[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 112 (Tuesday, June 11, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 34922-34928]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-13696]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 15

[ET Docket No. 10-26; FCC 13-59]


Definition of Auditory Assistance Device

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This document modifies the definition of ``auditory assistance 
device'' in the Commission's rules to permit these devices to be used 
by anyone at any location for simultaneous language interpretation 
(simultaneous translation), where the spoken words are translated 
continuously in near real time. The revised definition permits 
unlicensed auditory assistance devices to be used to provide either 
auditory assistance or simultaneous translation, or both, without 
impeding these devices' capability to provide auditory assistance to 
persons with disabilities. This document also lowers the limit for 
these auditory assistance devices' unwanted emissions to the limits 
provided for other unlicensed devices in the Commission's rules.

DATES: Effective July 11, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Patrick Forster, (202) 418-7061, 
Policy and Rules Division, Office of Engineering and Technology, (202) 
418-2290, Patrick.Forster@fcc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Report 
and Order, ET Docket No. 10-26, adopted May 1, 2013, and released May 
2, 2013, FCC 13-59. The full text of the Report and Order is available 
on the Commission's Internet site at www.fcc.gov. It is also available 
for inspection and copying during regular business hours in the FCC 
Reference Center (Room CY-A257), 445 12th Street SW., Washington, DC 
20554. The full text of the Report and Order also may be purchased from 
the Commission's duplication contractor, Best Copy and Printing Inc., 
Portals II, 445 12th St. SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554; 
telephone (202) 488-5300; fax (202) 488-5563; email FCC@BCPIWEB.COM.

Summary of the Report and Order

    1. The Report and Order modified the definition of ``auditory 
assistance device'' in part 15 of the Commission's rules to expand the 
permissible uses of these devices beyond solely providing auditory 
assistance to persons with disabilities (e.g., amplification of sounds 
for the hard of hearing and audio description for the blind) to include 
simultaneous translation for anyone at any location. This action 
harmonized the part 15 definition of ``auditory assistance device'' 
with the definition of ``auditory assistance communications'' in part 
95 of the Commission's rules. Under this expanded definition, part 15 
auditory assistance devices that operate in the 72-73 MHz, 74.6-74.8 
MHz, and 75.2-76 MHz (72-76 MHz) bands on an unlicensed basis may 
provide auditory assistance or simultaneous translation, or both, to 
anyone at any location.
    2. The Report and Order also lowered the limit for part 15 auditory 
assistance devices' unwanted emissions to the limits that are provided 
in Sec.  15.209 of the Commission's rules to help reduce the likelihood 
that the unwanted emissions from increased use of these devices for 
simultaneous translation will degrade the reception of very high 
frequency television (VHF TV) channels 2-4 (54-72 MHz) and 5-6 (76-88 
MHz) and help improve the reception of VHF TV service.
    3. On September 9, 2011, the Commission adopted an Order and Notice 
of Proposed Rulemaking (Auditory Assistance Device NPRM) in this 
proceeding in which it proposed to modify the part 15 definition of 
``auditory assistance device'' to expand the permissible uses of these 
devices to include simultaneous language interpretation by any person 
at any location, in the same manner as permitted under part 95 for Low 
Power Radio Service stations that operate in the 216-217 MHz band. The 
Commission took this action in response to a petition for declaratory 
ruling filed by Williams Sound Corporation (Williams Sound), a provider 
of wireless auditory assistance devices.
    4. In the Auditory Assistance Device NPRM, the Commission sought 
comment on the advantages and disadvantages and potential benefits of 
expanding the permissible uses of part 15 auditory assistance devices 
and any qualitative or quantitative costs associated with this 
proposal. It also sought 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 and whether additional 
safeguards or changes to the technical requirements for these devices 
would be necessary to prevent harmful interference to those services. 
In addition, the Commission sought comment on whether a more 
restrictive limit for part 15 auditory assistance devices' out-of-band 
emissions is needed to prevent harmful interference to authorized 
services in the 72-76 MHz and adjacent bands and improve the reception 
of VHF TV channels 2-6.
    5. Part 15 auditory assistance devices may operate in a full duplex 
mode of operation using necessary bandwidths up to 200 kilohertz wide. 
All fundamental emissions must be contained wholly within the 72-73 
MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and 75.2-76 MHz bands with a maximum field strength 
of 80 millivolts per meter (mV/m) measured at a distance of 3 meters, 
which is equivalent to a maximum effective radiated power (ERP) of 1.2 
milliwatts (mW). The field strength of any unwanted emissions 
(emissions outside of the 200 kilohertz necessary bandwidth) must not 
exceed 1,500 microvolts per meter ([mu]V/m) measured at a distance of 3 
meters, which is equivalent to an ERP of 0.4 microwatts ([mu]W). In the 
Auditory Assistance Device NPRM, the Commission asked what out-of-band 
emissions limit would be appropriate--the Sec.  15.209 limit, the 
unlicensed TV bands device limit, or some other limit--what would be an 
appropriate transition period for compliance, and whether currently 
approved part 15 auditory assistance devices should be grandfathered 
for a limited time or permanently. In the Report and Order, the 
Commission noted that although it used the term ``out-of-band'' 
emissions in the Auditory Assistance Devices NPRM when referring to 
emissions outside of the frequency bands in which the auditory 
assistance devices operate (paras. 20 and 21), the correct term to 
describe the emissions outside of the necessary bandwidth of the 
transmitting system is ``unwanted'' emissions, and so it used the term 
``unwanted'' emissions where appropriate throughout the Report and 
Order.

Discussion

    6. In the Report and Order, the Commission modified the definition 
of

[[Page 34923]]

``auditory assistance device'' in part 15 of its rules to expand the 
permissible uses of these devices to include simultaneous language 
interpretation. The expanded definition permits the use of part 15 
auditory assistance devices by any person requiring translation 
services at any location. The Commission concluded that the public 
interest would be served by expanding the permissible uses of part 15 
auditory assistance devices to include simultaneous translation. It 
also concluded that the benefits of expanding service to the public far 
outweighed any additional costs associated with implementing these 
changes. The majority of commenters, providers of auditory assistance 
devices and/or services, submitted that expanding the permissible uses 
of part 15 auditory assistance devices to include simultaneous 
interpretation would be in the public interest. The majority of 
commenters also agreed with the Commission's tentative assessment that 
expanding the permissible uses of part 15 auditory assistance devices 
to include simultaneous translation would not increase costs to the 
public.
    7. The Commission agreed that expanding the permissible uses of 
part 15 auditory assistance devices to include simultaneous translation 
was in the public interest and would not increase costs. It determined 
that permitting part 15 auditory assistance devices to be used for 
simultaneous translation could reduce the costs of translation services 
by increasing competition and allowing providers to use less expensive 
RF equipment for simultaneous translation instead of higher-cost 
infrared technology equipment. It also determined that expanding these 
devices permissible uses would likely reduce auditory assistance 
equipment costs, result in economies of scale in production and 
marketing, and introduce more competition for such devices. The 
Commission decided that this action would promote more flexible and 
efficient use of part 15 auditory assistance devices by allowing them 
to be used for either auditory assistance or simultaneous translation, 
or both, without impeding their ability to provide auditory assistance 
to persons with disabilities. It also decided that permitting such use 
of these devices would increase the comprehension of persons that need 
language translation in public venues while lowering the ambient noise 
level for all listeners, thereby enhancing the auditory experience of 
all listeners.
    8. The Commission was not persuaded that allowing part 15 auditory 
assistance devices to be used for simultaneous language interpretation 
would penalize entities that provide translation services via higher-
cost infrared technology equipment. Instead, it determined that the 
marketplace provides the best measure for determining which technology 
is optimal for addressing the translation needs of users. This approach 
would permit each interpreter to analyze customers' needs in its market 
area and employ the technology that best meets their needs. For 
example, some customers may prefer the inherent security and privacy of 
infrared technology over the capabilities of RF technology. The 
Commission also decided that part 15 auditory assistance devices' use 
of the 72-76 MHz bands should not be limited only to providing 
assistance to persons with disabilities under the Americans with 
Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Although part 15 auditory assistance 
devices had previously been restricted under the Commission's rules to 
solely providing aural assistance to persons with disabilities, 
unlicensed use of the 72-76 MHz bands is not restricted under the ADA 
or the Communications Act of 1934 to only uses covered by the ADA.
    9. The Commission also concluded that permitting part 15 auditory 
assistance devices to be used for simultaneous language interpretation 
would not, per se, increase the potential for harmful interference 
(i.e., interference that seriously degrades, obstructs, or repeatedly 
interrupts a radicommunication service) to authorized services in the 
72-76 MHz and adjacent bands, especially since no commenter had 
expressed concern that increased use of part 15 auditory assistance 
devices for simultaneous interpretation would cause harmful 
interference to authorized services. As the Commission noted in the 
Auditory Assistance Device NPRM, the interference potential of a part 
15 auditory assistance device is generally unrelated to the number of 
users or type of use. Rather, the interference potential is a function 
of the device's operating characteristics and parameters. There is no 
difference in the interference potential of a part 15 auditory 
assistance device whether it is used for auditory assistance or 
simultaneous translation.
    10. The Commission agreed with commenters that the existing limit 
for part 15 auditory assistance devices' fundamental emissions was 
already sufficient to prevent increased use of these devices for 
simultaneous translation from causing harmful interference to 
authorized services. The absence of any reports of harmful interference 
to date supported this conclusion. It also noted that although the 
locations and channels where part 15 auditory assistance devices are 
operated may increase by expanding their permissible uses to include 
simultaneous translation, the market for and use of these devices 
should remain limited and they would not be ubiquitously deployed. The 
Commission expected that this outcome, coupled with their relatively 
low fundamental emissions limit, would help prevent increased use of 
part 15 auditory assistance devices for simultaneous translation from 
causing harmful interference to authorized services.
    11. The Commission was not persuaded that increased use of part 15 
auditory assistance devices for simultaneous translation would 
interfere with other part 15 auditory assistance devices providing 
auditory assistance by ``crowding'' the frequencies. As noted, these 
devices' fundamental signals may transmit in bandwidths up to 200 
kilohertz wide in the 72-73 MHz, 74.6 74.8 MHz, and 75.2-76 MHz bands, 
so ample spectrum would be available for multiple applications. 
Further, part 15 auditory assistance devices' low power levels would 
enable other parties to re-use their frequencies at nearby locations.
    12. With respect to part 15 auditory assistance devices' unwanted 
emissions (i.e., emissions outside of the 200 kilohertz necessary 
bandwidths), comments were mixed on whether the Commission should 
modify the limit for these emissions. In the Auditory Assistance Device 
NPRM, the Commission proposed that part 15 auditory assistance devices' 
out-of-band emissions limit be lowered to the general emissions limits 
for other unlicensed devices that are specified in rule Sec.  15.209. 
The Commission noted that expanding the permissible use of these 
devices at any location could increase their use at locations where 
they are not also used to provide auditory assistance to disabled 
individuals as well as increase the number of channels operated at any 
given location to provide both auditory assistance and simultaneous 
translation. Out of concern that the unwanted emissions from increased 
use of part 15 auditory assistance devices for simultaneous 
interpretation could degrade the reception of particularly sensitive 
VHF TV channels 2-6, the Commission decided to lower the unwanted 
emissions limit of part 15 auditory assistance devices to the emissions 
limit in Sec.  15.209 that is applicable to other unlicensed devices.

[[Page 34924]]

    13. The current allowed unwanted emissions limit of 1,500 [mu]V/m 
at 3 meters for part 15 auditory assistance devices that operate in the 
72-76 MHz bands is 15 times higher (23.5 dB more power) than the Sec.  
15.209 emissions limit of 100 [mu]V/m at 3 meters that applies to most 
other part 15 devices' unwanted emissions in the 72-76 MHz and adjacent 
bands. It is also 18 times higher (25 dB more power) than the unwanted 
emissions limit of 84 [mu]V/m at 3 meters that applies to part 15 
personal/portable TV bands devices that operate in bands adjacent to 
occupied TV channels. Accordingly, the Commission lowered the limit for 
part 15 auditory assistance devices unwanted emissions to the general 
emission limits for other unlicensed devices that are specified in rule 
Sec.  15.209. Although part 15 auditory assistance devices had not had 
a history of causing harmful interference to authorized services under 
the current rules, the Commission decided that this approach would help 
reduce the likelihood of harmful interference as their use increases 
and help improve the reception of VHF TV channels 2-6 and accordingly 
was in the public interest.
    14. In support of this decision, the Commission noted in the Report 
and Order that since the time that it adopted the rules for part 15 
auditory assistance device transmitters in 1972, all full service TV 
stations have converted from analog to digital transmissions. The 
Commission also noted that it had previously sought comment on measures 
to improve digital TV reception for consumers on VHF channels and 
encourage broadcasters to use these channels in the future. It further 
noted that one of the problems with indoor VHF TV reception is the high 
levels of noise on those channels from nearby consumer electronics 
equipment and that the Commission had previously stated that it would 
be desirable to reduce that noise and sought comment on what actions it 
might take to reduce such noise in the VHF TV bands.
    15. In addition, since the Commission adopted the Auditory 
Assistance Device NPRM, the ``Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation 
Act of 2012'' (Spectrum Act) was enacted to enable the Commission to 
make more efficient use of the TV bands spectrum by freeing up 
broadcast TV spectrum for wireless broadband services. Section 
6403(a)(2) of the Spectrum Act directs the Commission to conduct a 
reverse auction of broadcast television spectrum that includes, inter 
alia, a bid option for participants' voluntary relinquishment of ``all 
usage rights with respect to an ultra high frequency television channel 
in return for receiving usage rights with respect to a very high 
frequency television channel . . .'' (UHF to VHF bid). In the incentive 
auction proceeding, the Commission sought comment on whether to permit 
eligible licensees to participate in the auction by agreeing to 
relinquish a high VHF channel in exchange for a low VHF channel. In 
that proceeding, the Commission again recognized that increased signal 
interference caused by the higher levels of ambient noise from other 
electronic devices operating on or near the low VHF frequency range can 
make the use of the low VHF channels difficult and could deter reverse 
auction participation.
    16. The Commission decided that commenters'contention that most 
increased use of part 15 auditory assistance devices for simultaneous 
translation would not be proximate to VHF TV reception areas was not 
compelling--it was not self-evident, it disregarded the consequences of 
harmful interference where it could occur, and it disregarded locations 
at which these frequencies could be used post-auction. In light of its 
efforts to make the VHF channels more useful to broadcasters by 
improving the reception of VHF digital TV and consistent with the 
objectives in the Spectrum Act, the Commission concluded that it is in 
the public interest and sound public policy to require part 15 auditory 
assistance devices' unwanted emissions to comply with the Sec.  15.209 
emissions limits. The Commission provided a transition period to 
implement this requirement, and grandfathered all devices installed 
prior to the end of the transition period. The Commission was persuaded 
by the record that reducing the unwanted emissions limit of part 15 
auditory assistance devices to the Sec.  15.209 emissions limits could 
be accomplished using current technology at minimal cost, and that the 
Sec.  15.209 emissions limits were achievable in part 15 auditory 
assistance devices using industry standard components employing 
relatively straight-forward designs at a small additional cost of 1 to 
2 percent per device.
    17. The Commission agreed with commenters that the 18-month and 3-
year transition periods it had proposed should provide sufficient time 
for manufacturers to design part 15 auditory assistance devices with 
unwanted emissions that comply with Sec.  15.209, obtain equipment 
certification, and plan the transition for manufacturing transmitters 
with the new design. It provided an 18-month transition period after 
the effective date of the new rules during which part 15 auditory 
assistance devices may continue to be certified under the current rules 
for such devices in Sec.  15.237; after that time no such equipment 
will be certified unless its unwanted emissions are compliant with 
Sec.  15.209. It also provided an additional 18 months during which 
such equipment certified under the current Sec.  15.237 rules may 
continue to be manufactured and imported. After this 3-year period, no 
such equipment may be manufactured or imported unless its unwanted 
emissions are compliant with Sec.  15.209. There is no deadline on the 
marketing of equipment that was manufactured or imported prior to the 
end of this 3-year period.
    18. Beginning 18 months after the effective date of the new rules, 
equipment certification may no longer be obtained for part 15 auditory 
assistance devices with unwanted emissions that do not meet the Sec.  
15.209 limits. Until the end of the 3-year transition period, the 
Commission will permit Class II permissive changes for equipment 
certified prior to the 18-month transition date, as well as their 
continued manufacture, marketing, installation, and importation. After 
the end of the 3-year transition period, Class II permissive changes 
for such devices will not be permitted nor will their manufacture, 
marketing, installation, or importation. The Commission found that 
these requirements would facilitate the transition to tighter unwanted 
emissions limits without unduly impairing the availability or cost of 
part 15 auditory assistance devices or imposing undue burdens on 
manufacturers, translation services providers, or the public.
    19. The Commission agreed with commenters that part 15 auditory 
assistance devices that are already installed or in use should be 
grandfathered for the life of the equipment. It decided that requiring 
the upgrade or replacement of existing part 15 auditory assistance 
devices with units having unwanted emissions that comply with the Sec.  
15.209 emissions limits would be an unnecessary financial burden on 
operators of these devices and could inhibit the ability of operators 
of public venues to provide auditory assistance to persons with 
disabilities as required by the ADA. It also decided that 
grandfathering existing equipment would ensure that entities will be 
permitted to operate their existing part 15 auditory assistance devices 
until replacement is necessary or desired due to age, malfunction, or 
other concerns, and would facilitate continued compliance with the ADA.

[[Page 34925]]

    20. The Commission amended the definition of ``auditory assistance 
device'' in part 15 of the rules to expand the permissible uses of 
these devices to include simultaneous language interpretation for 
anyone at any location. It also amended Sec.  15.237 to require that 
part 15 auditory assistance devices' unwanted emissions comply with the 
Sec.  15.209 emissions limits. In addition, it established a 3-year 
transition period after the effective date of the rules adopted in this 
proceeding for manufacturers to cease the domestic manufacture or 
importation for domestic sale of part 15 auditory assistance devices 
that do not comply with the revised unwanted emissions limits. The 
Commission also established a cutoff date of 18 months after the 
effective date of the new rules after which unwanted emissions from new 
part 15 auditory assistance devices must comply with the Sec.  15.209 
emissions limits in order to order to receive an equipment 
authorization. Except for the tighter unwanted emissions limits, the 
other administrative and technical requirements for operation of part 
15 auditory assistance devices in the 72-73 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and 
75.2-76 MHz bands remained unchanged.

Paperwork Reduction Analysis

    21. This document does not contain new or modified information 
collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 
(PRA), Public Law 104-13.

Congressional Review Act

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

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    23. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as 
amended (RFA),\1\ an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was 
incorporated in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Auditory Assistance 
Device NPRM) in ET Docket No. 10-26.\2\ The Commission sought written 
public comment on the proposals in the Auditory Assistance Device NPRM, 
including comment on the IRFA. This present Final Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) conforms to the RFA.\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 Amendment of part 15 of the Commission's rules to Amend 
the Definition of Auditory Assistance Devices in Support of 
Simultaneous Language Interpretation, ET Docket No. 10-26, Order and 
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 13600, 13612-14 (2012) 
(Auditory Assistance Device NPRM).
    \3\ See 5 U.S.C. 604.
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A. Need for, and Objectives of, the Report and Order

    24. In the Report and Order, the Commission expanded the 
permissible uses of part 15 auditory assistance devices that operate in 
the 72.0-73.0 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and 75.2-76 MHz bands (72-76 MHz 
bands) beyond solely aural assistance for persons with disabilities to 
include simultaneous language interpretation for anyone at any 
location. It also reduced the limit for part 15 auditory assistance 
devices' unwanted emissions to the radiated emissions limits specified 
in Sec.  15.209. The objectives of the Commission in the Report and 
Order were to allow part 15 auditory assistance devices to be used for 
simultaneous translation by anyone at any location, remove barriers to 
communications, provide greater flexibility and enhanced benefits for 
persons wishing to use auditory assistance technologies, expand the 
opportunities to deploy auditory assistance devices, and improve the 
reception of VHF TV channels 2-6.

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

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

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

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

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

    27. 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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    28. Small Businesses, Small Organizations, and Small Governmental 
Jurisdictions. The Commission's actions may, over time, affect small 
entities that are not easily categorized at present. It therefore 
described here, at the outset, three comprehensive, statutory small 
entity size standards that encompass entities that could be directly 
affected by the proposals under consideration.\7\ As of 2009, small 
businesses represented 99.9 percent of the 27.5 million businesses in 
the United States, according to the SBA.\8\ Additionally, a

[[Page 34926]]

``small organization'' is generally ``any not-for-profit enterprise 
which is independently owned and operated and is not dominant in its 
field.'' \9\ Nationwide, as of 2007, there were approximately 1,621,315 
small organizations.\10\ Finally, the term ``small governmental 
jurisdiction'' is defined generally as ``governments of cities, 
counties, towns, townships, villages, school districts, or special 
districts, with a population of less than fifty thousand.'' \11\ Census 
Bureau data for 2007 indicate that there were 89,527 governmental 
jurisdictions in the United States.\12\ The Commission estimated that, 
of this total, as many as 88,761 entities may qualify as ``small 
governmental jurisdictions.'' \13\ Thus, the Commission estimated that 
most governmental jurisdictions are small.
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    \7\ See 5 U.S.C. 601(3)-(6).
    \8\ See SBA, Office of Advocacy, ``Frequently Asked Questions,'' 
available at http://web.sba.gov/faqs/faqindex.cfm?areaID=24 (last 
visited Aug. 31, 2012).
    \9\ 5 U.S.C. 601(4).
    \10\ Independent Sector, The New Nonprofit Almanac & Desk 
Reference (2010).
    \11\ 5 U.S.C. 601(5).
    \12\ U.S. CENSUS BUREAU, STATISTICAL ABSTRACT OF THE UNITED 
STATES: 2011, Table 427 (2007).
    \13\ The 2007 U.S Census data for small governmental 
organizations are not presented based on the size of the population 
in each such organization. There were 89,476 local governmental 
organizations in 2007. The Commission assumed that county, 
municipal, township, and school district organizations are more 
likely than larger governmental organizations to have populations of 
50,000 or less, the total of these organizations is 52,095. The 
Commission made the same population assumption about special 
districts, specifically that they are likely to have a population of 
50,000 or less, and also assumed that special districts are 
different from county, municipal, township, and school districts, in 
2007 there were 37,381 such special districts. Therefore, there are 
a total of 89,476 local government organizations. As a basis of 
estimating how many of these 89,476 local government organizations 
were small, in 2011, the Commission noted that there were a total of 
715 cities and towns (incorporated places and minor civil divisions) 
with populations over 50,000. CITY AND TOWNS TOTALS: VINTAGE 2011--
U.S. Census Bureau, available at http://www.census.gov/popest/data/cities/totals/2011/index.html. The Commission subtracted the 715 
cities and towns that meet or exceed the 50,000 population 
threshold, and concluded that approximately 88,761 are small. U.S. 
CENSUS BUREAU, STATISTICAL ABSTRACT OF THE UNITED STATES 2011, 
Tables 427, 426 (Data cited therein are from 2007).
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    29. Fixed Microwave Services. Fixed microwave services include 
common carrier,\14\ private operational-fixed,\15\ and broadcast 
auxiliary radio services.\16\ At present, there are approximately 
22,015 common carrier fixed licensees and 61,670 private operational-
fixed licensees and broadcast auxiliary radio licensees in the 
microwave services. The Commission had not created a size standard for 
a small business specifically with respect to fixed microwave services. 
For purposes of this analysis, the Commission used the SBA small 
business size standard for the category Wireless Telecommunications 
Carriers (except Satellite), which is 1,500 or fewer employees.\17\ The 
Commission did not have data specifying the number of these licensees 
that have no more than 1,500 employees, and thus it was unable to 
estimate with greater precision the number of fixed microwave service 
licensees that would qualify as small business concerns under the SBA's 
small business size standard. Consequently, the Commission estimated 
that there are 22,015 or fewer common carrier fixed licensees and 
61,670 or fewer private operational-fixed licensees and broadcast 
auxiliary radio licensees in the microwave services that may be small 
and may be affected by the rules and policies proposed herein. The 
Commission noted, however, that the common carrier microwave fixed 
licensee category includes some large entities.
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    \14\ See 47 CFR part 101 et seq. for common carrier fixed 
microwave services (except Multipoint Distribution Service).
    \15\ Persons eligible under parts 80 and 90 of the Commission's 
rules can use Private Operational-Fixed Microwave services. See 47 
CFR parts 80 and 90. Stations in this service are called 
operational-fixed to distinguish them from common carrier and public 
fixed stations. Only the licensee may use the operational-fixed 
station and only for communications related to the licensee's 
commercial, industrial, or safety operations.
    \16\ Auxiliary Microwave Service is governed by part 74 of title 
47 of the Commission's rules. See 47 CFR part 74. This service is 
available to licensees of broadcast stations and to broadcast and 
cable network entities. Broadcast auxiliary microwave stations are 
used for relaying broadcast television signals from the studio to 
the transmitter, or between two points such as a main studio and an 
auxiliary studio. The service also includes mobile television 
pickups, which relay signals from a remote location back to the 
studio.
    \17\ 13 CFR 121.201, NAICS code 517210.
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    30. Wireless Equipment Manufacturers. This industry is comprised of 
businesses primarily engaged in manufacturing radio, television 
broadcast, and wireless communications equipment. Examples of products 
made by these establishments are: transmitting and receiving antennas, 
cable television equipment, cordless phones, global positioning system 
(GPS) equipment, pagers, cellular phones, mobile communications 
equipment, and radio and television studio and broadcasting 
equipment.\18\ In this category, the SBA has deemed a business 
manufacturing radio and television broadcasting equipment, wireless 
telecommunications equipment, or both, to be small if it has fewer than 
750 employees.\19\ For this category of manufacturing, Census data for 
2007 showed that there were 919 firms that operated that year. Of those 
establishments, 531 had between 1 and 19 employees; 240 had between 20 
and 99 employees; and 148 had more than 100 employees.\20\ Since 771 
establishments had fewer than 100 employees, and since only 148 had 
more than 100 employees, the vast majority of manufacturers in this 
category would be considered small under applicable standards. The 
rules adopted in the Report and Order will apply to small businesses 
that choose to use, manufacture, design, import, or sell part 15 
auditory assistance devices. There is no requirement, however, for any 
entity to use, market, or produce these types of products.
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    \18\ http://www.census.gov/econ/industry/def/d334220.htm.
    \19\ See 13 CFR 121.201, NAICS code 334220.
    \20\ http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/IBQTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=&-_skip=300&-ds_name+EC0731I1&-_lang=en.
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E. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other 
Compliance Requirements for Small Entities

    31. The Report and Order expanded the permissible uses of part 15 
auditory assistance devices to include simultaneous language 
interpretation for anyone at any location and reduced the permitted 
level of part 15 auditory assistance devices' unwanted emissions to the 
Sec.  15.209 emissions limits. The item did not contain any new 
reporting or recordkeeping requirements.
    32. After 18 months after the effective date of the new rules in 
this proceeding, the unwanted emissions of part 15 auditory assistance 
devices submitted for equipment authorization must comply with the 
Sec.  15.209 emissions limits. After 3 years of the effective date of 
the new rules, the unwanted emissions of part 15 auditory assistance 
devices manufactured or imported for sale in the U.S. must comply with 
the emissions limits in Sec.  15.209. Manufacturers will incur 
engineering services and production costs to design and produce part 15 
auditory assistance devices whose unwanted emission comply with the 
Sec.  15.209 emission's limits. The Sec.  15.209 emissions limits are 
currently achievable for part 15 auditory assistance devices' unwanted 
emissions at an estimated additional cost of 1 to 2 percent per device 
using industry standard components employing relatively straight-
forward designs.\21\ The Commission expected that these costs will be 
comparable for large and small entities.
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    \21\ See Williams Sound comments at 3.

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[[Page 34927]]

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

    33. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant 
alternatives that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, 
which may include the following four alternatives (among others): (1) 
The establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or 
timetables that take into account the resources available to small 
entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of 
compliance or reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; 
(3) the use of performance, rather than design, standards; and (4) an 
exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small 
entities.\22\
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    \22\ 5 U.S.C. 603(c).
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    34. To reduce the burdens on small entities, the Commission 
provided a 3-year transition period for manufacturers to produce new 
part 15 auditory assistance devices with unwanted emissions that comply 
with the Sec.  15.209 emissions limits, after which the domestic 
manufacture and importation for domestic sale of part 15 auditory 
assistance devices with unwanted emissions that do not meet these lower 
emissions limits must cease. However, there is no limit on the 
marketing of part 15 auditory assistance devices manufactured or 
imported prior to the end of this 3-year transition period. In 
addition, the Commission provided 18 months after the effective date of 
the new rules in this proceeding for manufacturers to produce part 15 
auditory assistance devices with unwanted emissions that comply with 
the Sec.  15.209 emissions limits in order to receive an equipment 
authorization. The Commission determined that this should provide 
sufficient time for manufacturers to obtain equipment authorization 
from the Commission for any part 15 auditory assistance devices 
currently under development under the current rules and to design and 
submit to the Commission equipment authorization applications for part 
15 auditory assistance devices with unwanted emissions that comply with 
the Sec.  15.209 emissions limits. It also determined that his approach 
would facilitate the lowering of part 15 auditory assistance devices' 
unwanted emissions to the Sec.  15.209 emissions limits without unduly 
impairing the availability or cost of these devices. To avoid imposing 
unnecessary financial burdens on entities that produce, market, or 
operate part 15 auditory assistance devices, the Commission permitted 
part 15 auditory assistance devices that have already been installed or 
are in use prior to the end of the 3-year transition period to be 
operated without a cutoff date without having to meet the Sec.  15.209 
emissions limits.

Paperwork Reduction Analysis

    35. This document does not contain any new or modified information 
collection requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 
(PRA). Public Law 104-13.

Congressional Review Act

    36. The Commission will send a copy of the Report and Order, 
including this FRFA, in a report to be sent to Congress and the 
Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review 
Act.\23\ In addition, the Commission will send a copy of the Report and 
Order, including this FRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the 
SBA.
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    \23\ See 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).
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Ordering Clauses

    37. Pursuant to Sec. Sec.  4(i), 302, 303(e), 303(f), and 307 of 
the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 302a, 
303(e), 303(f), and 307, that this Report and Order in ET Docket No. 
10-26 is hereby ADOPTED, and part 15 of the Commission's rules is 
amended as set forth in Final Rules effective July 11, 2013.
    38. The Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference 
Information Center, shall send a copy of this Report and Order, 
including the Final Regulatory Flexibility Certification, to the Chief 
Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

List of Subjects in 47 CFR Part 15

    Communications equipment, Radio, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

    Federal Communications Commission.
Marlene H. Dortch,
Secretary.

Final Rules

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal 
Communications Commission amends 47 CFR part 15 as follows:

PART 15--RADIO FREQUENCY DEVICES

0
1. The authority citation for part 15 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 47 U.S.C. 154, 302a, 303, 304, 307, 336, 544a and 
549.


0
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 part 15 rules (47 
CFR part 15), the term ``disability,'' with respect to the individual, 
has the meaning given to it by section 3(2)(A) of the Americans with 
Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12102(2)(A)), i.e., a physical or 
mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major 
life activities of such individuals;
    (2) Persons who require language translation; or
    (3) Persons who may otherwise benefit from auditory assistance 
communications in places of public gatherings, such as a church, 
theater, auditorium, or educational institution.
* * * * *

0
3. Section 15.37 is amended by adding paragraph (g) to read as follows:


Sec.  15.37  Transition provisions for compliance with the rules.

* * * * *
    (g) The manufacture or importation of auditory assistance devices 
that operate in the 72.0-73.0 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and 75.2-76.0 MHz 
bands that do not comply with the requirements of Sec.  15.237(c) shall 
cease on or before July 11, 2016. Effective January 12, 2015, equipment 
approval will not be granted for auditory assistance devices that 
operate in the 72.0-73.0 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and 75.2-76.0 MHz bands 
that do not comply with the requirements of Sec.  15.237(c). These 
rules do not prohibit the sale or use of authorized auditory assistance 
devices that operate in the 72.0-73.0 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz, and 75.2-76.0 
MHz bands manufactured in the United States, or imported into the 
United States, prior to July 11, 2016.

0
4. Section 15.237 is amended by revising paragraph (c) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  15.237  Operation in the bands 72.0-73.0 MHz, 74.6-74.8 MHz and 
75.2-76.0 MHz.

* * * * *
    (c) The field strength within the permitted 200 kHz band shall not 
exceed 80 millivolts/meter at 3 meters. The field strength of any 
emissions radiated on any frequency outside of the specified 200 kHz 
band shall not exceed the general radiated emissions limits specified 
in Sec.  15.209. The emission limits in this paragraph are based on 
measurement instrumentation employing an average detector. The

[[Page 34928]]

provisions in Sec.  15.35 for limiting peak emissions apply.
[FR Doc. 2013-13696 Filed 6-10-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-P