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Cochlear Americas Supports Requiring Compatible Cellular Telephones

DENVER- Cochlear Americas, manufacturer of Nucleus cochlear implant systems, has joined consumers in urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to require cellular telephone compatibility with hearing technology. At present, most cochlear implant recipients and hearing aid users experience interference (such as a buzzing sound) when using cellular telephones. In comments submitted to the FCC, as part of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Cochlear expressed that it supports revoking the exemption on the regulation of cellular telephone technology.

"Cellular telephones have become an integral part of everyday life in the United States," said Donna Sorkin, Vice President Consumer Affairs, Cochlear Americas. "The population of cochlear implant recipients is growing and we want to ensure that our cochlear implant community is able to fully participate in, and benefit from, the telecommunications revolution."

Cochlear has designed its new products to include an internal telecoil in order to help its recipients maximize their ability to use cellular telephone technology. The internal telecoil provides a better signal to noise ratio and was designed to provide Nucleus recipients who have the technology to use the telephone more effectively in noisy environments. Cochlear is the first cochlear implant manufacturer to include this technology in their products. However, despite these modifications, the ability of an implant recipient to effectively use a cellular telephone depends upon the technology and service of the individual phone.

Although compatibility is required for land telephone lines, cellular telephones are currently exempt from FCC regulations on hearing aid compatibility. The Commission is examining whether this exemption should be revoked. Cochlear agrees with consumers that unless the FCC requires compatibility, minimal progress will be made by the wireless industry. Cochlear emphasized in its comments to the FCC that it is not only technologically feasible, but also in the public's best interest to provide cellular phones that are compatible with cochlear implants and hearing aids.

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