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May 26, 2010
VIA CERTIFIED MAIL - RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED
AND FACSIMILE AT 708-458-9990
Mr. Omar Ahmad
Chief Executive Officer
PlatinumTel Communications, LLC
8108 S. Roberts Road
Justice, Illinois 60458
Re: File No. EB-09-SE-185
Dear Mr. Ahmad:
This is an official CITATION, issued to PlatinumTel Communications, LLC
("PlatinumTel"), 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"), and the public web site posting requirements
set forth in section 20.19(h) of the Rules. As explained below, future
violations of the Commission's rules in this regard may subject
PlatinumTel 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 manufacturers and service providers
that fit within the de minimis exception. In addition, the Commission
instituted a requirement that manufacturers and service providers with
publicly-accessible web sites maintain a list of hearing aid-compatible
handset models and certain information regarding those models on their web
sites. The web site postings, which must be updated within 30 days of a
change in a manufacturer's or service provider's offerings, will enable
consumers to obtain up-to-date hearing aid compatibility information from
their service providers.
PlatinumTel, a reseller of wireless service, did not file a hearing aid
compatibility status report prior to the January 15, 2009 deadline. The
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau referred PlatinumTel's apparent
violation of the hearing aid compatibility reporting requirement to the
Enforcement Bureau for possible enforcement action. On November 23, 2009,
the Enforcement Bureau's Spectrum Enforcement Division issued PlatinumTel
a Letter of Inquiry ("LOI"). PlatinumTel responded to the LOI on December
22, 2009. In its response, PlatinumTel states that it "has been using
around 35 handsets that are TTY compatible," and that at any point in time
a minimum of five hearing aid-compatible handsets have been available to
its customers. PlatinumTel states further that it "provides virtually all
the products and services on a wholesale basis to dealers and distributors
throughout the states," and that "the direct contact with customers, the
final users of these wireless services, is not (emphasis in original) with
PlatinumTel, but rather with those dealers and distributors." PlatinumTel
claims that it therefore did not believe that it was required to be in
compliance with digital wireless handset hearing aid compatibility status
report filing requirements or the public web site posting requirements. It
states that after receiving the LOI, it filed its January 15, 2009 report
on December 18, 2009, and it is in the process of updating its web site to
meet the requirements of Section 20.19(h).
A review of the PlatinumTel web site, however, indicates that PlatinumTel
considers itself a Mobile Virtual Network Operator ("MVNO"), and that in
addition to providing its products and services to dealers and
distributors, it also clearly offers its handsets and services directly to
consumers on its web site.
We find that, as a reseller or MVNO, PlatinumTel is a service provider
subject to the wireless hearing aid compatibility requirements. The
Commission has made clear that the hearing aid compatibility requirements
apply to service providers such as resellers and MVNOs. Thus, PlatinumTel
is a service provider subject to the wireless hearing aid compatibility
requirements. Under section 20.19(i)(1) of the Rules, all service
providers 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 PlatinumTel 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
PlatinumTel did not timely file the January 15, 2009 report. Accordingly,
PlatinumTel violated the hearing aid compatibility status report filing
requirements set forth in section 20.19(i)(1) of the Rules.
Section 20.19(h) of the Rules requires that, beginning January 15, 2009,
each manufacturer and service provider that operates a publicly-accessible
web site make available on its web site a list of all hearing
aid-compatible handset models currently offered, the ratings of those
models, and an explanation of the rating system. In addition, the
Commission has stated that any changes to a manufacturer's or service
provider's offerings must be reflected on its public web site listing
within 30 days. These web site postings provide consumers up-to-date
hearing aid compatibility information. Based on our review of
PlatinumTel's web site, and the record before us, it failed to post the
required information on its web site in violation of section 20.19(h) of
PlatinumTel 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, PlatinumTel violates the Communications
Act or the Commission's rules 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 violation.
PlatinumTel 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. PlatinumTel'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 future.
The nearest Commission field office appears to be the Chicago Field
Office, in Park Ridge, Illinois. Please call Katherine Power at
202-418-0919, if PlatinumTel wishes to schedule a personal interview.
PlatinumTel should schedule any interview to take place within 30 days of
the date of this letter. PlatinumTel 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-A365
Washington, D.C. 20554
Under the Privacy Act of 1974, we are informing PlatinumTel that the
Commission's staff will use all relevant material information before it,
including information that PlatinumTel discloses in its interview or
written statement, to determine what, if any, enforcement action is
required to ensure PlatinumTel'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 PlatinumTel in advance for its anticipated cooperation.
Chief, Spectrum Enforcement Division
47 U.S.C. S: 503(b)(5).
47 C.F.R. S: 20.19(i)(1).
47 C.F.R. S: 20.19(h).
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. P: 99.
Id. at 3450 P: 112.
See Letter from Kathryn S. Berthot, Chief, Spectrum Enforcement Division,
Enforcement Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, to Omar Ahmad, CEO,
PlatinumTel Communications, LLC (November 23, 2009).
See Letter, in form of an Affidavit, from Omar Ahmad, CEO, PlatinumTel
Communications, LLC, to Katherine Power, Esq., Spectrum Enforcement
Division, Enforcement Bureau, Federal Communications Commission (December
18, 2009) ("LOI Response").
LOI Response at 1.
LOI Response at 2.
Id. We note that PlatinumTel timely filed its status report that was due
January 15, 2010.
See www.platinumtel.com/support/faq (last visited Mar. 2, 2010). One of
the "Frequently Asked Questions" listed on PlatinumTel's web site is "How
do I get PlatinumTel Prepaid Wireless Service?" According to the response,
"You can either visit a PlatinumTel Authorized Retailer in your area, or
you can purchase a prepaid cell phone from PlatinumTel's Online Store."
Id. A review of the web site also demonstrated that it is possible to
order prepaid cell phones and service plans directly from the web site.
See e.g., Hearing Aid Compatibility First Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd at
3424 P: 46 (concluding that a three-month extension of deadlines for
meeting the handset deployment benchmarks is appropriate with regard to
"service providers that are not Tier I nationwide providers, including
regional and smaller providers, such as Tier II and Tier III carriers, and
other service providers such as resellers and MVNOs.").
See 7-Eleven, Inc., Citation, DA 10-85 (Enf. Bur., Spectrum Enf. Div.,
released January 14, 2010).
47 C.F.R. S: 20.19(i)(1).
47 C.F.R. S: 20.19(h).
See Hearing Aid Compatibility First Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd at 3450
As of March 2, 2010, PlatinumTel's web site did not evidence compliance
with section 20.19(h) of the Rules.
See 47 C.F.R. S: 1.80(b)(3).
See 5 U.S.C. S: 552(a)(e)(3).
See 18 U.S.C. S: 1001.
Federal Communications Commission DA 10-938
Federal Communications Commission DA 10-938
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20554