Down Cellphone Signal Boosters
The Federal Communications Commission today enacted a set of rules governing the sale and deployment of wireless signal boosters, devices consumers use to improve cell phone signals. More than 2 million of these devices are in use across the country, and until now consumers who bought them could just turn them on and let them work their magic.
Not anymore. Anyone who buys one of these devices from now on must seek the permission of carriers. Even the 2 million devices already in use must be turned off immediately unless their owners register them. The FCC states in an FAQ:
Did the FCC recently adopt new rules for signal boosters?
Yes. The FCC recently adopted new rules to improve signal booster design so these devices won’t cause interference to wireless networks. The FCC also adopted new rules about what cell phone users need to do before using a signal booster.
I already have a signal booster; do I need to do anything under the new rules?
Yes. Under the FCC’s new rules, you (1) need your wireless provider’s permission to use the booster, and (2) must register the booster with your wireless provider. If a wireless provider or the FCC asks you to turn off your signal booster because it is causing interference to a wireless network, you must turn off your booster and leave it off until the interference problem can be resolved. When the new rules go into effect, you will be able to purchase a booster with additional safeguards that protect wireless networks from interference.
For practical purposes, there is a good chance you could keep using that device without getting any threatening legal letters. But technically, the FCC could issue fines to customers who fail to comply, Public Knowledge Legal Director Harold Feld told Ars. There's no word yet on what will happen to consumers who fail to register or whether carriers would actively seek them out.
There are acceptable if remotely possible reasons for the FCC to regulate these devices. They could cause interference with cellular networks, even if the ones today generally haven't been too problematic. Everyone from consumer advocates to booster device makers, carriers, and the FCC agrees that standards to prevent interference are good. But Feld, other consumer advocates, and the makers of these devices say it's unfair to consumers to make them register with carriers.
Major carriers haven't said how the registration process will work, but one conceivable outcome is that they could charge customers an extra fee to use boosters, like they do with other devices that improve signals.
Wireless boosters are "saving the carriers money by not making them build more towers, but now they can charge you for improving the holes in their own network," Feld said.
Requiring a specific carrier's permission is odd, because a wireless booster can be used to improve signals on just about any network, said Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Project at the New America Foundation. Calabrese helped advise the government on its recent spectrum sharing plan. "97 percent of the boosters sold are wideband boosters, meaning they amplify the signals of all carriers equally," Calabrese told Ars. "For some reason, the commission has delegated authority to the carrier."
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 02/21/2013
Editor's Note: And remember, unlocking the carrier codes on your smartphones is now a crime...Seems like there is a concerted effort by the "powers that be" to secure the ability to instantaneously interrupt communications...We not conspiratorial, we're just saying...
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