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HIA Reports: FCC Wireless Phones & Hearing Aid Compatability

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced, on July 10, 2003, a rational, phased-in regulation requiring at least some wireless phones produced by every handset manufacturer to be compatible with hearing aids. The decision does not require labeling or any action by the hearing aid manufacturer.

Although no action is mandated for HIA members, the FCC encourages hearing aid manufacturers to label to their pre-customized products according to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) C63.19. In a strongly worded statement in the FCC release, the Commission says that if "inadequate progress is made (in labeling) the Commission plans to examine the scope of its jurisdiction over hearing aid manufacturers."

In the FCC press release issued after the vote, the Commission outlined key elements of their unanimous decision:

  • Adopts performance levels established by ANSI C63.19.
  • Requires handsets to provide both reduced RF interference/U3 and telecoil coupling capability/U3T
  • Provides a phased compliance scheme for phone manufacturers - they must make available within two years at least two HAC-compliant handsets at the U3 level; they must increase that number to 50% of their product line by February 18, 2008
  • Encourages digital wireless phone manufacturers and service providers to offer at least model that is lower-priced model and one that has higher end features.

A full analysis of the FCC decision will be provided next week. Special thanks for this excellent outcome to 7 years of work go to HIA Technical Committee Chair Tom Victorian, Starkey Labs and expert consultants Ron Scicluna, Etymotic Research and Mike Sacha, Starkey Labs, as well as many other members who have provided technical, engineering and audiologic expertise to this effort.

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This news report was submitted to Audiology Online and Healthy Hearing by the Hearing Industries Association (HIA). 515 KING STREET SUITE 420, ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA 22314, PHONE: (703) 684-5744, FAX: (703) 684-6048, www.hearing.org

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