FCC Form 477 Filing; New Annual Service Provider Hearing Aid Compatibility Certification Filing and Website Content Requirements

Kelley Drye Client Advisory

September Compliance and Filing Deadlines

Please be reminded of the upcoming due dates for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reports and compliance requirements listed below:
FCC Form 477: Local Telephone Competition and Broadband Report
The Local Competition and Broadband Report, containing data as of June 30, 2019, must be filed by Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The report requires the submission of information regarding broadband connections in individual states and must be submitted via the FCC’s web-based interface.
Who Must File:

  1. Entities that are facilities-based providers of broadband (i.e., faster than 200 kbps, in at least one direction) connections (including both wired lines and wireless channels) to one or more end user locations in a state;
  2. ILECs or CLECs that provide wired or fixed wireless local exchange telephone service to one or more end user customers;
  3. Providers of interconnected VoIP services that provide interconnected VoIP service to one or more revenue-generating end-user customer in a state; and
  4. Facilities-based providers of mobile telephony services that serve one or more mobile telephony subscribers (subscriber may be a customer of the facilities-based provider or a customer of a mobile voice service reseller).
Hearing Aid Compatibility Requirements for Service Providers (**NEW**)
Service providers subject to the FCC’s hearing aid compatibility (HAC) rules have new annual certification filing, expanded website content, and recordkeeping compliance requirements.  These new requirements replace the annual Form 655 status report, which was eliminated in a November 2018 FCC Report and Order.  
Who is Covered:
The annual HAC certification and website content requirements apply to all digital mobile service providers within the scope of FCC rule 20.19, including mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) and resellers. (The Public Notice references wireless providers but the rules apply to all digital mobile service providers).  Note that providers that are otherwise exempt from HAC rules, pursuant to the de minimis exception of Rule 20.19(e), still are required to file the HAC certification.  However, de minimis providers continue to be exempt from the website content requirement.
Rule 20.19, excerpted below, applies to providers of digital mobile service in the United States that meet the following specifications:
  • (i) to the extent that they offer terrestrial mobile service that enables real-time voice communications among members of the public or substantial portion of the public, including VoIP services; and
  • (ii) such service is provided over frequencies in the 698 MHz to 6 GHz bands.

Service providers should be sure to review the FCC rules to confirm if they are subject to the HAC requirements and to identify the service provider’s compliance obligations.
FCC Form 855: Service Provider Hearing Aid Compatibility Annual Certification (**NEW**)
Covered Service Providers are now required to submit an annual certification stating whether or not the provider is in full compliance with the FCC HAC rules, explaining any instances of noncompliance, and providing information regarding HAC handsets offered during the time period covered by the certification.
The FCC recently announced that the filing window for the 2019 service provider annual certification (new FCC Form 855), covering calendar year 2018, will open on September 3, 2019 and the certification must be filed by October 3, 2019.  Beginning in 2020, the certification will be due by January 15 each year covering the previous calendar year.  The certification must be submitted via the Form 855 filing portal which will close at midnight EDT on October 3, 2019.
While the format of the new Form 855 is unknown, because the filing portal is not yet open, the Commission’s public notice announcement identified information that must be included in the certification.
Due Date: Service providers must submit a certification for the CY2018 reporting period no later than October 3, 2019
Service Provider HAC Website Content Requirement (**NEW**)
Providers of digital mobile service in the United States (except de minimis providers) that operate a publicly-accessible website must comply with the newly-expanded website content requirements, in section 20.19(h) of the FCC’s rules, beginning September 3, 2019.  The new rules require that websites include:
  1. A list of all HAC handset models currently offered, the ratings of those models, and an explanation of the rating system.
  2. A statement specifying the functionality and rating level for each HAC handset model and an explanation of the functionality variations at the different levels.
  3. A list of all non-HAC handset models currently offered including the handset’s functionality level, an explanation of the different functionality levels and a link to the current FCC web page with information about the wireless HAC rules and service provider obligations.
  4. A link to the Global Accessibility Reporting Initiative website which has details on HAC and non-HAC handsets; or a clearly marked list of HAC handsets that the service provider previously offered but that are no longer sold.
Website information must be updated within 30 days of any relevant changes and the website must include a date stamp of when the page was last updated.
Due Date: Covered providers must post required website content beginning September 3, 2019
HAC Handset Record Retention Requirement (**NEW**)
Providers of digital mobile service in the United States (except de minimis providers) that operate a publicly-accessible website must maintain records, beginning September 3, 2019, regarding HAC and non-HAC handsets that they no longer offer as outlined in 47 CFR 20.19(h).  Records should address handsets that stopped being offered in the past 24 months and include the offering termination date, device model, and device HAC rating.
Due Date: Covered providers must maintain the required records beginning September 3, 2019.
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Please be advised that attorneys in Kelley Drye & Warren’s Communications Practice Group are experienced in addressing issues related to the hearing aid compatibility reports.  For more information regarding this client advisory, please contact your usual Kelley Drye attorney.