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Fact Sheet on Potential FCC Ruling on Signal Boosters

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has accepted a petition to evaluate tightening certification of cell signal boosters for wireless networks. The FCC has accepted comments on booster use from outside sources and may decide to allow signal boosters to be approved and placed in service only by cell phone service providers, who offer no affordable multi-carrier or mobile boosting solutions, or may not approve the use of signal boosters at all.

According to the last U.S. Census, more than 59 million Americans live in rural areas and more than 50 percent have a cell phone. Currently, the public benefits from affordable signal boosters being available in rural and urban areas for safety, personal, and work related purposes. Additionally, boosters provide affordable access to those with limited cell phone signal, or no wired broadband connection. Limiting the distribution of signal boosters would negatively impact open access and innovation.

Rather than generating new rules giving cell carriers total control over boosters, in essence imposing a ban on these potentially life-saving devices, appropriate FCC regulations can ensure mechanisms are built into signal boosters to make them invisible to cell sites and therefore protect the carrier networks from interference. Properly designed products do not create interference with wireless networks.

Essential for Public Safety:

Members of the public safety community need access to signal boosters to save lives and access vital information.

One of the FCC commenters detailed the necessity for his emergency response staff to use signal boosters. G. Scott McDermid of Wakulla County Florida explained:
    “We use cell phone amplifiers in our Ambulances. They are used to allow our staff to have cell phone and aircard signal where they would not otherwise. … Without these amplifiers we would simply not have these capabilities to offer our Firefighters, EMTs, and Paramedics who use these tools to protect our County’s citizens and visitors 24 hours a day.” (FCC Comment 2/12/2010 G. Scott McDermid)

Benefit to Rural Communities:

Because cell phone signal coverage is sparse in rural areas, signal boosters are a benefit to residents, travelers, business owners and government officials in these areas.

Sixty-seven percent of cell phone users have at least occasional trouble with their cell service, such as dropped calls or no service, according to the market research firm of Harris Interactive. (filed online 12/8-10/2009)

Ensuring Safety:

High-quality signal boosters are designed with patented technology to not interfere with wireless carriers networks. Ensuring that signal boosters comply with a set of adequate FCC standards that minimizes interference and are affordable to rural users is essential.

New interference reduction technologies already used by many producers could be incorporated into new FCC standards to minimize interference and improve service while still allowing individuals to buy affordable and reliable solutions.