FCC Announces New Regulations for Cell Phone Signal Boosters

fcc-logo_white-on-blackToday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a new set of rules that aim to improve consumers’ access to cell phone signal boosting equipment while protecting carriers' networks to ensure that everyone has access to a reliable cellular service. The rules will require that manufacturers of signal boosters include safeguards to reduce the likelihood of interference on the cellular networks and have these devices certified as such by the FCC. As a result, all four nation-wide carriers, as well as many regional and local carriers, have agreed to the use of cell phone signal boosters on their networks, as long as they comply and are certified by the FCC.

One additional requirement of owning and operating a cell phone signal booster will be that you must register the device with the wireless carrier that you intend to boost the signal of. This will allow carriers to identify if certain devices are causing interference or network problems for other customers, and thus ensure that the cellular network operates as efficiently as possible. Registration of your signal booster is anticipated for November 1, 2013, and will probably only involve an online form to fill out with your carrier.

Overall, this ruling by the FCC is in the best interest of consumers and carriers alike. Consumers are able to operate cell phone signal boosters in the good graces of the cellular carriers, lower quality signal booster equipment that may cause carrier interference will be phased out, and cellular carriers will be able to diagnose problems on the network much more effectively by understanding the distribution of cell phone signal boosters. At UberSignal, we're excited that the carriers, FCC and cell phone signal booster manufacturers are all working together to ensure that consumers have reliable cell service through quality cell phone signal booster equipment.

If you'd like to read about the new regulations in more depth, please visit the FCC website for Signal Boosters.

Here is the entire press release by the FCC about the new regulations, released today, Wednesday, February 20, 2013:

FCC ACTS TO ENHANCE CONSUMERS’ ABILITY TO FILL MOBILE BROADBAND COVERAGE GAPS

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a Report and Orderthat furthers the goal of improving our nation’s wireless infrastructure by expanding the reach of wireless coverage for consumers. These new rules governing signal boosters – which amplify signals between wireless devices and wireless networks – will substantially improve signal booster design by requiring manufacturers to include safeguards that protect wireless networks. As a result, all four nationwide carriers, as well as many rural and regional carriers, have consented to the use of boosters on their networks, as long as those boosters meet the technical specifications outlined in the Order.

Removing consumer and industry uncertainty regarding signal booster use and operation will promote further investment in and use of this promising technology. Signal boosters not only help consumers improve coverage where signal strength is weak, but they also aid public safety first responders by extending wireless access in hard-to serve areas such as tunnels, subways, and garages. This Report and Order reflects a common sense, consensus-based technical solution that will help millions of consumers across the country.

The Order addresses two classes of signal boosters – consumer and industrial – with distinct regulatory requirements for each. Specifically, consumer signal boosters must meet stringent technical specifications (Network Protection Standard), and are authorized under provider licenses subject toprovider consent, voluntarily provided in this case by most carriers. Consumers must register their signal booster with their provider prior to use. Labeling requirements ensure that consumers understand these terms of use. Consumer boosters can be used on most mainstream wireless bands: cellular, PCS, AWS-1, 700 MHz, and ESMR (after rebanding). The use of consumer boosters may not cause interference to wireless networks even if a device meets the Network Protection Standard.

The Order also details rules for industrial signal boosters designed to cover large areas such as stadiums, airports, and tunnels. Industrial signal boosters will continue to fall under the existing authorization process, and must be installed and operated in coordination with licensees.

The new rules for boosters are supported by a diverse range of wireless providers, represented by CTIA-The Wireless Association, the Rural Telecommunications Group (RTG), and the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA).

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