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May 26, 2010
VIA CERTIFIED MAIL - RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED
AND FACSIMILE AT 503-675-8989
Mr. John Marick, CEO
Consumer Cellular, Inc.
7204 SW Durham Road
Portland, Oregon 97224-7574
Re: File No. EB-09-SE-175
Dear Mr. Marick:
This is an official CITATION, issued to Consumer Cellular, Inc. ("Consumer
Cellular"), a reseller of wireless services, pursuant to section 503(b)(5)
of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended ("Act"), for violating the
digital wireless handset hearing aid compatibility status report filing
requirements set forth in section 20.19(i)(1) of the Commission's Rules
("Rules"). As explained below, future violations of the Commission's rules
in this regard may subject Consumer Cellular to monetary forfeitures.
In the 2003 Hearing Aid Compatibility Order, the Commission adopted
several measures to enhance the ability of individuals with hearing
disabilities to access digital wireless telecommunications. The Commission
established technical standards that digital wireless handsets must meet
to be considered compatible with hearing aids operating in acoustic
coupling and inductive coupling (telecoil) modes. The Commission further
established, for each standard, deadlines by which manufacturers and
service providers were required to offer specified numbers or percentages
of digital wireless handsets per air interface that are compliant with the
relevant standard if they did not come under the de minimis exception. In
February 2008, as part of a comprehensive reconsideration of the
effectiveness of the hearing aid compatibility rules, the Commission
released an order that, among other things, adopted new compatible handset
deployment benchmarks beginning in 2008.
Of primary relevance, the Commission also adopted reporting requirements
to ensure that it could monitor the availability of these handsets and to
provide valuable information to the public concerning the technical
testing and commercial availability of hearing aid-compatible handsets,
including on the Internet. The Commission initially required manufacturers
and digital wireless service providers to report every six months on
efforts toward compliance with the hearing aid compatibility requirements
for the first three years of implementation (May 17, 2004, November 17,
2004, May 17, 2005, November 17, 2005, May 17, 2006 and November 17,
2006), and then annually thereafter through the fifth year of
implementation (November 19, 2007 and November 17, 2008). In its 2008
Hearing Aid Compatibility First Report and Order, the Commission extended
these reporting requirements with certain modifications on an open ended
basis, beginning January 15, 2009. The Commission also made clear that
these reporting requirements apply to service providers that fit within
the de minimis exception.
Consumer Cellular did not file a hearing aid compatibility status report
prior to the January 15, 2009 deadline. The Wireless Telecommunications
Bureau referred Consumer Cellular's apparent violation of the hearing aid
compatibility reporting requirement to the Enforcement Bureau for possible
enforcement action. On October 14, 2009, the Enforcement Bureau's Spectrum
Enforcement Division issued Consumer Cellular a Letter of Inquiry ("LOI").
Consumer Cellular responded to the LOI by letter dated November 11, 2009.
In the LOI response, Consumer Cellular acknowledges that it did not timely
file the hearing aid compatibility report on January 15, 2009. Consumer
Cellular explains that it did not file the report because it was unaware
of its obligation to make such a filing. Consumer Cellular states that it
filed the required report promptly on November 8, 2009, after learning of
its obligation to do so. In addition, Consumer Cellular notes that it was
in compliance with its "underlying legal obligations to provide all
legally-required hearing-aid compatible handsets to the public."
Under section 20.19(i)(1) of the Rules, all service providers, including
resellers, must file hearing aid compatibility status reports initially on
January 15, 2009, and annually thereafter. These reports are necessary to
enable the Commission to perform its enforcement function and evaluate
whether Consumer Cellular is in compliance with Commission mandates that
were adopted to facilitate the accessibility of hearing aid-compatible
wireless handsets. These reports also provide valuable information to the
public concerning the technical testing and commercial availability of
hearing aid-compatible handsets. Based on the record before us, we find
that Consumer Cellular did not timely file the January 15, 2009 report.
Accordingly, Consumer Cellular violated the hearing aid compatibility
status report filing requirements set forth in section 20.19(i)(1) of the
Consumer Cellular should take prompt action to ensure that it does not
continue to violate the Commission's wireless hearing aid compatibility
rules. If, after receipt of this Citation, Consumer Cellular violates the
Communications Act or the Commission's rules or orders in any manner
described herein, the Commission may impose monetary forfeitures not to
exceed $150,000 for each such violation or each day of a continuing
Consumer Cellular may respond to this citation within 30 days from the
date of this letter either through (1) a personal interview at the
Commission's Field Office nearest to your place of business, or (2) a
written statement. Consumer Cellular's response should specify the actions
that it is taking to ensure that it does not violate the Commission's
rules governing the filing of hearing aid compatibility status reports in
The nearest Commission field office appears to be the Portland District
Office, in Portland, Oregon. Please call Celia Lewis at 202-418-7456, if
Consumer Cellular wishes to schedule a personal interview. Consumer
Cellular should schedule any interview to take place within 30 days of the
date of this letter. Consumer Cellular should send any written statement
within 30 days of the date of this letter to:
Spectrum Enforcement Division
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W., Rm. 3-A360
Washington, D.C. 20554
Under the Privacy Act of 1974, we are informing Consumer Cellular that the
Commission's staff will use all relevant material information before it,
including information that Consumer Cellular discloses in its interview or
written statement, to determine what, if any, enforcement action is
required to ensure Consumer Cellular's compliance with the Communications
Act and the Commission's rules.
The knowing and willful making of any false statement, or the concealment
of any material fact, in reply to this citation is punishable by fine or
We thank Consumer Cellular in advance for its anticipated cooperation.
Chief, Spectrum Enforcement Division
cc: Jonathan Lee, Esq.
JD Lee Consulting, LLC
1776 I Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
47 U.S.C. S: 503(b)(5).
47 C.F.R. S: 20.19(i)(1).
The Commission adopted these requirements for digital wireless telephones
under the authority of the Hearing Aid Compatibility Act of 1988, codified
at Section 710(b)(2)(C) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47
U.S.C. S: 610(b)(2)(C). See Section 68.4(a) of the Commission's Rules
Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible Telephones, Report and Order, 18 FCC Rcd
16753, 16787 P: 89 (2003); Erratum, 18 FCC Rcd 18047 (2003) ("Hearing Aid
Compatibility Order"); Order on Reconsideration and Further Notice of
Proposed Rulemaking, 20 FCC Rcd 11221 (2005).
See Hearing Aid Compatibility Order, 18 FCC Rcd at 16777 P: 56; 47 C.F.R.
S: 20.19(b)(1), (2).
The term "air interface" refers to the technical protocol that ensures
compatibility between mobile radio service equipment, such as handsets,
and the service provider's base stations. Currently, the leading air
interfaces include Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), Global System for
Mobile Communications (GSM), Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (iDEN)
and Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) a/k/a Universal Mobile
Telecommunications System (UMTS).
See Hearing Aid Compatibility Order, 18 FCC Rcd at 16780 P: 65; 47 C.F.R.
S: 20.19(c), (d). The de minimis exception provides that manufacturers or
mobile service providers that offer two or fewer digital wireless handset
models per air interface are exempt from the hearing aid compatibility
deployment requirements, and manufacturers or mobile service providers
that offer three digital wireless handset models per air interface must
offer at least one compliant model. 47 C.F.R. S: 20.19(e).
See Amendment of the Commission's Rules Governing Hearing Aid-Compatible
Mobile Handsets, First Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd 3406 (2008) ("Hearing
Aid Compatibility First Report and Order"), Order on Reconsideration and
Erratum, 23 FCC Rcd 7249 (2008).
See Hearing Aid Compatibility First Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3443
Hearing Aid Compatibility Order, 18 FCC Rcd at 16787 P: 89; see also
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Announces Hearing Aid Compatibility
Reporting Dates for Wireless Carriers and Handset Manufacturers, Public
Notice, 19 FCC Rcd 4097 (Wireless Tel. Bur. 2004).
See Hearing Compatibility First Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3445-46
Id. at P: 99.
See Letter from Kathryn S. Berthot, Chief, Spectrum Enforcement Division,
Enforcement Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, to John Marick,
CEO, Consumer Cellular (October 14, 2009).
See Letter from John Marick, CEO, Consumer Cellular, to Celia Lewis,
Paralegal Specialist, Spectrum Enforcement Division, Enforcement Bureau,
Federal Communications Commission (November 11, 2009) ("LOI Response").
LOI Response at 1.
Id. at 2.
LOI Response at 1-2. See Consumer Cellular, Inc. Hearing Aid Compatibility
Report (filed November 8, 2009) at
LOI Response at 2.
47 C.F.R. S: 20.19(i)(1).
See 47 C.F.R. S: 1.80(b)(3).
See 5 U.S.C. S: 552a(e)(3).
See 18 U.S.C. S: 1001.
Federal Communications Commission DA 10-930
Federal Communications Commission DA 10-930
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20554