The deadline for filing the Hearing Aid Compatibility (“HAC”) compliance report, FCC Form 655, with the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) is January 15th.
All clients providing either facilities-based or resold Commercial Mobile Radio Services (“CMRS”), i.e. wireless telecommunications services, in the United States must file Form 655 by this deadline. Before filing Form 655, all clients must ensure they are compliant with the FCC’s HAC rules, including those concerning sale of handsets and disclosure of handset compatibility on company websites.
Additional information on the FCC’s HAC rules also be found on the FCC’s website: Hearing Aid Compatibility Information
We encourage clients with questions about HAC compliance to contact their assigned attorney at The CommLaw Group.
Who Must File
FCC rules mandate that all providers of digital CMRS in the United States file Form 655. Digital CMRS providers are defined as providers of a service that:
- Offers a real-time, two-way switched voice or data service;
- Is interconnected with the public switched telephone network (“PSTN”);
- Utilizes an in-network switching facility that enables the provider to reuse frequencies and accomplish seamless hand-offs of subscriber calls; and
- Is provided over frequencies in the 800 MHz-950 MHz or 1.6-2.5 GHz bands using any air interface for which technical standards are stated in the standard document “American National Standard for Methods of Measurement of Compatibility between Wireless Communications Devices and Hearing Aids,” American National Standards Institute (ANSI) C 63.19-2007.
Manufacturers of wireless handsets that are used in the delivery of these services must also file Form 655. For more information, see 47 C.F.R. § 20.19(a)(1), (2).
HAC Compliance Obligations
HAC rules require, among other things, that all wireless handset providers, including resellers, offer a certain number of hearing aid compatible handsets and make available to consumers via labeling on the handset and handset box and in website disclosures, information about the performance ratings of the handsets.
Filing Form 655 confirms compliance with these requirements. Specifically, Form 655 must include the following:
- A list of HAC compliant and non-compliant digital wireless phone handset models offered to customers since the most recent report, identified by marketing model name/number(s) and FCC ID number;
- The total number of compliant and non-compliant phone models offered to customers for each air interface over which the provider offers service as of the time of the report;
- Information related to the retail availability of compliant phones;
- The status of product labeling;
- A description of HAC compliance outreach efforts; and
- The levels of functionality into which the compliant phones fall and an explanation of the service provider’s methodology for determining levels of functionality.
Carriers must also include the website address where HAC handset information is available if it maintains a publicly available website. Information in these reports must be current through the end of the calendar month preceding the filing date.
Providers subject to HAC de minimis rule still must file Form 655
CMRS providers offering two or fewer wireless handsets for sale are exempt from certain technical compatibility requirements. However, all service providers that are within the scope of the FCC HAC rules (including resellers and holders of spectrum usage rights as well as providers that fall within the de minimiscompatibility exception) must file Form 655. De minimis entities are not required to respond to all data categories.
Late Payment Penalties
Failure to comply with the FCC’s HAC rules and timely file Form 655 is a violation of FCC rules and may result in an FCC investigation and forfeiture proceeding. Over the past several years, the FCC has issued numerous enforcement actions against companies who failed to timely file Form 655 and comply with HAC compatibility rules generally.
Recent Notices of Apparent Liability released by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau suggest that the FCC will continue to rigorously police and enforce HAC rules. Clients thus are advised to ensure timely filing of Form 655 and full compliance with the FCC’s HAC rules.