Discussion about Handset Compatibility

With the tentative conclusion that reaching 100% compatibility with hearing aids and handsets as an achievable goal. The FCC is requesting a further discussion on proposal that would require some handset models to connect to hearing aids through Bluetooth connectivity as an alternative to telecoil coupling on a limited basis as the they continue to study the issue. The record indicates that Bluetooth coupling is presently being widely utilized by consumers to couple handsets with hearing aids and achieving positive results. Under the new proposal, they would maintain ta telecom requirement but require a certain percentage of handset models to use Bluetooth connectivity as an alternative to telecom coupling as long as both types of handset models also meet applicable acoustic coupling and volume control requirements.

Specifically, they are seeking comments on how Bluetooth coupling compares with telecoil coupling as far as interoperability between handsets and hearing aids. Questions about many aspects of this proposal from the involved parties. Does the handset model that meets telecom certification requirements substantially more expensive to manufacture than a handset model that substitutes Bluetooth connectivity for a telecoil? Does one type of coupling have better sound quality or maintains connection better than the other type of coupling? Is it easier to connect a handset to a hearing aid with a telecom connection versus a Bluetooth connection? What are the costs and benefits of allowing Bluetooth coupling on a limited basis as an alternative to telecom coupling? Would a gradual transition from telecom coupling to Bluetooth coupling serve the public interest better? As Bluetooth coupling becomes more accepted by consumers, will telecom coupling become a less favorable way of connecting handsets to hearing aids as the HAC Task Force suggests?

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