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FCC close to rules for cell boosters, proposal likely to be passed within 90 days

FCC close to rules for cell boosters, proposal likely to be passed within 90 days


Verizon, T-Mobile, and Wilson Electronics have submitted a proposal to the FCC regarding cell signal booster use. Booster maker Wilson Electronics believes the proposal will likely be passed with minimal changes within the next 90 days.

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It looks like the US might be close to a set of rules governing the use of largely-unregulated cell signal boosters. Verizon, T-Mobile, and booster manufacturer Wilson Electronics submitted a joint proposal to the FCC back on June 8th, and Joe Banos, Wilson’s COO, believes it will likely pass with minimal changes sometime within the next 90 days. The company has been pushing for regulation for years, and is outspoken about its products' lack of interference with carrier signals.

Like femtocells, cell signal boosters aim to solve the problem of weak connectivity, but rather than use broadband internet to provide the backhaul to the carriers’ core networks, cell boosters rebroadcast over the carriers’ own airwaves. The proposal includes rules outlining when the boosters ought to shut down or reduce power, which reduces the risk of interference with signals from cell towers — the carriers' biggest issue with the devices. The current proposal contains a requirement that customers notify their carriers to advise them of their booster use, but it appears that the parties involved couldn’t agree whether explicit permission ought to be a requirement, so the companies will submit their recommendations to the FCC separately.

Even if the proposal is passed immediately, it will still be some time before the new regulations are binding. Wilson notes that it could take six months for the FCC to figure out how to test compliance, and only after that would non-complying boosters be taken off shelves.