Having the best mobile phone you can afford is totally useless if you do not get a good signal from your carrier, and in spite of the prevalence of telecomm providers, there are still spots where signals are very weak. That’s what manufacturers of cell phone signal boosters have taken advantage of. You’d think that mobile phone carriers would make sure that their areas of service are as wide as possible, with little or no dead spots, but that just isn’t the case in real life.
The FCC defines signal boosters as “ devices that can help cell phone users improve their coverage in areas where they do not get a good signal. For example, signal boosters can be placed in homes or cars to provide increased signal strength for cell phones, which may let the user complete a call in areas where they previously couldn’t.” (Source)
Up till now, the FCC has pretty much been lax when it came to signal boosters. After all, the customers are the ones who benefit from these devices. The FCC even recognizes that public safety responders also benefit from signal boosters, especially in remote areas.
So what’s the fuss now?
The FCC has recently announced a new set of rules governing the manufacture and use of signal boosters. These new rules address two things. One, signal booster design. This is to ensure that the devices will not interfere with wireless networks. Two, signal booster use. The responsibility here is on the user, who has to ensure that the carrier they use approves of the device.
Additionally, if you already have a signal booster, there is a chance that the you may be asked to power it down – by the FCC or a wireless provider. This can happen if your booster causes interference.
It all sounds simple enough, but there are some details that you might want to take a deeper look at. You can go directly to the FCC’s FAQ for the new rules, or for additional insight, arstechnica’s article is the best source.