, the Bureaus note 
that these bands are comparable to those used for cellular service and 
personal communications service. The Commission has not yet adopted 
size standards for the AWS-2 or AWS-3 bands but has proposed to treat 
both AWS-2 and AWS-3 similarly to broadband PCS service and AWS-1 
service due to the comparable capital requirements and other factors, 
such as issues involved in relocating incumbents and developing 
markets, technologies, and services.
    40. Rural Radiotelephone Service. The Commission has not adopted a 
size standard for small businesses specific to the Rural Radiotelephone 
Service. A significant subset of the Rural Radiotelephone Service is 
the Basic Exchange Telephone Radio System (``BETRS''). In the present 
context, the Bureaus will use the SBA's small business size standard 
applicable to Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite), 
i.e., an entity employing no more than 1,500 persons. There are 
approximately 1,000 licensees in the Rural Radiotelephone Service, and 
the Bureaus estimate that there are 1,000 or fewer small entity 
licensees in the Rural Radiotelephone Service that may be affected by 
the rules and policies adopted herein.
    41. Wireless Communications Services. This service can be used for 
fixed, mobile, radiolocation, and digital audio broadcasting satellite 
uses in the 2305-2320 MHz and 2345-2360 MHz bands. The Commission 
defined ``small business'' for the wireless communications services 
(WCS) auction as an entity with average gross revenues of $40 million 
for each of the three preceding years, and a ``very small business'' as 
an entity with average gross revenues of $15 million for each of the 
three preceding years. The SBA has approved these definitions. The 
Commission auctioned geographic area licenses in the WCS service. In 
the auction, which commenced on April 15, 1997 and closed on April 25, 
1997, there were seven bidders that won 31 licenses that qualified as 
very small business entities, and one bidder that won one license that 
qualified as a small business entity.
    42. 700 MHz Guard Band Licenses. In the 700 MHz Guard Band Order, 
the Commission adopted size standards for ``small businesses'' and 
``very small businesses'' for purposes of determining their eligibility 
for special provisions such as bidding credits and installment 
payments. A small business in this service is an entity that, together 
with its affiliates and controlling principals, has average gross 
revenues not exceeding $40 million for the preceding three years. 
Additionally, a ``very small business'' is an entity that, together 
with its affiliates and controlling principals, has average gross 
revenues that are not more than $15 million for the preceding three 
years. SBA approval of these definitions is not required. In 2000, the 
Commission conducted an auction of 52 Major Economic Area (``MEA'') 
licenses. Of the 104 licenses auctioned, 96 licenses were sold to nine 
bidders. Five of these bidders were small businesses that won a total 
of 26 licenses. A second auction of 700 MHz Guard Band licenses 
commenced and closed in 2001. All eight of the licenses auctioned were 
sold to three bidders. One of these bidders was a small business that 
won a total of two licenses.
    43. Upper 700 MHz Band Licenses. In the 700 MHz Second Report and 
Order, the Commission revised its rules regarding Upper 700 MHz 
licenses. On January 24, 2008, the Commission commenced Auction 73 in 
which several licenses in the Upper 700 MHz band were available for 
licensing: 12 Regional Economic Area Grouping licenses in the C Block, 
and one nationwide license in the D Block. The auction concluded on 
March 18, 2008, with 3 winning bidders claiming very small business 
status (those with attributable average annual gross revenues that do 
not exceed $15 million for the preceding three years) and winning five 
licenses.
    44. Lower 700 MHz Band Licenses. The Commission previously adopted 
criteria for defining three groups of small businesses for purposes of 
determining their eligibility for special provisions such as bidding 
credits. The Commission defined a ``small business'' as an entity that, 
together with its affiliates and controlling principals, has average 
gross revenues not exceeding $40 million for the preceding three years. 
A ``very small business'' is defined as an entity that, together with 
its affiliates and controlling principals, has average gross revenues 
that are not more than $15 million for the preceding three years. 
Additionally, the lower 700 MHz Service had a third category of small 
business status for Metropolitan/Rural Service Area (MSA/RSA) 
licenses--``entrepreneur''--which is defined as an entity that, 
together with its affiliates and controlling principals, has average 
gross revenues that are not more than $3 million for the preceding 
three years. The SBA approved these small size standards. An auction of 
740 licenses (one license in each of the 734 MSAs/RSAs and one license 
in each of the six Economic Area Groupings (EAGs)) was conducted in 
2002. Of the 740 licenses available for auction, 484 licenses were won 
by 102 winning bidders. Seventy-two of the winning bidders claimed 
small business, very small business or entrepreneur status and won 
licenses. A second auction commenced on May 28, 2003, closed on June 
13, 2003, and included 256 licenses. Seventeen winning bidders claimed 
small or very small business status, and nine winning bidders claimed 
entrepreneur status. In 2005, the Commission completed an auction of 5 
licenses in the Lower 700 MHz band. All three winning bidders claimed 
small business status.
    45. In 2007, the Commission reexamined its rules governing the 700 
MHz band. An auction of A, B and E block 700 MHz licenses was held in 
2008. Twenty winning bidders claimed small business status (those with

[[Page 41926]]

attributable average annual gross revenues that exceed $15 million and 
do not exceed $40 million for the preceding three years). Thirty three 
winning bidders claimed very small business status (those with 
attributable average annual gross revenues that do not exceed $15 
million for the preceding three years).
    46. Offshore Radiotelephone Service. This service operates on 
several UHF television broadcast channels that are not used for 
television broadcasting in the coastal areas of states bordering the 
Gulf of Mexico. There are presently approximately 55 licensees in this 
service. The Commission is unable to estimate at this time the number 
of Offshore Radiotelephone Service licensees that would qualify as 
small under the SBA's small business size standard for the category of 
Wireless Telecommunications Carriers (except Satellite). Under that SBA 
small business size standard, a business is small if it has 1,500 or 
fewer employees. Census data for 2007 show that there were 1,383 firms 
in this category that operated that year. Of those 1,383, 1,368 had 
fewer than 1,000 employees, and 15 firms had more than 1,000 employees. 
Thus under this category and the associated small business size 
standard, the majority of firms can be considered small.
    47. Broadband Radio Service and Educational Broadband Service. 
Broadband Radio Service systems, previously referred to as Multipoint 
Distribution Service (``MDS'') and Multichannel Multipoint Distribution 
Service (``MMDS'') systems, and ``wireless cable,'' transmit video 
programming to subscribers and provide two-way high speed data 
operations using the microwave frequencies of the Broadband Radio 
Service (``BRS'') and Educational Broadband Service (``EBS'') 
(previously referred to as the Instructional Television Fixed Service 
(``ITFS'')). In connection with the 1996 BRS auction, the Commission 
established a small business size standard as an entity that had annual 
average gross revenues of no more than $40 million in the previous 
three calendar years. The BRS auctions resulted in 67 successful 
bidders obtaining licensing opportunities for 493 Basic Trading Areas 
(``BTAs''). Of the 67 auction winners, 61 met the definition of a small 
business. BRS also includes licensees of stations authorized prior to 
the auction. At this time, the Bureaus estimate that of the 61 small 
business BRS auction winners, 48 remain small business licensees. In 
addition to the 48 small businesses that hold BTA authorizations, there 
are approximately 392 incumbent BRS licensees that are considered small 
entities. After adding the number of small business auction licensees 
to the number of incumbent licensees not already counted, the Bureaus 
find that there are currently approximately 440 BRS licensees that are 
defined as small businesses under either the SBA standard or the 
Commission's rules. In 2009, the Commission conducted Auction 86, the 
sale of 78 licenses in the BRS areas. The Commission offered three 
levels of bidding credits: (i) A bidder with attributed average annual 
gross revenues that exceed $15 million and do not exceed $40 million 
for the preceding three years (small business) received a 15 percent 
discount on its winning bid; (ii) a bidder with attributed average 
annual gross revenues that exceed $3 million and do not exceed $15 
million for the preceding three years (very small business) received a 
25 percent discount on its winning bid; and (iii) a bidder with 
attributed average annual gross revenues that do not exceed $3 million 
for the preceding three years (entrepreneur) received a 35 percent 
discount on its winning bid. Auction 86 concluded in 2009 with the sale 
of 61 licenses. Of the ten winning bidders, two bidders that claimed 
small business status won four licenses; one bidder that claimed very 
small business status won three licenses; and two bidders that claimed 
entrepreneur status won six licenses.
    48. In addition, the SBA's Cable Television Distribution Services 
small business size standard is applicable to EBS. There are presently 
2,032 EBS licensees. All but 100 of these licenses are held by 
educational institutions. Educational institutions are included in this 
analysis as small entities. Thus, the Bureaus estimate that at least 
1,932 licensees are small businesses. Since 2007, Cable Television 
Distribution Services have been defined within the broad economic 
census category of Wired Telecommunications Carriers; that category is 
defined as follows: ``This industry comprises establishments primarily 
engaged in operating and/or providing access to transmission facilities 
and infrastructure that they own and/or lease for the transmission of 
voice, data, text, sound, and video using wired telecommunications 
networks. Transmission facilities may be based on a single technology 
or a combination of technologies.'' For these services, the Commission 
uses the SBA small business size standard for the category ``Wireless 
Telecommunications Carriers (except satellite),'' which is 1,500 or 
fewer employees. To gauge small business prevalence for these cable 
services the Bureaus must, however, use the most current census data. 
Census data for 2007 show that there were 1,383 firms that operated 
that year. Of those 1,383, 1,368 had fewer than 100 employees, and 15 
firms had more than 100 employees. Thus under this category and the 
associated small business size standard, the majority of firms can be 
considered small.
    49. Government Transfer Bands. The Commission adopted small 
business size standards for the unpaired 1390-1392 MHz, 1670-1675 MHz, 
and the paired 1392-1395 MHz and 1432-1435 MHz bands. Specifically, 
with respect to these bands, the Commission defined an entity with 
average annual gross revenues for the three preceding years not 
exceeding $40 million as a ``small business,'' and an entity with 
average annual gross revenues for the three preceding years not 
exceeding $15 million as a ``very small business.'' SBA has approved 
these small business size standards for the aforementioned bands. 
Correspondingly, the Commission adopted a bidding credit of 15 percent 
for ``small businesses'' and a bidding credit of 25 percent for ``very 
small businesses.'' This bidding credit structure was found to have 
been consistent with the Commission's schedule of bidding credits, 
which may be found at Section 1.2110(f)(2) of the Commission's rules. 
The Commission found that these two definitions will provide a variety 
of businesses seeking to provide a variety of services with 
opportunities to participate in the auction of licenses for this 
spectrum and will afford such licensees, who may have varying capital 
costs, substantial flexibility for the provision of services. The 
Commission noted that it had long recognized that bidding preferences 
for qualifying bidders provide such bidders with an opportunity to 
compete successfully against large, well-financed entities. The 
Commission also noted that it had found that the use of tiered or 
graduated small business definitions is useful in furthering its 
mandate under Section 309(j) to promote opportunities for and 
disseminate licenses to a wide variety of applicants. An auction for 
one license in the 1670-1674 MHz band commenced on April 30, 2003 and 
closed the same day. One license was awarded. The winning bidder was 
not a small entity.
    50. Radio and Television Broadcasting and Wireless Communications 
Equipment Manufacturing. The Census Bureau defines this category as 
follows: ``This industry comprises establishments

[[Page 41927]]

primarily engaged in manufacturing radio and television broadcast and 
wireless communications equipment. Examples of products made by these 
establishments are: Transmitting and receiving antennas, cable 
television equipment, GPS equipment, pagers, cellular phones, mobile 
communications equipment, and radio and television studio and 
broadcasting equipment.'' The SBA has developed a small business size 
standard for Radio and Television Broadcasting and Wireless 
Communications Equipment Manufacturing, which is: All such firms having 
750 or fewer employees. According to Census Bureau data for 2007, there 
were a total of 939 establishments in this category that operated for 
part or all of the entire year. Of this total, 784 had fewer than 500 
employees and 155 had more than 100 employees. Thus, under this size 
standard, the majority of firms can be considered small.
4. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other 
Compliance Requirements for Small Entities
    51. The rules will not impose any new reporting or recordkeeping 
requirements on small entities. As described in Section A of this FRFA, 
manufacturers and service providers, including small entities, will be 
required after a transition period, when applying the existing hearing 
aid-compatible handset deployment benchmarks, to include handset 
operations over air interfaces and frequency bands that are newly 
covered under the 2011 ANSI Standard. Non-Tier I carriers, many of 
which are small entities, will have an additional three months to meet 
this requirement. For handset models introduced during the first 12 
months after the rules are published in the Federal Register, 
manufacturers and service providers will be required, when disclosing 
hearing aid compatibility information about a handset, to indicate if a 
handset has been tested and found not to meet hearing aid compatibility 
criteria over frequency bands and air interfaces that are outside the 
2007 ANSI Standard. Manufacturers and service providers, including 
small entities, are already subject to similar requirements under the 
existing hearing aid compatibility rules, and the new rules will not 
impose materially greater compliance obligations on these entities.
5. Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small 
Entities, and Significant Alternatives Considered
    52. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant, 
specifically small business alternatives that it has considered in 
developing its 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 and 
reporting requirements under the rule for such 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 such small 
entities.''
    53. In adopting the Third Report and Order, the Bureaus codify the 
new 2011 ANSI Standard as an applicable technical standard, in addition 
to the 2007 ANSI Standard, for evaluating the hearing aid compatibility 
of wireless phones. Permitting a choice of standards within the rule 
may ease burdens on manufacturers, including small entities. 
Commenters, including those representing the interests of small 
wireless carriers, requested that the Bureaus clarify that handsets 
already certified under the 2007 ANSI Standard will continue to be 
treated as hearing aid-compatible without any need for recertification. 
Under the new rules, existing handset models will not need to be 
retested or recertified as hearing aid-compatible.
    54. The Bureaus also adopt a 12-month transition period for testing 
of new multi-band and multi-mode handset models in order to reduce 
burdens on small entities and others with respect to handset models 
that are currently in development. Under the new rules, multi-band and 
multi-mode handset models launched earlier than 12 months after Federal 
Register publication of these rule changes will be considered hearing 
aid-compatible for operations covered under the 2007 ANSI Standard even 
if they are not certified as hearing aid-compatible for their other 
operations. The Bureaus considered the alternative proposal of a 24-
month testing transition period. The Bureaus conclude based on all the 
comments that a 12-month period is sufficient for manufacturers, 
including small entities, to arrange for testing under the new rules of 
their products that are in development, and that a shorter period would 
better meet the needs of consumers with hearing loss.
    55. For handsets launched during the 12-month transition period 
that meet hearing aid compatibility criteria over previously covered 
air interfaces and frequency bands, but that have been tested and found 
not to meet such criteria over one or more newly covered air interfaces 
or frequency bands, the new rules require that manufacturers and 
service providers disclose to consumers by clear and effective means 
that the handset does not meet hearing aid compatibility ratings for 
some of its operations. The Bureaus considered the alternative proposal 
of prescribing specific disclosure language, but the Bureaus find it 
more prudent to rely on a general disclosure requirement backed by 
case-by-case resolution in the event of disputes given the lack of 
consensus for specific language and the fact that the situation is 
likely rarely to occur. Nonetheless, to the extent it will reduce 
burdens for affected small entities, the Bureaus encourage them to 
consider modeling their disclosures on language proposed by groups 
representing the interest of consumers with hearing loss.
    56. Finally, the Bureaus adopt a transition period before the 
deployment benchmark rules set forth in paragraphs (c) and (d) of 
Section 20.19 begin to apply to handset operations over newly covered 
frequency bands and air interfaces. The Bureaus sought comment on 
several alternatives in order to appropriately balance the design, 
engineering, and marketing requirements of manufacturers and service 
providers with the needs of consumers with hearing loss for compatible 
handsets that operate over the newest network technologies. While the 
Bureaus adopt a 24-month transition period for manufacturers and Tier I 
service providers, the Bureaus afford non-Tier I service providers, 
including small entities, an additional three months before the 
expanded benchmark requirements become applicable to them. The Bureaus 
take this step in order to ease the burden of compliance on these 
entities that often have difficulty obtaining the newest handset 
models.
    57. Report to Congress: The Commission will send a copy of the 
Third Report and Order, including this FRFA, in a report to be sent to 
Congress pursuant to the Congressional Review Act. In addition, the 
Commission will send a copy of the Third Report and Order, including 
this FRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the SBA. A copy of the 
Third Report and Order and FRFA (or summaries thereof) will also be 
published in the Federal Register.

B. Final Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis

    58. This Third Report and Order does not contain information 
collection(s) subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), 
Public Law 104-13. In addition, therefore, it does not contain any new 
or modified information collection burden for small business

[[Page 41928]]

concerns with fewer than 25 employees, pursuant to the Small Business 
Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 
3506(c)(4).

C. Congressional Review Act

    59. The Commission will include a copy of this Third 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

    60. Accordingly, it is ordered, pursuant to sections 4(i), 303(r), 
and 710 of the Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 303(r), 
and 610, that this Third Report and Order is hereby adopted.
    61. It is further ordered that Parts 2 and 20 of the Commission's 
Rules, 47 CFR Parts 2 and 20, ARE AMENDED, effective 30 days after 
publication of the Third Report and Order in the Federal Register.
    62. It is further ordered that the Commission's Consumer & 
Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, shall send a 
copy of this Third Report and Order, including the Final Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small 
Business Administration.
    63. This action is taken under delegated authority pursuant to 
Sections 0.241(a)(1), 0.331(d), and 20.19(k) of the Commission's rules, 
47 CFR 0.241(a)(1), 0.331(d), and 20.19(k).

List of Subjects

47 CFR Part 2

    Communications equipment, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, 
Telecommunications.

47 CFR Part 20

    Communications common carriers, Communications equipment, 
Incorporation by reference, Radio.

Federal Communications Commission.
Jane E. Jackson,
Associate Chief, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau.
Ronald Repasi,
Deputy Chief, Office of Engineering and Technology.

Final Rules

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal 
Communications Commission amends parts 2 and 20 of title 47 of the Code 
of Federal Regulations as follows:

PART 2--FREQUENCY ALLOCATIONS AND RADIO TREATY MATTERS; GENERAL 
RULES AND REGULATIONS

0
1. The authority citation for part 2 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  47 U.S.C. 154, 302a, 303, and 336, unless otherwise 
noted.


0
2. Section 2.1033 is amended by revising paragraph (d) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  2.1033  Application for certification.

* * * * *
    (d) Applications for certification of equipment operating under 
part 20 of this chapter, that a manufacturer is seeking to certify as 
hearing aid compatible, as set forth in Sec.  20.19 of this chapter, 
shall include a statement indicating compliance with the test 
requirements of Sec.  20.19 of this chapter and indicating the 
appropriate M-rating and T-rating for the equipment. The manufacturer 
of the equipment shall be responsible for maintaining the test results.
* * * * *

PART 20--COMMERCIAL MOBILE SERVICES

0
3. The authority citation for part 20 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  47 U.S.C. 154, 160, 201, 251-254, 301, 303, 316, and 
332 unless otherwise noted. Section 20.12 is also issued under 47 
U.S.C. 1302.


0
4. Section 20.19 is amended by:
0
a. Revising paragraph (a)(1),
0
b. Removing the introductory text from paragraph (b),
0
c. Revising paragraphs (b)(1) and (b)(2),
0
d. Adding paragraph (b)(3),
0
e. Removing paragraph (b)(5),
0
f. Revising paragraphs (c) introductory text, (d) introductory text,
0
g. Adding introductory text to paragraph (f)(2),
0
h. Revising paragraph (f)(2)(i), and
0
i. Adding paragraphs (f)(2)(iii) and (l).
    The additions and revisions read as follows:


Sec.  20.19  Hearing aid-compatible mobile handsets.

    (a) * * *
    (1) The hearing aid compatibility requirements of this section 
apply to providers of digital CMRS in the United States to the extent 
that they offer real-time, two-way switched voice or data service that 
is interconnected with the public switched network and utilizes an in-
network switching facility that enables the provider to reuse 
frequencies and accomplish seamless hand-offs of subscriber calls, and 
such service is provided over frequencies in the 698 MHz to 6 GHz 
bands.
* * * * *
    (b) Hearing aid compatibility; technical standards--(1) For radio 
frequency interference. A wireless handset submitted for equipment 
certification or for a permissive change relating to hearing aid 
compatibility must meet, at a minimum, the M3 rating associated with 
the technical standard set forth in either the standard document 
``American National Standard Methods of Measurement of Compatibility 
Between Wireless Communication Devices and Hearing Aids,'' ANSI C63.19-
2007 or ANSI C63.19-2011. Any grants of certification issued before 
January 1, 2010, under previous versions of ANSI C63.19 remain valid 
for hearing aid compatibility purposes.
    (2) For inductive coupling. A wireless handset submitted for 
equipment certification or for a permissive change relating to hearing 
aid compatibility must meet, at a minimum, the T3 rating associated 
with the technical standard set forth in either the standard document 
``American National Standard Methods of Measurement of Compatibility 
Between Wireless Communication Devices and Hearing Aids,'' ANSI C63.19-
2007 or ANSI C63.19-2011. Any grants of certification issued before 
January 1, 2010, under previous versions of ANSI C63.19 remain valid 
for hearing aid compatibility purposes.
    (3) Handsets operating over multiple frequency bands or air 
interfaces. (i) Except as provided in paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of this 
section, a wireless handset used for digital CMRS only over the 698 MHz 
to 6 GHz frequency bands is hearing aid-compatible with regard to radio 
frequency interference or inductive coupling if it meets the applicable 
technical standard set forth in paragraph (b)(1) or (b)(2) of this 
section for all frequency bands and air interfaces over which it 
operates, and the handset has been certified as compliant with the test 
requirements for the applicable standard pursuant to Sec.  2.1033(d) of 
this chapter. A wireless handset that incorporates operations outside 
the 698 MHz to 6 GHz frequency bands is hearing aid-compatible if the 
handset otherwise satisfies the requirements of this paragraph.
    (ii) A handset that is introduced by the manufacturer prior to July 
17, 2013, and that does not meet the requirements for hearing aid 
compatibility under paragraph (b)(3)(i) of this section, is hearing 
aid-compatible for radio

[[Page 41929]]

frequency interference or inductive coupling only with respect to those 
frequency bands and air interfaces for which technical standards are 
stated in ANSI C63.19-2007 if it meets, at a minimum, an M3 rating (for 
radio frequency interference) or a T3 rating (for inductive coupling) 
under ANSI C63.19-2007 for all such frequency bands and air interfaces 
over which it operates, and the handset has been certified as compliant 
with the test requirements for the applicable standard pursuant to 
Sec.  2.1033(d) of this chapter.
* * * * *
    (c) Phase-in of requirements relating to radio frequency 
interference. The following applies to each manufacturer and service 
provider that offers wireless handsets used in the delivery of the 
services specified in paragraph (a) of this section and that does not 
fall within the de minimis exception set forth in paragraph (e) of this 
section. However, prior to July 17, 2014 for manufacturers and Tier I 
carriers and October 17, 2014 for service providers other than Tier I 
carriers, the requirements of this section do not apply to handset 
operations over frequency bands and air interfaces for which technical 
standards are not stated in ANSI C63.19-2007.
* * * * *
    (d) Phase-in of requirements relating to inductive coupling 
capability. The following applies to each manufacturer and service 
provider that offers wireless handsets used in the delivery of the 
services specified in paragraph (a) of this section and that does not 
fall within the de minimis exception set forth in paragraph (e) of this 
section. However, prior to July 17, 2014 for manufacturers and Tier I 
carriers and October 17, 2014 for service providers other than Tier I 
carriers, the requirements of this section do not apply to handset 
operations over frequency bands and air interfaces for which technical 
standards are not stated in ANSI C63.19-2007.
* * * * *
    (f) * * *
    (2) Disclosure requirements relating to handsets treated as hearing 
aid-compatible over fewer than all their operations.
    (i) Each manufacturer and service provider shall ensure that, 
wherever it provides hearing aid compatibility ratings for a handset 
that is considered hearing aid-compatible under paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of 
this section only with respect to those frequency bands and air 
interfaces for which technical standards are stated in ANSI C63.19-2007 
and that has not been tested for hearing aid compatibility under ANSI 
C63.19-2011, or any handset that operates over frequencies outside of 
the 698 MHz to 6 GHz bands, it discloses to consumers, by clear and 
effective means (e.g., inclusion of call-out cards or other media, 
revisions to packaging materials, supplying of information on Web 
sites), that the handset has not been rated for hearing aid 
compatibility with respect to some of its operation(s). This disclosure 
shall include the following language:

    This phone has been tested and rated for use with hearing aids 
for some of the wireless technologies that it uses. However, there 
may be some newer wireless technologies used in this phone that have 
not been tested yet for use with hearing aids. It is important to 
try the different features of this phone thoroughly and in different 
locations, using your hearing aid or cochlear implant, to determine 
if you hear any interfering noise. Consult your service provider or 
the manufacturer of this phone for information on hearing aid 
compatibility. If you have questions about return or exchange 
policies, consult your service provider or phone retailer.
* * * * *
    (iii) Each manufacturer and service provider shall ensure that, 
wherever it provides hearing aid compatibility ratings for a handset 
that is considered hearing aid-compatible under paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of 
this section only with respect to those frequency bands and air 
interfaces for which technical standards are stated in ANSI C63.19-
2007, and that the manufacturer has tested and found not to meet 
hearing aid compatibility requirements under ANSI C63.19-2011 for 
operations over one or more air interfaces or frequency bands for which 
technical standards are not stated in ANSI C63.19-2007, it discloses to 
consumers, by clear and effective means (e.g., inclusion of call-out 
cards or other media, revisions to packaging materials, supplying of 
information on Web sites), that the handset does not meet the relevant 
rating or ratings with respect to such operation(s).
* * * * *
    (l) The standards required in this section are incorporated by 
reference into this section with the approval of the Director of the 
Federal Register under 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51. To enforce 
any edition other than those specified in this section, the FCC must 
publish notice of change in the Federal Register and the material must 
be available to the public. All approved material is available for 
inspection at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 445 12th St. 
SW., Reference Information Center, Room CY-A257, Washington, DC 20554 
and is available from the sources indicated below. It is also available 
for inspection at the National Archives and Records Administration 
(NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, 
call 202-741-6030 or go to http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/code_of_federal_regulations/ibr_locations.htm
    (1) IEEE Operations Center, 445 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854-
4141, (732) 981-0060, http://www.ieee.org/portal/site.

(i) ANSI C63.19-2007, American National Standard Methods of Measurement 
of Compatibility between Wireless Communication Devices and Hearing 
Aids, June 8, 2007
(ii) ANSI C63.19-2011, American National Standard Methods of 
Measurement of Compatibility between Wireless Communication Devices and 
Hearing Aids, May 27, 2011
    (2) [Reserved]


[FR Doc. 2012-17113 Filed 7-16-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P