7. In document FCC 13-118, the Commission adopts on a permanent basis this interim rule prohibiting IP CTS providers from providing referrals for rewards programs, as well as any other provider programs that offer or provide payments or incentives to sign up or use this service, although it revises the language of the interim rule in certain important respects. The Commission finds that registration incentives raise particular concerns for IP CTS due to the unique characteristics of this service. As IP CTS does not require special skills such as sign language, is generally automated and invisible to the calling parties, and allows a conversation to flow without interruption, and as IP CTS phones offer many, if not all, of the same features and functions of conventional phones, consumers can subscribe to and use IP CTS without sacrificing any ordinary voice communication functionality. As a result, consumers are less likely to "self-screen" in choosing whether to subscribe to IP CTS, than in choosing whether to subscribe to other forms of TRS. Ensuring that IP CTS is made available "in the most efficient manner" to those consumers who actually need it requires special attention to the manner in which this unusually transparent service is marketed to consumers. The rule also prohibits the offering or provision of incentives to third parties, such as audiologists and other hearing health professionals, to increase consumer registration for or use of IP CTS. These incentives are likely to waste the Fund's resources on payments for services used by individuals who may not need the service and therefore are inconsistent with the goals and objectives of section 225 of the Act. The final rule is written, however, to ensure that the rule cannot be construed to prohibit advertising and noncommercial speech-something the Commission never intended to prohibit. The rule also adjusts the terminology to prohibit direct or indirect "incentives" "register for" rather than "inducements" for "subscription to" or use of IP CTS. The term "incentives" is more consistent with the 2005 Financial Incentives Declaratory Ruling and better captures the Commission's intent to prohibit any kind of reward for signing up such users or getting them to use the service, rather than prohibit outreach and advertising conducted to educate potential users about this service. The term "register" more accurately describes the way a consumer signs up to use IP CTS than does the term "subscription." The final rule also clarifies that the incentives prohibition does not apply to the relationship between an IP CTS provider or equipment distributor and an equipment retailer, where the retailer is not a hearing health professional. Where the retailer is not a professional on whom a consumer may rely for objective advice on solutions for hearing loss, consumers are less likely to be unduly influenced to purchase equipment that they do not need.
8. The Commission also finds that joint marketing arrangements between IP CTS providers and professionals upon whom consumers potentially rely for advice in regard to their hearing loss violate the prohibition of referrals for rewards and other incentives. The Commission finds that joint marketing arrangements between IP CTS providers and such hearing health professionals are akin to a reward for a referral. Moreover, the joint marketing campaigns themselves could be perceived by the consumer as an endorsement of the IP CTS provider by his or her hearing health professional.