HIA Opposes New Wifi Spectrum Over Concerns of Wireless Hearing Aid Interference

hearing aid wireless
March 14, 2016

Wi-Fi traffic is becoming a problem

Technical experts claim the nation may run out of the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi spectrum, resulting in a wireless traffic jam with more data being transported over Wi−Fi than any other medium. Most consumers encounter this traffic jam when attempting to download mobile content in densely populated settings, such as airport terminals, apartment buildings, college campuses, or a favorite coffee shop. If you have ever encountered this situation, you know these slow speeds can cause a lot of consumer dissatisfaction.

Unfortunately, experts claim the Wi-Fi traffic jam will grow worse in the near future as the perfect storm of Wi−Fi devices and consumer adoption each continue to grow exponentially. In 2012, a company by the name of Globalstar introduced a satellite spectrum, located adjacent to the Public Wi-Fi Band, which can be utilized to immediately increase the nation’s Wi-Fi capacity by a third, apparently, according to Globalstar, providing a much better wireless experience to the millions of consumers who now depend daily on mobile broadband capabilities for work and play.

Globalstar refers to this innovative new service as TLPS. It petitioned the FCC for authority to offer it in November, 2012. On November 1, 2013, the FCC took a positive step forward by issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to commence a formal proceeding that would allow Globalstar to deploy TLPS to the public.


According to Globalstar reports, their results show that TLPS can achieve 5 times the distance and 4 times the throughput capacity of public Wi-Fi.


However, not everyone, including the Hearing Industries Association (HIA) is on-board with Globalstar.


A Privately-Owned Wi-Fi Spectrum



Globalstar touts the superiority of its system vs. current ‘clogged’ system

According to numerous wireless experts, Globalstar wants exclusive use of this 5 GHz space, and asked the FCC for permission to build a private, single-channel domain based on holding a license for satellite use of the frequency — as opposed to the FCC opening up this spectrum for everyone to get a little more breathing room in 2.4 GHz.

For years, Globalstar has been aggressively promoting TLPS, touting its ability to provide a Wi-Fi “superhighway” in a band that wireless local area network (WLAN) professionals are trying to avoid, while also “trashing 5 GHz as a poor Wi-Fi choice based on antiquated thinking”.

The company is lining up “experts” who back its claims, but numerous independent internet and broadband experts have yet to agree with Globalstar’s proposal to the FCC. Although this turf battle between Globalstar, other broadband providers and the FCC has wide reaching consequences beyond the hearing aid industry, HIA has continued to strongly oppose it.


In a strongly worded statement HIA, expressed “grave concerns” about technical demonstrations that show Globalstar’s proposed use of the 2473-2483.5 MHz portion of the 2.4 GHz band will degrade the performance of hearing instruments by causing unacceptable packet loss.


According to a March 6 article in Fierce Wireless Tech, HIA told the FCC that “testing has yet to be performed to show whether the Globalstar system would interfere with access to the three Bluetooth LE advertising channels, which are needed to establish Bluetooth LE connections and without which a Bluetooth LE hearing aid could become inoperable.”


HIA Strongly Opposed, Cites Inadequate Testing


hiaPer the March 6th piece in Fierce Wireless Tech, HIA argues that any testing should be done in places that are loud and where many people gather, such as airports, convention centers and trade shows, hospitals and hotels where people who use hearing aids are most in need of their assistance.

HIA went on to note that Globalstar’s proposed offer to provide an interference mitigation service is “completely inadequate” when considering consumer devices such as hearing aids. HIA stated further:


“Consumers will not realize that problems with their hearing aids arise from RF interference, and they certainly will not be in a position to discern the source of interference to their hearing aids and report it to Globalstar for remedy.”


Globalstar has conducted demonstrations, including one last year at the FCC’s own facilities, that it says show how TLPS will not disrupt other nearby devices in the 2.4 GHz band. However, the HIA and others say adequate testing has not been done. HIA says demonstrations by Globalstar to date have occurred in uncrowded spectral environments with unrealistically low traffic and occupancy levels on the Wi-Fi channels.

Last month, the company invited FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai and his legal advisor Brendan Carr, along with other key stakeholders, to visit the Washington School for Girls, where students were using Globalstar’s TLPS, along with Wi-Fi channels 1, 6 and 11. Globalstar said that deployment of TLPS has been a success and confirms the public interest benefits that would result with its TLPS deployment.


The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) and Wi-Fi Alliance last year called on the FCC to drop the TLPS proceeding and deny Globalstar’s request. Despite the strong opposition, Globalstar continues to lobby for permission to offer TLPS.


In its November 2012 petition to the FCC, Globalstar committed to providing 20,000 TLPS access points to schools and other institutions. But HIA says that number “pales in comparison” to the millions of hearing aids that are sold each year with wireless features.

  1. The HLAA wants hearing aids deregulated but also wants all of the protections currently afforded by regulation.

  2. Unlicensed services must accept interference. The opening of channel 14 will BENEFIT everyone by alleviating congestion on other 3 channels. The only parties opposed to this are competitors, scum short sellers and childish special interest groups who neglected to participate in the FCC / OET demo because after all, if you actually show up and see it work them you can’t complain later that it won’t. Go globalstar! Thank you for offering your services to the masses.

  3. Intensive test must ,the most sensitive organ’ s health for human should be compromised as it would for senior who want harmony the rest of their life.

    1. What? Are you saying that the issue of over-crowded wifi that affects almost every American should take a back seat to hearing aids simply because of an almost non-existent chance of interference? This service will have NOS in place as extra precaution. And in any other context, hearing aid companies will boast about how their devices adapt and avoid interference as necessary. Wi-Fi is becoming more and more crowded and new spectrum is not being made. globalstar is doing their part to avoid any issues per requests from the FCC. Come this time next year, I suspect TLPS will be in full swing and the lack of interference claims will be deafening.

      1. Who is to say that everyone is to benefit? Or even many? This is a private spectrum, unlike 2.4GHz is today. So anyone using it has to some how pay Globalstar to use it (perhaps the equipment you need licenses use of the spectrum). Essentially Ch14 is pay-per-view one way or the other.

        1. You benefit the same way the students at Chicago institute. When the larger company (not you) pays globalstar for use in ch14, then 1, 6, 11 become less crowded. Partners like an Amazon or Apple would be footing the bill.

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