FCC Signal Booster Policy Said to Favor Carriers over Consumers
The FCC has adjusted its stance on wireless signal boosters. A new report says consumers must get their carrier's approval to use a booster.Wireless signal boosters are the topic of a new report from the Federal Communications Commission. As the wireless carriers race to push out ever-faster networks to their subscribers, the FCC is working to ensure that the hardest-to-reach bits of the country have even a basic degree of coverage, and it says that signal boosters can help. However, it also doesn't want those boosters to interfere with the efforts of the carriers, and so it has established new regulations for the devices. "While nearly the entire U.S. population is served by one or more wireless providers, coverage gaps that exist within and at the edge of service areas can lead to dropped calls, reduced data speeds or complete loss of service," the FCC explained in a Feb. 20 report and order. "Robust signal boosters can bridge these gaps and extend coverage at the fringe of service areas." The FCC added that the boosters can be particularly useful in commercial deployments, such as in hospitals, and that consumers have also benefited from "out-of-the-box" boosters designed to improved coverage within limited areas, such as in homes or recreational vehicles.
However, fearing that these consumer-geared devices might interfere with the signals of wireless networks, or even that consumers might mistakenly purchase industrial, rather than consumer, boosters, the FCC laid out new regulations, which all consumer and industrial units sold in the United States must meet by March 1, 2014.
"We must hope that carriers take this warning seriously," he said, "or that in two years the FCC can find the courage to put consumers before carriers." Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.