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FCC Demands $819,000 From T-Mobile [UPDATED]

Agency accuses T-Mobile of violating rules regarding hearing aid compatible phones.

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FCC Demands $819,000 From T-Mobile [UPDATED]
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UPDATE:

T-Mobile has responded to the FCC’s notice. Here’s what they had to say:

T-Mobile USA is committed to providing high-quality products and services to all of its customers, including a broad selection of handsets that are hearing aid compatible. T-Mobile takes seriously its obligations to comply with its hearing aid compatibility responsibilities as part of our overall commitment to the accessibility needs of our customers.

ORIGINAL STORY:

The Federal Communications Commission has issued a notice to T-Mobile that it is liable for forfeiture in the amount of $819,000 for failing to meet requirements concerning the number of hearing aid compatible (HAC) handsets carriers are required to offer. The FCC claims that T-Mobile “willfully and repeatedly violated” the rules in 2009-2010.

The problem stems from the FCC’s 2003 Hearing Aid Compatibility Order, which was intended to ensure that people who relied on hearing aids would have a reasonable range of options for wireless phones. As part of the rule, so-called “Tier I carriers” were required to offer at least 8 handsets that were compatible with acoustic coupling technology, and three that were compatible with inductive coupling, by February 14, 2009. By February 14, 2010, the carriers were required to have 9 acoustic coupling handset models and 5 inductive coupling models. By the end of 2010, those numbers increased to 10 and 7.

T-Mobile, the FCC alleges, did not meet those requirements on time. As such, T-Mobile is liable for a forfeiture of $819,000. According to the notice, the company has thirty days to either submit payment or a written reply asking for the forfeiture to be reduced or cancelled altogether. In order to get the fine reduced or cancelled, however, T-Mobile will likely have to prove that they were not, in fact, in violation of the FCC’s rules during the two-year period specified. That could prove rather difficult, considering that it was T-Mobile’s own compliance reports in early 2010 that prompted the FCC to take action in the first place.

The full notice can be found in PDF form here. A request for comment from T-Mobile has not yet received a response.

FCC Demands $819,000 From T-Mobile [UPDATED]
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