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FCC seeks $819,000 from T-Mobile for violating hearing aid compatibility standards

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T-Mobile may be fined $819,000 by the FCC for failing to meet hearing aid compatibility standards.

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Citing repeated failures to meet hearing aid capable handset guidelines, the FCC is seeking a forfeiture of $819,000 from T-Mobile. The FCC alleges that T-Mobile USA violated the Hearing Aid Compatibility Order, which requires all providers to offer at least 10 handsets (or 50 percent of all devices) that support acoustic coupling and 7 devices (or 33 percent of all devices) with inductive coupling. The filing claims that the company "willfully and repeatedly" violated the terms of the order between 2009 and 2010, failing to meet standards for 19 of the 24 months in the period, during which:

T-Mobile was short by a total of 52 handset models a deficiency which gave potentially large number of consumers with hearing disabilities far fewer choices of compatible handsets than the minimum numbers required by our rules.

While it has not issued a formal response to the FCC's filing, T-Mobile's Accessibility Policy page lists a roster of 25 compatible devices, so perhaps it is doing a better job of complying now than it did in 2009 and 2010. As for the hefty forfeiture, the company could reduce or negate the sum entirely if it can provide evidence refuting the FCC's claims.