FCC Considers Banning Signal Boosters
In response to concerns that they may be harming cellular networks by interfering and overloading nearby towers, it is quite possible that the Federal Communications Commission will ban or regulate cellular signal amplifiers in the very near future.
The CTIA made requests to consider a motion to either ban or at least regulate these signal boosters. As the name sounds, boosters help amplify cell reception so the phone can get better reception in rural and remote areas where signal strength is typically weak or non-existent. The CTIA has asked that the FCC “clarify that the sale or use of signal boosters without appropriate CMRS [commercial mobile radio service] licensee consent is unlawful.”
Uncertified boosters in use within close proximity to a cell tower would have the potential to completely render that tower useless for a small amount of time, due to ambient noise being amplified in such a way that other calls being made through the same tower would be drowned out.
Wilson Electronics, a prominent booster maker, agrees that boosters should only be sold if they meet certain criteria, such as:
- effective self-oscillation (feedback) detection and automatic shutdown
- effective cell tower proximity detection and automatic shutdown to prevent cell-site overloads
- bi-directional (tower-to-device and device-to-tower) signal amplification
If manufactured and designed properly, signal boosters benefit both the customer and the cell phone carrier. As such, Wilson argues, there should be no need to completely ban them.
The deadline to submit comments to the FCC is tomorrow, while the deadline for replies is February 22. Shortly after, we expect to hear final word on a decision.